Andrew Smith

For a high-school dux and computer science dropout, popular culture leaves just one option: start a tech business in your lounge. Many flop, but the ones who make it, like Yuppiechef.co.za, make it big. Andrew Smith hit on his winning idea in 2006, when he and business partner Shane Dryden founded Yuppiehef.co.za. The plan was to ride the wave surrounding celebrity chefs with a website selling top-end kitchen tools. The kicker was uncompromising service. From free delivery right up to handwritten notes on each parcel, Yuppiechef made customers feel special. “We want everyone to know there’s a real person on the other side of the internet.” Yuppiechef won the South African E-Commerce Awards two years running, and is now a case study at Unisa and the London School of Business. Smith was recently invited by the University of Cape Town — where he dropped out of a BSc — to guest lecture at its Graduate School of Business.

— Ian Macleod