Andy Hadfield

Digital Native

Andy Hadfield is not afraid of trying new things. “Life to me doesn’t mean you have to succeed at one thing, you have to succeed at 10, which probably means I’m going to fail at 50.”

And he has tasted his share of trying and failing, he is happy to admit. In fact, it is something he embraces. He quotes US author, entrepreneur, marketer and public speaker Seth Godin who famously said: “If I fail more than you, I win”.

Hadfield feels that South African entrepreneurs are hampered by a fear of failure (and the stigma it tends to attract). “These things need to be talked about more. The message to other entrepreneurs should be: ‘I tried. This is what I learnt. Don’t make the same mistakes. Thank me with advisor shares’.”

His latest experiment, which he shut down earlier this year, was the hugely popular crowdsourced wine review app RealTimeWine. He initially hit headlines by winning the Samsung Ignite Startup Competition in 2011 at the Tech4Africa conference, then going on to raise Angel Funding from Michael Jordaan and Mike Ratcliffe.

In the intervening years the app was voted in the Top 3 Apps in the “Innovation” category at MTN’s App of the Year Awards in 2013 and in the same year won a Bronze Bookmark for Best Mobile Brand.

Hadfield’s career has always been centred around the digital realm and includes starting a student social network while at university – before social networks even existed – followed by the first construction industry social network and starting his own digital consulting agency.

In between he was a senior strategist at FNB, driving digital innovation in the retail banking segment, projects included setting up its ecommerce system, overhauling the website and even dabbling in corporate crowdsourcing.

He still harbours ambitions to “make a dent in the universe” by doing something meaningful, but says those ambitions are now countered by the realisation that this can’t be done at the expense of his family. — Johann Barnard