Today we have the huge privilege of interviewing D’Niel Strauss.
D’Niel is a Private Equity and Venture Capital entrepreneur and holds a B.Eng. (Industrial Engineering) and MBA from the University of Stellenbosch. He currently serves as founding member and Director of Stocks & Strauss (Pty) Ltd, Orientis Venture Capital, Vela Growth and various other businesses.
D’Niel has a passion for growth, both in business as well as personal growth and constantly strives to improve the lives of people and businesses that he comes into contact with. Through constant interaction with various businesses as a shareholder and director, D’Niel was able to gain insights into the various methods and mindsets employed by entrepreneurs, investors and consultants to ensure maximum growth to all stakeholders involved.
Enjoy the interview!
WW: Hello D’niel! Can you tell us more about yourself and what you are doing?
D’Niel: Hi WW, thank you for the question.
I am a shareholder and director of an investment holding company called Stocks & Strauss. Our company has a keen interest in small and medium companies that choose to grow at an accelerated pace. Our current focus is on South African businesses and we anticipate to grow aggressively in South East Asia in the short and medium term.
My role in the company is to identify and invest in small and medium sized companies that fit our specific mandate. After the investment is done, we do everything in our power to support the company on a growth trajectory.
This would include an array of aspects like global expansion, increasing of revenue streams and supporting them to overcome various types of internal and external challenges.
The short answer would be: “I invest in small companies and support them to become big as soon as possible.”
WW: How did you get into the venture capital industry?
D’Niel: After my first degree in Industrial Engineering, I realised that my passion is not in engineering, but rather in business. The next step was to obtain an MBA from the University of Stellenbosch Business School.
The next step was to be a management consultant, after which I worked in the Private Equity industry. When I decided that I had enough experience, I started a Venture Capital firm with 2 partners in 2012. In 2013 we restructured the Venture Capital firm and I took the opportunity to partner with Wayne Stocks, a chartered accountant and brilliant businessman, to form Stocks & Strauss.
WW: What are some of the most common misconceptions about your position as a venture capital entrepreneur?
D’Niel: So many people think that the Venture Capital is all about spreadsheets and numbers.
While spreadsheets and numbers are important, we actually invest in people. The people aspect of business is therefore an immense part of our focus.
If the entrepreneur is capable, focused and absolutely clear about her aspirations, everything else can be fixed.
WW: Congratulations for Stocks and Strauss’s investment into South African record label Inhoud Huis Musiek! Can you tell us more about why your company chose to venture and invest in the music and entertainment industry, for instance?
D’Niel: The founder of Inhoud Huis, Johan Vorster, is one of the most successful and knowledgeable people in the South African music industry. He has surrounded himself with an extremely strong team and specifically Jacomien de Villiers as the MD and co-shareholder of the record label.
Like any other small and medium company, Inhoud Huis has its challenges, but Stocks & Strauss invested in the team.
As I said, if the team is strong, everything else can be fixed.
WW: You often spoke about the importance of having great mentors. Can you share with us three reasons why this is so?
D’Niel: At 34 I am still very young in relation to many other players in the Venture Capital and Private Equity industry.
It is an industry with great risks and great rewards.
One of the key requirements in this industry is wisdom. Wisdom is something that needs to be acquired with years of experience. Since I am still building on my experience, the guidance and advice from my mentors are cardinal for the following reasons:
1. I am privileged to learn from their successes and failures. While I still make numerous mistakes, the mistakes are certainly reduced as a consequence of the guidance from my mentors.
2. The relationships with my mentors give me access to markets, networks and information that I would never have access to, without their guidance and introductions.
3. The most important aspect of mentorship is that they make me aware of my blind spots. There are certain things that I don’t know that I don’t know. The guidance of my mentors make me aware of information and wisdom that I never even knew existed.
WW: How do you think young people can actively search for their own mentors?
D’Niel: Every mentor wants to see that the mentee is hungry for information and willing to learn.
I would therefore suggest that the young person becomes highly skilled in a specific area. Then find someone that you respect in the specific industry and contact the person with respect and humility.
If a successful person can see that you are knowledgeable already and that you are willing to learn on your own, the probability of the mentor allowing you and hour per month or an hour every 3 months is rather high.
WW: What are your ties to Singapore?
D’Niel: Stocks & Strauss is currently awaiting exchange control approval from the South African Reserve Bank to make an investment in a Singaporean company.
As soon as the investment is approved by the authorities, I will spend a considerable amount of time in Singapore to assist my partners in building and growing the business.
WW: We heard that you are one of the brains behind the Wealth Creation Blueprint! Can you tell us a little more about how you, Dr. Sundardas Dharmadas Annamalay and Raymond Ng came up with this excellent concept?
D’Niel: Dr Sun sourced, advised and created the intellectual property that is used in the Wealth Creation Blueprint. The results are extremely valuable in helping entrepreneurs to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Since the human aspect is central to the investment mandate and approach of Stocks & Strauss, it made sense for us to partner with Dr Sun and Raymond on this project as it is a clear mutualistic relationship between the partners.
WW: What is the one thing you would like to tell young people who wish to pursue their dreams?
D’Niel: The first step is to find aspirational clarity. If you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there.
If a young person has absolute clarity about her own aspirations and she knows her personality profile, she will not waste time on projects and jobs that do not take her closer to her ultimate goal.
Therefore, get to know yourself and focus on your strengths, your weaknesses can be outsourced to other people who also know their own strengths.
WW: On a parting note, do you have anything else to add?
D’Niel: Yes, thank you for the privilege to be interviewed on this platform where ministers and other influential individuals were featured.
It is a true honour. Have a great day WW.
We hope you have enjoyed today’s interview with D’Niel! All pictures courtesy of D’Niel, and feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn. Have a great day ahead! 🙂