Turning energy into cash

Nkosana Lekotjolo

Nkosana Lekotjolo

When 33-year-old Nick Motloung quit his job in communications to venture into business that started in the family backyard in Moletsane, Soweto, his parents thought he was crazy.

Today, Motloung, together with his partner Paul Marumo, are running a successful company called Nitestyle, which has an annual turnover of about R1million.

Nitestyle's business targets night owls with its Elixa energy drink. Other businesses include the dual TT sim card import cellphones that use two sim cards from different networks simultaneously and a free magazine called Nitestyle. Elixa and the dual TT cellphones are both South African brands.

The dual TT sim card cellphones boast the latest high technology in the market with impressive features like the camera, MP3 and MTV4 for playing movies. These cellphones are imported from China and are not yet officially available locally.

Motloung started the company with only R500 capital, without any loans or financial assistance. The company was established in 2006 but because of financial problems it was re-launched this year. Despite the difficulties, the company is slowly gaining footing in the international market.

Elixa energy drink proves to be the most successful component of the business and is being exported to Australia where it has gained popularly.

"Part of the idea for the energy drink was born from watching how much time people spent up and about at night, going to clubs or having a meal at a restaurant," said Motloung.

"The energy drink is for those who want to stay awake at night while they enjoy themselves.

"The night time makes a big contribution to the country's economy but it has often been overlooked. We have also found that the big brands have not penetrated the black South African market."

The energy drink supplies about 70percent of Soweto nightclubs, pubs, restaurants, bottle stores and even spaza shops.

The drink is made from the plant called Elixir which is mostly found in Ethiopia.

Motloung said they wanted to introduce something new, a healthy energy drink with no caffeine in it.

"It was not easy starting something new from the ground in a country like ours. Some of our biggest challenges were that we are the first South African energy drink company; we compete against well-known energy brands; we had financial problems and we had to convince a lot of business owners about our product which is fairly new in the market," he said .

Last year Marumo joined the founder of the company, Motloung, to form a strong partnership. Both men are proud of what their company has achieved so far in creating jobs.

They say it is still a big challenge for them to break into the market to be able to introduce the technologically advanced dual sim card cellphones.

"We have approached some service providers with our product, but they appear rather skeptical. This is because they consider as a loss that the cellphones can put two different sim cards from different service providers," said Motloung.