Bongani Baloyi is a South African serial entrepreneur, videographer, YouTuber, and digital media expert. He has a degree in Financial Accounting from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and one of his great exploits includes establishing his first company, Gigabytes Production, at 21 years old.
His videography and digital media talent have secured his collaboration with several top brands and organisations, including Netflix, Disney, Coca-Cola, Samsung, Lenovo, Spotify, and MTN.
In 2021, he received the Rising Legend award, and in 2022, he was a speaker at TedX South Africa, a national event graced by top professionals across different sectors.
Bongani Baloyi extends his passion for impacting his world to YouTube through his co-owned channels; Defining, Diski Talk With Luyolo, and Kasi Skits. His efforts on his co-owned YouTube channel, Defining, earned him a YouTube Black Creator award in 2021.
On The Big Showcase today, we celebrate Bongani Baloyi and explore his purpose, challenges, grit, excellence and successes in his creative journey.
Finding Purpose at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church
One of the best things that could happen to anyone, especially creatives, is knowing who you want to be and what career path to follow early in life. While Bongani Baloyi doesn’t claim to have been born with his skills, he was fortunate enough to identify, learn, and apply some technical skills from teenagehood.
“I found my niche and love for the media space when I started attending Mt. Carmel Baptist Church. I was still in grade 10 when I joined the church’s media team and got involved with sound management, photography, video production and asset management. It was such a cool experience at that time, and this was when my passion for media started.”
It is one thing to pick up technical or creative skills along the way; it is another to have people heavily invested in seeing you excel with those skills. Rather than the horror stories that some creative ‘church people’ often share, Bongani Baloyi sang the praises of his church leadership.
“I learned a lot from the leadership of the media team then and managed to shoot my first film for the Sunday School Camp with an iPhone that the church lent me during this period. Not only did this experience and support help me to focus on learning video production, but I also referenced these experiences in my resume when I started applying for jobs.“
A smartphone, even the best iPhone, isn’t an ideal tool for shooting a film, but Bongani Baloyi was willing to learn and dogged enough to maximise available resources.
Challenges and Victories Surrounding Serial Entrepreneurship
Bongani’s doggedness and natural flair for excellence influenced his progress in his chosen career, especially because he started his first business, Gigabytes Production, at only 21 years old.
“When I started Gigabytes Production in 2016, I was still in the university studying Financial Accounting and volunteering at Tuks FM as its Media and Sound Manager. I established Gigabytes Production to capture genuine moments of talented personalities on campus in images and videos. Doing this increased my passion for telling real stories of South Africans because there weren’t many such stories online then.”
Bongani Baloyi recalls feeling accomplished, but he also recounts the pressure from some family and friends to drop his business idea.
“I received a lot of backlash from friends and family members because I was still studying, and school work was tough.”
If there’s anything creatives should learn from this article and Bongani Baloyi, it’s that real help might come from a few friends and unexpected strangers, but they will take you farther than your efforts alone.
“It was through the support of Tuks FM that this business idea blossomed, and they ensured that I excelled in it.”
Still following the thread of receiving external support, Bongani acknowledges that, in his case, starting a business at a young age was relatively easy because he leveraged his closest networks but that his confidence initially took a beating because of his age.
“I can say it was easy to start a business at a young age; the only problem was maintaining business operations. I had all the great ideas, but my age made it difficult for big clients to listen to my proposals in boardrooms. However, I developed my confidence and trusted that some people were interested in listening to my proposals without making my age a factor. I started pitching to close friends like Zanele Potelwa, now a popular Radio DJ, and till today still my number one client.”
Bongani Baloyi has done so well since his first business and shares how he handles co-founding and managing multiple companies.
“The best part of studying financial science in university is that I learned the practical side of my business, such as financial and human resource management and customer relations, which played a big role in identifying my business’s value proposition, my ideal customers, and how to sustain my business finances. Now, I am so good at starting businesses, especially ones that require lots of creativity and hiring creative professionals. This way, I get to empower and create more jobs for other creatives because my goal is to employ at least 5000 creatives upon retirement. I am always looking to also invest in start-up businesses that need funding or certain skills that I possess.”
Bongani’s selflessness shines through, and his collaborative view of life has no doubt contributed to landing him some of the biggest clients. He shares with us what it feels like working with these global clients.
“It’s always exciting to see my work on the platforms of big brands, but I achieve this by always putting my best work forward, especially on social media and showing potential clients that my deliverables can help them to reach more clients. When a major client likes my work, it makes it easy for them to retain me for more projects or refer me to other brands. I’ve also discovered that the best brand-to-brand marketing is through word of mouth, and that’s how I get most of my clients.”
Once again, it’s proven that excellent work speaks for itself, and if you desire the big fish in your industry pool, you need to deliver excellently every time. Bongani mentioned an additional effort he makes to land these big clients.
“Getting deals from these big brands is always different and seasonal, so I constantly research and contact the right agency that handles their marketing needs. Also, I constantly pitch my services and skills to influencers, and if convinced, they refer me to their agencies, and from there, I get to meet some of these other major clients.”
If the successful Bongani Baloyi still contacts potential clients frequently, as a creative brand, why won’t you do the same? You might also want to take a cue from Bongani’s creative process if you’re stuck on how to move forward.
“My creative process is based on ideation, communication, and execution. I employ curiosity and identify the right target market at the ideation stage. The communication stage is difficult because it requires that I communicate my abstract idea in various ways for my team to understand completely. The execution is always my favourite part because team members already understand the role to play to make the idea a reality.”
Vision for Driving Change in Africa Through Storytelling and Creativity
It is clear that Bongani Baloyi is passionate about helping to tell authentic African stories and uses various capacities, such as the YouTube Black Creator mentoring programme to support other creatives trying to do the same.
“I have a passion for helping creatives, and so I choose the YouTube channels that I mentor based on the owner’s display of passion for the type of content they are producing. Also, I am always happy when such creative people and my mentees go on to love and prosper in their creative niches.”
Bongani Baloyi also shares how creativity can be a solution to some of the challenges in his country.
“I believe South Africans have the power to overcome current challenges by ensuring that those challenges don’t suppress us. I also believe that creativity is the root of past experiences, the stem of current affairs, and the future is what we reap out of it. As South Africans, the limitation is always with our minds because we have ample space to grow as creatives, especially those with access to data connections or wifi.”
Bongani Baloyi leaves creatives with this piece of advice:
“To the person reading this, your story is as important as mine, and I want to read yours too. But to get to that point, you need to dream big, and then have the kind of zeal that engages your five senses to achieve your dream. Embrace challenges; even though it’s easier said than done, you need to excel for yourself, your family and loved ones. Above all, take that journey one step at a time.”
You’ve heard it all from Bongani Baloyi. It’s easy to dream the biggest dream that scares even you, but are you going to be like Bongani and start with what you have and put in the work? We sure hope so.
We are eager to share more of Bongani’s remarkable achievements in the nearest future, even as he closes more deals with multinational brands and spearheads more significant projects that improve the African creative industry.