The tech sector has a wealth of exciting opportunies for entrepreneurs to make a difference and Lorraine Steyn, founder of Khanyisa Real Systems, is one such entrepreneur who has built a highly regarded and successful business, underpinned with a strong sense of wanting to do good in the world.
LoA spoke to Lorraine to find out more about her unique entrepreneurial journey.
What does your company do?
We offer real solutions for real businesses. At Khanyisa Real Systems, we enable businesses to be more efficient through affordable and agile software development.
What inspired you to start your company?
I was 24 when I started Khanyisa Real Systems (KRS), and I had a crystal clear view about wanting to build a software development company that would build new and innovative products! This was in the late 1980’s, and the possibilities opened up by PCs were just starting to be understood. KRS was an early leader in the use of networked PCs to provide solutions previously only possible with huge, expensive mainframes.
"KRS was an early leader in the use of networked PCs to provide solutions previously only possible with huge, expensive mainframes."
Why should anyone use your service or product?
KRS has 28 years of development experience behind us now, across a wide range of businesses and markets. We have developed a reputation for working with large enterprise databases, as well as developing software packages. Packaged software is a challenging niche because of the demands for high quality and user-friendliness from sophisticated markets.
Tell us a little about your team
We have always concentrated on hiring great people. We believe that people with the right attitude and an aptitude for problem solving will deliver the best software. We have grown and adapted to new technology over many decades now, and we truly value the ability to learn and communicate higher than having any specific technical skill.
Our teams are all run on Agile principles (some do Scrum, some Kanban), which means that we empower our teams, give them flexibility and our trust to do a good job, and we set high standards supported by constant upskilling programmes. We provide free catered lunches and have a great vibe at the office. Teams enjoy frequent team building activities, as part of our belief that a good team beats a bunch of good individuals any day!
"We have developed a reputation for working with large enterprise databases, as well as developing software packages."
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bent. I remember making paper dolls in primary school, and selling the paper fashion to my friends for 1 cent per dress! There are so many fascinating opportunities for better use of technology, and I have a strong sense of wanting to do good in the world. My interests range from mobile apps (so many new options to help people!), to improved access to technology at schools, as well as empowerment of women in STEM fields.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
To keep growing – to attract and retain great staff, as well finding more of the clients that help us to feel that our work is relevant and worthwhile.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
We build web sites, mobile apps and desktop software for the most interesting and diverse client base, and finding creative solutions to their problems is something that energizes us and makes us proud of our work.
"We truly value the ability to learn and communicate higher than having any specific technical skill."
"Build a great team around you by being the sort of person who inspires & encourages others"
- Lorraine Steyn founder @KRSSoftware #wiredwomen
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
You can’t do everything on your own. Build a great team around you by being the sort of person who inspires and encourages others. Your team will help you through the tough times, so invest time in creating good relationships at work and in your personal life.
Don’t get into more debt than you can handle. I believe strongly in the saying “fail fast, fail small” meaning that you try out your idea and learn your lessons as quickly, and cheaply, as possible. Lack of funding is likely to be your biggest problem, so really focus on the money and making best use of your resources.
And enjoy! Being in charge of your own destiny isn’t a privilege that many can claim, but it’s definitely worth pursuing.
Contact or follow Khanyisa Real Systems
Why LoA loves it….
Women techpreneurs with a vision to not only build successful and groundbreaking companies in Africa, but also to inspire new generations of talented young people in the sector, may be relatively small in numbers. But with women such as Lorraine Steyn demonstrating what can be achieved through determination, passion and a love of technology, Africa can look forward to a dynamic and vibrant tech sector in the future. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa