The next time you get served by a waiter at a restaurant or someone offers to guard your vehicle when parked on a busy road, be nice. You could be talking to a future billionaire. This is exactly where Durban businessman Priven Reddy was just over a decade ago, but today he boasts a net worth of R4 billion. Reddy began the world of work as a car guard and a waiter in his home province, and without any financial backing – only driven by a dream and a desire to prosper in life. Now in his 30s, Reddy owns...
The next time you get served by a waiter at a restaurant or someone offers to guard your vehicle when parked on a busy road, be nice. You could be talking to a future billionaire.
This is exactly where Durban businessman Priven Reddy was just over a decade ago, but today he boasts a net worth of R4 billion. Reddy began the world of work as a car guard and a waiter in his home province, and without any financial backing – only driven by a dream and a desire to prosper in life.
Now in his 30s, Reddy owns five companies and employs 400 staff. Besides a seven-speed V12 Lamborghini among his fleet of cars, Reddy lives in a large Indian Ocean beach-facing penthouse – 20 floors above ground – where he either sits on a couch or steps onto his massive balcony to watch the sea shoreline.
“This is where I unwind before going to work. During the day or at night, the ocean and the tranquil atmosphere is fulfilling,” says Reddy.
Shrugging off self-pity for his early circumstance and setbacks, which included the death of his father Christie when he was 11, has helped Reddy with resilience.
Growing up in Chatsworth, a Durban suburb with high levels of poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse and crime, he was not deterred by his surroundings. His father instilled in him “virtues of honesty, integrity and hard work when I was still a child”.
Young and broke in his early childhood, he survived by collecting cardboard boxes and sold them to a recycler, earning R50 a day. At the age of 20, he then got a job as a waiter in a restaurant – something which made him “excited to get the opportunity”.
His excitement was dented when “one day a guy walked in with his girlfriend and insulted me by ordering me to take their leftover pizza to my family as they needed food”. This was “a sucker punch to my dignity”.
That incident pushed him to work harder on his dream of getting out of the poverty trap. Reddy says he adopted a set of principles to guide him through life challenges.
Finding your inner drive and keep feeding it.
The biggest opportunities are found where things are the most difficult.
There is no substitute for hard work.
“Once I stopped blaming the world for everything that went against me, I started to grow,” says Reddy.
He now heads Kagiso Interactive Media, which he launched in 2008. As if this was not enough, he also recently launched Krypteum – a technology his company developed to simplify cryptocurrency trading.
Reddy saw a gap in the cryptocurrency trading market, by simplifying the manner of doing business. He achieved this by building a product that uses artificial intelligence to free users from having to be online 24 hours a day.
He then launched Dryvar in 2017, which has come up with an application that helps passengers in his e-hailing transport business choose the gender of the driver.
“I did this as a response to growing cases of gender-based violence, a crisis affecting mostly women,” he says.
“People talk about the American dream, but I am living the South African dream. It took me over a decade to get to where I am.
“If you are resilient you will get to where you are supposed to be.”
He says of the launch 12 years ago of Kagiso Interactive as a web design agency: “I had learnt graphic design at my brother-in-law's design studio and was making a little money doing a few below-the-line advertising projects for clients.
“I had a chance meeting with a guy in a coffee shop who asked me to meet his brother. We met and ended up launching a small start-up from his garage, combining my graphic design and business skills with his web-building skills.”
In broadening his scope in business, Reddy met an IT entrepreneur who was based in India through an online platform.
“We became friends and spent a lot of time discussing our companies, our clients and troubleshooting any business problems we experienced. He planted the seeds of app development in my head.”
Due to a friend's persistence, Reddy ended up in mobile applications development. Kagiso Interactive spent years outsourcing its work to India.
“I reached a point where I didn't want to be a factory. I wanted to offer a lifetime warranty on the applications we built,” he says.
“With this in mind, I started building my own team, upskilling and moulding them with a service-first culture.”
When, in 2014, the Saudi royal family contacted Kagiso, the company had built over 1 000 applications and had developed a strong reputation in the market.
“Working with the Saudi royal family has been a game-changer for us – a lot of our clients are based in Dubai – but none of that could happen overnight,” says Reddy.
In one of his sports cars and driving around KwaZulu-Natal's Umhlanga, Reddy, who has become an inspiration to many people, tonight sleeps without agony – due to hard work.
For more news your way, download The Citizen's app for iOS and Android.