The SA Innovation Summit partnered with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) to bring you the Pitch & Perfect Season 4 which aims to bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and funders. The best SMME ideas and businesses were chosen to pitch in the regional competitions to a panel of judges made up of representatives from developmental funding institutions, commercial banks and venture capitalists. The panel scored the pitch and gave advice on improvements and praise where an enterprise had done well. Entrepreneurs who excelled at the regional level were put forward to pitch at the SA Innovation Summit national final, on 11th Sept. The top three enterprises were offered technology incentives, in the form of technology/equipment procured on the winners’ behalf from a supplier of their choice.
Cape Town based Intelligent Safe Technologies, founded by Giancarlo Bruno took the first prize. Intelligent Safe Technologies produces a smart, computer controlled, high security dispensing system for high value retail stock. His win in the Seda Pitching Den also gave him automatic entry into the ANDZA Pitching Den where he scooped the third prize.
We spoke to Giancarlo about this technology that is set out to solve the problem of armed robberies in retail tele-communications and his experience in participating in the SA Innovation Summit.
Who is Giancarlo Bruno?
I am a lifelong entrepreneur, who is passionate about problem solving and customer service. I am also blessed to be a father and husband. My family is important to me and without them I would never have been able to have achieved a fraction of what I have.
What is Intelligent Safe?
In our opinion the Intelligent Safe™ is the worlds smartest retail safe, the safe was designed and developed to assist retailers in a variety of ways; most notably by allowing retailers an opportunity to react to and prevent armed robberies.
What made you participate in the SA Innovation Summit competitions?
My participation was largely brought about by a desire to constantly improve myself, having never pitched before I viewed this as a great chance to learn a new skill with the possibility of moving my product forward if I did well.
Has your participation in the SA Innovation Summit had any impact in your business?
Absolutely, having won 2 prizes it will assist us to continue developing our product as well as facilitating introductions to a range of people whom would never have come across the safe in our normal day to day activities.
What are some of the challenges you have been faced with while developing your product?
The most difficult part of the journey has been trying to manage a multi disciplinary team of mechanical engineer, software and electronics engineers as a lay person with limited technological knowledge – the second largest issue has been funding which is common in start ups.
What’s next for Giancarlo and Intelligent Safe?
As an entrepreneur I am passionate about problem solving and reaching my full potential – ultimately I will be happy as an entrepreneur when I have reached my personal goals. For Intelligent safe our critical milestones are firstly to 100% complete product development on our current platform and then start development of our next generation product capable of realising the vision we have for the safe. We believe we have created a product with global scope and appeal and ultimately the goal is to have thousands of units being used by retailers and para statals globally
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs or those looking to start their own business?
The most important thing for any entrepreneur to do is to start, every journey starts with a first step, from there the road will never be as expected but just get out there and get going. After starting; everything is about resilience, the ability to keep going regardless of all the curve balls life will throw at you. Keep going…. Every time you think you can’t keep going just push through, the saying “its always darkest before the dawn” is so true in my experience.