Confessions of an Accidental Tech Entrepreneur

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat is an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) member in Cape Town, South Africa, and founder and CEO of Jack Hammer, one of Africa’s top executive search firms. Debbie found herself unexpectedly at the helm of a new tech company, Virtual Coaching Partners, an online business coach-matching platform that connects professionals who are in career transition with a top quality executive coach in an affordable, accessible and convenient way. She learned some hard lessons during startup, so we asked her about the process. Here’s what she shared:

If you had told me at any point in my adult life that I would become a tech entrepreneur, I’d have quickly assured you that you were utterly nuts. I can’t work my home theater system and still need help navigating iPhone software downloads: Technology and I are not soulmates.

And frankly, when I devised a new business concept early in 2017, the only tech component was a hyperlink from one website to another.

But something significant happened when I attended “Grow,” EO’s regional learning event in Cape Town last February.

The event focused on scaling a business by 10x. The problem: I didn’t have a 10x-scalable business. I’m the CEO of an executive search firm, a professional service that is tough to scale, and relies primarily on increasing headcount for growth.

I spent Day One of the learning event wondering what and how I might “scale.” At first, what came to mind was … absolutely nothing.

Suddenly, a business opportunity that had been rolling around in my head for a couple of years popped back into my brain as often happens when our minds are stimulated at such events.

I jotted down some numbers. Then multiplied those numbers by 10. And then multiplied them again. The penny dropped: I’d identified a scalable business concept.

All in theory, of course. I would need help to transform my idea into reality and increase my odds for success. And this is where I got lucky―sort of.

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