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Business duo have their heads in the right place

Eddie Seane and Mafadi Mpuru’s business is driven by making a difference. Pictures: Supplied

Eddie Seane and Mafadi Mpuru’s business is driven by making a difference. Pictures: Supplied

Published Oct 25, 2021

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Two boys meet at film school with ideas of being the next Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee or Quentin Tarantino, and to make the greatest movies ever.

Eddie Seane and Mafadi Mpuru’s business is driven by making a difference. Pictures: Supplied

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The founders share a passion for live broadcasts.

Fast-forward to the present, both young men still dream big but they are not Hollywood directors. Instead they run a big broadcast production house, Vision View.

The business partnership is built on mutual respect.

There’s no doubt that Eddie Seane and Mafadi Mpuru are headed for the stars.

Seane says: “I grew up playing cricket and the dream was to one day represent the Proteas, but upon realising that I would not make it at the highest level in cricket, I followed my childhood dream of making movies and live sports coverage.”

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“All my books as a youngster were always covered in pictures of sports heroes, and it was only natural that I wanted to tell those sports stories from my perspective on screen. This was also during a time where Tebogo Mahlatsi and the Mfundi Vundla were really portraying relatable content on Yizo Yizo and Generations, respectively, and I saw myself as someone who could also contribute in that space.”

The two entrepreneurs have not forgotten where they come from.

Mpuru says the entertainment industry “fascinates me in many ways because it makes people happy and gives lots of people hope and inspiration”.

He adds: “I was in Grade 10 when I decided I wanted to work in the television business. I got inspired by the show Take 5. They came to my school to profile it and I just fell in love with the way the cameraman was doing his job. I then decided that I wanted to try my hand at TV work.”

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Says Mpuru further: “Television is one of the most important communication systems in the world so that notion inspires me; that I can communicate with the world without knowing the people. If we can make a few people happy everyday by showing them something exciting on television, we have done well.”

Vision View started producing television shows and music videos in 2005 while the duo – now co-CEOs of Vision View – were still freelancing and raising capital for their own business.

The work they produced was cutting-edge enough to gain them recognition and soon they hired their first employee while working from the boot of their car.

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“We started producing five-minute inserts for Supersport when local football was not even popular on their platforms. This led to growth in our confidence and bonded us as creatives. The next step was when we were commissioned to produce the Jomo Cosmos show Ezenkosi. The show was successful. Growth was natural and organic due to the new demands placed on us by projects we got involved in.”

“Vision View then had to dig deep into their pockets and we had to acquire experienced and talented producers, camera operators and editors whilst we developed and created space for new entrants into the industry, who we trained ourselves.“

The two head honchos, as technical people, had to urgently learn new skills in Management and Business to enable them to run their fledgling company.

Unlike other start-ups in the broadcasting space funded by one monopoly, Vision View wasn’t birthed from that incubation programme.

“Vision View Productions is a self-funded business which could never get bank loans and external funding due to [racial] profiling by banks and lack of assets at the time. So every cent earned by the two of us had to be planted back into the business to take care of the obligation towards salaries, office needs, equipment hire and investing in ultimately buying our own equipment.

“Our major challenge was in 2010, when we almost closed the business after our facilities were burgled and all our equipment was stolen. The had to rebuild once more by ourselves, with the help of family members who believed in us. The staff stayed the course with us during those tough months. That was when we realised that we cannot take anything for granted solely because many households depended on the salaries we paid to our staff and this strengthened our resolve to work even harder for our staff,” the two echo each other.

They concur that: “As a creative and progressive company we started playing in the space of live television as that was our strong point. We presented our growth path to the MultiChoice Enterprise Board, which decided to give us an interest-free loan to help us achieve our next project. Mentors were assigned to help us to safeguard their interest and ensure that the investment was successful. In 2013, Vision View was the first company to be used as a success story for their Enterprise Development strategy and ever since they have assisted other businesses which would have otherwise not made it and for that we are grateful.”

The wisdom of the two belies their young age.

“We were in our formative years inspired by the desire to escape the poverty that was so prevalent in our families, that we could see all the distractions for what they were early on in life. Having been shaped by tough circumstances and inspirational leaders who beat the odds, one realised early on the power of an opportunity and the importance of being responsible with the little resources at one’s disposal. Many generations before us could have achieved way more, but were denied the same opportunities by the system then. We are alive to the suffering in our country and the fact it is a privilege to be where we are and need to steward this with the utmost care for the next generation. This informs our strategy and outlook in terms of social investments.”

The ownership of Vision View is a straight-forward 50-50 split.

The two mavericks say they went against business conventions by being driven - first and foremost by the mutual respect for each other, having started as students in the same classroom. They were drawn to each other by their shared struggles at film school.

Beyond their business partnership, they consider themselves friends, and family!

Relationships matter to both of them, they agree. And that is how they have treated each staff member and built a business where staff have a sense of belonging.

Seane holds the likes of Irvin Khoza, Kaizer Motaung, Imtiaaz Patel, Richard Maponya and Happy Ntshingila in high esteem. “They have managed to build sustainable and important businesses when it was not fashionable in the midst of serious challenges.”

Mpuru says his inspiration “is my father because of his work ethic and knowledge that he has about life”.

“He is 85-years-old now but is still knowledgeable and is the smartest person I know. Growing up, I always wanted to be like my father because he always worked for himself and he is a great leader; so I always knew I’ll work for myself. My second inspiration is my family. They are the ones that make me wake up every day and want to do something good and inspirational. Being brought up by my mother, who was a teacher for most of her life, has endeared me to the value of education and being prepared for opportunities in life. She also loved people and that’s where my love and respect for people comes from.”

The company’s CSI budget is huge – and very active.

“Vision View Productions Bursary Scheme, which has afforded opportunities to 16 black South African youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to study at universities of their choice in South Africa, is the first. Then comes the Mogale High Schools League, an elite football league of 10 schools in the city. We provide transport to and from games, kits and food on every game day. Mosupatsela Secondary School won the inaugural challenge. We then run the Broadcast Career Exhibition to expose kids to 100s of careers within the broadcasting space.”

“We also run Adopt a School – Kagiso Senior Secondary School and Sehlaku High School in Limpopo are beneficiaries.”

“Giving back is critical because the beneficiaries are the very people and society that has brought us up,” Seane and Mpuru agree.

Vision View has a system integration department and all but one of their trucks were built in-house by local talent. They are also able to design and build trucks and studios for clients.

“We are open for business to anyone who wants to lease an Outside Broadcast (OB) truck from us as well to build one for them according to their specs.”

The company employs 83 full-time staff members and uses hundreds of freelancers on a weekly basis.

They say the sky's the limit and one gets the sense that this is not just another cliché. They mean business.

The two are each married; Seane is a gym fanatic while Mpuru plays golf.

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