To explain, he likened corporate employment to being addicted to heroin. “The heroin shot is the money in the bank account at the end of each month. We are addicted to it and cannot imagine doing without it.”
With school fees, house and car repayments to worry about, Buckland was more cautious, unlike the typical entrepreneur who follows his passion. “It took eight years of plotting, scheming and building up a runway before I ventured out,” he said.
Buckland was guest speaker at the Johannesburg chapter of the DESTINY & DESTINY MAN Power of 40 events in association with Bisquit Cognac. The first of the series, it was held at Emoyeni, Parktown, this week.
Guests were treated to a cocktail dinner accompanied by an assortment of Bisquit cognacs. The spectacular night-time view of the leafy northern suburbs from the balcony provided the perfect backdrop for Bisquit Brand Manager Afrikayethu Tyulu’s mini cognac appreciation lesson.
And then it was down to business, with the event taking on a live audience talk-show format with DESTINY MAN Editor Kojo Baffoe playing host and interviewer to Buckland.
Feeding off their common interests, the pair weaved through various subjects, including entrepreneurship, advances in Internet technology, traditional and social media, and app development, among others.
Though Buckland kept on referring to himself as cautious, his track record proves otherwise. He had an early start having convinced his parents to buy him a computer at age seven.
Originally from East London, Buckland went on to study journalism at Rhodes University and was among the second group of proud graduates of the New Media Lab.
His career gained momentum when he joined the Mail & Guardian as online GM. He later joined Media24.com and innovated an application that saw rural community members consult medical practitioners off site via mobile phone.
A convention of Internet entrepreneurs hosted by Media24 parent company Naspers inspired him to leave the corporate world and start Creative Spark.
In less than three years his business has grown to include www.memeburn.com, www.memejobs.com and www.gearburn.com, sites that track emerging web technologies and start-ups on the continent and beyond.
Buckland shared pearls of wisdom picked up on his journey with the audience.
Lessons from a mentor
Buckland was at the Mail & Guardian for a few months when Zimbabwean entrepreneur Trevor Ncube took it over. At the time the publication was in the process of re-inventing itself, having previously been donor-funded like an NGO as an activist newspaper helping bring apartheid to its knees.
The online version of the paper was not making money and Ncube wanted to shut it down.
“In fact, he cut the staff by half. I quickly realised that the only way I could survive was if I proved to Trevor that this thing could make money,” Buckland said.
He then created a blogging platform that gave influential people, including politicians, commentators and journalists, a voice. It was a success, grew very quickly and later became The Thought Leader.
Under Ncube’s wing, Buckland's entrepreneurial instincts kicked in as he learnt that, “Everything has to make money, everything has to justify itself, and have a revenue stream.”
To find out about more about upcoming DESTINY & DESTINY MAN Power of 40 events, click here.
* Look out for the second instalment of lessons learned by Buckland next week.