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Shaun Duvet on The Unit Group and the Impact of COVID-19

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Shaun Duvet, Founder and CEO at The Unit Group (Source: Unit Group website)

The impact of Covid-19 is changing the way organisations operate and do business about the world. The entertainment industry is not exempted as it’s adjudged the second affected industry after the aviation, travel and hospitality industry. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Shaun Duvet the Founder and CEO of The Unit Group shares his brand story and the Impact of Covid-19. Excerpt.

Alaba: Could you tell us about the Unit Group and the gap it’s filling since you launched?

Shaun: The Unit Group was established  in 2017 as the holding company for my various business interests which include: COCO, GoldBar and Souk (my venues), Ultra South Africa, Corona Sunsets Festivals, Anything Goes, AG Virtual, Bella Bookings, Salute, Jet Black & Paradise Springs. These businesses cover all functions of entertainment marketing, management, hospitality, sponsorship and eventing from design, to staffing and artist booking, to production and everything in between.

The gap we launched The Unit Group to fill was that of a true understanding of marketing in the entertainment space. So many brands want to play in this space because the audiences are so receptive and the engagement so high, yet so few of them truly understand it. We felt that we had the marketing know-how, and a deep love and knowledge of not only this space, but the global players within it. 

Alaba: What services does your company offer?

Shaun: The services offered range from throwing small corporate events to festivals for 50, 000 pax; to sponsorship strategies, virtual events; to full spectrum design, photography, videography; artist, model and staff bookings; marketing, and PR strategies and much, much more. 

Alaba: How has the market responded to your offerings?

Shaun: We have seen a huge uptake in clients that previously came to us just to make the party happen, now asking for marketing, creative and strategic advice. AG Virtual, which launched this year, has also seen the likes of AFI (African Fashion Week) approach us to do their full virtual production.

Alaba: The steady rise of South Africa’s entertainment industry has  increased competition in the country. What’s your company’s advantage?

Shaun: My 20+ years of experience and my years behind the decks. I live and breathe music and entertainment which enables me to understand what the market wants and keep abreast of global trends. I also have incredible teams in place that keep our work fresh and relevant, and the machine in constant motion.

Alaba: Kindly share some of the challenges faced, especially in this dire time and how you overcoming them? 

Shaun: The challenge of this year is obvious – no events, no DJ’s, no dancing! That’s our life blood. We have managed though to stay busy by diversifying what we offer and working more strategically. Helping brands activate within the highly connected urban youth market in an authentic and resonant manner. Some of our venues are also still operational, and the festivals and events teams are taking some much-needed down time before the parties start again, which we know they will do with a renewed energy when we’re out of the current COVID crisis.

Alaba: Technology is disrupting the entertainment industry across the globe. How’s your company adapting to the use of technology?

Shaun: As mentioned, we have launched AG Virtual which is doing well. But we have always been at the forefront of event and entertainment technology in our work. Our audience demands it. 

Alaba: How does your company contribute and set new standards in the South African entertainment industry?  

Shaun: I regularly write and speak on industry channels and give back to the industry that way. We also ensure that we are constantly raising the bar with the work that we do, meaning that more people around the world sit up and take notice which will ultimately benefit the whole industry.  

Alaba: What’s the future for the Unit Group and are you post COVID-19 ready?

Shaun: We cannot wait for life to return to “normal”. Down time was nice, but we’re rested now and it’s time to work! 

Alaba: How do you relax and what keeps you going? 

Shaun: I have 3 young kids so relaxation is scarce, but they certainly keep me going

Alaba: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs and investors coming to South Africa?

Shaun: Come! Don’t be afraid. There is risk, yes, but the rewards are also so great. We live in such a special place and I really believe in the future of this country.

Also Read Closing The Gender Gap: An Interview with Dream Girl Global (DGG) Founder, Precious Oladokun

B I O G R A P H Y

Shaun Duvet, CEO and Founder of The Unit, South Africa’s leading entertainment-based holding company, a combination of enterprises, individually built to make brands better. Shaun is also the CEO and Founder of Anything Goes, the branded entertainment agency, aligning campaigns, properties and music tours with international brands and artists across the continent.

He is the co-Founder and Director of ULTRA South Africa, which brings 50,000 dance-music revellers together every year to see some biggest names in eEectronic Music. He is the partner and producer for Corona Sunsets Festival South Africa, which over the last 5 years has seen over 40,000 fans join together across three cities to celebrate the sunset.
He is a co-owner and operator for COCO, one of SA’s premiere nightclubs, think celebrities, Ibiza-style go-go dancers, Hip Hop MCs, and a parade of sparkler-topped bottles, this alongside it’s sister GoldBar, an elegant bar annex to COCO.

Shaun Duvet is a board member and proud supporter of Bridges For Music, a non-profit organization that utilises the power of music to uplift communities through creative education. Recently, partnering with Defected Records on a new imprint Sondela Records all of whose profits will channel back directly into the charity.

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WaxPrint Media and AfricaNXT Unlocking Growth for African Founders at NY Tech Week

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WaxPrint Media partnered with AfricaNXT to present #dmaAfrica (Download My App), an interactive platform for African founders to foster meaningful connections with potential customers and investors. The program was held at Linkedin Social Impact HQ at the Empire State Building in Manhattan, NYC.

Each of the 5 startup founders engaged groups in 2 rounds of flash focus group sessions where attendees downloaded the apps or engaged the website for onboarding and provided feedback in real time. Following the focus groups, the founders pitched their early stage startups to a panel of investors/experts which included:

The featured founders represented diverse startups focused on tourism, sustainability, networking, and cultural experiences:

  • Isaac Otoo, founder of MigranX, the cultural copilot connecting immigrants and international students with authentic cultural experiences
  • Cavaughn J. Noel, MBA founder of daap, “Connect better”
  • Ibukunoluwa Adebayo, co-founder of Greensol.io, an All-in-One App focused on Utility bills payment and Solar Sales, Maintenance and Management
  • Marwh Nabil, co-founder of Easy Meets, a marketplace that simplifies planning hangouts & trips for groups or individuals and provides businesses with valuable information about potential customers.
  • Yoma Onosemuode, founder of Travelbay, the best way to plan, curate, book and experience travel across Africa.

“I have worked with African tech startups and founders over the past 10 years and have a deep understanding of their needs to achieve growth. A viable product and a community of loyal ambassadors can determine their capacity to scale and we sought to create that bridge for these founders with a focus on Africa during NY Tech Week,” shared Muhammida El Muhajir, #dmaAfrica co-host and Director of Strategy at WaxPrint Media, a boutique digital/communications agency with clients in over 22 countries.

#dmaAfrica co-hosts: WaxPrint Media Director of Strategy , Muhammida El Muhajir and Ngozi Odita, founder of AfricaNXT

NY Tech Week is an “unconference”,  an unbranded week of events sponsored by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) a Silicon Valley based venture capital firm and  hosted by various members of the tech community all under the umbrella of “Tech Week.” NY Tech Week was an opportunity to showcase what makes the New York tech community special, meet people from across venture and startups, and learn from the best founders and companies.

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“The #dmaAfrica  event was an extension of our mission at AfricaNXT where we serve a global community eager to connect to Africa through diverse programming, immersive experiences, high-level conversations, and game-changing connections. We were thrilled to collaborate with Linkedin to support us in making an impact for these innovations from the African tech community in NYC,” added Ngozi Odita,  founder of AfricaNXT one of Nigeria’s leading innovation conferences.

The program closed with panelists iterating on each startup and answering the question “Will you download my app?”.

“Participating in #dmaAfrica was one of the best event experiences I have had as a founder. It was unlike any other and allowed me to intimately exchange with users and investors, share my story and see how they experience my web app. It forced me to go deeper and rethink how I communicate my vision and product,” said Yoma Onosemuode, the founder of Travelbay.

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CliniDo: Your Personalized Healthcare Companion

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CliniDo Mina Shawky CEO and Hitham Essam CTO, at GITEX Africa

CliniDo, a MENA leading health tech innovator, With CliniDo’s revolutionary voice search functionality, connecting with a healthcare provider takes mere seconds. CliniDo transcends the limitations of a typical healthcare app. They envision themselves as your trusted healthcare companion, offering unwavering support throughout your health journey. Whether you’re experiencing a new symptom or managing a chronic condition, CliniDo provides personalized and exceptional customer-focused solutions.

Founded in January 2020 in Assiut Egypt, by Wael Soliman, Mina Shawky, and Hitham Essam, CliniDo aims to be the ultimate healthcare companion, providing top-notch medical services in Egypt and the MENA.

Your Voice Heard: Instant Connection Through Voice Search

Imagine needing medical attention and simply voicing your needs. With CliniDo’s revolutionary voice search functionality, connecting with a healthcare provider takes mere seconds. Forget complex menus or frustrating typing – just speak your needs, and CliniDo will connect you to the right healthcare provider. This innovative approach showcased at GITEX exemplifies CliniDo’s commitment to streamlining healthcare access.

Guiding You from Symptoms to Solutions: AI-Powered Support

CliniDo takes the guesswork out of your healthcare journey. Simply describe your symptoms to their AI-powered system, and it will recommend the most appropriate medical specialty for your needs. This ensures you receive the right care, right away – a testament to CliniDo’s commitment to efficiency and patient well-being, a theme that pervaded GITEX discussions.

Personalized Content Tailored to Your Needs

CliniDo doesn’t stop at connecting you with healthcare providers. Recognizing that knowledge empowers, they provide customized medical and educational content that aligns with your specific condition. This empowers you to make informed decisions about your healthcare journey.

A Complete Healthcare Ecosystem at Your Fingertips

CliniDo offers a comprehensive suite of healthcare services, all conveniently accessible through their platform. Here’s a glimpse into what attendees at GITEX found particularly exciting about CliniDo’s offerings:

  • Book appointments with doctors: Find the right doctor for your needs and schedule appointments in seconds.
  • Book clinic consultations: Schedule in-person consultations with your chosen healthcare provider.
  • Book home visits: Get the care you need from doctors or nurses from the comfort of your own home.
  • Book lab tests from home: No need to go to a lab. Order your tests and have them collected from your home.
  • Request Medication: Easily request your medication.
  • New! Book medical services: This exciting new Product allows you to directly book any medical service you require, streamlining the process and saving you valuable time.
  • Next: Bookings and Payment Solutions: CliniDo’s commitment to continuous innovation is clear. you will soon be able to book surgeries and procedures directly through CliniDo, with a convenient installment payment solution built into the platform.

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Making a Measurable Impact

CliniDo’s dedication to patient care is reflected in their impressive achievements. They’ve proudly served over half a million patients, connected them with more than 11,000 doctors and healthcare providers, and facilitated over two million dollars in healthcare transactions. These numbers represent countless individuals who have received the care they need, thanks to CliniDo’s innovative platform.

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Rhea, a women-led Kenyan startup is cultivating change in AgriTech

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Rhea CEO and Co-Founder, Priscilla Wakarera (Image: Supplied).

Rhea is a dynamic agritech start-up that is revolutionizing soil health management with innovative IoT sensors, empowering smallholder farmers to practice precision agriculture for sustainable and profitable crop cultivation.

GITEX Africa 2024, was held in Marrakech, Morocco from May 29th to 31st, 2024. The event was an incredible platform for tech enthusiasts, startups, and industry leaders to converge, showcasing the dynamic growth and potential of Africa’s tech ecosystem.

Participating at GITEX AFRICA allowed Rhea to make meaningful connections with service providers who will be instrumental for our growth. The showcases by established market players were a source of invaluable learning and inspiration as we continue to build our vision.

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Additionally, engaging in insightful conversations with ecosystem drivers has opened new avenues for collaboration and support. Rhea is looking forward to the days and months ahead, the organization is excited to foster collaborations with the connections that were made during GITEX Africa 2024.

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