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After leaving the corporate world, the late Matthew Buckland — who passed away in April from cancer — built a digital marketing business, Creative Spark, that employed over 70 people and counted top global and local brands as clients.
Buckland — or Matt as he was affectionately known by all — fulfilled many an entrepreneur’s dream when, after five years, he sold his company for millions to one of the most famous names in global advertising: the listed UK group M&C Saatchi.
But a few years later, he was out on his own again with a new venture — and now with an unexpected battle to fight, the biggest of his life: oesophageal cancer.
So You Want to Build a Startup? is a frank account of the difficulties – and the fun – of building a business. It is filled with practical advice for entrepreneurs on how to open the door to opportunity, life lessons, and insights into South Africa’s own dotcom boom and bust.
Matthew Buckland began writing ‘So You Want to Build a Startup?’ on the first day his chemo started in October 2018
Expect tales of crazy business expansion, wacky characters, management failures and personal growth as well as a complete ecosystem overview for South African startups (see Ventureburn’s review of the book here).
Editor was old acquaintance
Matt’s editor Tafelberg’s Gill Moodie told Ventureburn that she had known him for some time before he approached her with the idea to publish the book, as she used to run the Grubstreet website and the two had helped each other out from time to time in the early days of Memeburn.
“One of my authors, Jonathan Ancer, who used to ride with Matt, suggested he talk to me when Matt told him he was writing a book.
“So, Matthew and I met up over breakfast in Noordhoek last December to chat about it. By that stage Matthew had an almost complete manuscript and when I read it over the Christmas break, I was immediately taken by its easy, breezy style,” said Moodie.
Book was life-long goal of Matt’s
Writing the book had been a life-long goal for Matt, said Matt’s widow Bridget Pringle.
“Matt kept a spreadsheet of all his life goals, and one of them was to write a book about his entrepreneurial journey. It’s something he’s wanted to do ever since he started Creative Spark,” said Pringle.
She said he started writing the book soon after he found out he had cancer.
“His diagnosis was a serious one, and he obviously had a sense of urgency that he needed to share his story.
“He started writing the book on the first day of his chemotherapy treatment in October 2018, and by the time December 2018 came he’d already sent the completed manuscript to Gill Moodie of NB Publishers, and had been offered a publishing deal.
“He was able to complete 99% of the book process, and was still checking the final proofs days before he died. His father, Andrew, took over the final edits in the weeks after his death,” said Pringle.
Asked by Ventureburn what had prompted Matt to include a final chapter on his battle with cancer, she pointed out how his drive to succeed in business had always been closely linked to his personal life.
“Matt’s fight, his drive to succeed and build a business was informed by aspects of his personal life, so he felt it was relevant to include this in his book. And that included the biggest obstacle he had to confront — oesophageal cancer,” she said.
She said Matt hoped that the book would help inspire others.
“Matt had recently reached a place in his professional life where he really felt that his years of experience meant that he could add value to other people and businesses.
“This was particularly evident in the work he did with the MDIF in the last months of his life.
“He felt a huge amount of satisfaction in knowing that the knowledge he shared with media businesses across the world could have a real and practical impact.
“This is what his book is really about — an attempt to share useful and practical insights gained during a varied and successful career that had a unique insight into both media and business.”
This article originally appeared on Ventureburn.
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- You think it’s never going to happen to you, but it’s happening to me – Matthew Buckland [Book excerpt]
- Buckland helped bring together, inspire tech startup community – Silicon Cape
- Farewell Matt, your legacy will forever live on [Obituary]
- African tech startup community pays tribute to Matthew Buckland
- Matthew Buckland, an SA media industry giant and our dear founder, has died
- Mentor, friend, visionary: Tributes pour in for the late Matthew Buckland
- For Buckland: I am sorry the Jack Dorsey interview never happened
‘So You Want to Build A Startup’ retails for R295 and is available in all major bookstore in South Africa (it can also be ordered on Amazon, Takealot and Loot), but Ventureburn is giving away three free copies.
To stand a chance to get a free copy email firstname.lastname@example.org and simply let us know whether you are an investor, entrepreneur or observer and tell us:
- What are the best things about startups in Africa.
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Feature image: Ventureburn/Burn Media