Siya Kolisi on being an entrepreneur

The rugby career of Siya Kolisi, recently awarded South Africa’s 2017 Player’s Player of the Year, is steadily on the rise. Despite this, he realises the importance of diversifying his income.

Siya Kolisi on being an entrepreneur

We chat to Siya Kolisi about his new business called Frankees, which makes ‘underwear you wish was outerwear’.


Tell us a bit more about your new business venture

My former class and teammate, Tim Whitehead, originally approached me about being the face of a designer underwear business idea he had. Looking at the business model, I recognised the growth opportunity and brought my full skillset on board in exchange for 50% ownership. That’s how we started Frankees, which is a designer underwear company. It was an easy decision, because Tim and I already knew each other and have come a long way together. I trust him and together with a good business model, trust is one of the most valuable business commodities.


How do you balance rugby and business? 

I’m not going to lie, it’s been tough. You’d think that investing your money in a good business model is sufficient, but that’s only the starting point. I’ve learnt that you have to work hard to make your money work for you.  

Tim and I split our roles according to our personalities and what comes natural to us – it makes the work less taxing. I focus on marketing and networking, which has taught me perseverance and persistence. Having someone famous post a picture on social media wearing your underwear can have a big impact, but it takes a lot of work to get it out there and arrange everything.


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt along the way?

Set boundaries for who you listen to. People in general can be negative, and if you’re not careful they will talk you out of your business idea. I’ve selected only a few people to walk this journey with, and to whose voices I give importance.


What’s the secret to running a company with happy employees? 

You and your employees should have the same mindset. Take them with on your journey. They are not just the means to an end that produce the work. I always remind myself that it’s not just about making money. I have a responsibility to better the person next to me and create opportunities for them where possible. Someone did it for me, and I cannot begin to explain the impact it had.


What’s next for your business?

There’s always room for growth, especially in the global marketplace. The Internet and social media have brought us many opportunities. We’ve started to receive many international orders, especially from Europe. We got our inspiration from European underwear brands, so our product is already tailored for them. We’re using social media to reach those audiences.


If you could give budding entrepreneurs one tip, what would it be?

Think ahead and diversify your income. While rugby is my main source of income now, I’ve realised that one day it won’t be. Don’t wait until you’re confronted with the problem – be proactive and plan for it now.

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