Eugene Peters:The Marketplace Apostle Redefining Entrepreneurship and The True Meaning Of Success….

Eugene’s passion for young people is evident in the way he speaks. At each turn in our conversation, he keeps referring to them. Knowing what most young people face these days, he refuses to be a silent observer. In a society where most are content being the only stories of success, even revel in it, he is set apart by his genuine love for the next generation of entrepreneurs. He hungers for every young person with a dream to get an opportunity to pursue it.

“Entrepreneurship is not a straight road. You don’t get to the finish line (you never get to the finish line!) all hyped up; you get there in sweat and blood. There are people and circumstances that will try to stop you, attack you, stifle your confidence and growth. Ignore it all and focus on the dream, on the victory that will definitely come.”

How do you introduce yourself to people?

My first name is actually Gilbert but I find it easier to just use Eugene Peters.

I’m a Pan-African entrepreneur with interests in various industries. I don’t limit myself to just Zimbabwe; we are in a large continent and there’s so much to be achieved beyond our borders.

Walk me through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you get started?

It took me a long time to realise that what I was doing was entrepreneurship. As a young man, I didn’t know what was in store for me but I knew there was something I needed to achieve with my life. I’m a graphic designer by profession, an artist. I breathe life into what I create.

I would say that it’s my calling, it’s what I was made to do – to be creative, and it’s what I’m good at. I don’t have a formal qualification but have years of training; creativity comes naturally to me. When you have a natural talent combined with passion, it’s easy to learn quickly especially if you are teachable. I spent four years working in an organisation that gave me an opportunity to learn and put my skills to good use – they helped me refine my creativity. I decided to branch out on my own as I had noticed a gap in the market. I’d gotten married young and it was important to me to take care of my family. Giving up what was comfortable to pursue my dream was a huge risk but it’s something I knew I needed to do. I was restless and I needed to break free from my comfort zone. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit. After getting full support from my wife, I quit my job and started pursuing my passion. This was such a huge risk but I believed in the vision I had, I believed I needed to pursue it. When I registered Spidex Media, we had no offices. I would meet clients in town then complete the jobs at home. This was unsustainable. I was limiting my own growth, I needed to be all in. The moment I opened a physical location and set up office, I realised that what I was doing wasn’t something small. I saw the potential of how massive it was going to become. As I grew more successful, I started doing a lot of research into defining what I was, what I was doing. A few of my friends were also starting out and we needed something that would define us. We didn’t believe we were businessmen; we were a different breed to what people term a ‘businessman.’ We were young, hungry, ambitious – we were…. Entrepreneurs.

Tell me more about Spidex Media

Spidex Media is a Media and Creative house, focusing on businesses that want to grow and scale up their brands. We are a hub of talented individuals brought together by our passion to make a difference. When I’m recruiting, I don’t consider qualifications only. When I started out, I didn’t have them but someone believed in me and gave me an opportunity, I do the same now. Companies like mine thrive because we don’t only look at prequalifications on paper to hire someone. We look at how a person thinks, how they solve problems and because of that, we’ve ended up with an incredible team of problem solvers who deliver. Autonomy is critical to me, I hire people that I trust, that can get the job done even if I’m not there. We are a team of 25 creatives and growing – we are not slowing down. I love it when they challenge my ideas because they are talented individuals who understand how to generate revenue for their clients, make the clients look good in terms of creative execution, market penetration, brand resonance and brand loyalty.

We are one of the best in the country.

What was life like growing up?

I’m the oldest of 3 boys!

I grew up in Highfields, in a single parent household, my dad left when we were very young. My mum worked so hard to give us a good life. Singles mothers are strong I tell you! They double in duties of the father and the mother and never give up.

She raised 3 boys, sent us all to school, and always made sure there was food on the table. Seeing our mum struggle and work so hard made us man up, do odd jobs and learn to also bring food to the table. When I finished my O levels, I had to look for something to do. I was a confused young man but I knew there was something I was meant to do with my life.

What’s the most memorable chapter in your life that shaped you into who you are today?

When I was in 15, there was a computer programme initiative from an NGO that was launched in our Highfields community. I was curious about computers so I volunteered to be part of the group that would be tutored and in turn help others who were keen to learn. Some people were scared to try something they were unfamiliar with but I was keen, I wanted to learn and it was at that time I was introduced to the world of the internet!

I started learning by using the program Paint, this is where my love for graphic designing ignited. I was dedicated, hardworking and at the end of the initiative, I received a certificate. Looking back, I realise this was a tipping point in my life. I knew that with passion and perseverance, I could become anything I wanted in my life.

Did your environment growing up contribute to who you are today?

I got married when I was really young.

When I got married, a lot of people questioned how I was going to put food on the table. There was a lot of negativity about my choices. Some people I had considered friends laughed at me and disowned me.I needed to relocate to a place where no one knew me. That was a decision I made, to stand on my own, to face the challenges that were going to come my way and learn to be a man who could take care of his wife. This was a step in the right direction for the growth that then came.

What was the trigger for your entrepreneurial journey?

There was a time in Zimbabwe where there was a huge demand of satellite dishes. My cousin and I decided to start installations for people. I didn’t think it would be too difficult to learn. We learnt how to install them properly and began our small business of satellite dish installations.We supplied and installed in over 2,000 households! I didn’t know at that time it was entrepreneurship but the drive to succeed, to learn, to work hard has always been there.

You faced a lot of adversity from a young age, how did you overcome the challenges to get to where you are now?

I’m a firm believer in God. I believe that when you step into your purpose, there are people that are put in your path to help you along your journey. There’s certain information that you get access to that would have otherwise been impossible to get. There are divine helpers that you cross paths with that change the trajectory of your story. I was a talented but shy young man; I couldn’t talk to people – I could get the job done but I didn’t have a personal brand. My confidence was lacking, largely because the status quo seemed to dictate that to be successful, you needed a degree, the right qualifications, proper education. I didn’t have any of that but I wanted to succeed, I had to be creative in how I presented myself if I was ever going to make my mark. I knew talent alone wouldn’t take me where I envisioned. I had the skills but I needed to put in a bit of work on my confidence. I started reading a lot of books and with each book I read, my knowledge and confidence surfaced. When you’re confident, you can articulate better, people begin to pay attention.

Relationships and networking are what grew my business. I interacted with people that I knew would mention my name in a room full of opportunities. I delivered on what I promised, kept my word and I became trusted by the business community.

Tell us more about your growth journey

I wasn’t going to be a typical entrepreneur; I was going to do things differently.

I wasn’t going to be divorced from my business. All my clients have direct access to me whenever they need me. My personal brand became an effective tool that drove my business. Spidex Media made me who I am today, in order to take it to another level, I had to work on my brand. I used to be media shy but that wasn’t helping me grow, I needed to become more visible. I knew by sharing my success, my story, I would potentially inspire young people interested in pursuing their passion. I worked hard, really hard and delivered. I was consistent and because of this, I started getting noticed in the corporate world. I’ve won various awards but the one I’ll always remember was my first one, at the age of 25.I won the Entrepreneur of the Year award. When I walked up to receive it, the presenter asked me if I was collecting it on behalf of someone else. He said I was too young to be receiving such an award!Sometimes when growth starts happening, if you don’t have a roadmap, you can fall or get distracted. The standing ovation I received each time I won an award was fuel that accelerated my growth journey, I knew I wanted to be more, I was hungry to do more. Part of me was still a scared young man, surprised that anyone was taking notice of me, I kept thinking;

I’ve reached so high, what if I fall? What if I become a has been? When you’re flying high, the fear is to fall, to go back to the beginning.  

To alleviate this, I started putting mechanisms to safeguard what I had built so far. This has helped me to be more at peace and concentrate on growth. I don’t ever want to stop taking risks, or to be afraid to take them.

What is your passion?

To create things that stand the test of time, that bring about a change.

I love to invent, to create memorable touchpoints. I want people to see, to notice the innovation behind physical attributes of a brand. Formulating an idea and bringing it to fruition, conceptualising ground breaking touchpoints from zero give me life.

What do you stand for? How do you make a difference in the society you are in today?

There are so many Eugene’s in this country. Young people who because they are in certain environments think they cannot become anything, they are stuck and have no guidance. I didn’t have anyone guiding me so I’m a mentor to young people and help them succeed even quicker than I did. We can reach the top, all of us, there has to be more of us with successful stories. I see myself in a lot of upcoming, business focused young people and I want to help them. When I was starting out, people didn’t open doors for me until according to them, I became a somebody worth interacting with. What happens then to those who don’t show significant progress, who is going to look after them, who is going to guide them? This is where I step in. Success is not determined by your background. If a lot of us have a growth mindset and can be guided, imagine what our infrastructure and economy in the country can become.

What keeps you up at night? 

When you embark on this journey, sleeping becomes a luxury. There are various things that keep me up at night. Livelihoods of people relying on me, depending on me. When the world is silent, it’s the best time I can think clearly, refocus, go through my day and reflect.

It’s the best time for me to plan my next move.

Is this what you had envisioned your life would be?

Ten years ago, my sole mission was to have enough money to feed my family and have basics. Five years on, I needed a new mission – my family was well taken care of, it was time to grow. This is when I knew what my life would become from that moment on.

In a nutshell, what’s your hustle? Are you able to separate your hustle from your personal life?

Entrepreneurship and being a marketplace apostle. I bring young people on board, to become part of my success story and hopefully branch out at some point.

We need more people succeeding.

I have 3 young kids and I’m creating a legacy that will hopefully open up doors for them when they are older. It’s difficult to separate my personal brand from my work. The company made me who I am and I made the company what it is today. We move as one which is a huge risk! Reputation is a two edged sword; it can raise me up or cut me down. I try and get a good balance between my personal life and my professional life, it’s hard but I try. I hope this brand that I’ve created will be able to make a huge impact and difference in our economy for many years to come.

How do you unwind?

I love music, it helps me relax. Most of my friends are musicians and I visit them in their studios when they’re recording. When I can, although it’s becoming rare, I go out with friends, somewhere we can have a good laugh and listen to good music.I occasionally play golf which is now quite popular among people my age.

What do you still want to achieve?

I’m grateful for what I’ve achieved so far. I’m only 33 and have achieved way more than I had anticipated so I’m grateful.

I’m an ambitious person so this is not where I want to stop. I want to make global impact. We have one person that’s talked about globally, he grew up in the same environment we grew up in so there’s nothing stopping us from achieving the same level of success. That’s what I’m striving towards and I want to take as many people as I can with me.

 

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