Tsholofelo Mokone found a brand new way to incite pride in the African Heritage

Tripswitch, an urban night market, with a focus on African cuisine, African fashion and African art was started in Pretoria, South Africa by Tsholefolo Mokone. It has since gained so much popularity that people now travel from far and wide to Pretoria to visit the Night Market. Because of its Afrocentric character, it not only appeals to locals and neighbouring southern African residents, it is quick becoming the tourist’s destination.

It’s surprising to find that the terribly gorgeous, young entrepreneur is actually socially awkward and a little shy. It definitely adds to her edge.

The young CEO says of her success,

“I think I realized that Tripswitch was a success two months ago, when the venue capacity of the place we had rented out was 600, and we had about 800 people inside and had a long queue waiting to enter.”

Here are some of the factors Tsholofelo mentions as contributing to her success.

Make your Idea your own, Be Ingenious

I used to visit markets a lot in Johannesburg in my first year at the University of Pretoria, and the constant travelling would strain me. Then I thought of having a neighborhood market in Hatfield, Pretoria for students. The market started gaining popularity amongst the working class and I decided to move to Pretoria Central, where the city revival by the City of Tshwane and City property was under way. I noticed that most markets were very urban and modern and had no African element to them, then, I decided to make Tripswitch a market where you come to enjoy African cuisine. Tripswitch is the first night market in Pretoria and “Tripswitch” to me means switching from customary market trends to an Afro-inspired night market. That was how the name came about. A lot of thought process went into it and each step was carefully doctored.

People will leave, stick to your vision.

I started Tripswitch with a friend of mine who we chose a different path. I had to continue on my own until I had selected a team of people to work with. It was important to select people who could buy into my vision for TripSwitch.

It won’t be all rosy.

So much capital went into starting Tripswitch. My underlying motivator despite the numerous losses we made was that people needed Tripswitch. We needed a place where we could celebrate our Heritage as Africans and get to empower our artists, chefs and designers. Something for Africans by Africans. I thought it was a necessity so I forged on.

See the glass as half full

There have been times where I’ve been down, but never out. I’ve just never thought that Tripswitch could fail, no matter how bad the numbers looked. I saw every bad thing as a lesson I needed to learn in order to be a better leader for my brand.

Be fueled by the doubt.

The only people who doubted Tripswitch were my parents, as the idea of a night market was a foreign concept to them. My peers however, have always encouraged me. I used my parents doubt to propel myself further as I had nothing to fall back on. I have always held on to the fact that I needed to prove my parents wrong and make Tripswitch a success. Eventually, being able to employ my mom as a vendor at the market and to hear her say that she had made a profit, made me proud of myself.

Acquire some business skills.

I don’t know about always having a knack for entrepreneurship, when I came up with the idea, I thought of myself as more of a Creative than an Entrepreneur. However as time went by, I saw the need to acquire business knowledge in order to better manage Tripswitch.

You might have to make some sacrifices.

I actually dropped out of University of Pretoria shortly afterwards and decided to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of South Africa. The reason for this was that I had to find full time employment in order to keep Tripswitch afloat and to maintain myself. My new degree also opened up my eyes to some socio-political issues that I had not thought about and fueled my drive.

Decide on whether you want to be the Business Brand or if your Business should have its own Brand Entity.

Tripswitch is a representation of my ideals, and I think to an extent I am the Tripswitch brand.

Have a Vision!

In 5 years, I see myself as the CEO of a successful company which prides itself in Africa and its heritage. Tripswitch will showcase the best of African cuisine, fashion and art to a global audience.

Give back.

Long term, I would like to be involved in entrepreneurship and humanitarian work.

Her Advice for budding Entrepreneurs: I would tell other ladies to always see the bigger picture and to simply keep pushing.

Tsholofelo’s dream wasn’t always the most popular as with most dreams from the onset. But her dreams were much bigger than merely getting a profit share. She was determined to drive something much bigger, something she deemed necessary: Self-pride among Africans and show-casing Africa to the world. She adds flesh to the statement, ‘Your dreams are valid’.

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