By Charndré Emma Kippie
Durban-born tech and e-commerce entrepreneur, Nureshka Viranna, founded the online education platform, Lit Academy, in 2019, and was also recognised for her achievements in the Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 List. Although Nureshka started out as a teacher in 2013, she always had a burning passion for technology. “I was lucky enough to meet an entrepreneur who was in the tech space and he said something profound: ‘Jump and the net will appear.’ I did just that. I resigned from my 9 to 5 job and co-founded an e-commerce company called ShopLi”, she explains. ShopLi is a specialist e-Commerce company dedicated to helping businesses in Africa. The brand’s focus is to grow smaller businesses by making the e-commerce space easier to navigate – eliminating rental and salary expenses.
What got you into the world of e-commerce? Where did this all start?
I started off as a teacher in 2013. Whilst I enjoyed working with kids, I always had a love for technology and wanted to be an entrepreneur. It was a passion I had overlooked. I was lucky enough to meet an entrepreneur who was in the tech space and after many conversations he helped me realise that I could be an entrepreneur. He encouraged me to follow my dreams and said something profound: ‘Jump and the net will appear.’ I did just that. I resigned from my 9 to 5 job and we co-founded ShopLi. We started an e-commerce company to solve common problems businesses were facing. The common problems included high overheads, high rent and a limited target market. Our solution gave businesses access to a larger target market, decreased their overheads and increased their sales.
We’d love to know more about Shopli. What excites you the most about the business?
What excites me is being able to innovate businesses, helping businesses increase their sales, giving businesses access to larger markets and helping them with scaling their business. Also, our industry changes every day, so you’re always learning. Seeing the results is what excites me the most!
In what ways, do you think, e-commerce and tech are enhancing the South African economy?
E-commerce gives businesses access to increased target markets which in turn increases their sales. The increase in sales automatically enhances the South African economy. It is easier to start an online business, whether it’s selling on marketplaces or having your own online store. The barrier to entry is very low.
Do you think e-commerce is a diverse field to work in, in terms of Gender Equality?
Whilst the technology space has been a male dominated field, this has changed significantly over the past few years. Game changers like Sheryl Sandberg, Melinda Gates and Marissa Mayer have changed the face of e-commerce and technology to be inclusive of all genders.
What are your three top tips for ensuring the success of an e-commerce business?
- Ensure you develop a professional, mobile responsive and user-friendly online store.
- Use a professional company with a track record and experience.
- You must have an effective online advertising campaign.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Having clients call and update me on the increase of their sales, and hearing about the positive impact we have made on our clients.
What have been some major obstacles in your career, as a woman, and how did you overcome them?
Many people saw me as someone that was young and inexperienced in our field. I overcame this by positioning myself as the expert, and letting our client’s success speak for itself.
As a vibrant techpreneur, what are your goals for the future?
My goals are to diversify, innovate different industries and to strengthen our national and global footprint. Currently, we are working with many property developers with technological tools to increase their leads and sales. We’ve also been helping pharmacies and supermarkets provide a safe shopping experience for all customers. These are just a few examples of the constant innovation in our field of work. Covid has definitely changed the way many industries do business. It’s an exciting space to be in.
Where do you see e-commerce in South Africa in the next five years?
I see e-commerce being a necessity for all businesses. An E-commerce Specialist will be just as important as your Accountant or Lawyer.
What advice do you have for young women entrepreneurs who aspire to work in e-commerce?
The only limitation is your mindset. The e-commerce environment is dynamic, exciting, rewarding and changing every day. I would love to see more young women forge a career in this space. Remember, if you really want something, you have to do whatever it takes. Anything is possible if you are willing to put in the work.
Do you have any good book recommendations?
Mind Power into the 21st Century by John Kehoe