David Seinker is the gamekeeper turned poacher of the South African real estate world. His early career and training was as a died in the wool and very traditional property man. But a keen eye for emerging trends saw him launch The Business Exchange – a co-working space that effectively flies in the face of all traditional real estate business models – and now he’s taking it international.
GQ caught up with Seinker recently to chat business, success and how it all comes together.
GQ: You have been in business for many years now, where did the passion for business come from for you?
DS: I grew up surrounded by people in business and people involved in entrepreneurial ventures. This laid the foundations for my interest in business. However, I’ve always been a very driven person. In my teenage years, I felt driven to do well at school, both academically and on the sports field, and this then developed into my passion for wanting to win in the business world.
GQ: What drew you to real estate?
DS: It was by chance that my first real job was working at a property company. I started at the bottom of the ladder, but I quickly worked my way to managing over 200 staff and a portfolio of assets of a billion rand. It’s here where I learnt my property skills and understanding of the industry.
GQ: What would you say has been your secret to continuing to grow in business over the years?
DS: There are no secrets. It’s a combination of hard work, listening to those that have the experience of achieving what you are attempting to achieve, continuously trying to improve in every respect and of course, a bit of good fortune.
GQ: Your top five tips on carving a successful business career that you can share with the GQ guy?
DS: There are no quick fixes and great businesses are developed over time.
Treat people well as they are your greatest asset.
Listen! You will not be right all the time.
Eat well and exercise a lot.
There will be bad times, just accept that upfront.
GQ: Let’s talk The Business Exchange, what is it and why should people not sleep on it?
DS: The Business Exchange is a coworking company where serious and sophisticated businesses of all sizes rent and share office space. However, it’s not just a place to rent, but rather an environment in which corporates and entrepreneurs collaborate and get real business deals done. This is what we do differently to our competitors. Many of our competitors are playful brands focused on free beer whereas we are serious and focused on business.
GQ: The best advice you have ever received?
DS: Listen, as you would rather be rich than right.
GQ: Your dream yourself going forward?
DS: To be the largest co-working and co-living business in Africa, with a footprint in every country in the continent. By achieving this we will know that we have made a significant impact in people’s lives.
This article was first published by GQ South Africa on the 4th April 2019.