Haji Chana

In 2011, Haji Chana did the scariest thing he's ever done, he quit his job and launched his own firm, HC Capital. Becoming an entrepreneur was all he wanted to do.

HC Capital didn't disappoint. One of its clients, an industrial firm, was £15m in debt when Chana took it over. A year later, the company could pay off all its debts and break even. Today, Chana says, building up his company it's one of the achievements he's most proud of. "[It's become] a thriving firm with a reputation for attracting smart talent."

One of the things Chana found was that good ideas would be the bedrock of his business – and would help it succeed. Venture capital will only work if the business concepts are solid, and Chana has spent a lot of time developing this idea: "The structure of HcGroup is to test many ideas at once and turn the best of them into companies," he says, "attracting the human and financial capital necessary to bring them to market. We would like these companies to introduce new business ideas to the market and we would continue to explore a range of technology frontiers."

When it comes to Mamba Mentors, Chana will be looking for good ideas. But he'll also be looking for something more intangible: the fortitude to take the plunge with a big, scary idea, and see it through. "Our mentors are united by their fierce passion to help startups in South Africa succeed," he says. "We are entrepreneurs ourselves, so we've been there and done that, and we're here to help your company succeed."

Quick Strikes

  • Born: April 11
  • Person he most admires: Richard Branson
  • Best piece of business advice he's ever been given: Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
  • When he's off the job, what does he enjoy doing: Things are generally very hectic with long business travels and meetings, so I try to spend time and do things together with the family when I'm off.
  • What was his first day in the office on his first ever job like: My first real office job was working as special project assistant for a serial entrepreneur/angel investor while I was still at university. I think it was the coolest job. First day, I met him at his office and as my first assignment was that he wanted to learn how young people were using consumer services on the web and asked me to give him a course on online music, videos and social networks.
  • What's the most unexpectedly successful business idea he's ever seen: Initially I was sceptical about Airbnb.com and its potential to scale, especially with the trust issue between the host and the guest. Airbnb is now one of world's most innovative companies and it has had more ten million nights booked through their platform.
  • Cliched question, but: what piece of advice would he give to prospective entrepreneurs in the program: It's a quote from a dear friend, Tony Fernandes: "Believe the Unbelievable, Dream the Impossible and Never Take No for an Answer."