Marketing in South Africa

During the summer of 2016, I was asked to teach a class on marketing in technology transfer in South Africa—which was both exciting and intimidating. It would be a three-day class with me as the primary instructor. There would also be two guest speakers and the final day would be dedicated to practice technology pitches. The class would be comprised of more than 80 people—primarily from technology transfer offices across South Africa and a handful of start-up companies all told. I would need to prepare a day and half of instructional material including exercises.

OTTer South AfircaI spent many a weekend on my screen porch working on course material. It all had to start with an outline and establishing a flow for the topics. There were so many subjects to cover a) tech briefs (non-confidential summaries), b) market summaries, c) the value propositions, etc. For each major theme there were definitions to be created, examples to prepare, and exercises to generate. In the end there were eight slide decks and 160 slides with speaker notes and references—holy smokes!

Once on ground, worry melted away; the participants were welcoming, lively, and eager. There were lots of questions and conversation during exercises and breaks. They were interested in hearing all about technology transfer in the States—from process, to forms, to databases.

Class South AfircaEveryone brought a technology to work on during exercises and to use for their practice technology pitch. There were so many technologies focused on energy and natural resources; not something I hear much about at Emory with our focus on healthcare. There was nary a biotech technology in the bunch, okay there were actually three. On the final day each group presented their technology in front of the group and did a wonderful job.

I flew direct from Atlanta to Johannesburg—it was a long flight! I added some additional days to my trip so I could do a little sightseeing. I took private tours with a guide of Johannesburg, Soweto, Apartheid Museum, Nelson Mandel’s house, Pilanesberg National Park (the big animals), Pretoria, African Heritage Village, and the Lion Park. As might be expected seeing the large animals was a highlight. I saw all types of animals—more than I can remember the names of—giraffe, elephant, rhino, lion, warthog, wildebeest, impala, springbok, blesbok, bushbuck, red hartebeest, and zebras. The park and country itself was quite beautiful

Overall it was a great trip and in the end I hope they learned as much from me as I did from them and the experience.

– Linda Kesselring