To date, contestants on Cell C’s reality show Hangman have raked in more than R30-million in business deals, loans and distribution agreements.
“Hangman has far exceeded our expectations. One of our core values is innovation and the show is a natural fit for Cell C,” says Surie Ramasary, chief executive: content at Cell C. “We are extremely proud of the calibre of innovators this show has produced and know that the success of Hangman will be felt long after the final episode has aired.”
The world of innovation and business is a cutthroat environment that requires a complex set of skills – but Hangman executive producer Odette Schwegler believes it’s the only way the country can leapfrog out of its economic crisis.
“Most innovators are great at coming up with new ideas, but when it comes to business and entrepreneurial skills they often fall far short,” she says. “This show seeks to mentor our country’s top inventors into world-class business people.
“These are people who would have battled to claw their way to even get a meeting with some of the big distribution companies. Hangman has certainly helped to open doors,” Schwegler adds.
Dr Bonex Mwakikunga, who has developed a breathalyser for detecting sugar diabetes levels has been offered R21-million funding from the Technology Innovation Agency to develop his patented prototype.
In addition, the value of his product has been picked up by Alco Safe, which distributes alcohol breathalysers and has have pledged R1-million in development funding for the device.
“We would assist to save time in providing the expertise, to get from a larger device to a smaller device,” says Rhys Evans of Alco Safe. “We can reduce the development time of the device and the cost of the development.”
Christo Rossouw from Klerksdorp has signed a deal with distributor Fever Tree, which will be testing his products in three big supermarket chains.
“If it works on the shelves, we’ve committed to add it to our product line as a give-away for the next season and then we will take it from there,” says Fever Tree CEO Gordon Muller.
Bedfordview-based Dr Sean Armstrong has also managed to make strides with his Uniclick syringe. Imvula medical supplies and healthcare logistics has placed an order for his syringes, in a deal Dr Armstrong believes will be worth in the region of R600 000.
“I have been in the healthcare industry for a long time and rarely does one see basic equipment meet great innovation in this way,” says Mark Banfield, an Imvula consultant.
In addition, Dr Armstrong believes he has secured in the region of R1,1-million in deals and tender potential during the course of the show.
Other competitors have also been successful: Dean Fegen has signed up a distribution deal in Botswana for Polyhammer; and Darren Aitken says the Curban Urge invention has been snapped up by Alpha Pharm, with the promise of distribution in 900 of their pharmacies.
The show has also opened doors for a number of students, giving them a much-needed foot in the door.
“We have onboarded 25 students giving them the opportunity to experience reality television on a team of 60. It’s a difficult industry to break into and at least if they have experience they stand a better chance of securing jobs,” says Schwegler.
Eight of the students have been involved in behind-the-scenes social media campaigns, transcribing and as assistant content directors.
Seventeen film school graduates from Boston Media House and AFDA have volunteered to work with the production team in producing adverts for the three Hangman finalists. AFDA and Boston Media House put out a request to their final year students asking them if they wanted to participate in the show.
Three teams were selected, comprising two teams from AFDA and another team from Boston Media House. The teams will work with the contestants to produce a broadcast quality advert from conceptualisation to final edit within four days.
“Hangman isn’t just a reality show — it’s been a life changing experience for a broad spectrum of South Africans. It’s taught valuable life lessons and it’s put local innovators under the spotlight and given them the chance to thrive,” says Ramasary.
Hangman airs on on Sundays at 11h50 with a repeat broadcast on Saturdays at 13h00. It also broadcasts on eExtra on Wednesdays at 19h30 with a repeat on Thursdays at 10h00. The full Hangman series is also available for free, on newly launched entertainment and content platform, black.