Bravura Alumni Society
June 2019 Spotlight
Tim Frankish – Managing Director of SolarSaver
SolarSaver is an innovative solar photovoltaic solutions company that offers its clients a unique capex-free, rent-to-own model. SolarSaver has over 120 sites under management in South Africa and Namibia, and investors have been quick to recognise the company’s potential. Most notably, the Pembani-Remgro Infrastructure Fund recently bought out some of the original seed funders and is targeting an investment of up to R500m in the business.
Tim worked at Bravura for just under seven years from 2007 to 2014, where he was responsible for sourcing and assessing investment opportunities, specifically in the mining industry. It was here that his interest grew in the economies of natural resources, which ultimately led to his involvement in the renewables sector.
- What drives you?
I live by my father’s advice which is that there is no point in doing something unless you do it properly. I am also a very family-oriented person and love taking my wife and daughters on new adventures.
- Describe your most compelling qualities.
I invest a lot of energy into everything that I do. I have a typical A-type personality which means I am excessively competitive and invariably demand that things are done my way.
- How would colleagues and clients describe you?
The description “punctuation Nazi” would undoubtedly spring to mind! I think my colleagues would also say that I’m hard-working and fun, but that I can be a pain in the behind at times.
Our team operates on the premise of “trust that everyone is doing as much as they can”. As someone who likes being in control, that can be a challenge for me.
I think that our clients might describe me as someone who likes to get things done and who will go the extra mile to deliver the perfect solution. I do like to provide my clients with a product that exceeds their expectations and I hope that we achieve that more times than not.
- Professional memories or milestones at Bravura?
I studied Business Science (Finance) and Accounting at the University of Cape Town which culminated in a Masters of Business Science (Quantitative Finance) (cum laude) degree. I then moved up to Johannesburg to complete my accountancy articles at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
I was never a very good auditor so following my articles, I sold everything I owned and went backpacking around the world for a year. That year was an amazing experience and included things like studying Mandarin in Beijing and learning to surf in Bali. Coming back to South Africa, I was pretty wet behind the ears in terms of business experience, but hungry for a challenge. Although I wasn’t entirely sure of what I wanted to do, I knew that I wouldn’t be heading back to a large accounting firm or bank. Bravura sounded like a great way to learn from a bunch of very smart people who were doing interesting things.
That “bunch of very smart people” guided me through my formative business years and essentially made me into the entrepreneur that I am today.
My association with the Bravura team didn’t end when I left the company. In fact, some of the Bravura directors were the first seed investors into SolarSaver. Bravura was also instrumental in introducing us to our first private equity shareholders.
- In a word or phrase, describe Bravura.
“At Bravura we have a university culture”. These were the words that Ian Matthews, now the head of business development at Bravura, said to me at my first interview with the company. This description proved incredibly apt and remained a constant theme throughout my time there.
Bravura gave me the opportunity to learn at the coal-face, so to speak. I got to run with transactions from my very first day there and was constantly challenged by senior team members who all had very rich knowledge and experience. The strong leadership team at Bravura lead by example: strong-willed, tenacious, and with voracious appetites for learning.
- Do you have enough hours in your day?
I have three young daughters and my wife is a paediatrician. As a family, we never seem to have enough hours in the day. Trying to balance a career that I love with a busy family life is a constant challenge. I think I’ve managed to strike a good balance but if anyone has the perfect solution, please let me know!
Anyone who has grown a business knows that as the business develops, less time is spent doing the parts that you love and more time goes into managing staff and stakeholders. I have always loved doing as much as possible myself but I’m having to learn to let go of some things as we grow.
- Congratulations, you’ve just been elected president of South Africa. What is your first order of business?
Thanks, that is quite an honour … I think. My two focus areas would be education and energy.
Education must be tackled as a priority. If we are to grow South Africa’s economy, we have to develop practical and relevant plans that give people the opportunity and tools to participate in the economy. Only then can we achieve positive and sustained growth. While I can understand why people are focussed on tertiary education and the benefits that might flow from obtaining a university degree, it is doubtful that this focus alone will change the shape of our economy. In short, we need to give every child the opportunity to obtain some relevant skills that they can put to use in the economy, be it as an accountant, farmer or electrician. More of the latter would be very useful to us at SolarSaver by the way!
We’ve also recently seen the horrendously negative impact that South Africa’s electricity issues have had on the economy. I think that the first step in solving these problems should be to open up the market as we need a balance of private and public sector involvement. The private sector can take the weight off Eskom and provide innovative financing solutions directly to the consumer. We’re beginning to see some moves in this direction so maybe government is starting to listen…
I think that education and energy are both solvable problems. We just need to find a way to get those people with the will and means to make a difference into the driving seats, both publicly and privately.