Former Wits student created a detergent and designed a shoe drying system that minimises drying time.
Muimelele Mutangwa, an Msc Chemical Engineering graduate from Wits, started his own shoe cleaning company called Tailor Klink three years ago, while he was a student.
Tailor Klinik started as a concept to help Mutangwa cover personal costs that his bursary failed to provide. He started running the business from his residence room where he washed his friends’ shoes with store-bought detergent.
In 2015, The ‘Be Bold Intervarsity Pitch’ competition, which provides a platform for young university entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas, provided a platform for Mutangwa to express the business idea. He won the Pitch round of the competition and went on to come take second place at the National Intervarsity Pitch round.
He told Wits Vuvuzela that the recognition in the competition encouraged him to materialise the idea. He said that he decided to give the idea a chance, “The fact that this business won means that there is something in this concept” he said.
The business has since grown and in 2016 Mutangwa used his academic expertise to enable him to create his own detergent. In 2017, he designed and created his own shoe drying system, which minimizes drying time down to five hours.
The efficiency and affordability of the service ensures that Tailor Klinik maintains its target market of students and young professionals.
The growth of the business from its conception has resulted in Tailor Klinik opening up a store in Braamfontein near Wits and hiring an employee, Ali Bakali. The employee described Mutangwa as hardworking because recruiting customers poses a challenge. “He needs to work to get customers. It’s hard to maintain the business, so he has to work. It’s hard work” Bakali said.
Current BSc Mechanical student at Wits, Paul Marutha, described the service as necessary and time convenient. “No matter how dirty your shoes are, the detergent always does the magic. I never stress when I go out partying since I know that Tailor Klinik has a solution for my shoe problems,” he said.
In 2017, all the hard work proved beneficial as Tailor Klinik signed a contract to join the Multichoice concierge services which are due to start in April 2018. Furthermore, Tailor Klinik’s development has allowed for the business to be involved in Corporate Social Investment as they collect customer’s old shoes to donate to the homeless.
Mutangwa aims to refine the shoe-drying system with the hope of installing solar panels, to have a more environmentally friendly machine.