Nestene Botha and Peter Hingston founded Explore ProTech Entrepreneurial Haven in March 2020. They are the friendly faces we see welcoming us to The Coffee Shop Conversations Show for Entrepreneurs. Occasionally you’ll hear them speak at The Global Online Speed Networking or Explore VAN Events.
Occasionally they’ll slide into your DM’s on Linkedin or ask how you’re doing on Whatsapp. We know they’re the founders of Explore ProTech Entrepreneurial Haven and they’re always going on about building the home of the next 500 Entrepreneurs on the Forbes 500 list, but who are they really and what is it that they are fighting for?
Nestene is a Chartered Accountant with a Masters Degree in Accounting Education. Peter is a Community Builder with a degree in ‘surviving the hard knocks of life school’. They met when both of them were out of luck, out of time, and out of friends. And to put the cherry on the cake – Covid had just hit.
They had some things in common. Both of them had been screwed over BADLY before – in business AND in life. Both of them were inherently good people. Both of them had a burning desire to create something bigger than themselves, really make a difference and leave a legacy. And both of them had the habit of taking on challenges that seemed ‘impossible’ or larger than life.
They started speaking about business when Nestene reached the point in her own business (a virtual audit firm) where she had established something amazing but just couldn’t scale past a certain turnover point. She struggled to find the people that would believe in her dream and help her build her business.
Even when she found them, things would inevitably go wrong at some point and she would lose them (and a lot of money!) in the process. She read leadership books – one after the other. She watched motivational speeches – more than she would care to remember. She read articles written by the great entrepreneurs.
She learned a lot. But for some reason, she just couldn’t seem to apply what she was learning in practice. She couldn’t scale her business. Then Covid hit. Peter lost his job. Nestene was faced with the grim reality of knowing that, unless she could pull off a drastic intervention, half of her clients would soon be out of business. Because she hadn’t managed to scale her business she knew it wouldn’t survive that kind of cash flow hit.
Both Nestene and Peter, at this point in life, were tired. It wasn’t an exciting-let’s-make-something-amazing-happen-time in their lives. It was a I’m-so-tired-but-I-have-to-keep-going-I-have-to-make-a-plan-but-what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do kind of time in both their lives.
They had access to very few resources. Nestene had just gotten divorced from a husband that had physically abused her. Peter had just recovered from some major setbacks in his personal and professional life. All they really had, to get them through this crisis, was each other. And they didn’t even know each other that well!
They just started talking because Peter happened to be around and intervened on a night when Nestene’s husband got particularly abusive… What an odd pair, with all the odds stacked against them…
Anyway, Nestene spent some of the limited resources she had on buying Peter groceries. Peter spent some of his limited resources and taking care of not just himself, but also his friend and neighbor, who was in a similar position as himself, in true Peter-style. Then they started speaking business.
Nestene shared her concerns for her business with Peter. Peter shared his concerns about what was going on in his own industry with Nestene. They made a plan. Peter would establish a sales company. The sales company would be in charge of sourcing new clients for Nestene’s virtual audit firm.
Peter had no online marketing experience and neither did Nestene. Nestene had a good track record with establishing and maintaining client relationships and Peter – well, everything he had ever built he built on the back of community, teams, and relationships.
So Peter created a WhatsApp group. He called it “The Coffee Shop”. He conceptualized a space in which business people could banter, take a load off, relax, help each other…and create real relationships. He started filling this space with Nestene’s business clients, acquaintances, and potential new clients and collaboration partners.
He started working on the culture and feel of the space. He spent a lot of time making people feel comfortable. He spent time speaking about the importance of relationships in business and coined the “Coffee First, Business Later” phrase that is to today a famous saying in the Explore ProTech Tribe.
When he introduced people to the space he would educate them about Nestene and her company, what she stands for and what she does. He subtly started building her reputation in the space. He set her up for success. He surrounded her with some of the most amazing business people on the face of the planet.
Whenever anyone would try to advertise in “The Coffee Shop” Peter would deal with that with severe consequences. He was creating more than a “Now” space. It was a dream, a future, a culture, a movement. And advertising and selling had no place in this culture of real relationship, camaraderie, and support.
Peter instructed Nestene to ‘banter’ in the group. She cynically asked him if he knew what her charge-out rate is. How many minutes per day did he need her to do this? She was already working 18 hours a day… finding time for banter was hard, if not impossible.
But she wanted to believe in this new dream. She wanted to believe that the space would work and that this would not only help her save her business but help her scale it. So she did what Peter asked. For a couple of minutes per day, she would just banter and get to know the people in the Coffee Shop.
The people from The Coffee Shop started referring business to Nestene. They started referring business to each other. Not only that, but they started helping each other and Nestene and Peter, like real friends, would. Nestene couldn’t believe it. The banter was paying off… in a huge way.
Thanks to The Coffee Shop Nestene found new clients, new projects she could get involved in, people that wanted to work with her, and suppliers that were willing to help her, most of the time for free, just because… It was a magical space to be in. And it was all thanks to Peter. But Peter still didn’t have a job… or a salary. He was living off of commission from the deals Nestene got, but that wasn’t enough to sustain a whole human being.
Then the magical thing happened. Something that neither Peter nor Nestene expected or planned. The people that were benefitting from being in The Coffee Shop space started telling other entrepreneurs about it. They put these people in touch with Peter and Nestene – introducing the duo as the people who were creating a safe haven for entrepreneurs around the world.
Nestene and Peter’s self-appointed business coaches, two people both called Steven, suggested that they start charging a membership fee for entrepreneurs that want to join The Coffee Shop. And so The Explore ProTech Tribe was born and Peter and Nestene have declared it their mission to take care of this group of entrepreneurs, whatever that may mean.
So if we look at today… Who is Peter and Nestene? They are the co-founders of The Explore ProTech Tribe. Two good people who have taken it upon themselves to create opportunities for and take care of the group of entrepreneurs that call themselves The Explore ProTech Tribe. They have become some of the most highly connected people in the world.
They have access to an abundance of resources and powerful entrepreneurs from around the world that would do anything for them. They are featured on Youtube in multiple videos. They’ve won competitions and received accolades and they’re dearly loved by all the entrepreneurs in The Explore ProTech Tribe.
They’re bravely and audaciously leading the charge to build the home of the next 500 entrepreneurs on the Forbes 500 list. They’ve given hope to so many people. They’ve had a hand in changing so many lives and whenever they get a chance you’ll hear them say that “it’s time to fight the good fight. It’s time for that the Good Guys win for a change.”
But way back when, they were just Peter and Nestene… two people severely broken, beaten, and bruised, with little to no access to resources, except their relationship with each other. That’s Peter and Nestene – the ultimate shining example of the pure power of good relationships in business.
I’m Nestene. Thanks so much for reading my and Peter’s story all the way to the very end!
If you’re an entrepreneur that needs help with SCALING and BUILDING AWAY FROM YOURSELF, as I did, please book a coffee with me and Peter. We’d love to see how we can help you!
Also, share your story! We love to hear and share entrepreneurial stories. Each story is different. Each story is special. The more stories the better. Please share your story with us in the comments or alternatively, if you’re a tribe member, email it to us and we’ll see what we can do in terms of getting it published!
Also, if you loved this story and you support us in our dream of making sure the good guys win for a change… please share our story with your friends, email list, and on social. Will appreciate it!
Lots of love and may this story inspire you to take the next step in your journey towards making all your wildest entrepreneurial dreams come true!
Nestene (& Peter)