Tim Hogins grew up as a poor township kid in South Africa. He watched kids pile into buses heading to Sun City every weekend knowing he could not afford to join them on such pleasurable journeys.
However, he promised himself that one day, he would build parks that anyone could visit, particularly underprivileged kids like him. Hogins spent the next 30 years of his life working to make his vision a reality.
However, the journey was not smooth sailing. He started out as a security guard before moving into IT, getting retrenched, and then building his business from nothing. As a kid, he helped his parents, who were traders, to sell. His father operated a café selling burgers and chips while his mother baked. He had no option but to help his parents sell in order to get money for his fees or feed.
“I matriculated in 1996, and even though I had an exemption, tertiary education wasn’t on the cards for me,” he told Entrepreneur. “We just couldn’t afford it.”
Hogins did not despair about his inability to attain a university education. His cousin told him about a free four-week course to become a security guard. He applied himself to the course and subsequently secured a position as a security guard at a firm.
Two years into his career as a security guard, he took up another free course teaching COBOL, a back-end system used by the financial services industry. At the time, he had no experience in programming.
“I’d never touched a computer — but I knew how valuable these skills were, and here was an opportunity being handed to me,” he told Entrepreneur.
His first attempt did not go as planned but he passed the course on the second attempt. He transitioned from a security guard to an IT professional with a small firm. He would later work for Dimension Data, EOH and SITA.
While working for others, Hogins wanted to become his own boss but finance was a barrier. He started exploring the various business opportunities around him. He was subsequently retrenched but it gave him the opportunity to focus on this entrepreneurial journey. He first launched Green Outdoor Gyms (GOG), which, according to Entrepreneur, brought in over $160,000 (3 million South African Rand) in its first year of operation.
“That retrenchment catapulted me into business. From then on, my full focus became outdoor gyms,” he said. Within six years, he installed over 1,000 outdoor gyms for local municipalities around South Africa.
He told GQ that he raised money to start GOG by selling his car, and getting loan support from his wife. In 2021, GQ reported that Hogins’ GOG business has become a flourishing company with an annual turnover of more than R150M ($8m).
“I’m always few years ahead of the industry (visionary thinking) – I ended up funding all my initiatives as nobody was willing to risk with me,” said Hogins, who is now not only into lifestyle brands but pharmaceuticals and real estate development. He is also a philanthropist helping South Africa’s young people.