Unathi & Sibongiseni Tunzelana are sisters from two very different fields of interest, namely arts and science. With Flavalite Innovations, these two conflicting fields married, creating a front runner of analytics in its class.
Being raised deep in the Eastern Cape by professional parents, Unathi and Sibongiseni grew up with certain expectations in mind. “My father was a businessman and my mother an academic at the University of Fort Hare, so we were definitely influenced and shaped that we were also expected to rise to great professional levels,” older sister Unathi explains. After school Unathi majored in English and Philosophy at the University of Fort Hare where her mother worked as academic. Seven years later when Sibongiseni finished school she opted to go into a different direction and moved to Pretoria to study IT.
After graduating, Unathi foundher first foothold in showbusiness as a presenter for the morning news show, Good Morning South Africa after which she furthered her interest in media, marketing, the arts and even radio. She also moved on to producing various short films centred around social awareness issues such as xenophobia. “I guess that makes me the nerd of the family,” Sibongiseni jokes. She chose to learn the different aspects of IT through different cultures and she did so by travelling through Holland, the UK, the US and Canada. “I think Holland shaped me to who I am today,” Sibs explains, “the Dutch are a very courageous people, and where I was raised to be very subservient, my sense of adventure was awakened.” Sibs continued to work around the world, where she even ended up at Google headquarters as she had the intense desire to learn as much as possible about the field of analytics, from the leaders of the world. Hard work is not something unusual for the sisters, however as Sibs completed her Doctorate degree in analytics, and Unathi is currently finishing up her Masters degree in media studies.
Asking the sisters on their definition of the term entrepreneurship, they answer as one person by completing each other’s sentences, “It is about creating an environment and opportunity to solve a business need that furthermore creates a sustainable economy.” Their business venture, Flavalite Innovations was launched in 2010, and what makes them a unique and notable analytics company, is that they don’t only calculate and report on clients’ returns from various marketing platforms, they also create marketing strategies in terms of content that appeals to the designated target markets. “Where our competitors only focus on the digital side, we do online and offline analytical measurement with an expert background in marketing as well,” Sibs explains. “This is definitely a passion of ours,” Unathi furthers with Sibs quickly cutting in, “this is our field of expertise in which we’ve been working in for the past 16 years, it really is a blessing to be able to do it with my sister, my best friend.”
Apart from Flavalite, the sisters also gave rise to a non-profit organisation Loveolution that is soon to be released as its own private company, that aims to help young people do postgraduate degrees and get work, as well as mentoring young artists by pairing them with an expert of the field. “We want struggling artists to be able to show a product, their potential without all the red tape of contracts and copyright deals. We take a potential hip-hop artist and pair them up with an award-winning artist of that industry, and together they create a product that solely belongs to the artist,” Unathi expains.
The sisters joined up with MEDO after being encouraged to do so by other entrepreneurial development organisations. “We learnt so much,” they both voice simultaneously, “we learnt about pitching, closing deals, time management and most importably personal leadership,” they further. Looking to the future the sisters want to take both Flavalite and Loveolution global, “we want to create a dream- team of rock stars of analytics and arts,” Sibs excitedly explains, “we want to create leadership innovators of various different crafts and marry them together,” Unathi adds.
Talking about their personal and business relationship, the sisters are exceptionally close though Unathi firmly states she is definitely, “the big sister” with Sibs adding, “yes,she is so protective!”They work together on a basis of respect and operate from spiritual and emotional intelligence. “Respecting each other and our clients at the same time, goes a long, long way,” Sibs explains, and Unathi agrees fully on this subject.