Women-founded South African Start-up Success Story

South Africa has one of the highest failure rates for SMMEs, with over 70% of startups failing in the first year. DAPPER has beaten the odds and almost made it to the 18-month mark.

Established in 2021, DAPPER was inspired by the need for individuals to redefine and reposition themselves and their businesses, transitioning out of a difficult 2020.

“As a human brand consultancy, we focus on developing clients’ personal brands – with a collaborative approach designed to give them the confidence and clarity of purpose to live their brand in an authentic way, both online and offline,” says co-founder Emma Donovan.

DAPPER has developed four unique products, designed for different segments of their target audience.

“Our flagship Become DAPPER product is for entrepreneurs and business leaders who have established a brand for themselves but want to elevate it, start a new chapter, or leverage it more for a new venture,” explains co-founder Lindsay Llewellyn.

Q&A with DAPPER co-founders Emma Donovan and Lindsay Llewellyn:

Co-founders of DAPPER Emma Donovan (Left) and Lindsay Llewellyn (Right).

What inspired the creation of DAPPER?

Emma Donovan: The first year of Covid-19 was really tough for entrepreneurs, and many of my peers had to pivot or reinvent their businesses.

I felt compelled to develop a product to support this tricky transition, build up their confidence again, or unlock potential they didn’t even know existed. I approached Lindsay to create DAPPER with me, and a couple of weeks later we were in full start-up mode!

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What does DAPPER mean to you?

Lindsay Llewellyn: When we started DAPPER, I knew it was the challenge both Emma and I were looking for. I was searching for a sense of belonging and meaning in my work, and Emma was ready to take the next step in her career to do more impactful work.

Today, our business has become so much more than just a business venture. DAPPER represents community, deep connections, and personal development – for our team as well as our clients.

Why is celebrating Women’s Month important to you?

Emma Donovan: I feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded and supported by so many strong, independent, and wonderful women. This community includes family, friends, peers, and business partners – so on a personal level, Women’s Month is about celebrating each of them, and taking a moment to be grateful for the lessons learned and loved shared.

How does DAPPER work to empower and uplift women?

Lindsay Llewellyn: We support a host of entrepreneurs, leaders, and professionals to dig deep to find clarity on their personal mission and purpose, and understand who they are as holistic individuals and not just who they are when they’re in work mode.

Clarity is important for all of us, but particularly for women navigating home life and work aspirations, where we’re often expected to perform in very different roles without any overlap of character.

We’ve seen how being clear on the impact you have on others through a deeper understanding of self can empower a woman to own their voice and, rather than harbour their confidence, use it to uplift themselves and everyone around them.


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