Sometimes facing what Thomas Aquinas would describe as continuous disconnectedness, Batsirai Masvinge never gave up on his dreams. Today, after falling many times and rising up stronger, the Zimbabwean entrepreneur, based in South Africa runs a movement in the entertainment industry. 263 Nights has hosted over 50 premium events in the flashy suburb of Joburg, Sandton.
Mail and Telegraph caught up with the 263 Nights owner at his recently opened Lounge in Sandton for a quick interview. And for purposes of understanding, H.S will stand for Hubert Sithole, our journalist while B.M will stand for Batsirai Masvinge.
Enjoy and be inspired…
H.S: When and where was 263 Nights started?
B.M: 263 Nights was started when I moved to South Africa a couple of years ago and I was staying in downtown Johannesburg CBD. Like they say, all businesses always start with finding a special need. For me the need was a personal one, living away from home, I wanted a place I could go to and have fun, listen to music I relate to but above all a safe place where I wouldn’t worry about my safety. So I went to the building caretaker of the flat I lived in and asked to use the rooftop washing line.I started inviting people and we would have 10-20 people during the first days and sometimes people wouldn’t come. But we kept hosting more and more events from that place with the little resources we had, and that’s how 263 Nights was born. People see us in Sandton now and think that’s where we started. (laughs). I’m happy we still have clients who came to our first gigs at my apartment, they have become lifelong friends and family!
H.S: What prompted you to start it and as an Entertainment entrepreneur, how has been your journey so far with 263 nights?
B.M: Being an Entertainment entrepreneur has its highs and lows. The highs are when you are planning an exciting project and it all comes out perfectly, the lows are when it all comes down crushing and explodes in your face. Believe me I have had a bit of those days when I woke up in the morning and said I’m done with this! I am not doing it again!
We have to date hosted well over 50 premium events in Sandton with at least 90 percent top artists having performed at 263 Nights weekends. One of our most memorable events was when Dr Mtukudzi passed away and we threw a send off party for him in 24 hours and had over 500 people showing up at the event in such short notice and we had a good time listening to Dr Mtukudzi’s music and eating a range of Zim cuisines. It will always stand out, He was a legend!
But, at one point we ruled the roost exclusively and our growth rate was impressive which led to us establishing our first 263Nights lounge in Randburg, Johannesburg. This was a brave and rare move, to move from the promotion business to being venue owners especially in a foreign country and our first lounge was well received with a grand launch, and who is who guest list during the time of operation. We even had guests flying in for our weekends. It all came crushing when the neighborhood we were operating in filed court orders on the basis of noise pollution and after months of back and forth at the court, we lost the case and EVERYTHING we had invested and personal savings. It was a tough time where for some time I was off social media and social circles to re-strategise and find my way back again. I knew it was just a matter of time before we got back again, but the odds of restarting again where stuck against us.
H.S: How do you survive in such a blotted industry?
The promotion business is a cut throat – dog eat dog industry with a lot of hate, envy and competition Risky to a large extent. People always fail to understand the role played by promoters in uplifting our arts industry and bringing entertainment to the masses. It costs an average R50k-R100k to host a 263 Nights weekend and this includes artists fees, flights, accommodation, food, drinks, venue Hire, sound etc and recouping the money is an art that one has to master over time. I have personally lost a lot of money during the formation of the business but we are happy to have kept on molding our business model to make it more sustainable.
H.S: With all the hardships you have faced, what keeps you going? What drives you to stand again and push towards your goals?
B.M: l would say what keeps me going besides my love for music is the people who rely directly on 263 Nights for their day to day survival and believe in the brand and in me as their employer. We have recently opened a new lounge in Rivonia, Sandton, called 263Nights on Asanka and we currently employ 7 full time workers and and additional 8 who work during the weekends part time. These workers on our payroll include Barmen, Chefs, Waiters, Security, Djs, Graphic Designers, Digital Marketers and Promoters. The vision has grown way beyond me and my personal failures will have a direct impact on many families. This keeps me going even in time when shutting down is an option
H.S: What can you say to young entrepreneurs out there who are struggling to make it in their different endeavors?
B.M: To young entrepreneurs who are trying to make it my advice will always be, “Persistence, Persistence, Persistence” You will be ridiculed, feel less worth at times, lose all hope, get depressed and all negative emotions but never give up, in the end, the journey to realizing your dream is all worth it.
H.S: Have you ever been asked if what you are doing is a real job?I mean by your family and friends?
B.M: The biggest misconception people have about my career is thinking it’s not a job. People think I just have fun over the weekends, travel, drink and many times I have been asked “So do you have a real job”. Entertainment business is actually a business that keeps me busy day to day just like any other day job
H.S: Where do you see 263 Nights in the next 5 years?
The medium and long term goal is for us to open a chain of 263 Nights Lounges around the world’s capitals, with talks for a second branch currently underway in a big world capital, we will be announcing soon. As of now we are concentrating on our Sandton flagship, 263 Nights on Asanka, based in Rivonia