From Braai To Big Business: How Jaco Swanepoel Started A Pan-African Events Management Company

In August 2018, we managed to pin down Jaco Swanepoel, the crazy-busy founder of CueAV events company and staging partner of Heavy Chef. In between setting AWS annual conferences and jet-setting through fifteen African countries in a month, Jaco sat at the CTICC for a chinwag. 

Jaco, what drove you to start CueAV?

Cue AV started like most things in SA, with a Braai. I met with my business partners Harland and Andre and we just decided to do it. Understanding from the inception of the company that we need to be offering the latest designs and content to keep it trendy was a must. But also that our true inventory is the team that makes CueAV. You have to understand that, while we have huge warehouses in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nairobi filled with the latest equipment, our true assets are the guys on the ground producing award-winning events across the continent. 

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Why are real-life events still important in this digital day and age? 

Well, of course they are. Have you ever tried getting five people together on a Skype meeting? I still strongly believe that human emotion drives society and no virtual experience can replace the value of a face-to-face interaction. This means a handshake or a cup of coffee or a network break during an event. We attend events to meet, engage and collaborate on future ventures. This is why we partnered with Heavy Chef.  

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Besides Heavy Chef, of course, what's the event you're most proud of? 

Definitely the Access Conferences in Lagos. We had influencers from George W. Bush, Steve Wozniak and Mariah Carey on the same stage with tight turnarounds challenging security
protocols and very particular riders and we were able to pull it off seamlessly. It was incredible. 

What are the top three tips you have for readers who want to run their own events? 

One, have a sustainable financial model. Two, align with partners that share your vision. Three, be unique, be your own brand. Simple. 

What is the strangest thing you’ve seen in your career? 

Hey man, what happens on tour stays on tour!

Thanks for your time Jaco. Keep up the incredible work. 

And if you think the Heavy Chef branded stage is pretty awesome and would like to have what we have, you can contact the CueAV team here.