Biscay Mulaudzi: Playing a Pivotal Role in Africa’s Tech Boom

The Most Inspiring Tech CEOs to Follow in 2024

Africa’s technology sector has been growing rapidly over the past few years. Biscay Mulaudzi, the Founder and CEO of Bottomline IT, is playing a pivotal role in this growth story by offering ICT services and solutions to corporates in Africa. His two-decade-long journey in the technology landscape is a testament to his strategic foresight, innovative mindset, and unwavering commitment to transforming lives by creating job opportunities. By quickly adapting to changing circumstances, Biscay ensures that Bottomline IT remains at the forefront of the industry. He stays ahead of the curve by being a dedicated student and a lifelong learner.

“I’m strategic, smart, innovative, and emotionally intelligent, with strong stakeholder management skills and the ability to mobilize support,” says Biscay. He is also known for providing the right platform to his employees so that they can feel empowered and grow, which leads to making an impact on society.

Passion for Technology

Biscay’s success can be attributed to his passion for technology. When he first stepped into the tech arena almost two decades ago, he fell in love with it. He points out that he is committed to technologies across the board, not just IT. Biscay keeps his love for technology alive by reading about the latest innovations and what others are doing in the field, then figuring out how he can contribute to further advancements. “I don’t just stop at reading about other people. I make sure to find out how I can play a role in it,” he says.

Cybersecurity is Biscay’s area of expertise. He points out that this field changes every second, so he strives to stay updated with the latest developments. “I then try to come up with something better than what’s already out there,” Biscay says. “Ultimately, it benefits the customers.”

Because of his passion and commitment to technology, Biscay loves what he does, invests his time and effort into it, and has a lot of fun along the way.

The Journey as an Entrepreneur

In 2015, Biscay decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship and founded Bottomline IT. He started with three people, and now, He heads a robust staff of several employees. Biscay points out that his company has seen exponential financial growth in a short time. Also, the number of customers has grown. Initially, Biscay served small companies, but now, he and his team are dealing with corporates that have almost 40,000 users each.

Biscay’s entrepreneurial journey has not been an easy one. He encountered multiple challenges, especially in the beginning. As the company was small when he started it, he couldn’t hire specialists for finance, human resources, sales, and marketing. In addition to managing tasks, he had to handle all these roles himself. “I was like a jack-of-all-trades,” Biscay says.

“I had to learn the ropes while consulting, outsourcing, and taking on more responsibilities to keep the ship afloat when the business was still small and couldn’t afford to hire specialists,” he adds.

Biscay did not allow challenges to bog him down. He tapped into them as opportunities for growth and innovation, turning them into stepping stones to success. According to him, challenges and setbacks provide entrepreneurs with opportunities to develop, learn, and build resilience. “Accepting obstacles as an entrepreneur can lead to success and fulfillment,” he says.

About Bottomline IT

Since its foundation in 2015, Bottomline IT has been on a continuous growth trajectory. It has established itself as a formidable player in Africa’s IT space through innovation and investment in scarce IT skills.

“We supply, implement, and maintain environments like servers, virtualization platforms, and storage,” Biscay says. “As an MSP, we have invested in IT resources to build our own cloud, offering cybersecurity, backups, and disaster recovery as a service.” In addition, Bottomline IT offers IT consulting services in maintenance and architecture through its highly skilled and experienced team.

The company has recently opened a SAGE services support department as well. Biscay informs that only those who are willing to go beyond their job profiles can be a part of this niche team. Bottomline IT has strategic partnerships with major OEMs in infrastructure, such as HPE, H3C, VEEAM, Pure Storage, DELL, and IBM. In cybersecurity, they partner with SGBox, GFI, and Sophos. Other partnerships include Microsoft, Progress, and Sage.

Culture of Integrity and Innovation

As CEO, Biscay has created an environment that promotes a culture of integrity and innovation within the team. Employees are encouraged to subscribe to courses on ethics, which are reviewed annually. The culture at Bottomline IT also strongly encourages innovation.

Innovation is fostered by implementing feedback mechanisms to gather input from employees at all levels and embedding innovation in KPIs for all employees so it can be tracked and managed. Biscay points out that they are also creating platforms to recognize and celebrate innovative achievements. The company creates platforms for customer feedback and roundtables as well.

Since Bottomline IT is an IT company, it offers resources for LABS where employees can test new ideas, which Biscay refers to as “playgrounds.” At the company, everyone believes that when they win, all win and benefit.

Life before Bottomline IT 

Years ago, Biscay began his career as an IT engineer, learning the intricacies of desktop, server, and application support. He then transitioned to working as a cyber security professional for Africa’s largest telco, , back when it was yet to gain popularity. His inquisitiveness and understanding of corporate politics helped him progress to the position of manager and then senior manager, where he gained insights into business operations. “I worked with some of the top minds in business from all around the world at Africas Biggest Telco, taking notes like the student I am,” Biscay recalls.

He points out that being in cyber security places one in the thick of it all, from the moment a business idea is conceived to the completion of the project and product life cycle. Equipped with this experience, he decided to launch Bottomline IT as a side initiative. “I had to go through the declaration process at Previous Employer; after a year, it proved to be a sustainable business, which is when the juggling began to grow,” Biscay says.

Before he left Employer, Biscay was juggling responsibilities between the two companies. A few year ago, he decided to focus solely on Bottomline IT. This decision allowed him to focus on growing the business and make a positive impact on people, which he considers his greatest achievement.

Ten-Hours Workday

Biscay starts his day early hours of the day. He likes to prepare for the day ahead before diving into his work. The first thing he does is go through his emails and allocate tasks for his 10-hour business day. “Early in the morning, I catch up on the tasks that I have to do,” he says. He ensures he is ahead of others when they arrive.

At work, Biscay has a regular morning catch-up call with the management team to discuss financial performance, business development, and operational excellence. “Fifty percent of my production hours are spent with strategic partners (OEMs) and customers,” Biscay says. “I always have time for them.”

Biscay works for 10 hours a day. So, how does he maintain a work-life balance? He admits that it is a challenging task. For him, achieving work-life balance is an ongoing process requiring regular adjustments based on changing circumstances. He emphasizes the importance of prioritizing self-care and making conscious choices that support both professional and personal well-being. “It took me lying in a hospital bed to appreciate this concept,” he says.

Previously, Biscay used to work for 16 hours per day. He would be working on his laptop even when at home. The long working hours led to a health scare. “One day, when I was about to sleep, I just felt that I was not myself,” Biscay remembers. He ended up in the hospital for a few weeks. At the hospital, doctors warned Biscay that he was overworking and needed to stop. He went through counseling and mentoring, learning how to maintain a healthier balance.

Now, he does not don the CEO hat at home. “I’m THE BOSS when I am at work, but when I get home there is a BOSS (my wife) and senior management (my sons) who manage the family affairs, and I just follow their instructions,” Biscay says. “Because I work long hours and travel a lot, I now have to submit to their demands. And if I have a critical business engagement, I present my case for review.”

The Strategic Leader

Biscay is a strategic leader who leads from the front. “I need to get things done,” he says. Whenever he visits businesses, he looks for gaps that exist. After identifying the gaps, he tries to come up with solutions for them. “That’s what keeps me awake at night,” Biscay says. “I’ll wake up at 3 a.m. because I saw something, and I need to come up with a solution for it. For me, coming up with innovative solutions to improve or overcome obstacles is really important.”

When Biscay sees his team struggling, he pulls up his gloves and joins them to find a solution or fix an issue. “I believe in my team. Hence, I always encourage people to mostly empower themselves before they can come to us,” Biscay says.

Goals for the Future

Biscay is focused on making Bottomline IT one of the best IT companies, first in Africa and then globally, particularly in the public cloud space. He highlights that while Africa is a significant consumer of cloud services, it does not have its own cloud service providers. “Bottomline IT will offer a platform to Africa, enabling the development of our own solutions based on the challenges we face daily,” Biscay says. The Cloud platform will offer SAAS (software as a service), IAAF (Infrastructure as service) PAAS (Platform as service)

He believes that with the skills and inspirations Africans possess, there will be no need to wait for hackathons to test and showcase their solutions. That’s why Bottomline IT aims to provide platforms that can be utilized continuously by those with limited means.

“We want to establish a strong presence in Africa’s public cloud computing industry by providing a safe platform that empowers locals to create and host digital apps aligned with their unique innovations, requirements, and challenges,” Biscay explains.

For him, building Bottomline IT is not just about professional success but also about creating a lasting legacy. “One day, if my children are interested in IT, they can step up and say, ‘I want to run this company’,” Biscay says. “Even if they are not, I want this company to last for centuries.”

What Is Success? 

Biscay’s definition of success rests on five pillars: financial profitability, customer value proposition, employee well-being, positive societal impact, and contributing to the creation of sustainable jobs. When he was young, he did not value profitability much.

However, as he started his business, he realized that it was not possible to run it without profitability. Now, for him, running a successful business means achieving financial profitability, ensuring that customers receive the value they need, and having happy employees who are well taken care of.

“Lastly, success means making sure that the businesses that we’re creating are there to create jobs for people, especially from an African point of view,” Biscay says. “There is a big problem of unemployment, so my job is to contribute towards ensuring our people can get quality jobs.”

Message to Aspiring Business Leaders 

It is not easy to build oneself, Biscay highlights in his message to aspiring business leaders. He advises them to always be students, eager to learn every day, and to seek mentors—people who have walked similar paths before. “Their journey might have been different, but they have been there,” he says. Biscay also emphasizes the importance of extensive reading and patience.

“You need to go to a university and study as much as you can,” he advises. He encourages aspiring leaders to take their time to learn and equip themselves thoroughly. He quotes Catherine Young’s words to emphasize this point: “Lifelong learning from giants is a direct path to business growth.”

Biscay also notes that young people are often just chasing money, which may not always benefit their careers. “You may find yourself stuck,” he warns. Instead of chasing money, he urges aspiring leaders to explore their capabilities and determine what they truly want to do. “At the same time, you also need to ensure that you can build your own wealth,” he adds. “You need to create a company that can last for 100 years, whether you are there or not.

“There’s no such thing as quick success,” Biscay says. “We all need to work very hard for that.”

Not Yet!

Biscay leads a successful business and is in the space where he wants to be, doing what he loves. So, has he achieved everything that he dreamed of? “Not yet,” he says. “There is a lot more I want to do. I’m still loading, and I’m at 55 percent right now.”

He aspires to make more meaningful contributions to the world, hoping to be recognized as a leader who made a difference. “I think there’s still a lot more to come from my side. I’m not there yet – where I can say I’ve achieved everything I dreamed of.”