British and French entrepreneurs: Mental models & business growth

And part two of Rudie van Vuuren's story

Building in public. Chronicling your journey. Being real.

Call it whatever you’d like.

Truth is, this (the newsletter) is somewhere in between building in public and building in private. Your eyes — they’re the first ones to read these words. The rest of the world only gets access after you’ve had a chance to digest what you see here.

So, thank you again (I know, I know) for standing behind our mission: to celebrate the world’s entrepreneurs, support their work, and create millions of cross-cultural collaborations between business-building badasses worldwide.

You’ll continue to see me relentlessly experiment with different types of content here. At the same time, the focus is on what matters most: listening to your feedback, iterating, improving — and working hard to serve you in the most informative and engaging way possible.

Today’s episode of building in public(ish) reintroduces curated content to help accelerate your business and leadership growth.

Think with Jodie Cook

Jodie Cook is a British entrepreneur and the Founder of, an AI platform that allows you to “clone” yourself (I’m currently doing this — stay tuned!). 

Jodie’s an all-round entrepreneurial overachiever, so don’t be surprised if you see her name pop up here every so often.

Lately, I’ve been digging her content around upgrading your thinking with ChatGPT. For example, “Think 10x bigger” and “Think in a non-linear way.”

Here are her 500+ ChatGPT prompts for entrepreneurs (no opt-in required).

Build (again) with Namibian entrepreneur Rudie van Vuuren

“How can we make things work?”

In 2003, the question was firmly planted in Rudie’s mind. He’d already identified a need in the market and committed to addressing it, but he lacked a “sustainable solution.” 

No one was willing to support an organization planning to “give people free medical care” in rural Namibia. Not on the surface, at least.

What Rudie lacked in support from traditional funding sources, he made up for tenfold in creativity, resourcefulness, and a willingness to get manhandled and beaten senseless 40 minutes at a time.

It was time for the Rugby World Cup.

(As if he didn’t have enough of his plate, that same year, van Vuuren also played in the Cricket World Cup — earning himself the title of “the only man to have ever played in both a Rugby World Cup and a Cricket World Cup” according to the BBC.)

“We wanted to start this clinic; we needed to raise funds for it. That year [2003], I was chosen to play for the Namibian National Rugby Team in the World Cup — and we used that opportunity,” he recalled some 20 years later.

Rudie and his wife worked to create a media buzz around his participation in the World Cup, encouraging fans to donate to their project every time Namibia’s team scored.

“As it happened, a Dutch philanthropist in Europe read about this. He came to Africa, met us, and said, ‘Listen, I read this online and in the newspaper, and I really want to help.’

“And he gave us a donation of 20,000 euros to start this clinic.”

An encouraging start, indeed. But 20,000 euros will only get you so far, especially when your business model involves providing free services to your customers.

That was the starting point, but how did Rudie and his team build the business further? 

How did you eventually make it sustainable? I asked.

“We started by getting donations for medicine. And then [in 2007], we started a volunteer program. We've got a nurse there, and we've got staff members there that train people. So, those volunteers make the program financially sustainable. 

“Through donations, through funding, it works eventually. We get some funding from Angelina Jolie, and we get some funding from other sources. We've built up a reputation for funding over the years. So, that project is funded,” he explained further.

(Their first donation from Brangelina came in “early 2011… when they donated £1.3m shortly after spending Christmas there.”)

Ok, so… the foundation gets regular funding. Pretty straightforward. 

Is that really all there is to it?

Rudie emphasized his “entrepreneurial spirit” earlier in our conversation, and my pre-interview internet sleuthing told me the guy’s involved in several projects, so I know there’s more to the story.

Obviously, I want to know about the entrepreneurial spirit.

Then he says, “Our businesses fund our foundation. That's the primary objective.”

Ah, there we go! Tell me more.

“On the other side, what we do in conservation and what we do in education is funded through our commercial activities.

“We do business in Namibia; we do construction, filmmaking, tourism, winemaking, and all sorts of other things. We just had a fundraising meeting today, and this year alone, we will spend 20 million Namibian dollars on our conservation projects, social projects, and… upliftment projects, healthcare projects, education projects,” he says.

“So, our business model is very simple. Do business, make money, do good.”

Do business, make money, do good. Repeat. 

It’s a simple yet highly effective flywheel that’s allowed Rudie and his family to build, build, build… while positively impacting so many aspects of underprivileged Namibian’s lives.

But it’s important to remember that all of this has been 20+ years in the making, and you’ve only heard about the Naankuse Foundation’s beginnings. 

Soon, I’ll tell you how they grew into what they are today.

Grow with lempire’s Guillaume Moubeche

Today, I noticed that Guillaume customized his LinkedIn profile URL — not with his name, but with “in/profit-led-growth.” Total boss move.

Early-stage founders would do well periodically revisiting (and regularly living) Guillaume’s take on the biggest differences between a first-time startup CEO and an experienced one.

🔎 Watchlist

In next week’s issue of Think, Build & Grow, you’ll get entrepreneurial insights and highlights from my interviews with:

Until next time,

Nolan Bulger

Take 30 seconds to ask a question or two — and you’ll get them answered by experienced global entrepreneurs and investors in an upcoming Think, Build & Grow issue.

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