Category Archives: HR

Our favourite apps

Highly recommended programs

  • Thunderbird: open-source, free mail client. Install at least these addons:
    • Quicktext (for inserting quick templates of text and HTML)
    • Nostalgy (for quickly filing mail and jumping between folders)
    • A spellchecker (and always have spell-checking activated to run before you send email)
  • Google Chrome for web browsing, testing, and great extensions.
  • Mozilla Firefox for web browsing, website testing, and its awesome array of useful addons.
  • Safari for web browsing and website testing
  • Skype for instant messaging and phone calls
  • LibreOffice for text documents and spreadsheets (
  • Notepad++ for quick text files and simple code edits (on Mac, try TextWrangler or Sublime)
  • Adobe Reader for opening PDFs
  • AVG antivirus (the free edition)
  • Irfanview for quickly cropping and resizing pictures
  • Filezilla for getting files on and off remote servers via FTP
  • Trello, a web-based project management program
  • Sage Pastel My Business Online, a multi-user accounting application
  • Youtube, for video sharing online
  • Vimeo, for video sharing online
  • WordPress, an open sourced blogging tool
  • OpenOffice, an open source office software suite
  • Base, an online CRM management program
  • Quicktext, widget for Thunderbird
  • Trovebox, for online storage of information
  • Bitly, an online URL shortener
  • Textwrangler, a text editor for Mac
  • Irfanview, an image editor
  • CamStudio, for creating screencast videos
  • Any Video Converter, file size converting

Highly recommended software

  • Dropbox, either for your own files or for syncing withthe company shared files (be sure to read up about how Dropbox works, especially before deleting any files, or syncing with the company share).
  • HeidiSQL for viewing MySQL databases
  • EpubReader, as a Firefox addon, for reading DRM-free epubs
  • Kindle for PC for reading Kindle ebooks on your computer
  • 7-Zip for extracting and compressing files (especially ones the Windows built-in unzipper can’t handle, like .tar)
  • PDFCreator for printing to PDF
  • Evolus Pencil for creating screen wireframes for user interfaces or even things like quick poster or flyer design drafts
  • VideoLAN (aka VLC) media player, for those occasions when Windows Media Player won’t play your music or video
  • Sigil, if you ever have reason to edit or look inside epub files.
  • Github, for building software online
  • EasyFile-employer, for your emp501 returns


Project 8: Team build and Infrastructure: closing report

This project established our basic infrastructure for the year. We wanted to:

  • give our core team a sense of security by extending their contracts,
  • expand our freelance and intern team,
  • join industry bodies,
  • cover the cost of accountants,
  • pay for important web-app subscriptions, and
  • secure rent for the office into 2014.

General report-back

This project was meant to a large extent to make infrastructure invisible to the team members: everything is simply in place so we can get on with work. This is just what happened: our team has been able to get on with things in a well organised, comfortable environment, both physically (in the office) and financially (knowing their salaries are sorted). We’re extremely happy with the outcomes of this project overall.

Objectives achieved

Planned: “…focus on scaling [Paperight’s] use. To do that, we have to have a foundation of infrastructure in place for the year, and greater job security for the team. … This will in turn boost Paperight’s efficiency and effectiveness.”

This overall objective was definitely achieved. We have a superb, close knit team who achieve a great deal and are fully committed to our vision.

See below for more detail on specific targets and measures of success.

Objectives not achieved


Measures of success


Planned Outcome
Has our team and infrastructure provided the base we need to accomplish our specific goals during the year? As we’ll show below, our goals changed during the year based on some sensible changes we made to strategies. We essentially achieved goals that are more closely aligned to our strategies, see more below.
When we review our progress every three months, do our predictions here about the team size and structure and tools and memberships align with our users’ needs? (E.g. are we providing sufficient support to and content for our outlets to make them use Paperight more profitably?) We worried that we did not enough outlet support in the team earlier on, but the non-outlet-support team members stepped in to cover for this. For instance, through our each adopting specific outlets, and sharing outlet support calls and emails.
We expect to see:
Our team members enjoying their roles and explicitly happy that they are doing their best work (monitored already by Arthur in monthly one-on-one meetings); Achieved.
New team members fit in well, and do their best work productively as part of the team; Achieved.
Our decisions and prioritisation influenced or affirmed positively by what we learn from PASA and SABA participation; Yes. PASA membership has been especially useful: it’s led to funding to attend Frankfurt and London Book Fairs, and loads of up to date info on the education book sector (including school contact details and publisher leads). So far, SABA membership has been less useful, but had provided bookstore contacts that have been valuable, such as Caxton Books and Juta who are now outlets as a direct result of our attending SABA meetings.
We stay within budget on all line items; Where we have gone over in some line items, we’ve consciously reduced expenditure elsewhere, and kept these changes small and aligned with current strategic priorities.
A significant increase in rights income from licence sales. Achieved. Since Dec 2013 revenue has grown over 40% per month.
We would like to see:
Core team members confident that their team output is increasing in quantity and value because their own recruitment and management skills are improving; Achieved, though always more work to do in this area.
Evidence that our participation in PASA and SABA positively influences these associations’ actions or positions on increasing access to books, especially choosing open rather than closed approaches (e.g. working with photocopy businesses rather than focusing only on restricting them). Getting Juta and Caxton to sign up was a result of SABA participation. We have not had a noticeable effect on PASA, but Arthur was nominated for the board of DALRO (though this has not gone further), which may have been influenced by visibility at PASA-related events.
We would love to see:
Some of our interns excelling to the point that we hire them for full-time contract positions at Paperight; Achieved! Oscar Masinyana, Philippa Dewey  and Marie-Louise Rouget are key members of our team that started as interns during this project.
Our efforts on training reflected in the future scoring on BEE certification; We have not reviewed our BEE scoring yet, but are being careful to record training initiatives (e.g. training sessions for interns), for this and for SDL claims.
A third source of income (after rights fees and Shuttleworth Foundation funding). Nothing concrete here yet, but we’re exploring options.


For Paperight’s company achievements, we set the following goals for ourselves to achieve by August 2013 (using present-tense visualisation):

Goal Outcome
Unisa is using and paying for Paperight to deliver content to its students. We have not made progress here. Still trying to get a meeting with the right people (after several meetings with the wrong people).
We have an alternative funding source (a grant or prize) to the value of R1m. We don’t have this, and have structured our plans and budgets to not need it to get to self-sustainability.
We have won a large award for our work. We won at Tools of Change in New York and London Book Fair, and were congratulated by Parliament.
Paperight has been covered in the New York Times. We didn’t get this exactly, but had great coverage in many places, including Forbes and CNN websites.
We have placed 10 success stories that have emotional impact in the press. When we planned this, we meant success stories about Paperight’s impact on specific individuals. Have did not identify these stories. But we’re still very pleased with the impact of our releases and news in the press (see quarterly reports for media coverage).
We have a Tax Clearance Certificate from SARS. Achieved!
We have more outlets (active printing businesses) than there are bookstores in South Africa (assuming 500 stores). We deliberately decided against growing to this size, choosing rather to focus on quality of service in our existing outlet footprint.
We have 5000 valuable documents on Paperight (more once we’ve automated content prep). We have 1900, but we’re happy that they are good quality. Automated content prep only became live around June 2013, so it has not yet had the impact on content numbers that it might still have.
Internally we may change these goals if our strategy shifts as we learn during the year. As noted above, many of our goals did shift, but we’re happy that they shifted sensibly.



Original budget: R1004313.00

Actual spend: R912555.25

Returned to pool: R91757.75

Item Budget Actual Return to pool Comments
Contract extension: Content manager 160000 144124.78 15875.22
Contract extension: Media manager 140000 126124.78 13875.22
Contract extension: Outlet development manager 140000 126124.78 13875.22
Contract extension: Office manager 154000 144882.56 9117.44
New contract: Content wrangler Nov 2012 – Aug 2013 110000 125947.00 -15947 We gave Oscar a raise to match that of the rest of the team. He had been working with us as an intern initially
Interns (outlet, media, content) 44000 47100.00 -3100
Recruitment costs 2000 0 2000 We decided to make use of free advertising
Content-team freelancers 20000 12720.00 7280
Outlet-team freelancers 20000 20000 We decided to focus on content freelancers
Publisher’s Association (PASA) membership 6000 3120.99 2879.01 We saved on our membership by paying pro-rata
Bookseller’s Association (SABA) membership 3500 1150.00 2350 We saved on our membership by paying pro-rata
Rent 105600 60800.00 44800 We have decided to move the budgeted rent from September to April 2014 into a new pitch
BEE certificate 1653 1653.00 0
Online subscriptions 7200 3815.96 3384.04
Accounting fees 12000 23344.60 -11344.6
Bank charges 3600 4169.23 -569.23 Bank charges increased as we made more sales
Mandatory payroll-related taxes 15000 20765.90 -5765.9 On hiring more staff on contract basis, our payroll expenses increased
Domain registrations 1500 1500 We did not spend anything on domain registrations
Web hosting 2160 2160
Consumable stationery 3000 8373.83 -5373.83
Software 8500 8500 We did not purchase another Adobe
Travel 42000 25113.32 16886.68
Data for remote web access R2600 1977.00 623
Advertising 0 21385.02 -21385.02 We did not budget for marketing for this year initially
Legal fees 0 7362.50 -7362.5 We unexpectedly had to cover ourselves in the event of a court case with New Africa Books
Donations and grants 0 2500.00 -2500
Total R1 004 313 R912555.25 R91757.75


Outputs and deliverables

Planned: “Direct tangible outputs: Team contracts and rental agreements in place. BEE certification. Given that this project underlies all of Paperight’s work, further indirect outputs and IP created include everything we produce over the coming year.”

All achieved.


It’s hard to sum up everything we learned in a year of teamwork. Some team-organisation principles that have served us well over the last year:

  • We don’t have job descriptions, just clear areas of functional authority which are defined in two to three bullet points each;
  • We don’t have reporting lines or bosses/managers. Each team member reports to the rest of the team as a whole (with the CEO having final say where a decision is necessary), and has a guide for one-on-one guidance, idea-bouncing and sharing in confidence. Each team member and guide get out of the office for an open one-on-one chat at least once a month. This is incredibly useful for uncovering anxieties and for celebrating wins.
  • We set goals for the company/team for the year, and then each team member sets goals for three to six months (depending on what their role demands). These are written down on our wiki. (See below for next year’s goals.)
  • We keep a close eye on training, we want to be sure everyone feels they’re learning something in their jobs.
  • Finances are totally transparent to everyone on the team, including salary info. Everyone is expected to understand how we’re doing financially, and where they fit into our financial goals.
  • We have had to actively encourage and ensure open discussion about tough issues: each others’ roles, moral/ethical differences regarding Paperight strategies, social impact vs financial priorities.
  • We have to put in real effort to creating culture around tools: we’ve worked hard to keep people using the wiki, Trello (for project management), Skype for daily interaction, Google Docs, shared files and their backups, and email properly. This requires constant attention and maintenance but is always worth investing in.
  • Shared vocabulary around productivity has been invaluable. In particular, we use the concepts of ‘shipping’ (getting something off your desk) and avoiding ‘thrashing’ and ‘lizard brain’ anxieties and procrastination — borrowed from Seth Godin’s superb talk on ‘Quieting the Lizard Brain’.
  • Our shared vision, ‘Every book within walking distance of every home’ continues to be a key compass point for us, but it does need to be consciously raised from time to time, and actively integrated into our plans and metrics so that it doesn’t get treated as lip-service.
  • Arthur relies on key members of the team to offer leadership as the team grows. These leaders emerge naturally.
  • We’ve been incredibly lucky to have such a great time spirit, and we know that this is something we must nurture, for both our effectiveness and for our enjoyment of what we do.

Team/company goals for Paperight’s next year are much more focused on self-sustainability and impact than last year:

  • We are on target (Y)
  • 100K over Paperight’s cut of target = bonuses paid out to team members (Y)
  • 500-University student survey (at UCT and US): 7/10 students have heard of Paperight (M-L)
  • We’ve reached 5000 students in 50 schools for R500 000 (A)
  • 2000 copies downloaded outside of CBDs (O)
  • R2mil in turnover contributed to South African Businesses (including licenses to publishers and turnover at copyshops) (A)
  • 10 outlets are a pleasure to by a book at (customer wants to come back) (Y)

The initials in brackets show who is primarily responsible for monitoring our performance against these goals during the year.


We will pitch again for further team infrastructure funding out of project funds, and stay on revenue target to be self-sustaining when that runs out.


This has been an excellent year: despite it being extremely hard work, with a mix of disappointments and frustrations, it had more successes and celebrations. This is only possible with a great team that feels secure.

Next steps

The current team will stay in place covered by future project funding.

Nurturing the team

At Paperight we really do believe in nurturing each other wherever we can.  We assist each other projects, brainstorm as a team, motivate and challenge each other on various projects. Training each other was great fun and we were eager to share  our skill sets.

We shared our achievements and our plans over Skype on a daily basis, checking in with each other on our progress and keeping the team informed about what were busy with. Meetings take place on a weekly basis to go over what we have shipped  and planned to achieve in the next week. Monthly meetings with our mentors are an opportunity to see how we have progressed, make sure that we share the same focus and plan ahead.

We each have our own areas of functional authority which we use as a guideline for planning ahead. Generally though, our workload overlaps and we split the tasks according to who is available and most suited to the task.

Training workshops have included:

  • WordPress site building workshops (Arthur)
  • Basic business finance training (Arthur and Dezre)
  • HTML training (Arthur)
  • CSS training (Arthur)
  • SEO and social media training (Nick)
  • Spreadsheet training (Arthur)
  • An introduction to SA Publishing (Tarryn)
  • An introduction to Copyright (Tarryn)
  • InDesign/Photoshop (Nick)
  • Metadata management (Tarryn)
  • Productivity (Arthur)
  • Customer service (Yazeed)
  • Negotiation and sales (Arthur)
  • How works (Arthur)
  • Defining your target market (Yazeed)
  • Google Analytics (Tarryn)
  • Managing personal tax (Arthur, Dezre)
  • Screencast videos (Philippa, Marie, Tarryn)
  • Mail merging (Arthur)
  • Base CRM (Tarryn)
  • URL shortening (Arthur)

Other crazy things we have done as a team:

  • The Shuttleworth Foundation behaviour questionnaire
  • Entering into writing competitions
  • Competing against Random House Struik in a soccer match

Most of the team were given code names:

  • Nick otherwise known as Nighthawk
  • Tarryn otherwise known as Terrorwolf
  • Dezre otherwise known as Deathray or Kim Possible
  • Marie otherwise known as Captain
  • Philippa otherwise known as Dr. Phil
  • Emma otherwise known as M
  • Arthur otherwise known as Arthvader or Arthur of the roundtable

Our favourite video links include:

Often-shared links and resources included:

Some favourite office games:

Favourite foods:

  • Bananas
  • Cake
  • Macaroni and cheese

Fun times.

Project 5: Team 2.0: closing report

This project is to extend two existing contracts, create two new positions based on new needs and priorities, and allow us to bring in more interns. In short, it’s a team refinement.

General report-back

This project set out to extend or create positions on the Paperight team:

  • Content Manager (Tarryn’s contract extended)
  • Communications Manager (Nick’s contract extended)
  • Office manager/bookkeeper (new position)
  • Outlet development manager (new position, modified from existing outlet relations manager)
  • Interns (new, two per month)

Extending Nick and Tarryn’s contracts has been an unmitigated success. They’ve continued to produce superb work and to lead thinking in the Paperight team.

For our office manager we hired Dezre Little, who within a few months we gave the broader title of financial manager. Dezre is an incredible member of the team, keeping our finances super organised, driving the process of identifying and appying for awards and funding opportunities, and keeping the office ship shape.

The role of outlet development manager went to Yazeed Peters, who’d been on contract as an Outlets Manager for five months previously. Yazeed has gone from strength to strength, leading the development especially of our relationships with the Jetline and Minuteman Press chains, and establishing our model for bulk school purchasing and book sponsorship.

Our internship model has brought us three more amazing team members: Philippa Dewey as a second Content Manager, Oscar Masinyana, now Reading Communities Manager, and Marie-Louise Rouget, now Marketing Coordinator.

Objectives achieved

Our objectives were:

  • new team structure more effective and streamlined
  • continue building on strengths (such as Tarryn’s impressive content-prep systems, and Nick’s fine design and media work)
  • new approaches to outlet development
  • office manager frees up staff, especially Arthur, from admin to focus their energies on their core responsibilities

These objectives were all achieved.

Objectives not achieved


Measures of success

Before: “We expect to see faster, more focused strategic decisions being made regarding outlets (growth of outlets and use of Paperight by existing outlets). Paperwork and admin will be up to date (nothing should lie unattended for more than a week).”

After: This has been achieved.

Before: “We would like to also see a twofold increase in outlet rate of growth and rate of conversion to paid use of Paperight from late September.”

After: The stats below show that we more than exceeded our targets, but it took more than four months (we didn’t set a timeframe for our measures of success). Note: two outliers do affect the figures: the registration of forty Jetline stores as a chain in June 2012 skews the outlet registrations in May to August 2012; and a single large bulk sale of books in March 2013 has a large effect on the average revenue for January to April.

May to August 2012 (before):

  • Sales per month: $12.83
  • Outlet registrations per month: 31.75 (spike when entire Jetline chain registered at once)
  • Number of outlets starting to download paid books: 5 (average 1.25 per month)

September to December 2012 (immediately after):

  • Sales per month: $22.45
  • Outlet registrations per month: 3.25
  • Number of outlets starting to download paid books: 3 (average 0.75 per month)

January to April 2013 (longer after):

  • Sales per month: $78.23
  • Outlet registrations per month: 11
  • Number of outlets starting to download paid books: 13 (average 3.1 per month)

Before: “We would love to see, in addition, that this team can handle all customer support queries that come in.”

After: Achieved easily.


Original budget: R206500

Actual spend: R200681.87

Returned to pool: R5818.13

Item Budget Actual Return to Pool Comments
Content Manager 48000 48374.34 -374.24 PAYE and UIF
Communications Manager 42000 42374.45 -374.35 PAYE and UIF
Outlet Development Manager 42000 42374.45 -374.35 PAYE and UIF
Office Manager/Bookkeeper 42000 42374.34 -374.24 PAYE and UIF
Job Advertising 1000 0 1000
Laptops for ODM, OMB, Comms Manager 19500 18878.40 621.70
Interns 12000 6306 5694.10
TOTAL 206500 201595.87 5818.13


Outputs and deliverables

Pitched Report
A new team structure and core job descriptions will be formalised. Done. Areas of functional authority are kept for each team member on the Paperight wiki. Team members have reporting lines, which are intended to define ‘job coach’ relationships rather than task-based managerial relationships.
IP creation is minimal: contracts, job ads. Done.
Team members will create IP including strategy docs and project plans, internal admin docs, media and PR docs, designs in posters, flyers, website elements, etc. Ongoing. IP created is stored in our shared Dropbox folders, in Google Docs ( Google Apps accounts), and on our wiki, blog, and social media accounts.



Paperight’s tightly knit, hard-working and productive team is the result of a careful choice of purpose-driven young people, and a supportive environment. As CEO, Arthur reads voraciously on management, and brings this learning to the team as constant, open experiments in running a team and building a business around that.


The team salaries will continue to be supported largely by Foundation funding while we worked towards self-sustainability in early 2015.


We have an excellent team that is continuing to grow in numbers and strength. This team spirit is self-sustaining in the way that a marriage is: as long as its members are willing to put in the work, every member of the team can contribute and be fulfilled doing do.

Next steps

The team is growing, so this is the first of a series of team-building projects at Paperight.

Employees versus independent contractors

In October 2012 discussions started in the office as to whether it would be better for all the staff to be full-time Paperight employees or consultants contracted to the Shuttleworth Foundation.

It was decided in the end that we were all contracted employees of Paperight.

The reasons

  • According to legislative guidelines we would all be employees of Paperight from a legal perspective whether we decided to call ourselves employees or consultants.
  • There were more expenses involved in being consultants for the company such as higher tax deductions, and accountants’ fees for calculating and reconciling annual income tax returns.
  • Almost all staff are permanently based in the office.
  • There was better job security as contract employees.
  • The Shuttleworth Foundation consultancy agreement did not cover special conditions that some of had agreed upon in our employment contracts, such as working hours.
  • We had three staff members with special religious conditions built into their contract with Paperight: Yazeed and Oscar as Muslims were given the freedom to leave the office during certain hours to pray at mosque and had been explicitly promised leave for Eid days. It was understood that Dezre as a Seventh Day Adventist was not able to work during Sabbath hours.

Factors that determine whether an employment relationship exists

These factors are determined by state regulations as inportant when considering whether someone is ’employed’:

  • Whether the the worker is subject to the control or direction of the business
  • Whether the workers hours of work are subject to control or direction
  • Whether the worker forms part of the organisation
  • Whether the worker works for an average of 40 hours or more per month
  • Whether the worker is economically dependent on the business
  • Whether the worker is equipped with tools to work with or whether they have their own
  • Whether the worker is working for more than one business or not and whether the majority of the income is from the business.

The contractual relationship

The nature of the contract and the working relationship between the business and the person hired is very different if they are an employee or an independent contractor.

In the the independent-contractor scenario a person is contracted to do a specific job or a specific piece of work which must be delivered. The person who is doing the work is seen as a the agent and the business is seen as the principal. It is not a contract of employment, but related to performance of a predetermined task. There is less control over the agent (or independent contractor) than over the employee and there is no flexibility in terms of the related performance. This relationship is not governed by the Labour Relations Act or the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

It is important to note that all workers are presumed to be employees of a company unless it is proven otherwise.

We’re on TV!

In October I had my first opportunity to train a staff member at Paperight, when Abdul-Malik requested training from me. This was as much a learning experience for me as it was for him. It also allowed me to practice and improve my training ability.

October was also the month when we made our first television appearance since I had joined. I accompanied nick along to HecticNine9 studios and watched him from behind the scenes as he introduced the Paperight concept to South Africa. We watched the number of visitors to our website spike to a then highest number of visitors to our site.

The television appearance and other publicity we received led to a sharp increase in private individuals registering for the Paperight service. We made a decision to screen those who register as outlets even more deliberately and to be more specific in our messaging, getting the B2B point across.

It was at this time that I suggested that we add a sub-accounts capability to the Paperight website. This would make it easier for an owner of an outlet to monitor the activity of his staff and for a franchisor to monitor the activity of franchisees. This feature was later added to our website.