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A chat with the MD and Head of Commercialization at Springleap -Trevor Wolfe

 A chat with the MD and Head of Commercialization at Springleap -Trevor Wolfe

Who is Trevor Wolfe and what do you do?
I’m just a small town boy, raised in USA. I spent the last 15 years in New York City before moving to Joburg. I’m the MD and Head of Commercialization of Springleap meaning I oversee the nexus between our product, marketing, sales and community management teams in addition to managing our awesome South African offices. Currently, I’m spending most of my time helping our research lead Remon and his team build our Creative Insights division and associated products. I’m a wannabe sailor and gardener, and have recently discovered my new favorite sport, Cricket.

You have had quite an exciting career tell us about your journey pre Springleap?
Well, I began as a marketing consultant for financial services giants like Morgan Stanley, helping them transform their existing marketing and communication departments into the digital era. I then spent 8 years at WPP’s research division, Kantar.

Thereafter, my time shifted to building and marketing analytics platforms and products for agencies and brands.

After a failed experiment to build a business at Kantar around online and mobile video analytics, I ended up working for the “expert network” company, Gerson Lehrman Group, leading their North American Financial Services marketing division and helping them expand their client bases into new markets. My first taste of #startuplife was when joined the founders of Moveline – a 5 person team building technology to make moving long distance easier. I built their marketing discipline and eventually joined their leadership team.

What drew you to explore the unchartered African startup scene?
After 10 years it gets a bit insular working 70 hour weeks in NYC, so my partner, Kate, and I got pretty anxious to see another part of the world. We knew we wanted somewhere on the rise that had a diverse and vibrant culture, and where we could use English in the workplace. We ended up evaluating Malaysia, Brazil, London, and Amsterdam, but we fell for Jozi on a 10 day visit. I was steering towards working for a startup, and had investigated all the media publications like VentureBurn, the accelerators, and the Silicon Cape initiative.

Why Springleap?
My time at Moveline and Gerson Lehrman Group gave me appreciation for the marketplace business model where the success of the startup relies on its ability to match supply and demand through unique interactions and platforms. When I saw that Springleap had an engaged community of 20k creatives (and potential to expand around the world) I knew it had a very valuable asset. I’ve also seen how technology has changed various aspects of the creative process from media buying and planning to campaign measurement and consumer research. I hadn’t seen many successful examples of crowdsourcing transforming the creative process, and was motivated by the challenge.

What future do you see in the combined creativity and technology space?
I’d first stress that technology will never replace large sections of the creative process. To this day, creativity is fostered and brought to life through physical environments, i.e. relationship building between clients/agencies, internal brainstorming sessions and cross discipline collaboration.

However, technology does offer much to enhance the creative process. We also think that technology can help the traditional processes like ideation, consumer research, and campaign feedback. It breaks down barriers that the physical world presents like geographic distance, office space, and traditional staffing models, and we have been testing various products at Springleap.

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What exciting stuff can creatives and brands expect from Springleap in the near future?
Trend Reports – We recently launched monthly trend reports for South Africa. We work with 50 creatives around the country each month to provide commentary on brand activity, events, media influences and local imagery in the main geographic markets and townships. It provides guidance on what trends and activities are making an impact and also gives a better understanding to subscribers re the various cultural and geographic nuances of South African consumers. We’re currently in beta mode with trend reports for a few other pan-african countries. Any SA Creative readers that want to get free access to the January edition are welcome to email us at

Campaign Feedback (Sense Checks) – We are in beta mode with a few clients testing the efficacy and value of sourcing professional feedback on campaigns from panels of our creatives. It provides similar “predictive insights” that a traditional copy test would but the output is meant to be actionable and expert opinion from unbiased pros (and also quicker and more affordable).

Geographic Creative Insights – We are doing tons of projects across Africa already, mostly on an ad hoc basis, using our recently recruited creatives in about 25 countries. These range from category or competitor overviews to testing campaigns and concepts for relevancy.

What can creatives do to get more involved with Springleap?
Fill out a profile immediately! We work with a few hundred South African creatives a month, and are constantly looking for all types of creative minds from agency/design pros and media strategists to photographers and fashion designers.

Any advice for youngsters wanting to get into the creative/tech space?
Plan your depth and width strategy. Pick one creative discipline that you are passionate about, two that you’re curious about, and two technology trends that interest you. Cultivate your passion as much as possible through real world experience and foster your curiosities through side projects and online education. Having both depth and breadth will make you a more impactful employee, adaptable to changes in the industry, and will give you room to try out a few work situations. Speaking of which, I highly suggest trying out a stint in both a large corporation which will give you a feel for structure, risk mitigation and professional processes, as well as a startup environment which will show you flat structures, risk taking and innovative processes. Both have pros and cons, but having both experiences make you even stronger candidates and employees.

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