Cape Town-based Rob Stokes is an investor and entrepreneur focused on the technology and education sectors. From his first enterprise selling ice-pops to his class mates at the age of 5, Rob has loved business. He had no choice but to be an entrepreneur.
Rob grew up in Johannesburg South Africa and was schooled at St. Stithians College where he started 17 business, none of them successful, but all of them disruptive (unfortunately in the classroom sense – not the innovative sense). He matriculated in 1996 and thereafter went straight to the University of Cape Town to study a Business Science degree with majors in marketing and economics.
During his university years, Rob conducted a number of failed experiments in casual employment. These came to an end on Christmas day 1998 where after a particularly dark day in the restaurant where he was a waiter, he quit on the spot and vowed never to work for anyone else again.
Two months later he founded Quirk, one of the first (if not the first) digital agencies in Africa. Over an award-winning period of 15 years Rob and his incredible team built Quirk into one of the largest players in the industry before selling the business to London listed WPP in 2014.
Along the way, Rob and his team founded and grew a number of other businesses.
In 2007, Rob co-authored the digital marketing textbook: eMarketing, the essential guide to marketing in a digital world. This book was created to improve industry standards by educating marketing students and professionals. Licensed under the Creative Commons, the book can be downloaded for free online. Now in its 5th Edition, it has been downloaded well over a million times and is currently used by over 1000 universities and learning institutions around the world.
Over the years, Rob has been recognised for his contribution to the digital industry as well as his success as an entrepreneur and business leader. His accolades include being awarded for the Greatest Individual Contribution to Online Media and Marketing by the IAB Bookmarks, the Computer Society named him as South Africa’s IT Personality of the Year, he was named as the Emerging Entrepreneur of the year at the EY World Entrepreneur Award and Young Business Leader of the Year at the CNBC Africa’s ‘All Africa Business Leaders Awards’.
To help foster and grow a culture of technology entrepreneurship, from 2009 to 2012 Rob was the founding Chairman of Silicon Cape, an initiative created to nurture technology businesses in the Western Cape and beyond.
Today, Rob serves as the non exec chair of the Red & Yellow Creative School of Business where he gets to bathe in his never ending curiosity about all things business. He is also the Non-exec Chairman of a number of enterprises in the IT space.
He has a beautiful wife, 3 amazing kids and in his spare time you’ll find him running, fishing and wishing South Africa was better at cricket tournaments.