Executive Insights

This young entrepreneur overcame failures and legal woes to launch one of South Africa’s most popular fast-food chains

Business Insider SA
RocoMamas cofounder Brain Altriche (supplied)
RocoMamas cofounder Brain Altriche (supplied)
  • RocoMamas cofounder Brian Altriche believes failure helped him achieve success. 
  • Altriche today has a net worth of over R400 million, and stores across South Africa. 
  • His first restaurant went bankrupt, he was sued by Redbull and survived a car accident on his road to success. 
  • Visit Business Insider South Africa for more stories. 

Failure is part of the journey to success, RocoMamas cofounder Brian Altriche said.

Altriche today boasts a net worth of over R400 million after launching RocoMamas in 2013 which now has over 50 stores, with branches in Australia and India. 

Speaking to VIA (DStv channel 147)’s personal-finance show Geldhelde, Altriche explained how he managed to overcome a car accident, debt, and a lawsuit from Red Bull on his journey to success. 

Also read: Ina Paarman started out in a garage. Here's how she became a household name.

“I call it my fabulous failures: It (was) difficult at that point in time. But failure is part of the journey to success,” Altriche said. 

“Quick instant success is fleeting and that’s the bling and what a lot of youngsters get into. I went down that road and then I lost it.” 

“I think as soon as you become full of yourself you start losing touch with reality and the people around you.”

(Instagram, @rocomamas)
(Instagram, @rocomamas)

In his early twenties, Altriche suffered a serious car accident. He then opened his first restaurant, a steakhouse, at the age of 25. But it closed after only a couple of months - leaving him with a mountain of debt. 

Undeterred, he became a stakeholder and the first-ever franchisee of South Africa’s popular seafood chain Ocean Basket. 

Also read: Here's how South African execs rebuilt their company after it went spectacularly bankrupt in 2009

He co-launched sugar-free energy drinks, Mad Bull and GoGirl, shortly afterwards. 

Energy-drink giant Red Bull, however, sued Altriche and his partners over naming rights, and they hastily rebranded the product to Mad Buzz – a move that ultimately led to the demise of the brand.

(Instagram, @rocomamas)
(Instagram, @rocomamas)

When he turned 30, he sold his stake in Ocean Basket and went to work as a franchisee in the popular Spur chain. 

It is here where Altriche spotted the need for a fast-food restaurant that would appeal to the younger millennial market, sparking the launch of Rocomamas. 

Also read: This South African became a self-made millionaire by 24. Here’s how.

He said attracting the millennial market didn’t just mean hip décor but incorporating fresh ingredients into the menu. So, for example, its trademark Smashburger is made from fresh mincemeat with no binding agents.

Rocomamas’s Smashburgers remain the chain's signature – and most popular – item on the menu.

(Facebook, RocoMamas)
(Facebook, RocoMamas)

Altriche, who has no formal tertiary education, said his fighting spirit was born from the accident in his twenties, which left him temporarily incapacitated.  

“While I was incapacitated, I wrote down ten goals. And there’s a fundamental importance to this because I’d moved back home to my parents’ house and I was staying in a little room outside,” Altriche said. 

“I put this little list on my shaving mirror – and then I moved out, got married, carried on with life, and about five, six years later, I had a Harley-Davidson and my mother phoned me and she said, ‘I need to see you.’” 

“I went for coffee with her. It was a Saturday morning and I was on my Harley and drove to the coffeeshop in Rosebank and she pulled out this yellow piece of paper and she said, ‘You know, I’ve been ticking off your goals. And goal number ten was to buy a Harley Davidson.’”

In 2015, Spur bought a majority stake in RocoMama, with Altriche continuing as CEO.

Geldhelde airs every Tuesday at 20:30 on VIA (DStv channel 147), with repeats on Wednesdays at 08:30 and Sundays at 19:30.

Business Insider South Africa is part of 24.com, which is a Media24 company, as is VIA TV.

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