Getting to Know SilverSky’s Hennie Warnich
Updated: Jun 26, 2019
SilverSky was founded in 1998 by Hennie Warnich and Adolph Jonker, two friends who used to sell hotdogs together during their student days in Stellenbosch. SilverSky officially started active trading in 2000 and started off as an IT company. The company today is vastly different and even though it still in essence is a technology company, we now found our niche in supplying solutions to communities. As you get to know Hennie, who also chairs Paarl Boys’ High’s Old Boys’ Union, it becomes clear that he is thoroughbred entrepreneur with a passion for innovation.
What did you study?
I formally studied Industrial Engineering, but I have such a wide variety of interests that I always continue to learn in one way or another. I have completed various courses in creative writing, robotics, programming, auctioneering, cooking and wine making.
What were you doing before SilverSky?
I worked and lived in the UK for three years where I made some money to pay off my study loan and afforded me the opportunity to start my own business.
What is the story of SilverSky’s founding?
The company was formed in 1998, but SilverSky formally launched in early 2001 with a friend and some hard-earned British pounds.
The name “SilverSky” was inspired by those misty, magical mornings that you get in the West Coast of South Africa. When you just know that a beautiful day is just around the corner. Something I truly missed whilst working in London.
SilverSky comes from humble beginnings… Tell us about your first client?
Quite fittingly, it was a church in Somerset West that placed a large order for computer equipment. I say fitting, because 19 years later and we specialise in community solutions. Maybe I should give them a call again!
What do you consider your company’s first big win?
I went to London in 2002 for a wedding and decided to put the new suit to good use by selling our services to some old contacts. I came back home with a contract worth R800 000 to develop an end-to-end solution for a British convenience food company.
Looking back, what is the secret to SilverSky’s success?
In the beginning we tried to be a total IT solution provider and did everything from selling computers, to printers, installing networks and even writing software. Every time we decided to discontinue some of our products and services, the company grew as a result of renewed focus. Today we are very clear about what we do and the future has never looked brighter.
Speaking about growth. How did you come up with AlumNet, arguably your most popular solution at the moment?
We developed software for Van Loveren Family Wines to manage their wine club, and at the same time I got involved with the Paarl Boys' High Old Boys' Union.
I quickly realised that a wine club is very closely related to an alumni organisation, not only because both involves wine, but it is also about grouping people, targeted communication, ordering, etc. Thus we adapted the wine club software to become a fully-fledged alumni management tool that is known as AlumNet today.
Your team has changed quite a lot during the past years, but who is the current team?
The SilverSky team is first and foremost passionate about people and we merely use technology to enhance communities to ultimately benefit people. Our team has more than 50 years combined experience at SilverSky and we are well-equipped to supply a professional service to our clients.