A young man with passion and drive
Nicky van der Walt is the epitome of a South African entrepreneur.
This charming young man with a head for business has ensured Nicky’s successful in ventures spanning across various industries including Hospitality, Retail and Natural Resources.
His involvement in different capacities, within multiple business sectors, has established him as a force to be reckoned with in the South African business market.
In 1999, Nicky van der Walt decided to pursue his passion in hospitality, which began in London where he was actively involved in restaurants and nightclubs. He soon realized he wanted to manage his own business and returned to South Africa, in late 2000 to realise his vision of opening his own restaurant.
At the tender age of 20, this intrepid young man opened his first restaurant in beautiful leafy-green suburb of Rosebank, Johannesburg. This was the birth of the successful Primi Piatti franchise, which is now a proudly familiar favourite across the country.
Nicky then sold this franchise to focus on establishing his very own brands. The entrepreneur continued growing his footprint across the Johannesburg restaurant scene by acquiring Circle Restaurant in Greenside.
The former “GQ best dressed” mans’ investment trajectory took a different direction in 2005 when he began pursuing Natural Resources and Retail investments. Nicky co-founded Endeavour Resources, a company focusing on the pursuit of mining contracts in the coal and ferrous sectors in Southern Africa. He was involved on both an advisory and principal investing capacity.
Some of Van der Walt’s career highlights include brokering the ZAR 600 million sale of the South African coal producer NuCoal to the JSE Listed, Coal of Africa.
His insatiable entrepreneurial drive led to him co-founding Inyanga Trading, where he developed, owned and operated successful food retail establishments in Johannesburg, serving the emerging market and rising middle class sectors until he sold the business in 2012.
His distinguished portfolio includes the founding of Gluon Energy with Panos Voutyritsas (CIO of Kingdom Zephyr PE Fund) and Erlend Olson (ex-Nasa and Terraliance). This venture focuses exclusively on upstream oil and gas projects in Africa and incorporates the exploration, development and production of hydrocarbons.
Nicky van der Walt is not only a successful entrepreneur but also an internationally acclaimed polo player. He is married to the love of his life, former beauty queen and model, Lee-Ann Liebenberg.
“For a good relationship, you need to have a strong friendship – and we’re best friends,” she says. The pair married in March after a whirlwind romance. “I’ve known Nicky for eight years and always had a crush on him, but was too shy to do anything about it,” says Lee-Ann. But it turns out he knew they were meant for each other: “Whenever he saw my mom, he’d say, ‘I’m going to marry your daughter.’ I’d tell her not to listen to him as he was a player.” But he was right. Within three months of dating, they were engaged.
When Nicky and his wife, Lee-Ann Liebenberg welcomed their second child, Gabriella, into the world, a very proud father Nicky announced on Instagram, ‘‘My Princesses . . . I am the richest man I know. #blessed #love #beautiful #daughters #GABRIELLA’’