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Entrepreneur hits a six with Forbes Africa 30 Under 30



Johannesburg entrepreneur Cody Gordon dreamed of becoming a professional cricketer, but a family tragedy led him in an entirely new direction, ultimately landing him on the prestigious Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 list, dubbed “Tomorrow’s Titans”.

That’s just the beginning for him and his business partner, Michael Dukes, also Jewish, who are taking mental health support into the digital realm and beyond.

The 26-year-old entrepreneur grew up in South Africa and attended King David Sandton in primary school, followed by King Edward VII in high school, where he pursued a professional cricket career.

“I received my education at Wits [University of the Witwatersrand], earning two degrees – a Bachelor of Arts and a Postgraduate Diploma in Management. In spite of my background in cricket, my true passion and calling always lay in the entrepreneurial world,” he says.

Now, he’s the co-founder and chief executive of CG Technology Group. “Our company has developed two remarkable enterprise-software platforms. The first one is called It’sOK (, which is specifically designed to address mental well-being in schools from primary school to Grade 12.

“The motivation for creating It’sOK stems from my own personal mental health journey,” he says. “When I lost my father tragically to cancer during my matric year in 2014, I realised the critical importance of mental well-being in my own life. I wanted to extend this gift of well-being to others, starting with the youth.”

It’sOK allows students to check in with how they are feeling, receive tips and tools to assist with their emotions, and develop their emotional intelligence on a daily basis. “We also provide schools with proactive analytics to target specific grades and classes in terms of well-being interventions, instantly pick up at-risk students, and provide parents with reports on how their children are feeling. It’sOK has been rapidly adopted at top South African schools, making a significant impact on the well-being of countless young individuals.”

Building on the success of It’sOK, they recently launched Be Frank ( “Our mission has always been to make an impact at scale, and that’s why we added to our offering with Be Frank for corporates,” says Gordon.

“It’s an enterprise-software platform that focuses on improving employee health to enhance overall business performance. Be Frank allows employees to have an equal and honest voice about their experience at work and provide the correct people at the organisation with in-depth analytics to improve company performance, health, culture, and team effectiveness.

“Be Frank has proven its potential for massive scale in South Africa and globally, empowering companies from various industries to prioritise and foster a healthy work environment for increased productivity and success.”

What makes their company unique “is that our mission is to lead the way in terms of human health and effectiveness in schools and corporates. We do this with It’sOK by helping students develop their EQ [emotional intelligence] every single day. They learn that mental health is important and something they can develop from a young age, which is something I wish I had growing up in school.

“Be Frank creates a safe environment for employees to voice their true opinions in a constructive manner and allow for positive change in the workplace in order to improve effectiveness.

“What makes both It’sOK and Be Frank unique is in our ability to create highly engaging and user-friendly applications,” says Gordon. “Every aspect, from features to design elements is carefully crafted to provide the best user experience. We strive to create a safe space for students to express their emotions and for employees to voice their experiences within the work environment, facilitating effective and positive change. Our technology is quick and easy to use but extremely effective in the analytics we provide these organisations in order to be truly proactive.”

The apps have been received extremely well by the public and their clients. “Mental health is vital not only to our success as individuals but as a society. Our schools and the parents of school pupils who have adopted It’sOK recognise this as a major need, and have thanked us for implementing our technology.

“Our focus is not only to add value through our technology and services, but also to partner with our clients to provide as much value as possible. At the end of the day, there’s only one judge that matters when it comes to your business, and that judge is the market. We take this extremely seriously, and have a rigorous client feedback process. This allows us to iterate and innovate quickly according to market needs, and is a major reason why we have been so well received.”

Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 focuses on the greatest innovators and business leaders under the age of 30 who have created successful businesses and have had a major impact across Africa. Gordon was nominated “due to our business success and the significant impact we have made with our technology across Africa. Our ability to innovate and scale our solutions played a key role in the nomination.

“Making the list was a tremendous honour,” he says. “I’m aware that this achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the brilliant individuals around me, especially my co-founder Michael Dukes. I felt humbled and grateful to be recognised among the world-class entrepreneurs and businesses on the list. When I received the news, I was with my girlfriend, Paige Butkow, and although I didn’t shed a tear, she certainly did. The entrepreneurial journey isn’t travelled alone.

“Growing up in the South African Jewish community shaped my journey,” he says. “It instilled values of resilience, community support, and the importance of education, which have all played a role in my entrepreneurial endeavours. It’s no secret that the Jewish community is filled with successful individuals. Growing up and seeing what’s possible is certainly inspiring and allows you to know that you, too, can reach those levels of success and even higher.”

He’s optimistic about South Africa’s future. “Though the country faces unique challenges, I believe that where there are challenges, there are also opportunities. Africa as a whole is brimming with incredible talent, and if we can get the fundamentals right, South Africa has the potential to be one of the best places in the world.”

Where to from here for him and Dukes? “Our goal is to continue to make a scalable impact with our technologies,” says Gordon. “We have a global mindset, and are already working towards expanding beyond South Africa. We believe in the potential of South Africa, and look forward to assisting more schools and corporations to create healthy and effective environments.”

Finally, he emphasises that “nothing in my life has been more beneficial than focusing on my own well-being. Prioritising mental health and well-being is crucial for personal and professional growth.”

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