Today, South African venture capital firm Knife Capital announced the top twelve companies participating in its fourth Grindstone Accelerator programme.
Grindstone engineers growth for South African innovation-driven entrepreneurs by shaping their companies to become more investable, sustainable and exit-ready.
Some of South Africa’s best scale-up companies have been through Grindstone with measurable results. These include ticketing solutions provider Quicket, financial inclusion business Picsa; augmented reality animation & gaming company SeaMonster; payments software provider Electrum, transport data company WhereIsMyTransport, Bitcoin blockchain anti-piracy solution Custos and radar startup iKubu (acquired by Garmin).
Over the last three intakes, the interventions of the year-long program resulted in the participating companies experiencing an average of 56% year-on-year increase in revenue while mastering business fundamentals.
Andrea Bӧhmert, Knife Capital Investment Partner explains: “Grindstone is about measurable growth, about building a foundation that can handle both challenges and opportunities. It is about being prepared, as interesting things happen to companies that are ready and able to act on short notice.”
In this cohort, Knife Capital is taking twelve businesses through an intensive review of their strategies to provide them with the insights and tools to build a foundation for growth.
“We initially set out to find ten SMEs to partner with, but the exciting and diverse range of the opportunities presented, combined with corporate partnerships reached, enabled us to open the program up a bit wider,” says Bӧhmert.
“Each one of these companies is at a tipping point, with many strategic options to pursue. During Grindstone the entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to validate their growth assumptions and check these against the company’s ability to execute.”
The twelve scale-up businesses are:
- Allxs – NFC enabled closed-loop cashless payments and experience management platform – improving speed, safety and convenience for an enhanced customer experience;
- Cradle Technology Services – provider of Granite Warehouse Management System, an affordable WMS for customers to take control of their warehousing and dramatically improve accuracy;
- Ctrl – a digital short-term insurance broker platform allowing for effortless B2C engagement via a single advice app;
- Digger App – an industry-specific online recruitment matching platform using AI to enable employers to recruit better candidates, faster;
- Kudos Africa – an ESG assessment tool providing companies with simple, affordable and valuable access to sustainability metrics while providing investors with an efficient way to meet reporting criteria;
- OneCart – online personal shopping assistant for household goods, achieved via an on-demand technology platform that connects multiple FMCG retailers to consumers;
- Old School Group – a multi-brand sports group specialising in festivals, live events, travel, sportswear, sponsorship, brand creation and all-around sports commercialisation;
- Sentian – a smart security platform making existing alarm systems more intelligent – enabling video verifications and powerful control over your home;
- Sparkfolios – an online toolkit driving repeat peak performance via professional services for goal setting, task completion, performance & incentive management, motivation, instant rewards and staff recognition;
- Suritec – data solutions company specialising in data analytics, content management, Location Intelligence, systems integration and consulting for government and commercial customers;
- Sxuirrel – a peer-to-peer marketplace that enables users to find and share extra space (storage, parking and venues) via an easy-to-use online platform; and
- Vizibiliti Insight Africa – addressing financial inclusion by developing alternative credit scoring methods for the financial service industry via AI.
Grindstone collaborates with other top incubation and acceleration programmes in the market to augment the learning experience and continue the growth journey.
The programme draws on various speakers, mentors and corporates as value-adding partners to assist in supporting these high-growth SMEs.
“We were overwhelmed by the interest and deep interventions from leading South African corporates,” says Bӧhmert.
This year Grindstone is partnering with entrepreneurial-minded organisations that include: FNB, Webber Wentzel, Creative CFO, Thinkroom Consulting, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft 4Afrika, M&C Saatchi Connect, GMG Technology, Matchboxology and Billybo Group to link into and bolster market access opportunities.
Knife Capital is also currently in partnership discussions to launch a Johannesburg-based Grindstone Programme in 2019.