SA’s Knife Capital opens call for 4th Grindstone accelerator


South African venture capital firm Knife Capital is launching its fourth Grindstone accelerator programme, which shapes scale-up companies to become more investable, sustainable and exit-ready.

Knife Capital is launching the latest Grindstone programme in partnership with African SME market access specialist Thinkroom, describing it as part-accelerator, part-investor and part-advisor.

The year-long Grindstone programme takes 10 businesses with proven traction through an intensive review of their strategies, and provides them with the necessary support to build a foundation for growth through executive coaching, transfer of skills and introduction to relevant business networks.

For those companies seeking funding, Grindstone also serves as potential deal pipeline generator for Knife Capital’s SARS Section 12J venture capital company KNF Ventures.

“We initially set out to prove that by offering the right guidance and support to coachable entrepreneurs, we can engineer growth on a significant and sustainable scale,” said Andrea Bӧhmert, partner at Knife Capital.

“The fact that so many of our Grindstone companies have experienced growth, investment or exits clearly demonstrates that it is possible. The team is excited about taking everything that we’ve learnt into the next Grindstone programme starting in August.”

Many of South Africa’s most successful scale-up companies have been through Grindstone, with measurable results. Knife Capital invested in ticketing solutions provider Quicket, TaxTim received strategic investment form MMI, transport data company WhereIsMyTransport raised multiple funding rounds, and computer vision and radar startup iKubu exited to Garmin.

“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,” said Bӧhmert.

Earlier this year, SME market access specialist Thinkroom Consulting acquired a 50 per cent stake in Grindstone to bring elements of the programme to corporate innovation initiatives and to expand it into Africa.

“We’ve worked with many African startup initiatives through the years and while some add significant value on the funding readiness side, Grindstone stands out as it forces participants to consider themselves as an acquisition target, whilst building and preparing them to be exit-ready. We are delighted to be launching the fourth Grindstone programme with Knife Capital,” said Catherine Young, Thinkroom founder and chief executive officer (CEO).

The selection process will kick off in August 2018 with an interactive Exit Readiness Workshop aimed at providing tangible information to 50 SMEs and unpacking some of Knife Capital’s exit case studies. Twenty companies will then be shortlisted for Grindstone’s early-stage ‘Find-Make-Grow-Realise’ investment course and gap analysis bootcamp, where 10 companies will be selected as participants for the final stage of the programme.

Applications are open here until August 31.


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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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