Knife Capital’s Grindstone Accelerator programme expands to Johannesburg


Cape Town-based VC firm Knife Capital, SA SME Fund and Deloitte have partnered to launch the Grindstone Accelerator programme in Johannesburg in a move to help Gauteng entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.

Jointly owned by Knife Capital and Thinkroom Consulting, Grindstone assists high-growth innovation-driven SMEs to become sustainable and fundable.

“With this being the first time that the programme is offered in Johannesburg after successfully running it in Cape Town for four cohorts, we really want to tap into the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and highlight success stories,” says Andrea Bӧhmert, Co-Managing Partner at Knife Capital.

Grindstone will be working with the current leading Johannesburg-based incubators, entrepreneurial support organisations and individuals committed to building the ecosystem. Grindstone supplies 10 startups in a year-long programme with knowledge, networks and funding readiness through growth measurement, gap analysis and deep interventions designed to build a foundation for growth, transfer skills, create relevant business networks and enable these companies to take advantage of market access opportunities.

“The programme helps entrepreneurs who are navigating their way through the treacherous business scale-up phase by identifying the pitfalls and success metrics of their businesses strategies while closing growth gaps to execute those strategies. A big differentiator is our approach to measurement – the companies need to be able to experience and measure the positive impact the programme has on their businesses,” says Bӧhmert.

The SA SME Fund is providing favourable funding support to the 10 Grindstone Companies to enable them to close the initial growth gaps identified. Further growth funding is also available on commercial terms to scale the companies through Knife Capital’s Section 12J VCC KNF Ventures as well as other funding vehicles backed by the SA SME Fund.

According to Valter Adão, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Deloitte Africa, the biggest challenge facing entrepreneurs is access to business insights, mentorship and access to customer networks at the right levels of seniority. Deloitte aims to solve that by contributing to the programme’s pillars of Knowledge and Networks.

Through the programme, Deloitte is able to introduce entrepreneurs and businesses to the valuable and credible networks that it has access to.

Long-time strategic partners in Grindstone: FNB Business, Webber Wentzel and the BillyBo Group have once again committed their support to the entrepreneurs alongside some new collaborators.

Successful businesses that have completed the Grindstone Programme in the Western Cape include iKubu (subsequently acquired by Garmin), Payfast, SeaMonster Animation, Electrum Payments, Iono fm, Quicket, PICSA Finance, Custos Technologies and WhereIsMyTransport, amongst others.