Applications for this year’s Grindstone Accelerator program are open for 20 South African startups until the end of April 2021.
The qualifying conditions for applying to Grindstone include your venture being a South African registered company that is post-revenue with customer traction and at least R500k revenue per annum. The venture also needs to have a dynamic team with a clear competitive differentiator and a scalable business model.
“Grindstone engineers entrepreneurial Growth. This has been our core purpose from when the programme started back in 2014. We continue to build and improve on this model to deliver measurable impact to all our founders and the broader startup ecosystem that includes alumni, advisors, angels & partners. Engineering success is multi-faceted and we have the frontline experience to support founders in their growth journey,” said Grindstone Programme Director, Will Green.
Grindstone is an equity-free structured entrepreneurship development programme that assists high-growth innovation-driven SMEs to become sustainable and fundable. It backs South African scale-up businesses in a year-long engagement with knowledge, networks, market access opportunities and funding readiness through growth measurement, gap analysis and value-adding interventions. Celebrating the launch of the Grindstone 8th (Cape Town) & 9th (Johannesburg) Cohorts!
So far the average increase in revenue for Grindstone cohorts is 52% during the 1-year programme, with an increase in business efficiency of 30% across functional areas while the majority of Grindstone cohort companies successfully raise significant follow-on funding. There has also been some successful local and international exits.
Grindstone’s principal funder is the SA SME Fund, and primary partners include experienced entrepreneurial industry players: Knife Capital, Thinkroom, Deloitte Digital and Google for Startups.
Commenting on the launch of the next cohort, SA SME Fund CEO Ketso Gordhan said: “The SA SME Fund aims to play a leading role in developing the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our investment in Grindstone is an example of this. Grindstone has done an excellent job in helping to grow a pipeline of entrepreneurs that have managed to raise funding for their startups – a good early measure of success. We are excited by the disruptive and innovative businesses we are seeing coming through in the cohorts and encouraged by the diversity showcased.”
To bolster its overall impact, Grindstone Ventures, a female-led VC fund recently launched to provide post-seed equity funding to Grindstone Accelerator companies and Grindstone alumni. All 20 selected Grindstone companies become investors through Grindstone Ventures, turning Grindstone entrepreneurs into early-stage investors alongside the SA SME Fund, Knife Capital, Thinkroom and others.
Catherine Young, Partner of Grindstone and Managing Partner of Grindstone Ventures added: “Our aim with Grindstone Ventures is to close the much needed pre-Series A, post-seed gap, a currently underfunded stage in South Africa’s startup funding journey. Our secret sauce lies in the relationship we build with Grindstone cohorts from early on in our engagement that enables us to address qualifying funding gaps early. The innovative investment structure helps our founders to think differently about their business models and creates a vested interest in fellow cohort companies.”
Successful businesses that are Grindstone Alumni include the likes of: iKubu, Payfast, Sea Monster, Electrum Payments, Iono.fm, MPULL, Nona Creative, Quicket, PICSA, WhereIsMyTransport, Locstat, Granite, OneCart, Farosian, Marc1 and WizzPass, to name just a few.