Despite some advances in the country’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, venture capital investors (VCs) continue to be something of a mystery to many entrepreneurs.
Most startups in South Africa are self-funded. Up to 95% of entrepreneurs surveyed in the Seed Academy’s Real State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa 2017 report said their businesses are funded by a combination of owner’s funds and funds from owner’s friends and family. Entrepreneurs are also often more familiar with funding options like commercial banks or government funding agencies such as the IDC or Sefa.
Looking to demystify VCs, Simodisa, launched VC Office Hours. The initiative presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs to get dedicated one-on-one time with a local VC who will offer them guidance and insights on any business challenges they may be facing. Simodisa is an industry led entrepreneurship platform working to amplify entrepreneurship in the country.
Four VC Office Hours are scheduled for 2018 (one every quarter) with two entrepreneurs chosen in each round. To apply entrepreneurs are required to fill out a form and provide details about their business including the stage of their startup and turnover. A call for entries is sent out to Simodisa’s database of entrepreneurs and email subscribers.
I love working with people that are coachable, that want to learn, that know what they know and know what they don’t know
“VC Office Hours was an initiative put into place by SiMODiSA and SAVCA to enable entrepreneurs to have access to VC’s, to create awareness around what Venture Capital is and provide a platform for entrepreneurs to engage with VC’s,” says Michellene Collins, event coordinator for the initiative.
“We hope to give entrepreneurs an opportunity to get a good foundation when it comes to getting your business investment ready.”
Know the VC
In the meeting entrepreneurs have an opportunity to ask the VCs questions about their funding criteria and how they can prepare their business to be funded, “so that when you do apply for funding you stand a good chance of finding an investor,” says Collins.
“It is important for entrepreneurs to understand what VC’s look for when investing in their business, what are the different types of funding available, how do you get the VC to invest and an understanding of the VC’s execution ability/style and whether it is the correct fit for the business as well as the entrepreneur.”
Butkow is a well-known figure in South Africa’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and is something of an authority in SA startups. He supports and mentors many technology businesses, assisting them in driving growth.
“I love working with people that are coachable, that want to learn, that know what they know and know what they don’t know.
“It makes me proud to be able to give back, to really help these young entrepreneurs who haven’t necessarily had the experience, to help them see the road ahead. I can help them see the potholes, I can help them see the curves in the road. I can really help them jump the learning curve and not have to build their businesses by trial and error,” Butkow said in an interview with SME South Africa.
Reardon founded Kingson. The fund has invested in Finfind, an online aggregator of lenders and funding solution offering access to finance for small businesses, which is backed by the Department of Small Business Development and SMEasy, an award-winning accounting and business management platform, among others.