Cape Town-based accelerator Grindstone has announced the 25 companies who will embark on its year-long programme which assists high-growth, innovation-driven tech start-ups to become more investable, sustainable and exit-ready. 

The programme, which provides startups access to knowledge, networks, funding, and markets, comprises 2 cohorts, one based in Cape Town and the other in Johannesburg.

Grindstone Cape Town cohort (Image source: Grindstone)

Over the course of the programme, the selected companies will undergo an intensive review of their strategies and be provided with coaching from global resources, including some of the Grindstone alumni companies that have successfully scaled their businesses. 

Grindstone is jointly owned by venture capital investment company Knife Capital and Thinkroom Consulting which develops SMEs across Africa. It is led by  Andrea Böhmert, Catherine Young, and Keet Van Zyl, who serve as partners, and the programme director is Will Green. The programme is also supported by the SA SME Fund.

Speaking on the launch of the accelerator, Ketso Gordhan, the CEO of the SA SME Fund, mentioned that “Grindstone’s winning structured approach to engineering growth for startups has been proven time and time again, with the last cohort graduating with an average of 88% revenue growth and creating 52 new jobs over a nine-month period. The SA SME Fund continues to actively support this programme as it undertakes to play a significant role in the growth of the startup ecosystem and ultimately the economy at large.”

64% of the 2022/23 cohort of companies are black-owned and 36% are women-owned. Full-time employee numbers range from two to thirteen. The industries the startups are in include healthtech, artificial intelligence, edtech, fintech,legaltech, mobility,proptech, mediatech, and insuretech.

As part of the programme, each of the 25 selected companies has agreed to make a non-refundable investment of R38,000 (~ $2300) in Grindstone’s GS Ventures, a women-led post-seed fund that invests in early-stage innovation-driven companies.

Commenting on the programme, director Will Green pointed to the collective effort it took to help the founders of the selected companies to scale their companies.

“This announcement [of the selected companies] celebrates an ecosystem effort, as many individuals have been involved at some stage of these entrepreneurs’ journey. I’ve directly worked with many of these founders for over two years and will continue to do so. This cohort brings the tally of companies we have directly assisted to 115. It is also our largest with a total of 25 companies, 14 from Gauteng, 10 from the Western Cape and 1 from Kwazulu-Natal,” he added.

According to data from Tracxn, there are about 76 active accelerators and incubators in South Africa. For a country with a rapidly growing tech ecosystem, accelerators like Grindstone are a welcome development as they help entrepreneurs develop their ideas into feasible and scalable businesses.

This point is aptly summarized by the tech ecosystem expert Nnamdi Oranye in a comment to IncAfrica: “Accelerators are increasingly playing a crucial role on the continent by providing entrepreneurs with a haven to learn rapidly, find product market fit and scale. From our data, we are beginning to see echoes of a correlation between scale-up funding and attending an accelerator. This bodes extremely well for the African ecosystem.”

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