GROWTH

Finweek English Edition - - COVER STORY -

Launch­ing a new busi­ness can be ex­pen­sive, es­pe­cially if it’s a new idea that still has to prove it­self in the mar­ket­place, f in­d­ing the right backer can be a tor­tu­ous process. There are ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists and an­gel in­vestors in SA keen to in­vest in start-ups with po­ten­tial, but of­ten the match is not made be­cause the start-up is not able to present a good busi­ness case. Some­times the en­tre­pre­neur is sim­ply un­able to find the right in­vestor.

In his for­mer role at ven­ture cap­i­tal firm Red­wood Cap­i­tal found that while there is no short­age of en­trepreneurs with ideas emerg­ing from Govern­ment and pri­vate in­cu­ba­tor en­vi­ron­ments, they are gen­er­ally ill-equipped to present them­selves to po­ten­tial in­vestors. Elias ex­plains: “The in­cu­ba­tors weren’t ac­tu­ally prep­ping them for ven­ture cap­i­tal. Ei­ther that, or their par­tic­u­lar busi­nesses would never ac­tu­ally war­rant a ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vest­ment.”

Elias saw a gap in the mar­ket, and launched Seed Engine, which he de­scribes as “a hy­brid be­tween a ven­ture cap­i­tal f irm and an in­cu­ba­tor: a com­pany that is ven­ture cap­i­tal driven, and op­er­ates in an in­cu­ba­tor-type man­ner”. Think of it as a match­maker – fil­ter­ing out the best prospects, groom­ing them and pre­sent­ing them to the most com­pat­i­ble in­vestors.

“Ev­ery ven­ture cap­i­tal firm has a man­date,” says Elias. “What we try to do is help them to tick as many boxes as pos­si­ble on those man­dates, so they’re able to make in­vest­ment de­ci­sions fur­ther down the line.”

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