The Sable Accelerator: A gateway into Silicon Valley for SA startups

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With the imminent launch of The Sable Accelerator, South African businesses look set to benefit from a new network of advisers and investors based in Silicon Valley and London that can help with international expansion.

Founded by South Africans now living abroad, The Sable Accelerator is backed by angel investors, CEOs, directors and consultants from companies such as McCann Erickson, Grant Thornton, McKinsey and Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa. According to Tech Central, Vinny Lingham, founder of Yola and more recently Gyft — check out Ventureburn’s exclusive peek at Gyft — is also onboard as an investor.

Sable’s website, a customised version of the MentorCloud SaaS will launch on 6 August and utilise LinkedIn’s profile API to allow users to receive consultation, mentorship, coaching, as well as invitations to speak, invest, or serve on boards.

In South Africa the startup scene is starting to blossom, but despite new incubators, hacker spaces and funding hubs sprouting up, the country’s VC pools continue to look barren when compared to those in the US. The Sable Accelerator is an extremely welcome initiative not only as a possible avenue for funding, advice and mentorship with an international perspective, but for helping serve up — to the world — South Africa’s emerging startups and and its talented, innovative entrepreneurs.

Thirty year San Francisco resident and South African expat Donovan Neale-May, is one of the three managing partners of Sable and tells Tech Central: “It’s not about taking tech from SA, but about helping to harvest the potential of SA innovations while also making the country more appealing as a destination to outsource to, partner with, and generally invest in.”

Tech Central cites SA companies linked to Sable as being Cape Town-based messaging specialist Clickatell, animation studio Triggerfish — runner up of the LaunchCapeTown 2012 competition — as well as “wireless base station company Inala Technologies, Zantsi Capital, and nonprofit organisations such as the Leap Maths and Science Schools programme and the Ubuntu Education Fund.” Nealy-May has met with nine local companies in the tech space so far, including physical product makers, business solution providers, and social networking players.

Ventureburn recently wrote about Cape Town based law firm Dommisse Attorneys who aim to help startups with legal aspects of securing international funding as well as acquisitions. Sable further bolsters support for South Africans looking for advice on everything from “licensing products or services to attracting investors and moving into other markets.”

Sable isn’t about taking talent away from South Africa. Instead, it’s about “furthering the country’s competitiveness,” Neale-May tells Tech Central. “We also want to work with economic trade and development agencies, venture capital funds and firms to create a vibrant ecosystem. The big opportunity here is that we have the footprint in New York and Silicon Valley.”

A while ago Memeburn asked, if Kenya really needs its Konza Technology City to become the gateway into Africa’s rapidly emerging technology economy. The Sable Accelerator’s approach, which isn’t about infrastructure, could help South Africa become that gateway.

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