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All posts by Keet Van Zyl

Keet Van Zyl
Keet is a ‘Venture Catalyst’ with extensive high-growth investment experience. He structured various private equity funds in Southern Africa for a US fund-of-funds investor and worked at industry-leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, Investec Bank and Mark Shuttleworth’s ‘Here Be Dragons’ (HBD) Venture Capital. In 2010 he co-founded growth equity investor: Knife Capital to continue funding and building scalable innovation-driven businesses. Keet is passionate about building the early-stage entrepreneurship ecosystem in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 10 tips on how to raise venture capital in South Africa [Opinion]

    Entrepreneurs constantly disrupt the balance of competition by unlocking inventive commercial opportunities and creating new markets in doing so. This can sometimes be done by bootstrapping (with minimal financial resources) over time, but because of the rapidly changing environment innovation-driven entrepreneurs operate in, some form of risk funding is usually required to scale viable opportunities. Raising venture capital (VC) is one way to do it. VC firms invest in early-stage, emerging small firms with high growth potential in exchange for minority equity ownership. But for many SA startups and small businesses, this remains theoretical. While VC is a recognised alternative...

  • Sars Section 12J VC companies –  hype versus substance [Opinion]

    There are many legal ways for South African taxpayers to reduce their tax burden, and investing in a SA Revenue Service (Sars) approved Section 12J venture capital company (VCC) is one of them. However, opinions are divided on the hype of a tax break versus the substance of sustainable investment returns. The 101 on Section 12J Section 12J is not an asset class in itself, but rather a provision in the Income Tax Act that was introduced in 2009 to address one of the main challenges to the economic growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) --  access to equity...

  • 10 Defining moments that shaped the 2017 South African startup ecosystem

    2017 in South Africa is a very hard year to define… Most people are limping into 2018 battle-scar ridden and trying to figure out what the hell just happened?! Bitcoin highs and Steinhoff lows, neighbouring coup-non-coups, Rugby World Cup hosting woes and Western Cape dam levels scraping the bottom of the barrel along with GuptaBots, while Cyril is rising to the top. 'In 2017 South African entrepreneurs had a bumper year  -- leading the charge with innovation, job creation and growth' But adversity is the mother of invention… South African entrepreneurs had a bumper year  -- leading the charge with innovation, job...

  • 10 defining moments that shaped the 2016 SA startup ecosystem

    2016 was the year where fake news was real and real news was fake. We endured motions of no confidence, the Saxonwold Shebeen, inverted Springbok rugby records, sticky Board members, rogue units, rogue presidents, Trump cards, prophets of doom, doomed profits and a cold and broken Hallelujah! But you gotta have faith… Through it all South African entrepreneurs held their heads up high, focused on execution and kept grinding out growth strategies. While access to risk capital is always a scarcity, local startup investors continued to back these entrepreneurs. With our politicians constantly negotiating with themselves, someone had to...

  • Entrepreneurs: what advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?

    We are generally very quick to give advice to others, but don't always follow this advice ourselves. In a recent post, Brad Feld warned against the dangers of short-term entrepreneurial thinking and explained why he is looking forward to 2025. Fast Company shared 6 things you're doing that you'll seriously regret in 10 years. So what advice would you give your younger self if you could go 10 years back in time? Personally, I would go tell myself: "It is great to have a sense of urgency to act, but the to wait a bit should also be...

  • 10 defining moments that shaped SA’s startup ecosystem in 2015

    2015 was a year of grinding it out and building momentum... More and more investors, business accelerators and corporate venturers are embracing South African innovations. These are some of the defining moments that shaped the South African entrepreneurship ecosystem in 2015 that stood out for me: iKubu: Exit to Garmin GPS navigation giant Garmin acquired South African radar startup iKubu to make roads safer for cyclists... And they did! Time magazine has named the Garmin Varia as one of the Top 10 Gadgets of 2015. Corporates are insourcing innovation worldwide, and SA is ideally positioned for this trend. Garmin established a...

  • #RhodesHasFallen: 10 startup mistakes South African statues made

    #RhodesHasFallen at University of Cape Town and the graffiti is on the wall for many other South African statues as we struggle to contextualise the past and define a shared future as a nation. Other recently defaced statues include Paul Kruger in Pretoria, King George in Durban, Louis Botha in Cape Town, Mahatma Gandhi in Johannesburg and Queen Victoria in Port Elizabeth. If some local statues were startup entrepreneurs, here are the 10 mistakes they made that could have prompted their downfall… 1. Single Founder As a single founder you walk a lonely road without a constant sounding board to test...

  • The value of building a business with an exit in mind

    It is easier to invest in private companies than it is to unlock value from these investments. While the venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE) investment space is gaining more and more momentum in Africa, the process of exiting these investments remains a challenge. What many investors and entrepreneurs don’t realise is that positioning a business for a successful exit already starts in the due diligence process -- even before investment. Exit strategies will most likely influence the investment term sheet and govern the relationship between the entrepreneur and investor. It is therefore critical to align interests between them. Exit...

  • Unwrapping the mysteries of SA’s venture metrics landscape [Infographic]

    With additional reporting by Mich Atagana South Africa's startup landscape is an industry wrapped in mysteries and enigmas. It's a world of near facts and almost could be truths, especially when it comes to funding. The average entrepreneur is not a 21-year-old University dropout. Also not all of them are men, yes women start companies too. In a survey conducted by Knife Capital, around 337 entrepreneurs shed some light on this cloak and dagger industry and provided some interesting insights about venture seeking entrepreneurs and what they think their business is worth, how the founders met as well their risk...

  • The startup curve South Africa: wiggles of realism

    It is sometimes too easy to dish out titbits of startup advice from a venture capital ivory tower without going through the practical realities of executing a business plan, but pattern recognition could close some expectation gaps. As Paul Graham pointed out in his version of the Startup Curve, while many people think startups are smoothly up and to the right all the time, the path to success is more of a roller coaster ride. Because of a fragile startup ecosystem in South Africa, startups here have additional challenges to overcome. An adaptation of the Startup Curve reflects the typical path of a local startup’s wild ride...

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