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All posts by Keet Van Zyl

  • Will the real African startups please stand up?

    With so much focus on advancing the entrepreneurial ecosystems around African startup hubs at the moment, more and more Africans are starting their own businesses by choice as opposed to necessity. But, not all interesting ventures that launch can automatically claim ‘startup’ status. While the essence of successful innovation-driven Silicon Valley startups can be found in the African spirit of Ubuntu, African ventures are still mostly backed by efficiency-driven entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, game-changing startups from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana have led the technology revolution on the continent with homegrown innovations, highlighting the contribution Africa can make as an emerging market...

  • What happens after Venture Capital funding is secured?

    Many Venture Capital (VC) articles, blogs and the like focus on how to secure VC. But not many disclose that the real work starts post-investment. While the investment decision is critical to portfolio performance, VCs spend more than 60% of their time on post-investment activities in order to grow investments for lucrative exits. These activities can be separated into monitoring (protecting the interests of the investor) and value-adding activities (strategic influence, mentorship and access to networks). It should be noted that because of the many different VC management styles, VC involvement post-investment vary greatly -- ranging from informal interaction to...

  • Gone in 30 seconds: How Venture Capitalists screen your business plan

    "The average time that a Venture Capitalist spends analysing a business plan is 22 seconds" – Speaker at the 26th Venture Capital Institute, Atlanta, 2000. Since this realisation more than 10 years ago I've often wondered whether it was entirely fair towards entrepreneurs who spend significant time and resources to develop a comprehensive business plan. But top tier venture capitalists (VC's) deal with hundreds of business plans a year, and a decision on whether to take the proposal to the next level or to reject it is often made in less than 30 seconds. This is how: Consider the 'Flight-Path' of...

  • Why Silicon Valley can be bad for emerging market startups

    Launching a startup anywhere in the world is challenging, but launching one in an emerging market territory where there is often limited access to funding and a fragmented entrepreneurial ecosystem it is so much harder. One sure way to fail is to try and duplicate first world solutions for emerging market problems without tweaking them for the unique local conditions. The Silicon Valley story is inspirational. Its ability to launch globally competitive, world-changing internet startups is unsurpassed. It continues to be the leading hub for high-tech innovation and development and accounts for one-third of all of the venture capital investment...

  • Six questions that rejected Venture Capital seekers could not answer

    Raising funding for an early-stage venture is always difficult. There is no bottled recipe for success, but even if you have a great concept that is scalable combined with a passionate team that can execute the growth strategy, you still need to communicate this in a multifaceted investor’s pitch. Most entrepreneurs can give a fair account of the top line business strategic growth path, dive into the complexities of the product or service offering, put together a good industry analysis, name a handful of possible clients and present enticing year three to five financial projections, but this will not necessarily...

  • How to lose a VC funder in one sentence

    Raising funding for a new venture is always difficult. Entrepreneurs going down this road will have to shrug off many pessimists and naysayers along the way.... but sometimes they are their own worst enemies. As a venture capitalist you need to have a great sense of humour as you wade through your dealflow. We receive written requests for backing all the time, and we've kept some of the gems and put together a list of actual funding requests received by PoweredbyVC, a leading South African Venture Capital company, between July and December 2010. Because of confidentiality, some info is...