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I’M IN Accelerator to commence with all-women cohort in May

Featured image: I'M IN Accelerator executive director and founder Polo Leteka (Supplied)

An all women cohort is in the pipeline at Johannesburg-based I’M IN Accelerator, and is set to start in May with the aim of accelerating at least five startups, says I’M IN Accelerator executive director and founder Polo Leteka.

Commenting in an email last Thursday (21 February), Leteka (pictured above) — who is also the executive director and founder of IDF Capital — said the intention with the all women cohort is aimed at broadening women participation in the tech sector.

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“We are quite positive that the all-female cohort planned for May 2019, will provide invaluable lessons on sourcing, supporting and developing women in tech,” she said.

I’M IN has accelerated 27 businesses and provided them with about R24-million in funding

In February last year, the accelerator revealed that it had intentions to run an all-women cohort, with Leteka saying at the time that it was I’M IN Accelerator’s “biggest plan for 2018”.

She said last week that the cohort never took place last year as planned, as the response the accelerator received for the programme “wasn’t great”.

Growth in female owned startups

However, she said the accelerator has seen a growth in the number of women-owned and managed businesses — from 11% in Cohort 4 to 33% in Cohort 5, providing an overall average growth of 22%.

Late last month I’M IN Accelerator closed applications to its sixth cohort which will focus on specialised services in mining tech, operations tech and eGov solutions.

Leteka said the accelerator received a total of 18 applications for Cohort 6, but that only two startups meet the entry criteria which required applicants to have a market-validated platform.

The accelerator’s focus for each cohort, Leteka explained, is mainly guided by the mandate set by respective investor. Cohort 6’s focus on mining tech, operations tech and eGov solutions is based on a mandate set by Telkom.

She added that the accelerator intends to venture into other sectors like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Each accelerator programme runs for seven months, during which time I’M IN focuses on the startups’ business growth strategy, cashflow management, corporate governance, intellectual property and digital marketing. In addition, Leteka said those ventures selected to join the accelerator can receive up to R1-million for an equity investment of up to 20%.

‘Impressive social impact statistics’

Since launching its first programme in 2017, the accelerator claims it has helped 27 businesses, and provided them with about R24-million in funding. However, the accelerator was unable to disclose the names of these startups because of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) it has in place with the businesses.

In 2017 the accelerator said 10 startups had been selected for its first cohort. These included Dropper Group, Airbuy, Holistic Advance, Lightbulb Education, Microblast, Chat2Brand, Spritzed and Intellicred.

Leteka said I’M IN Accelerator’s alumni have posted “impressive social impact statistics”, particularly with the number of jobs created. These she pointed out include a total number of 26 direct jobs created, in addition to 143 seasonal indirect jobs from the last two cohorts.

“One of our alumni has managed to grow their revenues by over 200% in one year. One company recorded a significant increase in customers from four at the time they joined the accelerator to 100 at the time of exist.

“Four of our entrepreneurs have managed to secure further investment to fund their next stages of growth with one currently undergoing due diligence with IDF Capital commercial fund,” explained Leteka.

Leteka said the accelerator has been “impressed” by the strength of the products that have been conceptualised by its entrepreneurs, as well as their approach towards developing solutions that have a “global appeal” and are not limited to the local market.

She explained that the accelerator plans on running two more cohorts this year, including the all-women cohort.

I’M IN, she pointed out, also has a Venture Partner Programme and Masterclass Series which aim to provide entrepreneurs with an opportunity to collaborate, engage and meet potential co-investors.

Featured image: I’M IN Accelerator executive director and founder Polo Leteka (Supplied)

Read more: I’M IN Accelerator aiming for an all-women cohort before the end of the year
Read more: I’M IN Accelerator finally under way, here are the startups in the first cohort
Read more: SA accelerator for black startups I’M IN tight-lipped on selection of first cohort [updated]

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