Grindstone Accelerator SMEs create jobs, boost revenue

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 11 Aug 2020
Participants in the fifth Grindstone Accelerator programme.
Participants in the fifth Grindstone Accelerator programme.

South African business accelerator Grindstone says the 10 candidates which recently concluded the fifth edition of the one-year programme collectively added over R20 million to their top-line revenue, as a result of participating in the 12-month programme.

Grindstone is a structured entrepreneurship development programme, jointly owned by venture capital fund manager Knife Capital and SME market access company Thinkroom Consulting, aimed at assisting high-growth innovation-driven SMEs to become sustainable and fundable.

The year-long programme takes South African SMEs with proven traction through an intensive review of their strategies and provides them with the necessary support to build a foundation for growth in becoming more investable, sustainable, marketable and exit-ready.

The fifth cohort has concluded the 2020 instalment and reaped rewards as a result of participating in the accelerator, notes Knife Capital.

In one year, the 10 SME participants grew revenue by 54%, created 23 new jobs and increased business fundamentals by 27%, while becoming more efficient in serving their market.

Despite the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the future is looking bright for these companies, with forecast growth prospects of 98% over the next three years, fuelled by client traction and growth capital already raised by some, according to Knife Capital.

Specialist social media screening company Farosian achieved the highest growth across all metrics over this period compared to its peers. It won R150 000 of the total Grindstone prize of R300 000. Retail point-of-sale solution Marc1 and visitor management solutions business WizzPass scooped the balance of the prize funds.

Farhad Bhyat, co-CEO of Farosian, says he is delighted at the growth experienced by the company.

“Grindstone is a tough, eye-opening challenge for an entrepreneur. The facilitators, experts and team enlighten founders to take a reality check on themselves, their teams and business. We have grown as founders and entrepreneurs because of Grindstone, with Farosian experiencing more prosperity over the last 12 months in comparison to the previous four years.”

Accelerator partners include the SA SME Fund, Google for Startups, Deloitte Digital and Webber Wentzel, which are also involved in the execution of the programme.

Grindstone recently launched a new venture capital fund, the Grindstone Ventures, dedicated to providing early-stage equity funding to its cohorts of companies and alumni.

It also announced the next 20 companies for the two new cohorts that are taking place in Johannesburg and Cape Town for the sixth edition of the programme.

“We are extremely satisfied with the collaborative efforts of our team, partners and friends from the ecosystem for curating two extremely strong and complementary cohorts from the more than 200 applications received,” says Will Green, programme director at Grindstone.

“We invested significant time and diligence to ensure we can add value to the top 20 entrepreneurs and their ventures in achieving their business goals and growth prospects.”

The 20 successful candidates for the 2020 Grindstone Accelerator programme are:

On The Benchbrings e-commerce closer to professional services companies by enabling them to sell their services online.

Neural Sense is an African neuro-marketing company that elevates customer experiences by conducting market research through neuroscience, including user experience, advertising and shopper marketing research.

Skywalk Innovations focuses on helping organisations navigate the digital modernisation journey through its discover, engineer and grow approach.

Matter Industries is a fully integrated Internet of things (IOT) business, developing smart sensor networks for real-time remote monitoring of infrastructure assets, providing efficiency, safety and sustainability.

Zaio curates customised learning journeys to build a pipeline of talent for companies. is a performance and culture management tool for remote teams.

Locumbase connects medical professionals and practices to simplify the locum booking process.

Continuon is an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered platform that helps brands understand their social media communities, content, identify nano-influencers and build data-driven campaigns that increase return on investment.

SME Snapshot is a real-time financial analytics dashboard that allows founders and funders to mitigate the daily risks they encounter in the SME ecosystem.

Luxityis a South African source of pre-owned luxury goods, providing a safe and secure method for buying and selling authentic luxury items online and in-store.

Francis a digital wealth platform helping more people to invest more.

Shelfline is a digital 'learn to earn' solution, which focuses on delivering financial products to markets in a reliable and cost-effective manner.

Mint AI uses advanced AI to improve people’s lives, through a strong focus on computer vision in the healthcare and education sector.

Syked is an online wellness company with a wide database of practitioners that focus on counselling support to clients in the comfort of their own home over a secure video platform.

InfoByte Technologies is a software development company focusing on building payments, e-commerce and AI products.

Sorted simplifies vehicle compliance, by automating licence renewals, fines management and other road-related admin.

Oyi Medical Card helps people to save for their family's healthcare needs with discipline and peace of mind, knowing their savings are protected from other commitments in the household.

TradeBRICSis an online sourcing marketplace that uses big data to connect buyers and procurement professionals with quality products and services from trusted local suppliers and manufacturers.

cARscan is an augmented reality app with an embedded visual recognition AI to track the physical condition of a motor vehicle during its life-stage.

Surionuses computer vision, AI, IOT and IP cameras to create a seamless security ecosystem for businesses and homes.