Based on the highly successful Silicon Valley Y-Combinator model, Seed Engine is South Africa’s own accelerator, designed to help brilliant pre-start-up entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground.
“There are four key ingredients that every business needs if it’s going to be a success, or attract investors,” says Marc Elias, Seed Engine’s ‘chief disrupter’ and co-founder. “You need a team, a product, a business model and a market. Our role is to recognize that you have an idea and the passion and skills to see that idea through. This programme isn’t for existing ideas. It’s for ideas-stage start-ups. We get in on the ground floor, give our entrepreneurs R100 000 seed funding, and put them through an intense 12-week programme to get the right foundations in place.”
A highly responsive programme, Elias creates the framework around each individual entrepreneur and their specific needs, although entrants should expect to be working seven days a week for the duration of the programme – commitment to the success of their venture is non-negotiable.
The ultimate growth space
So what’s the first thing Seed Engine’s entrepreneurs do when they join the programme? “They resign,” says Elias, drawing attention to the fact that Seed Engine is looking for first time entrepreneurs who are more than likely employed and waiting for the right time to launch their big idea.
Seed Engine has two intakes each year. The programme runs for 12 weeks, although coaching, mentoring and overall support continues after the official programme ends. “We provide an incubator-like space for our start-ups to operate from our offices in Sandton, I speak to each entrepreneur every day, and facilitate networking and introductions to funders,” says Elias.
“As 20% equity investors in each business, the success of these ventures is in our best interest as well. We don’t forget about the businesses as each programme ends. You’re now part of the family.”
A maximum of ten entrepreneurs are chosen per programme. Each business then receives R100 000 in seed funding, and has access to mentorship, coaching, office space, capital and networking. The 12-week course ends with a demo day, where the businesses pitch to a room of venture capitalists and angel investors.
“Our previous programme’s entrepreneurs pitched to a room of 140 investors, and every one of them are is currently in advanced negotiations with investors,” says Elias.
Intake for the August programme is now open! Go to www.seedengine.co.za to apply today. All you need is an excellent well-thought out business idea, and the skills, drive and determination to make it happen.
The programme begins on 1 September 2013, and this year’s sponsors include Absa, who will choose five businesses to take part in its own one-week pre-acceleration bootcamp before Seed Engine’s programme begins. Each of the five chosen businesses will also be invited to visit the UK through Absa’s UK Trade and Investment partnership, where they will be exposed to international networks and business opportunities.
Visit www.seedengine.co.za for more information