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Cape Venture Partners: Geoff Hainebach, Tony Mallam, David Murray & Andrea Böhmert

A team passionate about helping entrepreneurs succeed provides a much-needed service to technology SMBs.

Juliet Pitman

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Geoff Hainebach, Tony Mallam, David Murray & Andrea Böhmert of Cape Venture Partners

This much we know: South African entrepreneurs have their work cut out for them. The chances of their businesses failing within the first three years are between 70% and 80%. Unless they were fortunate enough to be among a small minority who has tertiary education in business science, they lack almost all the critical skills and knowledge required to establish, run and grow a successful enterprise. But perhaps their two biggest challenges remain ever-elusive seed capital and a lack of objective, professional, practical business advice.

This is the gap that has provided Cape Venture Partners (CVP) with a market. The company offers two critical services to high potential technology entrepreneurs: a contact base of potential international and local investors (including private equity funds, venture capital funds, angel investors and a range of institutions), and hands-on business advice and mentorship that accelerates the development of SMBs.

The company’s four partners – Geoff Hainebach, Tony Mallam, David Murray and Andrea Böhmert – have combined a wealth of experience in business with a specific focus in the technology field. Murray tells the story of how the business started: “Geoff was chairman of the Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town and Andrea, who is now a board member as well as the chair of CITI (Cape IT Initiative), was involved in interviewing all the entrepreneurs in the Bandwidth Barn to try and determine why, with such great technology concepts, they still weren’t managing to be successful.”

The answers they found were enlightening, to say the least. Murray elaborates: “Most technology entrepreneurs spend their time developing high-potential technology solutions. But as we all know, it takes more than a great product to make a successful business. And what we learned was that so many of them simply don’t know how to run a business – they know next to nothing about finances, accounting, marketing, sales, client service and there is nowhere they can turn for advice and input on these things. Even if they do manage to grow, they don’t know how to put structures in place to manage this growth.”

Banks are notoriously risk-averse when it comes to funding most SMBs, but particularly those in the IT space. “Add to this the fact that there are very few investors that offer early-stage seed capital and you can understand why it’s so difficult for these entrepreneurs to get their hands on the kind of money they need to set up and grow,” he says. However, Murray adds that while entrepreneurs’ complaints about the difficulties of accessing funding are a reflection of reality, their lack of understanding about what investors require doesn’t make the process any easier. “Because they don’t know what investors’ requirements are, they are totally unprepared to meet their requirements,” he explains.

The proof of Cape Venture Partners’ success lies in the track record of its clients. “Clickatell is one of our biggest success stories. Tony was the company’s first angel investor. It was started by Pieter de Villiers out of his dining room and today is one of the dominant bulk sms firms in the world,” says Murray. BizCommunity is another case in point. “We’ve been working with them for the past two-and-a-half years and in the last 12 months alone they have quadrupled their turnover,” he adds. The company has also been involved in training and mentoring historically disadvantaged SMBs which are participating in the Bandwidth Barn’s VeloCITI programme. “We’ve been showing them the basic ropes of business and some of them are really starting to take off. It’s very exciting to watch,” he says.

Looking back, Murray reflects on the challenges CPV experienced as a start-up itself. “Sourcing funding for early stage technology entrepreneurs was much harder than we thought it would be. Venture capital firms are more interested in later stage investment and South Africa has no formal angel investor network,” he relates. The company is currently in the process of raising its own early stage venture capital fund and Murray anticipates announcements on this in the near future. The news will no doubt be welcomed among the IT SMB community. But then, any growth in this business can only be good news for South African entrepreneurs.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sean Venter

    Oct 18, 2012 at 20:40

    I tried to email them but the email doesn’t work. What other contact details are there for them

  2. Sean Venter

    Oct 18, 2012 at 20:40

    I tried to email them but the email doesn’t work. What other contact details are there for them

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

CEOwise

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

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Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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