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Raizcorp: Allon Raiz

An incubator with a winning formula is a breeding ground for successful entrepreneurs

Juliet Pitman



Allon Raiz

There’s a sign outside Allon Raiz’s door that reads, “If you row someone across a river you also get there”. While such signs are very frequently trite, you only need to spend a few minutes in Raizcorp to know that this one is not. It’s a business incubator where entrepreneurs are nurtured and given the opportunity to learn and grow, and it contains a secret ingredient that creates what Raiz calls “the magic”.

The incubator, now in its fifth year, has been a resounding success. The company started when Raiz first became involved in mentoring the two pioneering companies of Raizcorp. “I realised I was repeating myself. They were experiencing the same challenges and problems, and I was having to repeat the same training. So I sold them the idea of moving in together.” Raiz hadn’t yet heard of an incubator. “I was trying to explain to someone what it was that I did, and he said, ‘Oh, you run an incubator’. That was the first time I had heard the term. So we’re an incubator by mistake, if you like.” Amused, he adds: “Incubators in theory aren’t supposed to make money, but I didn’t know that either, so we made money.” Raizcorp now consists of 14 companies with over 70 people. By joining the incubator, each one of those businesses has enjoyed increased growth and success, so it’s not surprising that Raizcorp receives over 60 applications from fledgling companies every month. Where it previously only chose one, the group is now on a growth path and chooses two or three.

If applicants are successful, Raizcorp takes a minority equity stake and a profit share in the business. In return, the business has access to the considerable infrastructure on offer, as well as the incubator’s core offering – training and mentorship. The business is charged for the services it receives, but Raizcorp absorbs 75% of what it charges in the first year, and if the business isn’t more profitable than when it joined, Raizcorp returns everything. So it’s understandable that the company is very careful about choosing the right people to join. “The number one thing we’re looking for is the ability and willingness to learn,” says Raiz. “I want to know that the people who join are true entrepreneurs, not just people who are self-employed, and there is a big difference. When speaking to an entrepreneur, you can feel the burn, the desire to succeed. That’s what I’m looking for. The business itself doesn’t even necessarily need to be profitable when it comes to us. But I want the person to have the hunger.” How do you tell if that’s there? “You can feel it when they talk to you. And you can tell the difference between put-on passion and real passion. There’s a fullness to the sound – it has depth. An entrepreneur is willing to sacrifice, to live below the breadline, in order to be able to grow their dream.”

Above all, though, the people who join Raizcorp have to buy into its culture of sharing. “Everything else is worthless if we don’t have that,” says Raiz. “It’s what creates the magic and we guard it very jealously. “Entrepreneurs are incredibly lonely people,” he continues. “There is no one with whom they can share their highs and lows. When businesses come into Raizcorp, they share everything – successes, failures, frustrations, challenges, the space, the facilities, the support staff, business contacts – everything.” The result is unique – businesses that would ordinarily have nothing to do with one another (they include advertising and PR agencies, a detergents manufacturer, a 3D animation company, a milk pasteurisation business, a web design company and an IT company) interact, almost as if they were part of the same company. And there are real benefits, such as those derived from the strong emphasis on cross-selling between the companies. “One company here gets 50% of its business through contacts inside the incubator,” says Raiz. “Another really small advertising agency here got on the BMW pitch list that included only eight advertising agencies, simply because it worked with other people here and used the resources others had to offer.”  But even with this winning formula, you won’t find Raizcorp resting on its laurels, and perhaps that’s where the real magic lies. The incubator itself leads by example, ever hungry to grow and learn. As Raiz sums it up: “Our attitude is that this is the answer for today but tomorrow we must be better.”

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.


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.






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




Vital Stats

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.


“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.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

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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