BY Fast Company SA 3 MINUTE READ

Over 1,000 entrepreneurs flocked to The Growth Academy last week, to access the podcast and workshop series that claims to offer entrepreneurs the exact guidance they need to ‘move from idea to business in just 90 days’. The company aims to fill the gap around entrepreneurship education in South Africa, and rapidly increase the rate of entrepreneurs, which has declined 3% from 2015 to 2016 (GEM, 2017).

Lauren Davies, Founder of virtual business incubator The Growth Academy will be running a series of workshops throughout October, called ‘Start your business right’, starting in Cape Town October 3rd. These workshops and supporting online programs will provide step-by-step content for entrepreneurs, focused on business strategy, getting started online, finding and acquiring customers, and managing and scaling a profitable business.

Davies says this initiative came about after finding that it is not enthusiasm holding South Africans back from entrepreneurial activity, but rather a gap in entrepreneurship education at all levels.

“There’s a lot of chat and countless incubator programs, but I’m not seeing anything out there that truly supports the little guy – the first-time entrepreneur who just needs a hand to get started,” she says.

This is supported by the 2016/2017 GEM Report, finding that while Africa has the highest level of entrepreneurial intention at 42%, just 6.9% of the South African population engaged in entrepreneurial activity last year (putting the country at 51st out of the 64 countries surveyed).

This same report also details expert ratings of the South African entrepreneurial ecosystem rating it’s entrepreneurship education at post-school stage at 57 out of the 65 countries surveyed.

Davies says “as a first-time entrepreneur, it can be near impossible to know where to find information, and how best to invest your limited time and money – and this is where I want to help”.

“For example, I’ve heard countless stories about entrepreneurs who have paid R15000 or more having a website built by a supposed ‘expert’, only to find they can’t use it, edit it and/or it doesn’t meet their business needs. This is absurd when anyone can build their own website in just a few short days, provided they have the right guidance.”

This workshop series comes off the back of the huge traction gained by ‘The First 90 days’ podcast, launched just 10 days ago – a collaboration between The Growth Academy and US-based venture builder WotWot Ventures.

This podcast follows the 90-day journey of building startup ‘Upski’, a website performance monitoring tool. It shares conversations between Davies and Berman, co-founder of WotWot Ventures, as well as free templates of the exact documents they’re using to start and grow the business.

“We are overwhelmed by the response to the podcast so far – it makes it clear there is a need for this type of content and education in the market. We were initially hoping to reach 3,000 entrepreneurs in three months, but have now upped our target to 10,000!” says Davies.

Davies explains that the workshop series will build on the concepts discussed in the podcast, allowing entrepreneurs to start their own journey ‘from idea to business in 90 days.’ The plan after this initial workshop series is to roll out their scalable virtual incubator model, providing online content, access to expert mentors, and a private community of ’90 day’ entrepreneurs.

The Cape Town workshop is scheduled for October 3rd at Rise in Woodstock, tickets available here:

Other locations will be announced in the coming weeks through The Growth Academy Facebook page.