Cape Town-based, Knife Capital was born from an innovative spark generated by Co-founders Keet van Zyl and Eben van Heerden while working at Mark Shuttleworth’s Here Be Dragons Venture Capital fund. Founded in 2010, the growth equity-investment firm hones in on innovation-driven businesses, using their networks, funding and industry expertise to help each enterprise achieve international growth.
In doing so, they help to optimise a company’s business model and streamline their customer-acquisition process. “The technology space is broad and our portfolio includes radar technologies, process analytics, mobile financial services, restaurant technology, ticketing, Internet of Things (IoT), AI and Machine Learning (ML), Software-as-a-Service and e-learning,” says Van Zyl.
Knife Capital uses a three-tiered approach in order to cultivate a venture that will not only be profitable but seeks to solve a real problem. Firstly, they select knowledgeable entrepreneurs with an intricate understanding of the subject matter. This is blended with the firm’s expert business acumen and thirdly, combined with a credible investor-base. “A good idea does not always transform a good business, and a good business is not necessarily a good investment. It is challenging to strike the right balance between finding a great company, and then ensuring it becomes a good investment,” says Van Heerden.
With a strong presence in South Africa and the UK – which accelerates the international growth of companies in their local portfolio – Knife Capital expanded into the European market in 2017 by securing its first European investment in Mobile Sensory and Technology (MOST), an IoT start-up based in Sweden.
They also plan to launch the fourth rendition of their Grindstone Accelerator programme. As a structured entrepreneurship development programme, Grindstone creates a solid platform of knowledge, networks and funding, to help companies at the forefront of innovation become sustainable and achieve exponential growth. Grindstone assists ten companies with these resources.
Going forward, the company plans to continue propelling businesses to new heights and help them reach their full potential. Although they aim to expand slightly, Knife Capital’s core concerns are to remain a close-knit, highly skilled and visionary team, making niche investments in ventures that are changing the world as we know it.