Digital start-ups are growing, and quickly!

The old adage goes that entrepreneurs are born not made, but this myth has been busted with a programme that is helping start-ups to take their fast-growing businesses to the next level.

GOOD NEWS: Walter Penfold, chairman of Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

Introduced in South Africa 24 months ago, Accelerator is a programme run through the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation and has been successfully operating globally for more than 12 years.

Interestingly, a number of the most successful entrepreneurs through the programme are tech-based businesses that are using digital technologies to disrupt conventional business models.  In the fintech, health and education space. These businesses have seen a gap in the market and are deploying digital solutions to solve everyday issues.

Here are a few of the success stories:

  • Arlene Mulder and Camille Agon, co-founders of WeThinkCode, trains and develops skilled and talented software engineers for corporates.  “Going through the Accelerator programme together as co-founders enabled us to work on our strategy together.  We learnt to have the confidence to scale our business and we will be opening a campus in Cape Town at the end of this year and have seen 240% revenue growth in the last year.
  • Ryan Canin, Co-Founder of DocFox, a web-application which automates compliance in FICA allowing financial services firms to seamlessly on-board clients in a matter of minutes attributes the success of the Accelerator programme to being incredibly focused. “I realise that you can’t get distracted by opportunities which are not on your critical path. I have become ruthless with my time and only work on what drives value given our business direction,” he says.
  • Allison Martin, founder of UDoTest, which provides self-testing for STD’s, cervical cancer and colon cancer without doctor’s visits has seen a 30% growth since joining Accelerator. “The most important thing I have learnt during the Accelerator programme is the powerful perspective you get when you surround yourself with entrepreneurs that share their insights and experiences. It has enabled me to manage my business better,” says Martin.
  • Ryan Sauer, founder of Punk Media, which provides digital media buying services and has grown by more than 100% year on year for three years consecutively. “During the programme, I learnt many other entrepreneurs are going through very similar issues to my business regardless of what they do. Whether it is people, cash flow or positioning to name a few. Knowing you are not alone and have a core group of people to share business and personal events in your life makes the experience of being in EO Accelerator all the richer,” says Sauer.

Core to the programme is the peer-to-peer engagement which is set up through Accountability Groups and through which participants meet on a regular basis to share experiences and work on common business challenges.

  • While not in the digital space, a growth success story comes from Sven Reinersten, founder of Jawbone. He has seen a 700% increase in profits in his experiential events business.  “The Accelerator programme enabled me to build a business around our culture and accountability, with a focus on innovation and clinical execution.  I am now working on my business and not in my business,” says Reinersten

“While financial growth is important and one of the measures of success we have also seen the entrepreneurs grow personally,” explains Walter Penfold, EO Accelerator Chair.  “Personal growth and perspectives from other business owners enables entrepreneurs to think strategically about the future of their business; how to break into new markets; secure partnerships or funding that will take their businesses forward.”