4 August 2015
One South African start-up has hit the accelerator jackpot, and is the first South African firm to be included on the list of the American accelerator, 500 Startups.
The accelerator programme lasts four months, and the companies included receive funding of $125 000 (about R1.5-million). According to the 500 Startup Facebook page, its mission is to help start-ups around the world grow into successful businesses, solve real-world problems, and make their customers happy.
Sweep South operates like an “Uber for cleaning” in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria. It matches cleaners with clients. Already, it has posted healthy growth after receiving angel funding at home.
The company provides a way to book cleaning services online from a phone, tablet or computer, connecting clients to cleaners in minutes. “By bringing technology into the process, we aim to modernise the domestic cleaning services industry,” reads the website.
“We are meeting some of the smartest people in the industry who understand and have experience in taking a company like Sweep South from thousands of transactions a month to hundreds of thousands,” said Alen Ribic, Sweep South chief technology officer.
A number of accelerators have targeted Africa in order to gain a foothold in its fast-growing emerging markets. There are 21 start-up accelerators operating in South Africa. Their goal is to invest in new companies with a view to scale businesses, though some differ on exit strategy.
In the traditional US start-up market, early investors look to cash in their shares at a profit, but locally, the strategy is often to build viable businesses, according to one expert.
“When we invest in the companies, it’s not just ‘Take the money; we’ll sell you after a couple of months or a year.’ We put people on the ground with these companies to work with them,” explained Marcello Schermer, the regional manager for Africa of Seedstars World.
For Sweep South, the focus is to use the opportunity at 500 Startups to grow the business.
“The focus of the next four months is clear – achieve exponential growth and present our achievements in front of some of the top investors and media houses in the world. Each week we are exposed to more impressive mentors and each week our – and their – expectations grow. It’s exhilarating. in a terrifying way,” said chief executive Aisha Pandor.