When it comes to venture capital, Keet van Zyl is as savvy as they come. He’s worked for companies such as Procter & Gamble, Investec Bank and HBD Venture Capital, and helped set up private equity funds in the Southern African region for a US-based investor. He also co-founded fund manager, Knife Capital as well as the business Angel investment group, AngelHub, which invests in startups with high-growth potential.
Based on his experience as a partner and board member of various investments, van Zyl shared some of his thoughts on what it takes to build a successful startup.
His findings were presented at IBM’s first SmartCamp in South Africa
Build a business, not a product
“Some companies come to us with an app or a game saying it’s going to be the new Angry Birds. Our reply to that is: ‘what’s in the pipeline?’,” said van Zyl. Rovio for example, produce new game titles or variations of those titles according to a schedule, ensuring a sustainable business.
Establish a fast, agile, adaptable business
The business should be able to move with the times.
It’s all about the execution, not the idea.
“I can’t underline the word ‘execution’ enough. A lof people have the same ideas, and it’s about who can execute better than the next guy,” said van Zyl. This is where funding comes in handy. In order to execute on an ambitious land grab strategy, venture capital is often sought to accelerate expansion.
Clearly define your revenue streams
In order to “stay alive”, startups should clearly define where their revenue will come from. Especially in the beginning stages of a business, when various revenue paths can be pursued, startups should be able to say no and stay focused.
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