Why Changes In South African Startup Investing Is Creating New Opportunities For Investors

When it comes to South African startup Investing, there are two major forces driving recent changes: it’s becoming cheaper to start a startup, and startups are becoming a more normal thing to do.

South African Startup InvestingWhile previously, there were only two options available to recent graduates (get a job or go to grad school), now there’s a third – start your own company. This is a big change, one that creates a social shift in today’s generation; one that we’re only at the beginning of. So we can expect to see a lot more startups popping up.

This first factor is directly related to the second major driver of change: startups are becoming cheaper to start. The decreasing cost of starting a startup is one of the reasons startups are becoming a more normal thing to do.

With startups needing less money, founders will increasingly have the upper hand when it comes to investors. While they’ll still often require corporate finance services or even business plan consulting services when it comes to growth funding  just as much of your energy and imagination as they have in the past, they just won’t need as much of your money. And since founders now have the upper hand, they’ll end up retaining an increasingly large share of the stock, and control of, their companies. Which means less stock and control for investors.

But does this mean investors will make less money? Not necessarily.

Since the total amount of startups available to investors is increasing, so is the amount of desirable startups that will make money for investors. A rule of thumb in the business is that there are about 15 companies a year that will be really successful, and while a lot of investors treat this number as some sort of constant, it shouldn’t be.

Currently, the limiting factor on the number of big hits is the number of sufficiently good founders starting companies, and that number is likely to increase. There are plenty of people who would make great founders that will never end up starting a company, but as it becomes cheaper and more normal for startups to begin, more and more of those people will become founders, increasing those 15 big hits a year to 50 or even 100.

What about South African Startup Investing returns? Will they be pinched by increasingly high valuations?

In actuality, investors have the opportunity to make more money now than you did in the past. That’s because high returns don’t come from investing at low valuations, they come from investing in companies that do really well. So if there are more big hits each year, the best investors should have more hits as well. Investors and firms that can attract the best startups will do even better since there will be more of them to attract.

Will the number of big hits grown linearly with the total number of new startups? Probably not, and here’s why:

  1. With the decrease in cost of starting a startup, more people are willing to try and fail. This isn’t a bad thing – it’s common in technology for an innovation that decreases the cost of failure to increase the number of failures, yet leave you net ahead.
  2. As more startups begin, there’s bound to be a clash of ideas. While the number of good ideas is not the reason there are only 15 big hits a year, with so many founders getting into the startup game, there will be multiple companies doing the same thing, at the same time.

So, how does this affect South African Startup Investing?

One thing these changes mean is that there will be more opportunities for investors at the earliest stages of a startup, because that’s where the volume of our imaginary solid is growing fastest. This opportunity means an opportunity for new investors, because the degree of risk an investor or firm is comfortable taking is one of the hardest things for them to change. Angel investors, in particular, stand to obtain a huge advantage through these changes, giving the ability to make angel-sized investments quickly during the beginning stages of a startup.

Different types of investors adapt to changes differently. By anticipating these changes and adapting to them, you’ll look bold as an investor and will open yourself up to new opportunities. Keep in mind that founders are your customers, so adapt yourself to do something that they want.

Considering Venture Capital as a Source of South African Start-up Investing

Another avenue that has emerged as a catalyst for start-up investing in South Africa is venture capital. This essay delves into the intricacies of venture capital as a source of investment for South African startups, examining its role, benefits, and impact on fostering innovation and economic growth.

  1. Defining Venture Capital:

    Venture capital refers to a form of private equity investment provided by investors, known as venture capitalists, to startups and small businesses with high growth potential. Unlike traditional financing, venture capital involves a more active role from investors, providing not just funds but strategic guidance to help startups scale.

  2. Role of Venture Capital in South African Startup Ecosystem:

    In South Africa, where the entrepreneurial spirit is vibrant but access to traditional funding can be challenging, venture capital plays a crucial role in bridging the financing gap. Venture capitalists bring not only financial support but also industry expertise, mentorship, and valuable networks, accelerating the growth trajectory of startups.

  3. Fueling Innovation:

    Venture capital is particularly instrumental in fostering innovation within the startup ecosystem. By injecting capital into ventures with groundbreaking ideas, venture capitalists enable entrepreneurs to pursue ambitious projects, develop cutting-edge technologies, and contribute to the diversification and modernization of South Africa’s economy.

  4. Mitigating Risk for Startups:

    Startups often face significant uncertainties and risks, making them less attractive to traditional lenders. Venture capital, however, thrives on risk-taking. By providing funding to early-stage startups, venture capitalists assume calculated risks, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on innovation and business development rather than worrying about immediate financial pressures.

  5. Strategic Guidance and Mentorship:

    Beyond capital, venture capitalists bring invaluable strategic guidance and mentorship to the table. The experience and industry insights offered by investors can help startups navigate challenges, refine business models, and make informed decisions, enhancing their chances of long-term success.

  6. Catalyst for Economic Growth:

    Venture capital investments contribute significantly to the overall economic growth of South Africa. Successful startups funded by venture capital not only create jobs but also stimulate related industries, fostering a culture of entrepreneurship that ripples through the broader economy.

  7. Encouraging Global Collaboration:

    Venture capital opens doors to global collaboration and investment. South African startups backed by venture capital often attract attention and partnerships from international investors, leading to cross-border collaboration that brings in diverse perspectives, resources, and market access.

  8. Challenges and Considerations:

    While venture capital offers substantial benefits, it is not without challenges. Startups must be prepared to cede some control and equity in exchange for funding, and the high-risk nature of venture capital means not all ventures will succeed. However, these challenges are inherent in the pursuit of ambitious growth and innovation.

In conclusion, venture capital has emerged as a pivotal force in the South African startup ecosystem, offering more than just financial support. As a source of investment, venture capital fuels innovation, mitigates risks for startups, and acts as a catalyst for economic growth. Its role in providing strategic guidance and fostering global collaboration positions venture capital as a vital component in propelling South African startups toward sustainable success in an increasingly competitive and dynamic business environment.

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Matthew Musgrove

Matthew Musgrove

Matthew is an entrepreneur and business Advisor with a passion for change management and social empowerment. With a background in business accounting and advisory, as well clinical research project management, he strives to find strategic and sustainable solutions to business problems.



Mark Van Hoff comes from background of technical & production planning, budgeting & scheduling of major live events. As the first production co-ordinator at M-NET for Outside Broadcasts, Mark has managed major local and international productions including Miss South Africa, Miss World, multiple music events and major sports events, including the PnP Cycling Tour.​Mark co-founded Van-Man Productions in 1994, Page to Picture in 2000 and Move Media Networks in 2007. All three companies have achieved domestic success and have been well-regarded in the South African production industry.



Oluwaseun Adewuyi who is the Group Chief Finance Officer (CFO) at Caban, is a Certified Chartered Accountant, with Fellowship status at both the ACCA as well as the Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, a UK Based industry body with a specific focus on the management of charities, not-for-profit organisations and NGOs.. Oluwaseun comes with strong business acumen and 20+ years of progressive experience in finance and operations management within well-reputed and high growth organisations Including Next Plc and Royal Mail. He has been heavily involved in impact investment across Sub-Saharan Africa and has been instrumental in the creation of a series of community schools in West Africa. Throughout his career, he oversaw a broad range of operations, including Business Strategy and Business Reorganisation, summarising the organisation’s financial status, and coordinating the preparation of tactical plans, financial forecasts, and budgets. Adept at developing and implementing effective internal control framework to maintain sound financial accountability.

tim scholtz


Tim Scholtz, who's is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Caban Investments, is experienced in implementing corporate governance guidelines, formulating risk management structures, process and cost optimization. Tim has a strong corporate background, having worked as COO at the South African Tourism board, was COO at the Nelson Mandela foundation and as a internal audit manager at Arthur Anderson earlier in his career.

Ben Botes


Ben Botes is Entrepreneur, VC, co-Founder, Author and Academic with a strong social conscience. Ben Involved with early stage and growth firms for the past 20 years and has been Co-founder of 9 separate businesses across Africa. Ben has directly and indirectly been involved in impact investment and the support of charities and non profits for the last 30 years. Ben is a regular speaker at the African Investment Conference in London and has been featured in Wall Street for Europe, The Guardian Small Business, BBC, the Mail and Guardian in the UK and BizCommunity, Channel 3 TV, Investors Weekly, The Cape Times, Radio 702 with John Robbie and Good Hope FM in South Africa

Dave Romero


Dave Romero is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur with a passion for making an impact. A qualified Professional Accountant, Dave has been a director in multiple financial institutions and was once the youngest Chairman on the JSE, in addition to being listed as one of Business Times’ Top 100 companies and the 40th fastest-growing company in South Africa. Dave is a core founder of the Caban Group, which aims to provide a comprehensive service offering to small businesses in return for equity. With a passion for nurturing entrepreneurs, Dave can often be found outside of the boardroom – offering advice, creating innovative funding solutions and building communities through sustainable practices.



Dr Ruben Richards is a truly inspirational South African leader. Through his peace-building seminars for criminal gangs, Dr Ruben has facilitated the longest ceasefire in the history of gang warfare on the Cape Flats. In addition to being Chairman & Founder of the non-profit Ruben Richards Foundation, Dr Ruben is an ordained cleric, company director, non-executive Chairman of Visual International Limited and was once the Deputy Director-General of the now-disbanded Scorpions.