Pragmatic solutions for scaling service-based companies in the South African market
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Endeavor provides high-impact entrepreneurs with the access to talent, market connections and capital they need to create scalable, global organisations.

South African entrepreneurs may well be the key to unlocking the country’s economic potential and transforming the outlook of growth and employment. However, complex legislation, limited access to markets and capital, and mercurial economic conditions are taking their toll on entrepreneurial spirit and success.

Endeavor South Africa is committed to changing this picture by focusing on providing high-impact entrepreneurs with the tools they need to scale their businesses sustainably. To achieve this goal, the non-for-profit has identified three key support structures that every entrepreneur should have – access to talent, access to markets and access to capital.

Deanne Friis-Smith, Director Entrepreneur Search and Support at Endeavor South Africa, explains: “We have spent the past 20 years globally, looking for entrepreneurs who are high impact and have the ability to scale rapidly, showing incredible growth in their business. We asked ourselves what these entrepreneurs need and structured our services and solutions around these needs.”

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Endeavor currently has a presence in more than 30 countries with more than 3,000 world-class global mentors. In addition, the organisation has a vibrant investor network and partnerships with leading private enterprises and educational institutions. Those entrepreneurs that pass Endeavor’s stringent selection process gain access to rich global communities, customised advisory boards and talented support networks

“Through our partnerships with high- profile private organisations, such as EY, Bain and Co and global universities such as Harvard Business School, we provide entrepreneurs with expertise and guidance around how to align themselves, how to deal with specific challenges and how to create realistic strategic plans for the future,” says Friis-Smith.

The three challenges – capital, markets and talent – are most often the most valuable offerings to  those organisations that gain access to the Endeavor network, and the benefits are both measurable and sustainable. Two South African companies, Cognician and IsoMetrix, have both benefited immensely from what Endeavor has to offer, seeing impressive financial results and long-term growth.

Patrick Kayton, Co-Founder of Cognicion explains: “We were trying to build a global company with global relevance and Endeavor helped us to figure out what our strategy should be, and provided us with insights to ensure it would work.”

Since joining three years ago, the company has doubled in size with significant year-on-year growth. The support provided by Endeavour has allowed the company to achieve the levels of maturity required to scale sustainably and strategically.

“We are growing in revenue and numbers,” says Kayton. “The mentors provided by the Endeavor network challenged our assumptions about how the business should upgrade or how it should be doing, creating conversations that allowed us to recalibrate expectations and build a more mature perspective. When you are growing, you only see the challenges, but an experienced mentor asks you if those challenges are relevant and gives you new ideas on where to grow your business and what territories to focus on.”

It was thanks to Endeavor that the company abandoned strategies that weren’t working and focused on new ones that have subsequently enabled stellar growth. It is a success story mirrored by IsoMetrix, another South African company under the Endeavor wing.

“When we joined Endeavor we only had around 40 people working for the company with revenue in excess of R20 million,” says Paul Marketos, Director of IsoMetrix. “Today, we have more than 110 people and our revenue has grown by more than 400%. In the past three years, we have successfully expanded into Australia and the United States.”

In the past three years we have successfully expanded into Australia and the United States.”

For IsoMetrix, the Endeavor network has given them the opportunity to take South African technology to the world and prove that South African technology can compete on the international stage. It has also helped them to compete with more established players on a more level playing field.

“Even though we are only 100 people, we are consistently beating our competitors with deeper pockets,” says Marketos. “We are very proudly South African and all our development is done here [and] for us to be recognised by leading analyst firms as one of the top 15 products in the world is a great result from our first couple of years overseas.”

Becoming a part of the Endeavor network allowed both organisations to look beyond their self-imposed limitations and to realise the sheer scope of what they could achieve.

“The single biggest benefit of Endeavour has been that my ambitions have become far grander – we now know we can successfully take our product to the world and become a major player in the market,” says Marketos.

Patrick concludes: “Our business has changed completely and much of our success can be attributed to Endeavor and the relationships they helped us to create.”

About Endeavor South Africa

Endeavor South Africa opened its offices in 2004 and has lead high-impact entrepreneurs to success by catalysing long-term economic growth by selecting, mentoring, and accelerating the best high-impact entrepreneurs South Africa has to offer.

Endeavor has also developed a unique Excelerator Programme in 2008, which works with black-owned businesses. The programme applies Endeavor’s global best practices to earlier-stage businesses that have the potential to become high—growth companies within a defined timeframe.

Endeavor’s unique value proposition is to give entrepreneurs:

Access to markets, Access to talent and Access to capital across the globe.

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