KEET VAN ZYL

CO-FOUNDER, KNIFE CAPITAL

THOUGHT

Leader

AN INNOVATOR OF INDUSTRY
“THE MULTIPLIER OF SUCCESS ON INNOVATION, JOB CREATION, AND ECONOMIC GROWTH CANNOT BE UNDERESTIMATED.” – KEET VAN ZYL, CO-FOUNDER, KNIFE CAPITAL
INNOVATE South Africa

As Featured In:

INNOVATE™ South Africa

Adversity is a pressure cooker that fosters innovation. This is a philosophy that was entrenched in my formative years. Having had some heavy, life questioning challenges thrown my way very early, I had to adapt and adjust, and this learning has set me in good stead. It’s also given me a great deal of perspective, which I believe is essential to being a well-rounded person giving their best both professionally and personally.

I approach every day with a positive outlook, having fun, celebrating the small wins, and not letting life weigh too heavily on me. Upon reflection, it’s clear that dealing with adversity can be a blessing and can change the narrative of your life. I’m a self-motivator, a calculated risk-taker and skilfully lucky, three traits which have been invaluable for my career to date.

South Africa has numerous challenges, but opportunity lies around every corner. The abundance of ideas that need execution, dreams that need direction, and concepts that need nurturing never cease to amaze me. This is a country with a heartbeat, and I’m fortunate that I can lend a hand in creating success. Giving legitimacy to Venture Capital in Africa is paramount and can only be done by amplifying sustained commercial success stories. The multiplier of success on innovation, job creation, and economic growth cannot be underestimated.

The Venture Capital industry is at an exciting juncture, especially in Africa. Automation of investment processes and decentralisation of capital give more people access to the asset class as investors. The number of corporates investing in start-ups is increasing, and more VC firms are co-investing to combine not only capital but also knowledge and networks. This increase in investment activity is hugely positive for entrepreneurs across the continent. As these entrepreneurs build their wealth through exits or just building sustainable, profitable businesses, they re-invest time and money into the ecosystem.

Investing in early-stage businesses is relatively easy compared to unlocking value and making a return on those investments through profitable exits. To this point, we, as Knife Capital, continue to blend knowledge, networks, and funding with high-growth entrepreneurs. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Seeing local entrepreneurs succeed makes it all worthwhile. The road to success is paved with adversity, and I know the sheer grit and determination that is required in these tough times. Venture Capital has a vital role to play as a tool to fuel entrepreneurship and make the path to success more navigable. These are challenging times, but these are exciting times indeed. In the words of Pablo Picasso, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

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