Savant Approach

Savant is a long-term strategic commercial partner to select South African hardware technology companies. Savant is in the business of de-risking excellent South African technology ventures from an early stage and helping them grow into sustainable South African businesses with global market appeal.

Savant takes a tailored approach to business development, realising that each venture has its own challenges and opportunities. At any one time, Savant could be partnered with companies that are in different stages of their venture growth journey. In this manner, Savant ensures that there is a pipeline of de-risked businesses available for investment. Savant’s stages are explained below.

SAVANT APPROACH

Savant is a long-term strategic commercial partner to select South African hardware technology companies. Savant is in the business of de-risking excellent South African technology ventures from an early stage and helping them grow into sustainable South African businesses with global market appeal.

Savant takes a tailored approach to business development, realising that each venture has its own challenges and opportunities. At any one time, Savant could be partnered with companies that are in different stages of their venture growth journey. In this manner, Savant ensures that there is a pipeline of de-risked businesses available for investment. Savant’s stages are explained below.

5 Staged Approach

STAGE 1: Source and Build

An inventor’s journey with Savant typically starts with an introduction from one of Savant’s trusted network partners. These include IP attorneys, VCs, The Technology Innovation Agency, universities and client referrals.

From here, an extensive due diligence process is conducted at risk, whereby Savant assists the inventor in defining the market, financial modelling, business structuring, and formulating a high-level strategy for the business case – carefully de-risking the business in the process.

If the business meets all the necessary requirements it is presented to the Savant Seed Fund Investment Committee for deliberation and a final decision on Seed Funding. The business venture will then be incubated by Savant, according to a separate incubation partnership agreement.

STAGE 2: Seed Incubation

Once ventures progress through Due Diligence Savant invests a minimum of R50 000 in the venture and the business growth process gets underway. Prototyping and proof of concept take centre stage, whilst corporate identity, IP registration, business infrastructure, corporate governance and the like are developed in parallel, guided by Savant. The end of this stage results in substantial further de-risking for the follow-on investor.

STAGE 3: Technology Development

Once proof of concept has been established, further prototyping, and market trials may still be required as a part of industrialisation. During this stage activities may include IP protection, setting up manufacturing relationships, and building the team. At this stage Savant drives the commercial outcome hard and all efforts are made to ensure the technology is ready for market.

STAGE 4: Venture and Grow Locally

South Africa is an ideal launch ground for entrepreneurial ventures. At this stage series A venture capital investment is finalised, the marketing strategy is implemented and the product is launched into key sectors. Emphasis is placed on obtaining commercial proof of concept, building the team, identifying partners, and setting the wheels in motion for international scaling.

STAGE 5: Venture & Grow Internationally

Once the venture is successfully selling products on the local market, Savant assists in finalising Series B Venture Capital investment. The international market entry strategy is set in motion and the brand is launched in key identified global markets. Savant continues to provide strategic support and maintains a board presence.

Incubation

Savant prides itself on the premium, tailored, strategic commercial guidance it provides to its clients during the various stages of their technology development and commercialisation journey. Savant partners early, if it sees the value in the inventor, the product, and the business that could be developed.

At very early stages Savant gets involved at risk, in exchange for a minority equity stake (usually up to 15%). This mitigates early stage start-ups having to spend dearly for tailored advice, and it keeps Savant’s experts interested and invested in turning the business into a profitable success. Risk incubation is not essential, but it is highly recommended. Many past inventors have found this early partnership invaluable for their long-term success.
Amongst some of the benefits of incubation are invitations to participate in relevant entrepreneurial training programmes both locally and globally; guidance and leads within the local funding space; and having an experienced board presence that holds your businesses interest at heart, from the start.

Seed Fund

Savant Seed Fund Background

Savant Technology Incubator NPC has its own Seed Fund, which it uses to invest and further the development of certain hardware technology products and businesses, according to set criteria and guidelines.

The Seed Fund is supported by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), a public entity established by the Department of Science and Technology, aimed at assisting knowledge economy based SMMEs to access bridging finance to advance their innovative ideas to market. TIA has made funding available to Savant Technology Incubator, as a preferred Seed Fund Partner (SFP), to enhance the efficiency of TIA funds disbursement via the Savant Seed Fund. The Seed Fund invests a minimum of R50 000. Each potential business investment is assessed thoroughly by the Savant team and by the Savant Seed Fund Investment Committee before investments are made.

Savant has developed an incubation program that can effectively guide the disbursement and implementation of funds granted to selected applicants. A service fee is applicable for incubation.

Seed Fund Criteria

The Savant Seed Fund is intended for inventors and innovators that require financial assistance to establish and validate their technical proof-of-concept and to explore the commercial opportunity, by conducting a combination of the following using the funds:

  • Initial product and/or process development;
  • Prototype production;
  • Sourcing of IP opinions and patent registration;
  • Techno-economic evaluation studies;
  • Detailed primary market research;
  • Business plan development;
  • Sourcing of legal opinions for the likes of shareholders agreements;
  • Conducting field studies to test the assumption made about the technology, market and/or customer need;
  • Early market trials;
  • Refining and implementing designs;
  • Support of certification activities;
  • Incubation support.

Seed Fund Not Intended For:

  • Working capital;
  • Operational expenses;
  • Entities with a history of bad debt or insolvency, that are under debt counselling or black-listed before or at the time of investing;
  • Software and ICT businesses and their development;
  • Activities that do not relate directly to the furthering of the technology and market development.

Questions to ask yourself before enquiring

  • Is my invention a hardware technology or biotechnology invention?
  • Does my product solve a real problem?
  • Is my solution novel and protectable (IP)?
  • What are the barriers to entry? How difficult is it for someone else to do this?
  • Do I have freedom to operate? (university born initiatives to take note).
  • Who will be interested in buying the product?
  • What is the most likely route to market?
  • Do I have existing contacts within my own network that could be potential customers?
  • Am I the right person to develop this technology in this industry?
  • Do I have the right team in place?
  • Can I benefit from Savant’s assistance?
  • Do I have a valid tax clearance certificate?

See our success stories

Find out more about the companies we’ve worked with