March 24, 2014



Water boysThe Founders of Startle, Adriaan Mol and Andrew Tanswell, have been working in the Social Enterprise and Development sectors for over 22 years each, first working together in the harsh environment of war-torn Somalia. Together they lead Startle, which not only builds social businesses but also provides consultancy services to enhance the performance of the whole sector. With a specific focus on strategy and business development of social enterprise, they have particular depth of knowledge in entrepreneurship, fundraising and impact investing, BOP market & consumer research, and project management.

Specific services offered by Startle’s management consultants and its network of skilled associates include:

  • New Ventures Due Diligence
  • Social Performance Management and Social Return on Investment.
  • Governance of Triple-Bottom-Line Enterprise
  • Off-grid Energy and Water & Sanitation Solutions
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Fundraising for Social Enterprises
  • Impact Investing
  • Project and Programme Management
  • BOP Market & Consumer Research

Startle consultants provide strategy and business development to enterprises seeking to achieve scale of impact and financial performance. Through a process that builds or enhances an investor-ready business plan, Startle’s consultants assist businesses and their shareholders build a track to achieving meaningful scale and impact of operations.

Our consultants undertake due-diligence on behalf of Social Impact Investors. Often this includes in-depth appraisal of market, technical and social viability of potential enterprises and projects on behalf of potential investors and grant-makers. This ‘second pair of eyes’ helps reduce risk and enhance the potential for success.

Understanding and appraising the true impact of an enterprise is key to understanding whether the desired outcomes will be achieved. Emerging standards such as IRIS can be used for performance measurement. Startle consultants assist with the projection and assessment of genuine social return on investment when evaluating and working with social enterprises

The Founders and experienced Startle Associates act as Non-Executive Directors in Social Enterprises to bring best practise governance principles as well as practical experience and networking to growing triple (or double) bottom line businesses. These roles are undertaken on behalf of the investors or at the request of the enterprises.

Startle has considerable experience of the off-grid energy sector for both electricity and cooking. In addition we have decades of experience designing and implementing enterprise solutions in the drinking water, sanitation and hygiene sector. Consultants assist social-enterprises and NGOs with the viability, launch, development and scaling of initiatives to achieve maximum growth and impact in these vast, still largely untapped sectors.

The practical skills of social entrepreneurship can be learned. Mentorship by skilled entrepreneurs whose experience builds on decades of hard won successes and failures enables the transfer of valuable lessons. Through speaking events and lectures, as well as coaching and mentoring, or non-executive and advisory board directorships, the Founders of Startle work with others to enhance their skills in facing the challenges of being entrepreneurs. Investors and Social Impact Funds benefit from the added value provided to their investees that comes from peer to peer assistance.

Having raised multi-million investments for a wide range of social enterprises, Startle is well positioned to assist others in their fund-raising process. This can include assignments to raise funds on behalf of new ventures, where we are able to fully endorse the proposition. This would normally only happen where Startle has been closely involved with the social enterprise for some time.

The effective management of projects or programmes of an enterprise’s initiatives is vital to its success. Startle works with enterprises, social impact investors and grant making organisations to ensure the effective management of funds utilised against the desired outcomes of the initiative.

Without a thorough understanding of the market and value chains, as well as deep consumer insight, enterprises launch initiatives at their peril, risking the failure of what might be a great idea. A badly positioned great idea which does not address a market requirement will fail. Lean approaches that uncover and test critical assumptions are vital. Startle consultants work with social-enterprises and investors to truly understand the underlying basis for a perceived market need and market solution.