Every Kiwi should back or build a start-up

Not all of us are built to be founders but we can all find a way to back ambitious, world-changing businesses; whether it’s buying their products, using their services, promoting them, encouraging and supporting them or investing in them.

Certainly, backing and building start-ups will do a whole lot more for our future and our economy than every kiwi backing or building a residential property portfolio. It was good to see the Government encouraging investors in the direction of more productive assets in its recent housing announcements.

None of us can escape noticing there is a big relevant shift going on in the world at the moment. The planet is in pain and people are in pain. We have to do things differently.

Right now, many see Aotearoa and New Zealanders as doing things differently. We are seen as safe, innovative and progressive.

We are small and ambitious and we have an innate belief in our ability to sort things out; whether that’s managing covid well, sending satellites into orbit more efficiently (Rocket Lab, Dawn Aerospace), creating software to help businesses operate better (Unleashed, Vend, CoGo), extracting useful material out of industrial waste (Avertana, Mint Innovation, Lanzatech), finding health solutions (Avalia, Aroa Bio, Alimetry), providing financial services (Xero, FNZ, Sharesies, Harmoney), producing food in a better way (Halter, Robotics Plus, Biolumic) or being at the cutting edge of the creator economy (Weta, Moxion, Shift72, Narrative Muse).

The advent of covid and our special kiwi approach to solving the world’s big problems has created an exceptional opportunity to amplify the impact of our start-ups.

The stakes are incredibly high if we don’t seize this.

New Zealand risks being left behind and missing our chance to be a rock-star sustainable economy; a nation creating exponential value and impact, grounded in our unique empathy for people and the planet. The world desperately needs an exemplar of how to do this well. New Zealand desperately need the high value jobs, wealth and talent this would generate and attract.

So how do we get there? Drawing on the Government’s Start-up Leadership Group’s four focus areas let’s paint a vision of the future.

Culture. A cultural shift to encourage more entrepreneurialism and risk taking is a tough nut to crack but it can be and is being cracked. Check out the incredible growth and profile of the High Tech Awards. Every one of the finalists provides an inspiring story and role model for our kids. Imagine if we were as supportive and proud of our entrepreneurs and scientists commercialising research as we are of the All Blacks or our America’s Cup sailors. Imagine if every kiwi backed or built a start-up!

Capital. Scaling high growth tech companies requires investment; millions and millions of dollars of investment. Last year New Zealand Growth Capital Partners Aspire Fund co-investors and Angel Association members invested $124m in over 100 start-ups. Start-up investment has been growing at about 10% a year but we need way more and way faster. Imagine the impact on our economy if, in the next decade, we grew this to a billion dollars of clued-up and inspired investment in 1000 start-ups a year from more private investors, kiwi corporates, wealth management providers and our kiwisaver institutions. Imagine the energy, ambition and outcomes this would generate.

Capability. The very best way to get good at venture investing and become a successful founder is to do it and be one. Imagine if we supported and incentivised our tertiary and research institutions to grow more founders and spin out more start-ups. Imagine if one hundred carefully selected, and successfully exited, founders who have sold their ventures offshore migrated to New Zealand to invest $5m each in New Zealand start-ups.

Connectivity. Start-up Genome provides compelling evidence that highly connected start-ups enjoy much higher rates of success. Benchmarked against over 50 ecosystems, kiwi founders rate poorly for both international and local connectivity. In the same way it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a whole country to raise a start-up. Imagine if we had a kick arse cadence of events and programs connecting founders, investors, professional service providers, corporate New Zealand and academia and if we also had a sublime digital platform joining all these dots and connecting founders and their teams locally and internationally.

The time is now. We have the world’s attention as successful problem solvers. So let’s amplify the focus on startups and venture investment and take a joined up, strategic approach to the sector.

Portfolio Management – Learning from experienced investors

Andrew Chen

The Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ) is co-hosting with New Zealand Growth Capital Partners (NZGCP) a series of workshops on early-stage investment. The second instalment was on Portfolio Management, held in Wellington on 13 May 2021. Participants heard about both the theory and reality of portfolio management from three different experiences:

  • Marcel van den Assum provided the angel investor perspective, having invested in over 50 companies over 15 years.
  • Jason Graham from Movac provided an early-stage venture capital fund perspective, detailing 35 investments made across 5 funds and 22 years.
  • Marcus Henderson and Hursh Shah provided the institutional venture capital perspective, with NZGCP’s Aspire NZ Seed Fund having invested in over 160 companies over 15 years.

The presenters gave some common messages: the theory says diversification is critical for mitigating the downside risk of your investment(s) crashing to zero, especially in the high-risk early-stage investment space. The data shows that a small number of investments in each portfolio will account for the vast majority of the returns, so you need to invest in enough opportunities to increase your chances of finding a winner.

But what is the right way to diversify in practice, in the New Zealand context? It’s not just about taking every possible opportunity and making a lot of investments. All the speakers agreed that active investment approaches – getting involved in the portfolio companies rather than passively waiting for returns – are critical to improving the likelihood of success. Marcel spoke about five Cs that help him select the right investment opportunities:

  • Connections: can your networks offer access to markets or relevant expertise?
  • Capability: do you have the right skills to help the company in their current context?
  • Capacity: do you have the time, capital, and headspace to help the company?
  • Culture: is the company willing to let you help, and can you work with them?
  • Capital (strategy): are you sufficiently incentivised to do the work and help the company?

The key constraint for the angel investor is in capacity, and Marcel noted that as he becomes more experienced, he’s looking more to partner with others with complementary skills and time so that he has confidence that his investments are getting the right support. This is where the venture capital funds might have a bit of an edge – a team of people can dedicate more resources to supporting their portfolio companies, and are more likely to have the right networks and skill base to draw from. For example, Movac has a number of Operating Partners who are able to provide sector-specific expertise for the portfolio companies, and potentially get their hands into the companies themselves to provide operational support.

Movac also offered some key metrics that can be monitored to evaluate whether your portfolio is sufficiently diversified:

  • Number: an important metric but it doesn’t tell the whole story by itself
  • Sector: investing across a range of sectors mitigates macro-trend risks
  • Concentration: knowing and playing to your strengths can reduce risk
  • Recovery: showing that you are at least breaking even is helpful
  • Hit Rate: picking winners more often than others means you have good selection processes

Alongside diversification, a couple of other aspects also contribute towards building a strong portfolio, including:

  • having an investment mandate or thesis to provide safety rails around your decision making
  • negotiating reasonable terms and valuations that look to the long-term
  • building dealflow so that you have access to more opportunities and can select from the best possible options.

Additionally, Marcel and Movac both said the vast majority of their returns came from follow-on investments into companies that were doing well, so it’s important to ensure you have the capital and capacity to support good performers past the current investment round.

Finally, Marcus and Hursh from NZGCP talked about what they’ve learned from managing a massive portfolio of companies, and their new strategies moving forward. For the Aspire fund, they have categorised the portfolio companies into three buckets depending on how much interaction or support they might need, and have assigned team members to provide between 30-120 minutes of active support per week to each company. Looking at where the strongest returns have been in their portfolio, they have identified four focus areas for investment into the future: software, agri-tech, health-tech, and deep-tech. And they have seen a direct correlation between time spent on due diligence and returns, so they are prepared to spend more time evaluating investment opportunities and ensure they are the right companies to deploy capital towards.

The three presentations all drew from the same theory of diversification, but it was apparent that different types of investors have different tools and choices that allow them to apply diversification in different ways. For the angel investor, their own expertise and time to help guide companies makes the biggest difference to their portfolio’s success. For venture capital funds, active support is important, but having more funds available allows them to invest more widely and spend more time on investment selection. But for all investors, the need to constantly learn and refine their choices is critical – all of the presenters have changed the way they make investments in comparison to 15 years ago, and all are still on a journey to learning more.

Andrew is a Venture Associate with Matū Fund, an early-stage investment fund providing intelligent capital for scientific ideas. Keep an eye out on the NZGCP website (https://www.nzgcp.co.nz/news-and-media/) for future workshops in the Early-Stage Investment Series.

Startup Investment Magazine April 2021

Welcome to the April 2021 edition of Startup Investment magazine.

This time last year, we were considering what impact COVID-19 might have on the world of startup investment
and the importance of backing startups through periods of uncertainty. A year later, and the ecosystem has demonstrated not only its resilience but an increase in maturity. In March 2021 alone we saw two substantial Kiwi grown technology businesses, Vend and Seequent, sold to offshore buyers. The realisation of value at this scale creates not only an opportunity for founders and investors to reinvest funds and expertise in new startups, it also attracts a wider pool of investors to New Zealand to help get future startups off the ground. We now have a startup ecosystem that is more self-sufficient and sustainable.

Providing articles to read Anand Reddy, Lisa Douglas, Suse Reynolds and Bridget Unsworth.

Read here

Media Release :: Increasing growth and maturity in NZ startup investment, despite COVID-19 disruptions

Startup investment in New Zealand has grown and matured despite the challenges of COVID-19, according to the latest Startup Investment report from PwC and the Angel Association (AANZ). In 2020, investors provided more follow-on capital than ever before, with 69% ($109m) of all investment being follow-on capital, indicating a commitment to support startups through to exit.

At the same time, 2020 saw a broadening of the startup investor base, with more venture capital funds choosing to invest in startups now amounting to 45% of total startup investment. The broadening investment base has offered more opportunities for investors to syndicate with 85% choosing to invest with others in 2020, the highest it has ever been, according to Young Company Finance deal data supplied by NZ Growth Capital Partners . This is on top of the long term growth in startup investment over the last 15 years, from a total investment value of $20m in 2006 to $157m in 2020.

PwC Partner Anand Reddy says the result is heartening.

“This time last year, we were considering what impact COVID 19 might have on the world of startup investment and the importance of backing startups through periods of uncertainty. A year later, and the startup ecosystem has demonstrated not only its resilience but an increase in maturity” says Reddy.

“In March 2021 alone we saw two substantial Kiwi grown technology businesses, Vend and Seequent, sold to offshore buyers. The realisation of value at this scale creates not only an opportunity for founders and investors to reinvest funds and expertise in new startups, it also attracts a wider pool of investors to New Zealand to help get future startups off the ground. We now have an ecosystem that is more self-sufficient and sustainable.”

Suse Reynolds, Chair of the Angel Association, says that early stage investment as an asset class is maturing in New Zealand.

“A noticeable trend is that deal sizes are getting larger as early stage ventures and angel backed ventures scale and require larger quantums of growth capital. This is a trend we expected and we are pleased to see.

“Another positive trend is the increasing number of deals being led and supported by funds drawing on capital from offshore investors which speaks to the quality of deal flow and increasing profile of New Zealand as a source of appealing opportunities. Seven deals were led by offshore venture capital firms and 11 deals received investment from offshore venture capital firms in 2020.

“In all these instances New Zealand angels and venture investors also provided capital. This bodes well for the ecosystem as these early investors continue to be part of the increasing value and growth of these ventures and deepen their expertise as venture investors.”

Reddy cautions however that Government support for early stage startups remains crucial.

“When the Government’s new Research and Development Tax Incentive was first launched in 2019/20, there were concerns that it was too narrow in scope to have any real impact for startups – with many Callaghan Innovation Growth Grant recipients unable to benefit. I’m pleased that policy makers have taken on board this feedback, confirming that existing Growth Grant recipients should qualify for the new incentive and could potentially receive support at similar investment levels. This is great news for those startups who require funding to attract and support highly skilled individuals to carry out R&D.”

The latest Startup Investment report profiles the investment journeys of three Kiwi startups – academic review website Publons, flight crew management software Merlot.aero and digital classroom tool Kami. Each is at different stages of the investment journey, from completing the full cycle of realising value and reinvestment, to continuing aggressive international growth.

Investors and founders of Publons, Merlot.aero and Kami also comment on how the startup investment ecosystem in New Zealand is maturing with an increasing cadence of founders and investors realising value, and then reinvesting into the next great Kiwi startup. The report looks at the long term journey towards the investment ecosystem in New Zealand becoming self sustainable, and the growing focus on ‘global first’ when startups think about their markets and their investors, rather than New Zealand first then global later.

“This maturing investment market will create exponential value and impact for Kiwis, the economy and communities around New Zealand,” says Reddy.

“Change is coming and the future looks bright.”

-ends-

For media queries please contact:
Arwen Vant
Communications Manager
PwC New Zealand
Mobile: +64 (0)21 859 946 or email: [email protected]
Suse Reynolds, AANZ Chair
Mobile: +64 (0)21 490 974 or email: [email protected]

About PwC
PwC is dedicated to helping startups with great ideas make their way in the world. We provide support through tailored financial reporting, tax advisory and compliance, structuring, strategic advisory services as well as networking opportunities. We collaborate with others in the local ecosystem including Callaghan Innovation, NZTE, the Angel Association of NZ, KiwiNet, and other New Zealand VC funds. Alongside publishing StartUp Investment NZ, we are sponsors of Southern SaaS, KiwiNet Awards and the NZ Hi Tech Awards.
PwC New Zealand employs over 1,600 people and has offices in the Auckland, Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago regions. Our people are dedicated to solving the complex problems businesses are facing in today’s changing market place.

PwC firms help organisations and individuals create the value they’re looking for. We’re a network of firms in 155 countries with more than 284,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services. Find out more at www.pwc.co.nz

PwC refers to the New Zealand member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

© 2021 PricewaterhouseCoopers. All rights reserved.

The Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ)
The Angel Association is an organisation that aims to increase the quantity, quality and success of angel investments in New Zealand and in doing so create a greater pool of capital for innovative start-up companies. It was established in 2008 to bring together New Zealand angels and early-stage funds. AANZ currently has 40 members representing over 800 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. Recent NZ Growth Capital Partners data revealed angels have invested more than $NZ681m in over 1200 deals and 414 companies in the last 12 years. AANZ works closely with NZTE, NZGCP, Callaghan Innovation and a number of private sector partners including Jardens, PwC, Avid Legal, KiwiNet, Uniservices, AWS, BNZ, Momentum and BECA. For more, please visit: www.angelassociation.co.nz

Supporting more Maori-led tech ventures

It was wonderful to have Candice Pardy at last year’s angel summit and we are chuffed it led to investment for Jobloads.

Gisborne entrepreneur Candice Pardy is thrilled with the funding support she has received for her app linking seasonal horticulture workers with employers.

Pardy, the founder of the Māori tech business Jobloads, has received about $700,000 in commitments to funding from angel investors in the past couple of months to start to build the online marketplace for seasonal workers and growers of horticultural produce like kiwifruit and pipfruit.

The catalyst for funding was the support she received from SheEO, a community of “radically generous women” supporting entrepreneurial women

Read more

 

Raising capital – some great tips

Stocktrim’s Dom Sutton points in this pithy piece are bang on. Well worth a look.

Inventory forecasting software StockTrim achieved international sales in the UK, Australia and US immediately after launching in 2017.

It’s been growth ever since, and in 2020 the Kiwi company pitched for seed funding to scale up. StockTrim came out successful – oversubscribed, in fact.

The fund raise required three in-person pitches, seven Zoom pitches and 30 Zoom calls before closing successfully in August.

Here’s what I learned, along with my co-founder Paul Simpson during the ups and downs of the journey.

Read more

Avid.legal’s Bruno Bordignon and FileInvite recognised

Friday 6 November 2020

Angel Awards Announced.

Avid.legal’s Bruno Bordignon and FileInvite recognised.

At its annual summit being held in Auckland today, Angel Association New Zealand announced this year’s winners of the Puawaitanga Award (recognising the founder and investor director who exemplify what can be achieved when committed people draw on their collective skills and experience) and the Kotahaitanga Award (recognising people in the angel community who have made an outstanding contribution to the industry).

The Puawaitanga Award has been presented to FileInvite CEO James Sampson and investor-director chair, Flying Kiwi Angels’ Garth Hinton. FileInvite is a B2B software as a service platform which automates and streamlines the process of requesting and gathering client documentation. With clients in 28 countries and doubling recurring revenue in under 9 months, FileInvite has grown total revenue more than 200% year on year and has up to 30% of all Australian mortgage applications going through the platform.

Garth Hinton has been on FileInvite and James’s wing for the last three years and is a true champion for the company helping it raise $4.5m dollars in growth capital. Garth has been a member of Auckland’s Flying Kiwi Angels network for the last five years and is a member of the Angel Assn’s Flight initiative set up to support the more active of the country’s angel investors and provide them with specialist professional development and networking.

In making the award, Angel Association Chair, Suse Reynolds said James and Garth are exemplars of what investor/founder alignment, mutual support and good governance can achieve.

“FileInvite completely exemplifies the kinds of businesses New Zealand so acutely needs right now; scaling fast and creating the revenue and jobs we need to revive our economy. No one scales value in a high-growth tech company on their own. James and Garth, together with the rest of the 20 strong FileInvite team, have a clear strategy for value creation and growth which has seen them raise an over-subscribed round in the midst of the covid lockdown with a view to creating a compelling valuation uplift for their series A round in 18 months time,” she said.

The recipient of the Kotahitanga Award is one of Avid.legal’s founding partners, Bruno Bordignon.

Bruno has been supporting angel investors, angel backed founders and the growth of angel investment in New Zealand for over a decade. Bruno was a partner at Wellington based Duncan Cotterill, before taking the leap to “live the startup dream” himself and set up Avid Legal in 2016.

As well as providing countless hours of free advice and counselling to angel investors and founders over the years, Bruno has served on the Board of AngelHQ and Chaired the Wellington network for two years from 2014 to 2016. Bruno has also fronted dozens of workshops on topics such as capital strategy, term sheets, portfolio management and preparing for acquisition. As well as preparing the documentation to form AngelHQ, Bruno has supported the setup of Arc Angels, Canterbury Angels, Venture Taranaki and Angel Investors Marlborough.  A year or two ago, Bruno led work to bring together a number of law firms from around New Zealand to update the industry term sheet.

“Bruno exemplifies the values which make angel investment rewarding and successful. His warmth, generous spirit, ambition, professionalism, depth of knowledge and genuine care for investors and founders alike have imbued New Zealand’s startup ecosystem. We are fortunate to have people like him in our community,” said Suse Reynolds.

Yesterday, AngelHQ’s Serge van Dam received the Arch Angel Award which was first awarded in 2009 to Sir Stephen Tindall. See separate release here.

–Ends–

For more information, please contact:

Suse Reynolds, AANZ executive director

mob: 021 490 974 or email: [email protected]

 

The Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ)

The Angel Association is an organisation that aims to increase the quantity, quality and success of angel investments in New Zealand and in doing so create a greater pool of capital for innovative start-up companies. It was established in 2008 to bring together New Zealand angels and early-stage funds. AANZ currently has 45+ members representing over 800 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. AANZ works closely with NZTE, NZ Growth Capital Partners and Callaghan Innovation and a number of private sector partners including Jarden, PWC, Avid Legal, Baldwins, KiwiNet, Uniservices, Amazon Web Services and BNZ. For more, please visit: www.angelassociation.co.nz

The Puawaitanga Award recognises the founder and investor-director who best exemplify what can be achieved when committed people draw on their collective skills and experience. This award celebrates an angel-backed venture achieving world class success. This venture has excellent governance, a compelling business proposition and a well-defined strategy for exponential returns.

Puawaitanga – ‘best return on integrated goals’.

The Kotahitanga Award recognises those people in the angel community who have made an outstanding contribution to the industry. It acknowledges those who have selflessly given personal time and energy for a sustained period and contributed to the professionalism, profile and reputation of angel investment in New Zealand.

Kotahitanga – ‘unity and a shared sense of working together’.

Serge van Dam named New Zealand 2020 Arch Angel

Thursday 5 November 2020

Serge van Dam named New Zealand 2020 Arch Angel.

Serge van Dam has been awarded Angel Association New Zealand’s Arch Angel Award today at the 13th New Zealand Angel Summit in Auckland.

Serge is an experienced high-tech company founder, director and investor. He loves globally-minded Kiwi software companies and is actively engaged with companies such as Montoux, Landlord Studio, Wiptser, Common Ledger, Tourwriter, Raygun and CoGo and is an exited investor in Publons and IMeasureU.

The Arch Angel Award is the highest honour in New Zealand’s angel investment community, given to those who exemplify the quintessential angel and who are champions for the endeavour making a significant difference to New Zealand’s start-up ecosystem. As well as their personal capital, Arch Angel recipients share their time, insights, deeply relevant skills and their networks with high growth start-up companies.

The recipient is chosen by the previous years’ winners.

Serge is passionate about growth in all of its manifestations and has a deep interest in software-driven disruption. He is the energy behind the 100+ strong group Kiss My SaaS established to provide networking and insights for software venture founders. He is an acknowledged thought leader in fintech and digital banking and was an integral part of the leadership team M-Com as chief marketing officer, a mobile banking platform, which was acquired by NASDAQ-listed Fiserv in 2011.

As a super active angel investor, Serge has invested in dozens of ventures. He joined Wellington’s AngelHQ in 2013 and is a founding member of the network’s ID/EA Group where investor directors and experienced angels share insights and support. A glance at Serge’s LinkedIn profile reveals he is the consummate angel when it comes to making connections and hustling for talent for ventures he backs.

Angel Association Chair and fellow AngelHQ member, Suse Reynolds, says Serge is a highly valued member of the Wellington network and New Zealand early stage venture investment scene.

“He is the sort of investor we wish we could clone; not only does Serge share his deeply relevant experience of scaling and creating value in startups, he has a huge heart and is incredibly generous with his time. He is laser focused on execution, sharing all he has learned in a straight forward, consistent fashion with founders and angels alike,” she said.

Ben Gleisner, CoGo CEO, where Serge is an investor and Board Chair, says “he continuously rolls up his sleeves and gets stuff done. Whether it is finding us amazing new investors, seeking out the best talent there is, helping us close deals with major banks or just being available every week to meet up with me to solve problems and realise opportunities, he is a complete legend. I want to say THANKS on behalf of all of us”.

Serge received his award at the annual Angel Summit, held at Hunting Lodge Winery in Auckland and attended by over 160 delegates. This year’s summit is exploring what how to be the very best kiwi angel digging into topics such as how we shape the future and the critical role that founder and investor wellbeing plays.

Former Arch Angel winners include The Warehouse founder and long-time angel investor Stephen Tindall; Andy Hamilton, chief executive of The Icehouse and member of IceAngels; US super angel Bill Payne; Movac Ventures founder Phil McCaw; veteran angel investor the late Dr Ray Thomson; prolific AngelHQ member Trevor Dickinson, former AANZ Chair Marcel van den Assum; ardent angel investor Debra Hall, champion for kiwi start-ups Dave Moskovitz and long-time Ice Angels member Scott Gilmour.

–Ends–

For more information, please contact:

Suse Reynolds, AANZ Executive Chair

mob: 021 490 974 or email: [email protected]

The Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ)

The Angel Association is an organisation that aims to increase the quantity, quality and success of angel investments in New Zealand and in doing so create a greater pool of capital for innovative start-up companies. It was established in 2008 to bring together New Zealand angels and early-stage funds. AANZ currently has 40 members representing over 800 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. AANZ works closely with NZTE and Callaghan Innovation and a number of private sector partners including Jarden, PWC, Avid Legal, Baldwins, KiwiNet, Uniservices, Amazon Web Services, BNZ and BECA. For more, please visit: www.angelassociation.co.nz

 

Startup Investment Magazine November 2020

Diving into Deep Tech, Deep Tech Investment’s, Calling all startup and early stage investors

Providing articles to read Suse Reynolds, Anand Reddy, Hayley Horan and Marcus Henderson.

Read here

Deep tech is where it’s at!

Angel investors are becoming increasingly interested in deep tech given the rewarding returns – financial and the solving the world’s really big problems.

New Zealands deep tech sector is getting a massive boost thanks to a new partnership between Icehouse Ventures and LevelTwo that will see $10 million of funding, more laboratory workspaces and new incubator programmes available for startups pushing …

New Zealand’s deep tech sector is getting a massive boost thanks to a new partnership between Icehouse Ventures and LevelTwo that will see $10 million of funding, more laboratory workspaces and new incubator programmes available for startups pushing the boundaries of science and engineering to address some of our world’s most pressing problems.

This marks the first joint venture between a local investment group and a tech incubator in New Zealand.

 

LevelTwo is the birthplace of NZ’s only two deep tech unicorns – Rocket Lab and LanzaTech – and home of the country’s only commercial laboratory and workshop facility growing deep technology startups.

Read more

 

Angel Association welcomes NZGCP’s expanded Aspire mandate

New Zealand Growth Capital’s (NZGCP) announcement today that the mandate for the Aspire programme has been expanded has been welcomed by Angel Association New Zealand (AANZ).

The expanded mandate, to apply until 30 June 2021, does the following:

• Raises the annual investment cap from $12m to $20m,
• Raises the per company maximum investment from $1.5m to $2.5m,
• Relaxes 1:1 matching government to private capital to 2:1, and
• Allows Aspire to co-lead deals.

AANZ Executive Chair, Suse Reynolds, said New Zealand’s high growth startups are in the midst of challenging times but that recessions are precisely when we should be doubling down on investment in the “job creators of tomorrow”.

“Not only are recession vintages some of the best when it comes to the financial returns generated from early stage venture investment, but World Bank and OECD research tells us that these
businesses create most of our net, new job growth,” said Suse.

“We acknowledge that there might be some concern about crowding out private sector investment but the ongoing requirement that Aspire match private sector funding ameliorates this and these are unique circumstances.”

“Early stage investment is a legitimate and financially rational asset class but it is high-risk in very uncertain times. The expanded mandate helps to shore up private sector confidence. It is part of
work we are all doing to at the very least maintain, and maybe even grow the number of deals supporting high-growth, kiwi tech companies.”

Commenting on the co-lead component of the expanded mandate, Suse noted the importance of trust and transparency in early stage venture investing and said this should help increase levels of
syndication and deal success.

–Ends–
For more information, please contact:

Suse Reynolds, AANZ Executive Chair
mobile 021 490 974 or email [email protected]

The Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ)
The Angel Association is an organisation that aims to increase the quantity, quality and success of angel investments in New Zealand and in doing so create a greater pool of capital for innovative
start-up companies. It was established in 2008 to bring together New Zealand angels and early-stage funds. AANZ currently has 40 members representing over 900 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. AANZ works closely with NZTE, NZVIF and Callaghan Innovation and a number of private sector partners including Jarden, PWC, Avid Legal, Baldwins, KiwiNet, Uniservices, BECA, BNZ and Amazon Web Services.

For more, please visit: www.angelassociation.co.nz

Hillfarrance Venture Capital launches a scout fund

New to the kiwi market, the scout fund is a part of the main Hillfarrance Venture Capital fund and consists of a one million dollar side fund which will be distributed among up to 10 scouts, each investing up to 100 thousand dollars each in businesses of their choosing.

Read more

What’s happening to venture investment in the US

With thanks to US Angel Capital Assn’s Ron Weissman, a super experienced angel, we share his slides on the state of venture investment in the US and his guidance to angel venture directors.

Slide deck

NZ startup gets Sydney Angels support!

Congratulations to JNRY for securing their recent funding round and especially for attracting the investment from Sydney Angels. Great stuff!

In the early days of Australia’s COVID-19 lockdown, we spent a lot of time considering what the economic crisis would mean for startups, and especially for those seeking funding. In particular, the concern was that seed and early-stage funding could be under threat, as individuals became more cautious, and VCs focused on supporting their portfolio companies.

But, this brave new world is never short of surprises. Since then, we’ve reported on a string of investment rounds of all shapes and sizes, including for startups at the earlier end of the scale.

Preezie secured just over half a million in seed funding for its e-commerce tech, and just this week, Antler announced the 13 startups that have secured $100,000 apiece in initial capital and a place in the second stage of the startup’s generator program.

Read more

 

 

Supporting Movac Fund 5

Movac is launching their Fund 5 this week pointing out that recessions create great venture vintages.

This week we start our contribution to the rebuild of the Aotearoa New Zealand economy. Movac’s part is to accelerate the launch of our fifth technology investment fund, Fund 5. There is much work to do and we’re incredibly motivated to play a significant part working alongside New Zealand’s outstanding technology founders and our committed group of investors to help define and shape our collective future.

This has been an incredibly disruptive and challenging time. Lives and countless jobs have been lost in New Zealand and around the world. We’ve all had to learn how to work and live differently, but now is not the time to pause but to find the opportunities in those changes. We need to get busy redefining and growing the next wave of tech businesses in New Zealand.

History tells us that it in periods of significant disruption we see the most significant technology innovations. We launched Movac Fund 3 during the Global Financial Crisis and had the privilege to invest in companies like PowerByProxi, sold to Apple in 2017, and GreenButton, sold to Microsoft in 2013. Vend and Unleashed were created during the GFC and our 4th fund has subsequently invested in those business. Xero, RocketLabs and PushPay started just before and grew up through the GFC. Trade Me started at the beginning of the dot.com boom survived the dot.com bust and thrived subsequently.

Read more

Covid advice for angels

Seattle’s Alliance of Angels Dan Rosen – super experienced angel – provides some terrific advice for angels in his recent post.

After publishing my companion piece, “How Startups Survive the COVID-19 Economic Crisis,” I have received a number of comments about how this impacts angels and angel investing. Here are my thoughts.

Unlike VCs, who have a fund to invest and collect a management fee for investing their fund, Angel Investors invest their own money and are under no pressure to invest in any company or at any time. Our decisions to support a startup are totally our own. As in previous market downturns, there will be some themes that help us through our investment decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.

Angels have limited funds. And many of us already have extensive portfolios. We quickly will be (or already are) in the position of getting funding requests from many of our portfolio companies for new rounds of funding. Some will make it, and some won’t – even great companies with fabulous ideas will fail when the cash dries up, and sometimes Angels alone can’t provide sufficient cash to carry them through.

For Angels, this is a good time for both investing and tough love. Great companies are often started in market downturns. I believe this is because only the most dedicated entrepreneurs (the ones that feel absolutely compelled to create their new company) will leave a stable, good-paying job in the middle of a downturn.

My friend and colleague, John Huston of Ohio TechAngels, commented on the last two recessions: “One strong recollection I have of those periods is that CEOs (with a strong BOD) who most effectively & frequently communicated their parsimonious plans to use the emergency funding were helped and survived.” An inexperienced entrepreneur might neither have the experience nor the tools to manage their impending company crisis; we as knowledgeable Angels and mentors and board members can draw on the experiences we have faced as investors in those previous cycles. It is our hour to shine and help our startups survive and thrive!

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NZ startup submission to government

Startups will play a critical role in New Zealand’s economic revival.

Kiwi startups are our country’s powerhouse of problem solvers.

 

Startups are responsible for at least half of all new jobs created and in some economies, up to 90% of new jobs created. They are a source of incredible inspiration and are executing on a vision of New Zealand as a world leader creating a sustainable economy generating exponential value and impact.

The submission sets out how the startup community believes it can help with New Zealand’s economic revival.

So many people provided help and support, advice and insight. Over 50 organisations were part of the collaboration!! And how wonderful that there are so many people who care about making our world hum.

And of course the submission is really only the start in lots of ways. It reflects lots of conversations we have been having, and will have, in the coming months. It’s a catalyst for discussion and debate. The Startup Leadership Group provides a great forum for this and so do other forum’s like the Global Entrepreneurship Network, Startup Weekends and others.

Onwards!

Submission

Randy Komisar speaking about insights from the investment landscape in times of uncertainty

Check out this terrific interview with Kleiner Perkins’ Randy Komisar. Randy has spoken at two of our recent angel summits and compares the impact of the pending Covid recession to past recessions and makes some interesting observations about how this one will differ from others. It’ll be more like those generated by the world wars he believes. He also provides some wonderful insights on how VCs will behave and has some super practical advice for founders.

View here

 

Startup Investment Magazine April

The sun always comes up.

Providing articles to read Suse Reynolds, Anand Reddy, Bruno Bordignon, Dana McKenzie and Debra Hall.

Read here

Messaging for founders and investors

The AANZ have put together below a few pithy points about what it’s important to remember in the current challenging climate. Feel free to lean on these, use them in your own coms or let us know if you think we’ve missed anything critical.

Suggestions for right now for all portfolio founders to help them focus on the right things to protect their venture

  • Engage customers … be proactive in supporting them to ensure best chance of being paid. Engage with the CEOs of those customers. Churn costs more than lost sales. Segment your customers. Who is likely to be in business in six months and who isn’t? It’s harsh, but invest in those likely to survive
  • Retain staff … both for the company and wider society it is critical we keep people in work. This needs to be a balanced approach and effort that is shared by shareholders, the government and the company. But look to reduce hours or find other ways to reduce staffing costs
  • Extend cash … develop tactics to reduce costs as well has accessing funding to bridge from survive to sustain to thrive. The sustain piece is important. This will pass. And companies that get out the other side will be a in powerful position.
  • Preserve value … weigh up short term loss versus long term gain with a view to leading the recovery. Out of chaos comes opportunity – every time there has been an economic downturn (1929, DotCom bust, GFC) some massive companies have been created including Xero, Lanzatech and Vend.

Suggestions for founders who are thinking of raising or who will need to raise in the next six months

  • research and know your investors – it’s all about relationships, now more than ever
  • so reach out personally and individually – offer vidconf updates, be authentic, be empathetic
  • if you were thinking of using a convertible note, SAFE or KISS then switch to equity
  • think about valuation resets – but be sure it’s in the context of your (revised) capital strategy and ensuring that when you get to a liquidity point you still have 30-40% of the cap table
  • think about what investor friendly terms you can offer – but give more emphasis to economic terms (eg full ratchet anti-dilute and preference shares) than control rights (eg letting the investor director be totally in control of hiring and firing or imposing unreasonable limits on how and when the company makes expenditure decisions)

Suggestions to investors

  • the rationale for angel investment remains as valid today as ever – from a head and heart perspective. From a ‘head’ perspective valuations will be down and the ROI that much higher out the other side. From a ‘heart’ perspective you are helping to grow businesses that are creating great jobs and making the world a better place.
  • be aware of emotion overriding reason – don’t feelings of scarcity chew you up
    that said, angel investment should only ever make up 5-10% of your NET wealth
  • review your portfolio to assess which ventures have the best chance of surviving, sustaining and thriving
  • make value based decisions – back founders growing ventures which are truly additive to the world, which are developing products and services people genuinely want and which have sound business models
  • support the founders you’ve backed – say yes or no quickly, even small(er) cheques can make a difference
  • be generous with contacts, intel and emotional support
    • you’re an angel investor, now is the time to act angelically !!

COVID19 Package – application to startups

COVID-19 – Government Stimulus Package – Guidance and Comment
Important update 31 March 2020.

Thanks again to the team at Avid.legal for pulling this together.

On Friday 27 March 2020 the government announced:

1. significant changes to the Wage Subsidy, and
2. that it has ended new applications under the Leave Payment Scheme.

On Saturday 28 March 2020, the government published a further clarification to the changes it introduced to the Wage Subsidy.

These changes render some of the information in our 24 March 2020 update (further below) void for new applications.

 

Most significantly, a revised declaration now applies to the Wage Subsidy for applications made after 4pm on Friday 27 March 2020. You can review the revised declaration here: https://workandincome.govt.nz/online-services/covid-19/declaration-wage-subsidy.html

These changes will have a significant impact on how some businesses may use the Wage Subsidy and how it fits in with wider coping strategies compared to businesses who applied before the cut-off. Changes include (but are not limited to) applicants agreeing to:

  • not make any changes to any obligations under an employment agreement (e.g., remuneration, hours of work and leave entitlement) without the written agreement of the employee;
  • retain the employees named in the application as employees for the period the employer receives the subsidy in respect to those employees;
  • not unlawfully compel or require any of the employees named in an application to use their leave entitlements for the period the applicant receives the subsidy in respect of those employees;
  • only use the subsidy for the purposes of meeting the named employees’ ordinary wages and salary (and the employer’s obligations in relation to the subsidy);
  • remain responsible for paying named employees’ ordinary wages and salary for the period the employer receives the subsidy;
  • for the period the subsidy is received:
    • use best endeavours to pay at least 80 per cent of each named employee’s ordinary wages or salary; and
    • pay at least the full amount of the subsidy to the named employee; but
    • where the named employee’s pre COVID-19 remuneration was ordinarily less than the subsidy (i.e. less than $585.80 or $350), pay the named employee that amount.

Other new aspects of the declaration include some strict requirements about:

  • needing to discuss the application with named employees before making the application;
  • obtaining named employees’ consent to including their details in the application for MSD to use and share (ideally in writing); and
  • advising named employees that they have the right to request access to all information held about them under the Privacy Act, and that they can contact [email protected] to make a request.

Maintaining good processes and record keeping will be critical. The increased requirements in the declaration must be carefully worked through before submitting an application. Businesses should pause and ensure they can established that they comply. Businesses may be subsequently audited. If a business cannot establish that it was eligible, or that it adhered to the conditions set out in the declaration, the business risks being required to repay the subsidy and potentially criminal sanctions.

Lastly, payment-processing times have reportedly slowed. If your claimed amount has not been paid within a week, it is worth calling MSD.

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Investing in challenging times

Avid Legal’s Bruno Bordignon shares some key considerations:

Start-up world is often counter-cyclical when it comes to the financial markets – let’s not forget many of the current cohort of successful starts-up were born out of the 2009 GFC.

So what makes them more attractive in challenging environments? Here are my thoughts:

(1) pain has a price – most start-ups evolve out of some pain point that they have found an innovative way to solve, however trying to get market traction and people valuing that “pain” in good market conditions is difficult. We see many great start-ups with killer solutions, but when faced with selling that solution are hit by organisations who would rather status quo (even if it costs more!) than solving their pain. Times like these force people to rethink the status quo.

(2) agility is priceless and even better creates time – the fact that start-ups have never been comfortable and always cash-poor means that they keep iterating on themselves and are agile in their approach to knowing their business and understanding their market. This gives them the opportunity to be smart with cash, and run small iterations (or tests) on the market in an efficient manner – being able to rapidly iterate in this way extends their runway and time – where larger businesses and competitors sometimes don’t have the luxury (with their locked in cost structures).

(3) control over destiny – often investors will revert back to investing more in start-ups in times of unstable financial markets as they feel that they have more control over their investment. Now we aren’t talking about veto rights at a board level, but knowing that they are involved in a start-up that they can directly impact and influence through their thinking – and being part trying of a team executing on a vision. When combined together with the right set of people can be immensely powerful. There are plenty of investors out there right now looking to have a direct impact on start-ups lives – in more halcyon times, it is often difficult to get the full attention of investors, so now is the time for start-ups to truly tap into smart money.

While all of the above represents a significant opportunity to start-ups, challenges still remain. The key ones from my perspective are:

(1) team attrition – behind every great start-up there is a great team, and retaining that team will be critical. In recent discussions with Phil McCaw he was already cognisant of the “flight to safety” reaction experienced by start-up teams where people are tempted to go back to a perceived safer corporate job. Start-ups will need to work on ways on keeping their team tight and revisit how much they have allocated in ESOP as part of looking at ways to retain that talent.

(2) being heard – with all of the noise in the market around COVID-19, most corporates tend to be focussed on the immediate problem and not some of the solutions waiting to emerge. Getting to get to the right people within organisations to sell has always been difficult, and now if you manage that, getting that persons attention will be the next challenge. Perhaps the sometimes unconventional sales approach of start-ups might just win out here!

(3) telling the story – with so much disruption in markets, it can also sometimes be difficult for start-ups to articulate their proposition – too many opportunities can be as much as a curse as too few. Start-ups now more than ever will need laser focus on their story, purpose and proposition – this is not just limited to customers, but also to investors. Start-ups will need to be using every piece of data on their business (and their market) and demonstrate the learnings from their iterations to show how they will emerge as a lead player in their market.

While cash is always king, we have seen from previous experience in the 2009 GFC that investment runs counter-cyclical and there will be investors looking for a home for their cash. Expect to see a return to syndication, and people sharing a lot more for the collective good – this can’t be a bad thing, right? So let us all practice more random acts of kindness and work together to seize the opportunities ahead!

Beca and Angel Association NZ (AANZ) announce a partnership to make a difference to startups and their investors.

This partnership will create a dynamic pathway for innovative startups to carry out proof of concept projects with Beca, New Zealand’s largest professional services consultancy.

This collaboration combines the strength of AANZ’s network and robust deal flow with Beca’s enviable client base and deep technical expertise that touches virtually every part of the economy.

Startups can use the momentum of a successful proof of concept to keep running forward, proving their technology has a market need and works at scale.

Recognising the important role that startups play in fostering a culture of innovation within the business community, this partnership aims to enhance cooperation and facilitate deals between innovative startups and Beca.

Jeannine Walsh, Beca’s Head of New Ventures says

We are delighted to announce this partnership with AANZ that is designed to connect startups with our clients through proof-of-concept opportunities.

Beca has a 100-year history of delivering innovative solutions for our clients; the next century will be no different. But as the rate of change in society accelerates, we must keep pace with it. Startups are an excellent source to solve some of the key challenges our clients face. Together AANZ and Beca will help startups turn into scaleups, to ultimately make every day better for our clients and communities.

Through this partnership, we are greatly looking forward to working with founders and their teams to bring ground-breaking ideas to market.

Suse Reynolds, Executive Director, Angel Association of New Zealand says

We are very excited to be working in partnership with Beca to support and contribute to building a world-best angel investment environment for the benefit of investors and entrepreneurs in New Zealand. In the same way that it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a whole country to scale a startup – angels, professional service providers, government and corporates. We are delighted to have Beca on our wing.”

We would like to see far more corporate engagement with venture-backed startups. Not only can corporates like Beca help validate new products and services but they can also help with connections to larger international markets. We would love to see other New Zealand corporates follow Beca’s lead.

For more information, please contact:

The Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ)

The Angel Association is an organisation that aims to increase the quantity, quality and success of angel investments in New Zealand and in doing so create a greater pool of capital for innovative start-up companies. It was established in 2008 to bring together New Zealand angels and early-stage funds. AANZ currently has 40 members representing over 800 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. AANZ works closely with NZTE and Callaghan Innovation and a number of private sector partners including Jarden, PWC, Avid Legal, Baldwins, KiwiNet, Uniservices, Amazon Web Services, BNZ and BECA. For more, please visit: www.angelassociation.co.nz

Suse Reynolds, AANZ executive director
Mob: 021 490 974 or email: [email protected]

About Beca

Beca is one of Asia Pacific’s largest independent advisory, design and engineering consultancies. After a century of operation, we have grown from a family-owned business to one of the most progressive, client-centric professional services consultancies in our region. We have more than 3,300 employees in 20 offices around the world and have delivered projects in more than 70 countries. Beca’s professional service offerings span 70+ disciplines across industrial, buildings, government, defence, water, transport and power.

Beca’s Venture team is an innovation and entrepreneurship centre of excellence, focused on rapidly responding to scalable business opportunities through working with startups and the investment community.

www.beca.com

www.beca.com/beca-digital

For further information, please contact:
Glenn Andert – Innovation Portfolio Manager, Ventures Team,
Ph: +64 4 460 1764
[email protected]

New Venture Capital Fund Launched

In great news for early stage investors, Elevate NZ Venture Fund will soon be releasing funds to a new swathe of venture capital providers.

Early-stage companies, who have at times struggled to find local funding, have a new option.

The Crown-backed New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF) has officially cut the ribbon on its $300 million Elevate NZ Venture Fund.

Elevate was first flagged with Budget 2019, when then-Economic Development Minister David Parker said his Government would address a “venture capital gap” by diverting $240m of NZ Super Fund money to a new $300m fund, which would also include $60m from NZVIF to create a new fund.

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New Regime at Angel Association New Zealand

As outgoing Angel Association New Zealand Chair, John O’Hara steps down from his two-year term, the AANZ today announced the appointment of the current Executive Director, Suse Reynolds to the role.

“As an active angel, a co-founder of Wellington’s 90-strong AngelHQ and one of the first AANZ Council members, this appointment is not only a natural progression for Suse it also marks the beginning of an exciting new period of activity for the AANZ,” said John O’Hara.

The AANZ is also delighted to announce the appointment of Bridget Unsworth to the position of Operations Director. Bridget brings deeply relevant experience following nearly 10 years as Investment Director of the seed co-investment programme at the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund.

Both appointments will take effect from 31 March.

Suse Reynolds acknowledged the contribution John O’Hara has made to the Angel Association noting he led work to establish Flight, an annual programme of events to support investor directors, instigated The Runway, an initiative to bring together founders and investors, and that he spends countless hours mentoring and supporting founders and investors. John will remain an active and engaged angel and mentor.

In a little over a decade, formal angel investment in New Zealand has grown from three or four networks with about 300 investors to over a dozen networks with nearly 1000 members investing over a $100m per annum. Over 250 start-ups have received angel investment in that time.

Looking to the next decade Suse Reynolds said the industry would double-down on growing angel investment but will also bring a tighter focus to the support being provided to those founders and investors making traction to help them expedite their growth and generate the financial and socio-economic returns expected of the asset class.

“It is important that we continue to grow the pipeline of investors and investment as there is no shortage of deal flow. Literally dozens of incredible start-ups are being generated every year by ambitious, creative kiwis commercialising their own ideas and the stunning IP being generated by New Zealand’s universities and crown research organisations,” said Suse Reynolds.

“It is equally important we expedite the success of the current portfolio of angel-backed ventures. The AANZ is about to put our programme of connectivity and professional development on steroids. We learn best by doing and by sharing the doing – so look out for more events bringing experienced and inexperienced founders and investors together, more governance workshops, more on how to navigate term sheet negotiations and more on how to ensure cap tables are in good shape,” Suse Reynolds pointed out.

Angel Backed JNRY’s Michael Lovegrove

Michael shares some of the journey and motivation for starting his insure-tech startup.

When you’re training to be a swimmer, looking at the black line twenty-five hours a week really makes you mentally tough.

So, when things don’t go your way in business, giving up is just not the way you’re built.

That’s the mindset of Michael Lovegrove, the founder and CEO of JRNY, a New Zealand-based tech start-up with global aspirations.

‘If there is an obstacle in front of me, I work out how we either go through it, over it or around it,’ Lovegrove says.

‘That mentality really helps build a great business and a resilient team.’

 

THE RIGHT INSURANCE POLICY

Funded by multiple parties including the Ice Angels, Enterprise Angels and Angel HQ in New Zealand, plus venture capital fund K1W1 and Artesian Venture Capital in Australia, JRNY has raised $2 million in the three years it has been operating.

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Our own Bridget Unsworth making a difference

Bridge sets out why angel investment matters and the role of governance in this ODT article.

Venture capitalist Bridget Unsworth has tracked back to the city where it all started.

After a stint in London, working with placement agency MVision Private Equity, the former University of Otago commerce student headed back to New Zealand in 2009.

She is now based in Auckland, but retains a strong link to Otago, marking her 10th year back in the country by joining the board of Dunedin-based tracking and communication company TracPlus.
The move followed nine years working with early stage start-ups as an investment director with the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund.

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More deep tech startups for investors

The government has announced the recipients of tech incubator funding.

From next year budding New Zealand startups will have even stronger support to help turn technology and science into successful businesses.

Four tech incubators have been selected for a new Technology Incubator programme, and a new HealthTech Activator initiative is being introduced, Vic Crone, CEO of Callaghan Innovation announced today.

“There are significant opportunities to turn more of New Zealand’s advanced technologies into successful businesses. Many of these technologies start out at our universities and we want to see them thrive,” says Ms Crone.

Read more

Two capital-ivating days in San Francisco – by Katherine Sandford

The best business trip I’ve been on in over five years has left me grappling with how to compile my screeds of notes into a one-pager (well, maybe two or even three) that makes some sense! Oh my goodness – talk about gold! So much insight, so many gems!

Hosted by the Edmund Hillary Fellowship in conjunction with the Angel Association of New Zealand, I was part of a delegation to San Francisco of NZ companies looking to expand into the US market and/or raise capital there. Our group of ten included founders and investor directors of five very diverse companies, so the networking from that part alone was a great start. We were escorted around the city and the Valley by a couple of outstanding fellows, yes real ones – EHF Fellows, Josh Hannah and David Yuan. Over the course of two days we engaged with a number more Fellows or friends of Fellows – we even had lunch and a chat with EHF Founder and CEO Yoseph Alele, who happened to be visiting from Wellington. Dinner with Silicon Valley Bank was a bonus, but it was the real and honest experience and insights that we heard from Kiwi Founders, including Victoria Ransom, and a broad spectrum of VCs, that really have made an impact – and I’m still pinching myself as I re-read my scrawled notes that I was actually there!

First stop, Matrix Partners where we met Kiwi Founder of Predict HQ, Campbell Brown, who’d relocated his family from NZ to the US in order to test the hypothesis that he was onto something big, and that he could secure US venture capital. He checked out Seattle as a potentially easy landing spot, but ultimately the amount of capital in San Francisco made it a no-brainer.

Campbell is a guy who loves a challenge – he’s a go getter who claims to like a lot going on in his life all at once – yeah right, like moving countries, and growing a business with no local resources and raising money and adding a baby to the family – all at the same time!

Setting himself up in a co-working space, not really knowing anyone, Campbell networked like crazy with founders. He figured that those who had successfully raised capital would be the best connections to make warm introductions to potentially friendly VCs.

And for Predict HQ, Campbell’s hunch was right. On the back of securing Uber among other large enterprises as customers, the company secured US$10M in a Series A round late in 2018. Campbell said it was a warm introduction that landed him a meeting and ultimate VC investment.

From what he’s learned, Campbell says that US VCs are looking for the following attributes in their search for their next investment:

  • A known entity, or at least an introduction from another founder
  • Net new revenue
  • Ability to expand the business – the best investors are looking for $100M potential and the ability to IPO from there
  • Victoria Ransom puts this slightly differently as the need to have a huge nascent
    market, and that you need to think global from day one with your go-to-market
    strategy
  • A solid team and culture
  • US location, preferably San Francisco

So how did this founder-centric shortlist stack up as we met with VCs over the next couple of days? This quote fairly well sums it all up. “We are looking for a kick-ass team, building a kick-ass product in a large-ass market”. And in our final meeting at General Catalyst, Trevor Oelschig’s list of the big pitch mistakes is further confirmation.

The Series A No-No’s (aka the BIG pitch mistakes)

  • Not being able to articulate your go to market motion
  • Not being able to talk about your competitors
  • Inability to attract the right talent at the right time
  • Inability to articulate your path
  • Not knowing your numbers cold
  • Not having spoken to enough customers

And there was even more evidence to show that Campbell’s list is well, pretty much on the money!

A Known Entity
Ultimately it comes down to personal relationships and who knows who. Word of mouth, trust and the network are your friends. Good content will result in VCs following you and reaching out to you, unsolicited. When they’re doing research, investors love seeing logos out there as it shows traction and piques their interest. For GV (formerly Google Ventures), introductions to companies depend on their networks – many Googlers route companies in. Other VCs advised that we should be visiting San Francisco regularly for “pre-meetings” without any investment pressure, to build credibility and relevance – and importantly to build trust over time.

Net New Revenue
The ease with which you raise capital is directly related to the progress you’re making – not with product, but in the market with real customers. Companies need proof that they have (1) product market fit, (2) raving fans, aka referenceable customers, not a team that loves the product they built or are planning to build, and (3) a growing pipeline of real opportunities.

Ability to Expand the Business
Companies need to show repeatability to demonstrate that there is a big business to be built. It really matters what sort of traction you have and whether that’s increasing. One VC even went as far as to say that he finds it difficult to imagine a market that doesn’t exist yet – so we need to be sure that we are clear on the existing problem that we are solving for a proven and potentially massive number of customers. I loved Victoria’s comment about being able to be a salesperson and “make your company seem as big as you can, without crossing the line”.

A Solid Team and Culture
GV uses analytical input into their process, but Graham Spencer, Managing Partner, was hesitant to answer whether GV uses any sort of analytics tool to assess entrepreneurs! An experienced team, who have had prior exits and many years in the target industry reduces VC risk when assessing an opportunity. Transparency is important – and founders must be able to present real candour about the challenges they are going to face – confidence in knowing that there will be obstacles that are going to need support to work through. The ability to recruit and retain people is key, so it’s important to have a unique set of values and attributes that attracts people to your company.
Founders must be likeable – the humble kiwi attitude serves well. And making that first impression is everything – you don’t need to fly to meet in person but make those first few moments on the phone count.

US location, preferably San Francisco
Ramzi Ramsey at Softbank said it well – “US early stage VCs are lazy, and distance is a problem”. He went on to say that the investor’s greatest resource is time and if they are wanting to add value then the more cost/time it takes, that just leads to it being more effective to do it locally.

And there was more support among the VCs we met for a San Francisco location, with them saying things like – Every geography has lost mindshare to San Francisco, so being local is best. Ultimately the US is a giant market and to win there means you need to be there. The more specialized the market, the more important it is to be US-based. On the other hand, if you are building a consumer product for India, then perhaps the US is not so important. Generally, a C-corp in the US is the preference as it’s lower risk. If the company’s NZ-based, but prepared to flip to the US, relocating the founder/CEO and the sale team and leaving the R&D team in NZ, then that would be acceptable.

Some parting thoughts mixed with a bit of advice
So I’ll just say that I think the insight gained in our first tour engagement is pretty much spot-on when assessing what San Francisco VCs are looking for in their investments – known entities, with a solid team and culture, traction in a market with a massive opportunity, and preferably with the founder located or relocating to San Francisco. There are always exceptions, but I reckon that it’s likely much tougher going for those in the minority.

Kiwi founders need very big ambitions and to think global from the outset, then be open to making the move. They need a board that supports that, so be sure early investors are aligned with those ambitions. The brave ones who have gone before have proven and are still proving that San Francisco is where (most of) the action, and (most of) the capital, is.

VCs are generally looking for reasons to say “no” and 99% of interactions get that outcome. To stand out, in addition to getting to product market fit and building a meaningful customer base preferably in the US, founders need to be networked in, known in advance and publishing regular content. “Content is a honey-pot for VCs” – one said we’d be shocked at how much they read.

As a founder, be prepared to tell your personal story, in person, not in slides – “the authenticity of the moment you decided [to start your business] is very important. This is VC Candy”.

When at the point of taking on a VC, or any investor for that matter, ensure they have the same stomach for risk. In the words of Ling Wong, EHF Fellow and General Partner at Sealane, regarding risk appetite, “Past behavior is a great indicator of future behavior in that case. When things go bad, as they invariably will, then you want them to work through that with you.” So, be thorough in your VC due diligence before accepting capital into the company and know what sort of relationship you’re getting into.

Relationships are everything. Common sense really, but it is important to cultivate them, building interconnected and robust networks. These take time and effort to develop, but this is one of the most important things for a founder to be able to do. So, find ten founders that are one step ahead of where your company is at and engage with them. Their knowledge, insights and connections will help you to take that next leap – chances are each of them can introduce you to a whole bunch of VCs.

And finally, at yes, the end of page three – if anyone reading this has the opportunity to participate in a future delegation of this nature, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I’m guessing I won’t be allowed on the next one – but I’d certainly go again, given the chance. Thanks EHF and AANZ for a truly capital-ivating tour.

Words by Katherine Sandford
November 2019

Scott Gilmour named New Zealand Arch Angel 2019

Scott Gilmour has been awarded Angel Association New Zealand’s (AANZ) Arch Angel Award today at the 12th New Zealand Angel Summit in Christchurch.

Scott is an experienced high-tech company founder and director and an active Ice Angels member and former board member. In 2002 he founded the first I Have A Dream project outside the USA to help kiwi children.

The Arch Angel Award is the highest honour in New Zealand’s angel investment community, given to those who best exemplify the quintessential angel and who are champions for the endeavour making a significant difference to New Zealand’s start-up ecosystem. As well as their personal capital, Arch Angel recipients share their time, insights, deeply relevant skills and their networks with high growth start-up companies.

The recipient is chosen by the previous years’ winners.

Scott Gilmour has over 35 years experience in the high tech industry, including 12 years with Intel in the United States and New Zealand. He co-founded a successful enterprise software company in the United States in 1989, ABC Technologies Inc., which was sold to SAS in 2002. He served for seven years on the NZ Trade and Enterprise Beachheads Board. And has served as a director and investor in a number of New Zealand tech companies, including Jade, Nextspace, ResourceWare, ViFX and Winscribe.

In 2002 Scott founded and funded the first “I Have a Dream” project outside the United States to “inspire dreams and enable futures” for kiwi children who are living in material hardship.

As a super active angel investor, Scott has invested in over 60 ventures. He is a founding member of Auckland-based Ice Angels, having joined the network at its inception in 2003 and served on the board for four years between 2006 and 2010.

Current Angel Association Chair and fellow Ice Angel, John O’Hara, says Scott has been a lynch pin of New Zealand’s first formal angel network.

“As a founding member of Ice Angels, I doubt there are many, if any, other Ice Angels members who have been such passionate and committed champions of angel investment. Scott has personally introduced and “closed” more new Ice Angel members than any other I can think of,” he said.

Scott received his award at the 12th New Zealand Angel Summit, held at Pemberton in Christchurch and attended by 160 delegates. The annual event provides a hub for angels to learn and network, and is recognised as one of the world’s top angel events. This year’s summit is exploring what it is about scaling an angel-backed venture from New Zealand which gives it a unique comparative advantage when it comes to creating exponential value.

Former Arch Angel winners include The Warehouse founder and long-time angel investor Stephen Tindall; Andy Hamilton, chief executive of The Icehouse and member of IceAngels; US super angel Bill Payne; Movac venture capital firm founder, Phil McCaw; veteran angel investor Dr Ray Thomson; prolific AngelHQ member, Trevor Dickinson, former AANZ Chair, Marcel van den Assum, ardent angel investor, Debra Hall and champion for kiwi start-ups, Dave Moskovitz.

–Ends–

 

For more information, please contact:

Suse Reynolds, AANZ executive director
mob: 021 490 974 or email: [email protected]

John O’Hara, AANZ chair
mob: 021 040 3198 or email: [email protected]

The Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ)

The Angel Association is an organisation that aims to increase the quantity, quality and success of angel investments in New Zealand and in doing so create a greater pool of capital for innovative start-up companies. It was established in 2008 to bring together New Zealand angels and early-stage funds. AANZ currently has 40 members representing over 800 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. AANZ works closely with NZTE and Callaghan Innovation and a number of private sector partners including Jarden, PWC, Avid Legal, Baldwins, KiwiNet, Uniservices, Amazon Web Services, BNZ and BECA. For more, please visit: www.angelassociation.co.nz

 

Lead Partners

NZTE NZGCP PWC ATEED “NZX”

Expert Partner

AVID “Jarden”

AANZ Summit Sponsors

“UniServices” Kiwinet “AWS” “BNZ” “Momentum” “Hillfarrance” “Punakaiki” “MBIE” “GD1” “TompkinsWake” Callaghan Innovation