Angel investment rises 26% to reach record level

Startups in New Zealand received an unprecedented level of funding last year, with $86 million flowing into early-stage businesses across the country. That’s according to Startup Investment NZ, published by PwC New Zealand, the Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ) and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF).

“It’s exciting to see such a large number of deals coming through to support early-stage companies. We’re seeing investment levels that are almost three times what we saw just five years ago” said Anand Reddy, Partner at PwC New Zealand.

John O’Hara, AANZ Chair, endorsed this sentiment noting that membership of angel networks continues to grow with a new network established in Marlborough last year and a budding network getting started in the Hawkes Bay.

Established networks like Ice Angels in Auckland, AngelHQ in Wellington and Enterprise Angels in Tauranga are also experiencing growing memberships.

Driving the growth in investment dollars is an increasing number of larger deals in 2017, compared to the year before. The number of deals in 2017 held steady at 111 – one lower than the 12 months previous – the total amount invested has risen by $18 million, a 26% increase.

Offering some insight on the larger number of dollars being invested in a similar number of deals, John O’Hara suggested it reflected a maturing ecosystem.

“A number of the ventures angels have backed are now looking for larger capital injections to fuel their growth. With a thin VC industry, it’s not surprising we are seeing larger deal sizes.

John also offered a word of caution to investors and founders.

“The market’s a little frothy right now. We’re seeing some strong valuations. Entrepreneurs have to be sure they’re not setting the bar too high with their forecast results. If they fail to meet these, it’ll make it make it harder for them to get the next round of funding.

“And investors will be similarly impacted. Flat and down rounds do not impact well on portfolio return prospects.”

Click here to find out more about how the startup sector is evolving, and where it’s heading next.

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The network effect: NZ angel networks drive funding

Of the $86 million invested into young companies in 2017, over half ($49 million) came from angel investment networks, rather than individual funds or institutional investment.

“The strength of our angel investment networks in New Zealand is growing every day, which helps to explain why they’re responsible for a growing share of overall funding” says AANZ Chair John O’Hara.

“They’re responsible for over double the funding that’s coming through the next most-popular channel of angel funds.”

Raising funds from angel networks can take a little longer than other sources of early stage funding (such as mico-VCs and high networth individuals) given that sometimes over a dozen individual investors are collaborating to complete DD and gather the investment. Angel networks also tend to be run with a large component of voluntary input so founders and lead investors need to be committed project managers.

John notes that not only do networks tend to bring a larger pool of connections and expertise than single source funding options, they bring deeper reserves of connections for follow on funding.

“Angels are inveterate travellers and networkers and have connections in markets across the world which can be tapped for sales channels, in-market insights as well as follow on funding recommendations,” said John.

“Nothing beats getting on a plane with a line-up of carefully targeted meetings. New Zealand founders and investor directors need to spend more time in-market and be preparing for the founder to be based there,” John added.

He concluded by noting that lining up an in-market Board member was also an important component of scaling into offshore markets.

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Software the top sector for NZ angel investors

More than half the investment made in early stage companies in New Zealand last year was in the software and services space (53.8%), followed by 17% in technology hardware and equipment.

“Technology is increasingly the engine of growth for all companies, regardless of size” explains PWC’s Anand Reddy.

“It’s no surprise that it’s these areas where the most activity is happening and where angel and early-stage investors are putting their energy. This reflects global trends too. Data generated by Crunchbase notes that the software and services remains the dominant sector for investment.”

Speaking personally, John O’Hara said that his own portfolio leant towards software generated ventures.

“I am particularly proud of Ask Nicely, which produces software for NPS (net promoter score) collection and analysis. This company has already generated tangible returns for a number of the early angel investors. The company is now scaling into the US, with the founder moving to Portland, Oregon in the last couple of months.

“New Zealanders have a knack for practical problem solution and we are increasingly seeing them turn this knack into compelling business opportunities,” said O’Hara.

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2018 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards – Finalists Announced

A record number of people gathered across Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington today to hear the finalists in the 2018 NZ Hi-Tech Awards announced.

Entries this year have come in from right across the country and this is reflected in the line up of finalists this year, according to Jen Rutherford, Chair of the Hi-Tech Trust, who says the standard of entries is the highest ever seen in the history of the Awards.

“This year’s finalists span the full spectrum of the hi-tech sector and the country. For 2018 we have made a really big push to ensure even greater diversity across the board and it’s great to see so many areas of the country represented, as well as a huge increase in the number of finalists led by women. The number of finalists with female CEO’s has almost doubled year-on-year. Whilst we are not there yet, we are moving in the right direction. Our industry is truly in great shape,” says Rutherford

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Little Yellow Bird’s Samantha Jones on the garment industry and sustainability (listen)

Little Yellow Bird founder Samantha Jones phones in from Thailand to chat about her business, the impact of the garment industry on the environment and humans, sustainability, and more.

“As much as we wish we didn’t, we all have problems. Some may just shrug them off and accept them, others – like Samantha Jones – get up and do something about them.”

That’s what we at Idealog wrote about Little Yellow Bird founder Samantha Jones back in 2017. The winner of the Young New Zealand Innovator Award at the 2017 Innovation Awards – and not to mention a recipient of a prestigious Edmund Hillary Fellowship – Jones has been on a mission to change perceptions and prove you can do good, while still doing good business.

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Cash, crypto and crowdlending: meet New Zealand’s rising FinTech future

From a platform that helps you lend support to the Māori economy to a system that allows you to donate your transactions fees to charitable causes, this year’s cohort for the second ever Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator promises big things for the future of the country’s financial system.

Sharesies was built on a simple idea: to make investing more accessible for regular people to do. It officially launched with some tentative hype in June, but by the end of the year, it was boasting more than 7,500 users on its platform — not bad for a company still in beta mode.

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Angels Tell the Truth: What Makes a New Company Fundable

There’s more than $100 billion dollars currently being invested annually by venture capitalists, private equity firms and angel investors. Why do some businesses get a piece of the action and others don’t? It comes down to the fundability of the company.

Entrepreneurs may think they have a great business idea, but investors may not see it that way. To learn why, entrepreneurs need to look at their business from the investor’s point of view. Just like the founder, investors are looking for a match made in heaven – when both company founder and investor make money in the end and all live happily ever after.

As an experienced angel investor, managing partner and CEO of Sofia Fund, here’s my advice – consider this the ultimate primer on demystifying the angel world.

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BioLumic raises US$5M for UV crop enhancement system

BioLumic has raised US$5 million in funding to help deal with growing global demand for increased agricultural crop yields using short-duration ultra-violet treatments rather than genetic modification or chemicals.

The Palmerston North-based company, creator of the world’s first crop-yield enhancement system using UV light, attracted funding from Silicon Valley agritech investor Finistere Ventures, the Radicle Growth acceleration fund whose investors include Finistere, Rabobank’s recently-launched global Food & Agri Innovation Fund and existing investors from across New Zealand. Finistere has previously backed Israeli agritech company CropX, which licensed research from New Zealand’s Landcare Research.

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A Day in the Life: Josh Comrie

The portfolio life doesn’t choose you. You choose the portfolio life. And that’s what serial entrepreneur, angel investor and general over-achiever Josh Comrie has done. This is how he balances everything.

What time do you wake up?

I start the day at 5 or 5.30am, unless I retired after 11, in which case I’ll treat myself to a 6am sleep in.

Do you have any morning rituals?

Several! First, I make my bed. Fully. I’ve only recently appreciated how important this is:

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Major trends in agtech for 2018

The disruption over the last decade in the retail food value chain gained momentum in 2017 with the IPO of Blue Apron, and acquisitions such as Bai Brands ($1.7 billion), Sir Kensington Condiments and Whole Foods by Amazon ($13.7 billion). This wave of disruption is being paralleled in the agricultural value chain, driven by increasing land turnover and altered land use, renewed focus on sustainability and, as in retail, changing consumer preference.

A continued slump in commodity prices has seen “Big Ag” facing declining margins and prompted a wave of consolidation to get cost efficiency, as well as a search for new innovation over the last three years. As key products in seed and chemistry have come off patent, the change imperative for the Big 6 has only strengthened. Coincidentally, the agtech investment landscape has exploded over the last decade, from a niche, opportunistic clade of the venture capital investment class, to a legitimate asset class attracting focused and generalist funds with dedicated agtech investment allocations.

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Nyriad raises $8.5 million for GPU-based resilient storage arrays

Nyriad has raised $8.5 million in venture capital for its resilient storage systems that are accelerated using graphics processing units (GPUs). Those storage systems are built to handle problems such as the simultaneous removal or failure of 20 hard disks at the same time.

The Cambridge, New Zealand-based company has now raised more than $11 million to date for its Nsulate software for managing large-scale storage arrays in data centers. The company is targeting the release of its first product in the first quarter of 2018.

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Invert Robotics raises $6.4 mln from private investors

Christchurch-based robot maker Invert Robotics raised more than $6 million from private investors as it expands into Europe and branches out into other sectors.

The company first raised $740,000 through crowdfunding platform Equitise in May 2016 and has now raised $6.4 million from private investors from Australia and New Zealand, including former Macquarie Group chief Allan Moss. Powerhouse Ventures is still the robot maker’s biggest shareholder, with 23 percent of the company, according to Companies Office filings. The New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF) is the second largest with 14.5 percent followed by Guildford Investments with 5.3 percent.

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Upside Biotechnologies wins $409k research grant

Upside Biotechnologies, a regenerative tissue developer spun out of Auckland University, has won a $409,000 research grant to prepare its PelliCel product for a clinical trial and deepening its existing relationship with the US Army.

Auckland-based Upside, which raised $2.3 million last year, won the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) prototype acceleration award, it said in a statement. The biotech firm is developing an advanced skin replacement treatment for burn victims, enabling a small sample of unburnt skin to be grown in a lab and used as skin grafts for patients who don’t have enough uninjured skin for a conventional graft.

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New Zealand researchers developing non-addictive alternative to opioids as an anaesthetic

Kiwi researchers developing a new anaesthetic as an alternative to highly-addictive opioids have been given an $8 million boost.

The Medical Research Commercialisation Fund today announced an investment of $8 million in Series A funding to allow the developers to set up Kea Therapeutics Ltd, an early stage pharmaceutical company which is developing the drug.

Kea Therapeutics is a spin-off from the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre and Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Waikato Clinical Campus, University of Auckland.

The investment, the first from the fund for a New Zealand company, would allow the company to commercialise its substitute for strong opioids in a range of clinical scenarios from pre-hospital to post-surgical pain relief and sedation.

Medical Research Commercialisation Fund investment manager Duncan Mackintosh said non-opioid pain relief was urgently needed for the management of severe pain.

“Opioids have a range of unwanted side effects, are highly-addictive and are causing a global epidemic of dependency on this type of pain medication. Kea’s approach offers the potential for a safer alternative to opioids for the management of pain that is not addictive and could be used in a wider range of clinical settings.”
Anaesthetist, Professor Jamie Sleigh from the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Waikato Clinical Campus, recognised the need for non-opioid pain relief alternatives.

Working with medicinal chemist Distinguished Professor Bill Denny at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, they initiated an integrated drug discovery programme to develop a new drug which retained the positive, pain relieving features of ketamine, while removing significant side effects that limited its broader clinical use.

Denny said opioid tolerance and abuse was now such a huge problem, particularly in America, an alternative was needed.

About 15 per cent of patients were now tolerant to opioids because of previous abuse, he said.
Denny and Sleigh started working on the drug in 2010 after Sleigh suggested there must be a way to use ketamine as an anaesthetic without the nasty side effects which included hallucinations.

“The problem with ketamines, adults say it’s a terrible experience and they don’t want to use it again,” Denny said.

They had now developed an analog of it which would put people to sleep but allow them to wake up as soon as the infusion was stopped, with no psychosis.

The drug had been tested on rats with success and Denny hoped they would now be able to start clinical trials in about a year.

Evelyn Body, UniServices director of commercialisation for biotechnology and board member of Kea Therapeutics, said Kea Therapeutics wanted “to transform the pain relief industry with a much-needed, non-opioid approach” and the funding would help them get to clinical testing and then on to the global pharmaceutical market.

First published-NZ Herald 13th December 2017

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New Zealand’s Utility Electric Vehicle, UBCO, now on-road and offshore

After successfully raising NZ$4.20M earlier this year, including NZ$1.40M from US investors, Spring Capital and successful technology entrepreneurs Bob and Ethan Ralston, UBCO is now growing their global market both on- and off-road. The off-road market in North America alone is estimated at US$12.7bn (including both 2 and 4-wheel drive vehicles) and the on-road market is about US$6.21bn USD.

Over the last year funds have been spent on R&D, market development, marketing and operating costs. The results are looking good both in product and market outputs.

In May 2017 UBCO Bikes USA, LLC was established in Eugene, Oregon as a dedicated distributor of all Ubco products in the USA. Subsequently, a dealer network has been established across a number of US states, from Oregon to Mississippi, including BMW and John Deere dealership groups. With 120 units dispatched to the US to date, and a further 90 units on-order, the size and frequency of orders is increasing.

In Australia, UBCO appointed a national distributor that is focussed on rural agricultural equipment and there is already a 20′ container of 2018 2x2s being distributed across Australia.

The latest UBCO 2×2 is a road registerable Utility Electric Vehicle that is classified as a moped/scooter/motor-driven cycle globally and can be driven on-road with as little as a learner car driving license. The new model has been significantly upgraded with proprietary design, parts, and improved electrical integration it has improved strength, durability, ride comfort as well as higher performing motors and improved sealing.

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$1.75 million boost to new Kiwi company Thematic

Kiwi company Thematic has received additional $1.75 million in seed funding to add to its already impressive list of clients just six months after launching.

The company, which uses artificial intelligence to take the leg-work out of analysing survey data, was started by husband and wife team Alyona Medelyan and Nathan Holmberg.

They were recently accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive startup accelerator programmes, Y Combinator, where they had the opportunity to pitch their business plan to Silicon Valley’s biggest names.

The company today announced it had received $1.75m in seed funding, led by venture capital firm AirTree Ventures. The fledgling business also received an investment from Y Combinator as well as a number of individuals and San Francisco-based angel investors.

Thematic already has big-name customers in six countries including Vodafone, Air New Zealand, Stripe, Ableton and Manpower Group.

“The aim is to grow the business further globally. The business is investing in new engineering, sales and marketing staff to fuel its growth,” the company said in a statement.

The founders now want to set up an office in the United States and start hiring sales people.
Thematic specialises in analysis of “free text” responses to targeted questions, which are the hardest to analyse.

“Our technology helps businesses to understand what their customers are saying at scale. It’s one thing to collect an NPS [net promoter score], it’s a whole different ball game to deeply understand the specific issues and themes driving that score,” the statement said.

Thematic’s technology enables clients to take into account written customer feedback —
the part of the survey that actually told companies what they were doing right and wrong.

Medelyan has a PHD in natural language processing and machine learning, while her husband and business partner, Holmberg, quit his job as chief architect for leading music software company Serato once the couple realised the technology’s potential.

First published in NZ Herald – 29th November 2017

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Conscious Consumers raises $2m, sets sights on UK

In one of the biggest capital raises for a social enterprise in New Zealand ever, Conscious Consumers has attracted $2 million of investment for their upcoming launch into the United Kingdom. but what might it mean for the health of the industry?

Jamie Newth, from impact investment specialists Soul Capital, is a lead investor in the business, which connects ‘conscious’ consumers with ethical retailers. “It’s no surprise that this is one of the largest capital raises in history for a New Zealand social enterprise,” says Newth. “Internationally, ethical spending is on the rise, and home-grown companies like Conscious Consumers are well-placed to promote their product to a global audience. There has been a huge amount of interest from UK investors.”

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StartToday considers whether StretchSense fits

This has been a great year for validation of angel backed ventures. Angel investors in StretchSense are delighted with the traction this venture is getting.

StretchSense, a New Zealand-based wearable sensor manufacturer spun out from University of Auckland, revealed yesterday that it had agreed a call option to be acquired by e-commerce portal StartToday.

StartToday already owns a 39.9% stake in the spinout ad would pay $72m for the remaining shares.

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Waiheke Angel Summit Reflections

The best things about this year’s angel summit…

The annual summit always reinforces why angel investment is my thing.

Angel investors are unapologetically optimistic, creative, generous and ambitious. And our community cares… to their bone marrow, those involved in early stage investment care! These people are ambitious for the success of the founders and ventures they are working with and they are genuinely ambitious for New Zealand.

Kiwi early stage investors want to see the incredibly cool stuff we do in New Zealand get out to the world, they want to help create fabulous jobs in New Zealand, they want to contribute to raising our living standards and to the creation of role models for our budding entrepreneurs.

I came away super-chuffed about the real pride in our New Zealand-ness which imbued this year’s event. It really feels like we are at the tipping point of cracking serious success. New Zealand innovators and founders are absolutely worth backing.

And guess what? At the same time as we begin to acknowledge the real value of being kiwi, we get a bunch of proof points that kiwi founders and innovation really does deliver. The ventures angel investors have been helping to scale are becoming more and more appealing to others. This year Apple bought PowerbyProxi, US-based Clarivate bought Publons and UK-based Oxford Metrics bought IMeasureU.

Key themes at the summit which will help us continue to amp up the appeal and success of angel backed companies include:
• genuinely put the founder first – be empathetic, be accessible and be truly aligned;
• start with the end in mind and work unrelentingly towards it – together;
• know what it’s going to take to achieve liquidity – deeply understand your capital strategy and potential acquirers;
• actively manage your portfolio; and
• at all times focus on adding value.

In a future post I want to dig deeper into how angels best support founders to deliver the dreams they have to change the world. But to augment the take-outs from this year’s event I’ve extracted couple of quotes and insights from some of our keynote speakers.

Ian Taylor – Animation Research Limited
• Bugger the boxing, pour the concrete anyway
• Well it wasn’t a failure… it just didn’t work

Deb Hall – New Zealand ‘angeling’
• By the end of 2006, NZVIF recorded 55 deals and $30m of investment. By the end of 2016 nearly 1000 deals have been done, with $484m invested in nearly 200 companies.
• Over half the angel community spend more than a day week mentoring and supporting founders.

Phil McCaw and Andy Hamilton – what’s next
• Phil – “I see a bright future. As a country and a world we are going through a process of massive social change. The capitalist model is going to reshape and be reborn”
• Andy – “New Zealand will be way better off, the more angels we have.”

Bruno Bordignon – term sheets
• Context is everything. Always ask ‘how does this term or will this term apply to me/the stage of my venture/the sector it’s in/the growth plan I have/the liquidity plan I have.

Justin Milano – exponential mindsets and the triangle of founder expansion
• Shift anxiety and the need to control uncontrollable outcomes to selfless service and generosity. How am I being asked to serve today? There is always something you can do to add value.
• Shift from beating yourself up to a growth mind-set. Be kind to yourself. It’s all about learning, growing and embracing challenges.
• Shift from a head space of “I am my company” [or investment] and free yourself from self- importance. Acknowledge you are not your company [or investment] and instead accept that “this mission is bigger than me” and adopt a sense of humility.

Ron Weissman – the importance of capital strategy
• Don’t ignore the boring stuff like capital models and capital risks. These are the key to success.
• Key capital risks include: capital inefficiency, no follow-on investors, misaligned investors, larger liquidation preference shares, management carve outs.
• Only 15% of angel backed companies achieve an exit of greater than $US50m.

Dan Bernstein – building exit value
• Mistakes made when ventures are being bought: having only one buyer, there is internal company conflict, poor due diligence preparation, poor qualification and management of buyers, ego, greed and arrogance, maximising profit and minimising growth.

Richard Dellabarca – managing your portfolio for returns
• A lack of exits is unsustainable for the ecosystem. Capital needs to be recycled.
• SCIF2.0 will focus on returns, opportunities with a global thesis, reserving capital for those getting traction, up to $1.5m for top performers (vs $500k under SCIF1.0).
• Since 1 July 2017, SCIF2.0 has approved 59% of deals presented, with a higher approval rate for follow on deals and declines being notified within 2 weeks.

Sam Stubbs – more capital is coming
• Kiwisaver is a $42bn saving pool which will grow to $200bn by 2030.
• Kiwisaver providers want to invest in early stage but are not currently being provided with the right products and mechanisms to be able to do so.
• Bigger follow-on cheques are coming.

Arama Kukutai – corporate venture capital
• Agtech activity has more than doubled by value and volume since 2014.
• US venture capital accounts for 47% of world-wide capital invested in agtech startups.
• In the agtech sector, corporate venturing and collaboration with VCs is becoming increasingly common and more sophisticated to generate win/win outcomes.

Randy Komisar – why do this? investment motivations and M.O
• Is this the deal, are these founders and is this cause… worth failing for?
• Investing in startups is about people and value creation, not about buying low and selling high.
• Don’t emulate any other place on the planet, do your thing. Protect and promote what you have as New Zealanders.
• If you can plot success for a company, it’s probably wrong or not worth doing.
• Fighting for crumbs on the table is no way to get cake – a reference to niggling over terms.

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Genna Elvin – The Kiwi behind a ‘mini Google’ in Luxembourg

At just 28, Kiwi entrepreneur Genna Elvin has already co-founded a multimillion-dollar tech company and is working with Microsoft and Google.

Elvin and husband Francois Gaspard set up Tadaweb in 2010. Based in Luxembourg, the small data company specialises in human intelligence, providing customers with access to precise and constantly changing online information.

“In a world where everything is about big data, what we focus on is providing our users with a way to basically work with online information, teaching a computer how to interact with online information like a human,” Elvin says.

“We focus on getting better information through replicating the process humans do when they work with online information.”

Tadaweb’s offices are like Disneyland, Elvin says, inspired by Silicon Valley’s start-up culture.
“We invest heavily in a place where people want to be,” she says. “We’re really trying to disrupt our market and really build a technology that no one has ever built before.”

“We have everything from a giant inflatable gorilla, to ping-pong tables, a bar in the office and a giant gong. Each member of the team gets 50 euros when they arrive to make their desk look awesome.
“We’ve created a mini Google in Luxembourg, essentially, with our culture.”

Born on Waiheke Island and raised in the Hauraki Plains-Coromandel region, Elvin didn’t plan for a future in business. At Victoria University, she studied international relations and psychology.

“At that time I started to get involved with my first company, Sun Mana, which was installing solar panels in the Marshall Islands. It was a small project funded by the US government, and that sort of got me bitten by the entrepreneurial bug – although I didn’t know it at the time,” she says.

After graduating, Elvin began working for the New Zealand government in the area of high-risk immigration, receiving five promotions in a year, she says.

“It started off as a holiday job in the immigration department and I worked my way into the intelligence department.”

At 22, Elvin and then-boyfriend Gaspard moved to the other side of the world. “We both had amazing jobs and we decided that we just wanted to try and live in Europe for a few years,” she says.

They first touched down in Brussels, where Elvin did her Masters in international conflict and security, before moving to Luxembourg to start Tadaweb.

“While I was studying, my husband – who is Belgian and I met 10 years ago – had been working on the technology for years and years, and I actually found myself working more on the company than on my studies or my job put together, so we decided to move to the south of Belgium and start our company.”

In six years Tadaweb has grown to a team of 50, with developers from all around the world, and is set to employ another 100 by the end of next year, Elvin says.

The tech firm has received significant investment from some high-profile executives including the former head of mergers and acquisitions at Google Europe and a former head of investment at Goldman Sachs, among others, who are now on its board.

This year Elvin met Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and the world’s second richest man.
“It was very, very cool – it was a really rare opportunity,” she says.

“We were fortunate enough to be one of the companies to be selected to go over and present at Bill’s – Microsoft’s – biggest technology conference. It was cool to sort of have a Kiwi presence at that kind of event because there’s not many.”

Elvin was raised by her mother, a teacher who pushed her to work hard at school.
“I didn’t have a lot when I grew up, so I learnt the importance of making the best out of situations and finding innovative ways to make money,” she says. “Throughout my high school years I worked in a fish and chip shop and taught the saxophone to kids at my local primary school.”

Many years later, doing work for Microsoft is a dream come true. Elvin says she likes working with the tech giant as they share the same technical values.

“Nothing drives Microsoft more than tough technology challenges and that’s what gets myself and my team up each day,” she says. “We also highly value their dedication to making the world better and we have already embarked on joint projects with regards to tracking diseases such as dengue fever.”

As a Microsoft official technology partner, Tadaweb has access to its private technology. “We help them to make their technology better, and they help us to make our technology better.”

Her advice for start-ups hoping to partner with large industry players: “If you can provide really big technological challenges to companies like Microsoft and Google – challenge even them – then they’ll be super curious to get involved.”

Elvin is planning her return to New Zealand next year, and is hoping to set up an angel investment hub in the South Island, focusing on areas such as artificial intelligence and renewable energy.

“Our dream is to get into angel investing and try and build up a tech hub in New Zealand – bring back some of our knowledge that we’ve learnt in Europe and the Valley,” she says. “What I really want to do, particularly around the Tasman region or top of the South Island, is build a technology incubator and get young companies through acceleration that have worked in Europe and in America … and into investing and promoting New Zealand’s tech scene.”

Passionate about supporting women in tech, Elvin last year started a scholarship programme at Hauraki Plains College in Ngatea, Waikato – her old high school – to provide three years of funding for a young woman interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

“I got lots of scholarship funding when I was going through university so I wanted to give back,” she says.
“Basically, we created the Tada Female in STEM Scholarship which provides three years of funding – $2000 per year – to a young woman that doesn’t have a lot of economic resources, who wants to do science and technology at university.”

Long term, Elvin is unsure if she will sell Tadaweb or take the company public.
“We could potentially sell, we could IPO, or we could hand on the reins to someone else but we are definitely keen to come back to New Zealand,” she says.

“Tada is going to carry on one way or another but we’re definitely, within the next five years, coming home to build something in New Zealand.”

Last year Elvin featured in Forbes as one of Europe’s Top 100 Female Founders and was recently awarded the World Economic Forum’s Woman of the Decade in Business & Leadership Award.

Asked what she’s most proud of, Elvin says raising her son and a successful start-up at the same time. “Jack, my son, is almost the same age as my company and I have learnt so much from both motherhood and building a company.”
Elvin says people should use her as an example of what can be achieved, globally.

“I think that it’s important to reinforce that just because we [New Zealand] are young and maybe far away, that it’s not impossible to go to Europe or America and actually build something amazing.

“That uniqueness of being from so far away and from the kind of place that many people aren’t really sure of can actually be turned into something powerful.

“I’ve had the advantage of talking to the CEO of Microsoft, I’ve had the advantage of talking to some of London’s top VCs and sometimes you can either just be scared because people think you’re not capable, because you’re female, or from New Zealand, and you need to take that and blow them out of the water.”

Genna Elvin
• Age: 28
• Born: Waiheke Island
• Education: Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University, Masters in international conflict and security from University of Kent
• Last book read: Super Intelligence: Paths, Dangers and Strategies by Nick Bostrom
• Last family holiday: Sri Lanka

First Published NZ Herald – 18th November 2017

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Two New Angel Awards Announced

MIG Angels’ Dean Tilyard and PowerbyProxi recognised

In recognition of Angel Association New Zealand’s 10th Anniversary Summit two new awards have been announced to augment the Arch Angel Award which was first awarded in 2009 to Sir Stephen Tindall and yesterday awarded to Debra Hall.

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’.

The inaugural Puawaitanga Award has been presented to PowerbyProxi’s founder Fady Mishriki and investor-director, Movac partner David Beard. Movac were the first angel investors in the company after Fady and his business partner, Greg Cross founded the business in 2007 with the Icehouse becoming the first external shareholder joined in the following years by UniServices. Auckland-based IceAngels investors also contributed capital in later rounds alongside other investors including Evander Management. PowerbyProxi was recently acquired by Apple for an undisclosed sum.

In making the award, Angel Association Chair, Marcel van den Assum said Fady and Dave are shining examples of what great alignment can achieve.

“A consistent message in angel investment is the importance of founder and investor alignment. Both parties need to be committed to the same end-point.  This has clearly been the case with PowerbyProxi. From the outset, eight and a half years ago, both Fady and David were in sync on the end game; to generate stunning returns, financially for the investors and just as importantly for the New Zealand economy,” he said.

PowerbyProxi employs over 50 people and holds over 300 wireless charging related patents.

The first recipient of the Kotahitanga Award is MIG Angels founder, Dean Tilyard.

Dean founded MIG (Manawatu Investment Group) Angels in 2007. Since then the group has raised in excess of $20m for 19 technology based and largely agtech companies. Dean led the fund raising for two MIG Angels side-car funds, and oversees the investment committee to co-invest with MIG members. Dean was instrumental in the establishment of the Sprout Accelerator, which has 16 agtech alumni. Companies taking part in Sprout have gone on to triple their sales and raised $2m in funding. Dean was Treasurer of the Angel Association from its inception in 2008 until 2016.

“Dean is the kind of leader and influencer who has a tremendous impact on all those who work around him by leading powerfully and unobtrusively.”

“Dean has spent countless unpaid hours with founders and budding angels mentoring, encouraging and inspiring them all. He has also championed early stage investment to others on the periphery of angel investment; those whose support is vital to the successful growth of New Zealand’s startup ecosystem,” said Marcel.

–Ends–

For more information, please contact:

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

Marcel van den Assum, AANZ chair and 2015 Arch Angel
mob: 021 963 459 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 30 members representing over 700 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. Recent NZVIF data revealed angels have invested more than $NZ484m in over 928 deals and 296 companies in the last 10 years. AANZ works closely with NZTE and Callaghan Innovation and a number of private sector partners including NZX, First NZ Capital, PWC, Avid Legal, AJ Park, KiwiNet, Uniservices and Spark Ventures. For more, please visit: www.angelassociation.co.nz

 

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Debra Hall named New Zealand Arch Angel 2017

One of New Zealand’s most ardent angel investors, Debra Hall, has been awarded the Angel Association of New Zealand’s (AANZ) prestigious Arch Angel Award at the 10th Anniversary NZ Angel Summit on Waiheke Island.

The Arch Angel Award is the highest honour in New Zealand’s angel investment community, and recognises individuals who reflect the qualities of the best angel investors and who are champions for the endeavour.

The award recognises the significant amount of time and money angels contribute to startups and early-stage companies – and specifically to their founders and teams – to help them reach their potential while also recognising angels who make a significant difference to New Zealand’s startup ecosystem

Debra has made many investments in early-stage companies and been an investor director for a number of these ventures. She has held governance roles with Auckland-based IceAngels, the Angel Association itself and is currently an Advisory Board member for the first Chinese founded angel investment group, Zino Ventures. In 2015 Debra received IceAngels “William H Payne, Active Angel Award”.

AANZ Chair and 2015 Arch Angel recipient, Marcel van den Assum, says Debra imbues all the qualities of a top-notch angel.

“She is not only an active investor, contributing money and the deep expertise she has from scaling and selling her own market research company, but Debra also genuinely cares about the founders she backs, providing personal and practical advice which is a vital part of the more holistic role angel investors play,” he said.

Marcel, who worked with Debra during her time on the AANZ Council, said her contribution to the angel investment in New Zealand is marked.

“The passion and energy she brings is extraordinary, whether it’s developing and delivering a specialised course for aspiring directors of angel-backed companies, or on the boards of companies she’s backed, advising entrepreneurs, making deals happen by bringing people together or cajoling and gathering data on our community, Debra has made a very real impact and lifted the professionalism, profile and reputation of angel investment in New Zealand.”

Andy Hamilton, recipient of the 2011 award, has known Debra since she began angel investing in 2007 and said she had been a dedicated and invaluable member of IceAngels, renowned not just for her deal making capability but also for the lively dinners she and her husband Peter have hosted over the years for dozens of international visitors.

Interviewed in Startup Young Company Finance Report’s October 2016 edition, Debra noted that she and Peter had heard about IceAngels through a connection who knew Andy Hamilton and subsequently received an introduction to the group.

“In those days, from the outside, it looked to me like a secret society,” Debra said. She subsequently discovered that wasn’t the case – “all angels are very welcoming of new members and in fact eager to get new angels on board,” she said.

“Peter and I invest together and we only invest in companies we both agree on. We’ve taken small and big investments across a diverse range of companies – from technical manufacturing, to biotech, to software businesses.”

It was in this article that Debra set out why she is so passionate about the role good governance plays in the success of angel-backed companies.

“Governance is often seen as an inconvenience or intrusion by founders, however an effective board is actually critical to their success. With many of these companies, we’re dealing with a team that has never run a business before, so experienced directors are not just bringing classic governance to the table, they’re bringing their contacts, business experience and willingness to take on risks – often for minimal remuneration,” Debra pointed out.

Debra received her award at the 10th Anniversary NZ Angel Summit, held at Cable Bay Winery on Waiheke Island and attended by 150 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.

South African born, Debra was that country’s first female metallurgical engineer. After immigrating to New Zealand, her career changed tack when she took on a job for a market research company that allowed her to work from home. She found a passion for the sector, leading her to establish the market research company Research Solutions in 1992. It grew into one of the country’s leading market research consultancies, and was sold to global market research giant, Synovate in 2007. She chaired the New Zealand Marketing Association for a number of years.

Former Arch Angel winners also 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; veteran angel investor Dr Ray Thomson; prolific AngelHQ member, Trevor Dickinson and current AANZ Chair, Marcel van den Assum.

–Ends–

For more information, please contact:

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

 

Marcel van den Assum, AANZ chair and 2015 Arch Angel
mob: 021 963 459 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 30 members representing over 700 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. Recent NZVIF data revealed angels have invested more than $NZ484m in over 928 deals and 296 companies in the last 10 years. AANZ works closely with NZTE and Callaghan Innovation and a number of private sector partners including NZX, First NZ Capital, PWC, Avid Legal, AJ Park, KiwiNet, Uniservices and Spark Ventures. For more, please visit: www.angelassociation.co.nz

 

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Angel Investment Tracking Well – First Half Year Results

With the Angel Association to hold its 10th Anniversary Summit at the end of the week, first half year results show angels are investing at rates on a par with previous years and that the upwards trajectory of interest in the sector continues.

Reporting on the activity of its members tracked by the NZ Venture Investment Fund, Angel Association Chair Marcel van den Assum said $20.2m dollars was invested in 29 deals in the first six months of the year. Reflecting previous years, the split between new deals and follow-on funding was one third/two thirds.

Mr van den Assum went on to note that typically there is a substantial uplift in activity in the second half of the year.

“The level of deal flow being generated by accelerators such as Wellington’s Lightning Lab, the Manawatu’s Sprout and Auckland’s Flux together with the establishment of new networks this year such as Zino Ventures, Angel Investors Marlborough and Hawkes Bay Angels bodes well for another record year of investment,” said Mr van den Assum.

“When record keeping began in 2006, only 30 deals were done and $21m was invested. Annual investment has now exceeded $50m per annum for the last four years and grown by an average of $5m a year to reach nearly $70m in 2016,” he added.

“A decade into this endeavour it’s pleasing to see three angel-backed ventures deliver returns this year,” said Mr van den Assum.

PowerbyProxi was sold to Apple, Publons to US-based Clarivate and IMeasureU to UK-based Oxford Metrics.

This year’s 10th anniversary angel summit is being held back where it all started in 2007, on Waiheke Island. The focus will be on what is required to build on the success of the last decade which has seen almost $500m invested into nearly 1000 deals. Ten years ago there were just 4 angel networks with about 100 members. Today there are a dozen networks operating from Dunedin to Auckland with over 700 angels contributing capital, connections and expertise to about 100 ventures a year. All this activity has delivered hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of revenue for the country and is now beginning to generate the returns required to ensure the endeavour is sustainable.

–Ends–

For more information, please contact:

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

Marcel van den Assum, AANZ chair and 2015 Arch Angel
mob: 021 963 459 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 30 members representing over 700 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 NZX, First NZ Capital, PWC, Avid Legal, AJ Park, KiwiNet, Uniservices and Spark Ventures. For more, please visit: www.angelassociation.co.nz

 

New Zealand Venture Investment Fund
The New Zealand Venture Investment Fund invests with venture capital funds and alongside angel investors to support New Zealand technology companies with start-up and growth capital. The NZVIF was established by the New Zealand government in 2002 to build a vibrant early stage investment market in New Zealand. Recent NZVIF data revealed angels have invested more than $NZ484m in over 928 deals and 296 companies in the last 10 years. NZVIF has $245m of funds under management which are invested through two vehicles: the $195m Venture Capital Fund of funds and the $50m Seed Co-investment Fund. All investments are made either through privately managed venture capital funds, or alongside experienced angel investors. For more please visit: www.nzvif.co.nz.

 

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Idealog’s Guide to Tauranga: Follow the money

Businesses in Tauranga looking to scale up should count themselves lucky: the Bay of Plenty is one of the only regional centres in New Zealand with funding available for nearly every stage of business growth. There are three organisations on hand ready to help: early-stage investment provider Enterprise Angels, tech investor and incubator WNT Ventures and later-stage private equity provider Oriens Capital.

For companies in the early stages of investment, WNT Ventures is technology incubator that’s been put together to nurture innovative ideas nationwide. It’s currently on a five-year pilot trial receiving government support through Callaghan Innovation.

Read more

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Wherewolf sets course for US after raising $550K

Adventure tourism software developer Wherewolf is gearing up for a push into the US after securing $550,000 of angel investment.

The Queenstown-based firm plans to open an office in the States on the back of the over-subscribed funding from the Flying Kiwi Angels.

Co-founder Ben Calder, who has just returned from a month-long trip to America to look at office locations and talk to potential partners, said the investment will allow the company to increase functionality as well as increase sales in the northern hemisphere.

Read more

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Wherewolf sets course for US after raising $550K

Adventure tourism software developer Wherewolf is gearing up for a push into the US after securing $550,000 of angel investment.

The Queenstown-based firm plans to open an office in the States on the back of the over-subscribed funding from the Flying Kiwi Angels.

Co-founder Ben Calder, who has just returned from a month-long trip to America to look at office locations and talk to potential partners, said the investment will allow the company to increase functionality as well as increase sales in the northern hemisphere.

Read more

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$1m investments for Mount company DROPIT

A Mount Maunganui start-up is the talk of the investment community after eclipsing the previous investment record of New Zealand’s largest Angel investor group.

Enterprise Angels has pledged more than $1 million to DROPIT, on behalf of its investors.

This is the first time the membership-based investment facilitator has achieved the seven-figure mark with a software company.

Read more

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Idealog’s Guide to Tauranga: Follow the money

Businesses in Tauranga looking to scale up should count themselves lucky: the Bay of Plenty is one of the only regional centres in New Zealand with funding available for nearly every stage of business growth. There are three organisations on hand ready to help: early-stage investment provider Enterprise Angels, tech investor and incubator WNT Ventures and later-stage private equity provider Oriens Capital.

For companies in the early stages of investment, WNT Ventures is technology incubator that’s been put together to nurture innovative ideas nationwide. It’s currently on a five-year pilot trial receiving government support through Callaghan Innovation.

Read more

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Kiwi startup developing prospective musicians through gamification

New Zealand tech startup Melodics has raised US$1.2m in seed capital to take its instrument learning software to more aspiring musicians.

The company, founded by former Serato CEO Sam Gribben, has successfully closed its latest round of investment led by Berlin-based music firm Ableton AG, with support from US accelerator 500 Startups, New Zealand investment funds Tuhua Ventures and K1W1, and Alex Rigopulos, founder of music gaming studio Harmonix.

“Our innovative approach to music learning has already helped over 100,000 finger drummers around the world,” Gribben says.

Read more

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Lead Partners

NZTE NZVIF PWC

Expert Partner

AVID “FNZC.jpg”

AANZ Summit Sponsors

Callaghan Innovation “UniServices” Kiwinet “Spark”