How do you handle a founders break-up?

Co-founder splits are seldom discussed, but happen more often than you’d think. Flux Accelerator partner Barnaby Marshall shares what he’s learnt from his experiences managing a start-up portfolio and provide some insights into how to prepare for the worst (while still expecting the best).

The fact is, of 100 companies that the Icehouse has funded through our various investment entities since 2012, 35 percent of them have had a founder leave the company.

Most of those have left within the first two years of our investment. Some of these have been very messy, some have been more civil, but in all cases they have cost time and money: the two most precious resources for any startup. Add to that the emotional stress and you have a recipe to rock even the most resilient founders, and in some cases — almost be a lethal blow to the business.

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Fintech Startups Accelerate to Success

A step-change is taking place in New Zealands flourishing fintech sector, with participants in the second iteration of the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator highlighting a growing maturity, sophistication and global potential.9 May 2018
A step-change is taking place in New Zealand’s flourishing fintech sector, with participants in the second iteration of the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator highlighting a growing maturity, sophistication and global potential.

Graduates of the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator 2.0 will showcase their work at a Demo Day in Wellington on May 16. Ventures will first pitch to angel investors and early stage venture funds at an investor-only session, followed by presentations to New Zealand’s business and fintech community later in the evening.

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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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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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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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$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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Dave Moskovitz – Publons angel exit

Like so many in the startup and early stage investment community, the AANZ is delighted to congratulate the Publons founders and investors on the company’s recent acquisition by Clarivate. This outcome is an inspirational proof point that those sometimes elusive returns are actually achievable. Publons Chair and AngelHQ member, Dave Moskovitz writes about building strategic value and all those who were part of supporting the Publons team here.

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Kiwi research start-up sold to Clarivate Analytics

Wellington start-up Publons, which raised over $300,000 through accelerator Lightning Lab, has been acquired by Clarivate Analytics for an undisclosed sum.

The company aims to speed up research by bringing transparency, recognition, and training to peer review.
It has a community of more than 150,000 researchers who’ve added more than 800,000 reviews.

Publons also has partnerships with 26 of the top publishers in the world.

Publons co-founders Andrew Preston and Daniel Johnston started the company in 2012, taking it through Lightning Lab’s first accelerator programme in 2013.

Chairman Dave Moskovitz said the company had produced a significant return on investment, managing to grow quickly since its launch.

“Most companies would take maybe seven to 10 years to really turn into valuable companies so the fact that Publons were the first accelerator cohort in New Zealand and they’ve managed to turn around in four years is pretty amazing,” Moskovitz said.

“It’s a huge win for startups, their founders, and investors, as it validates that we can build companies of great value internationally from Wellington.

“There are a number of other companies that have come through accelerators so we can expect to see more great exits in years to come. This one happened particularly quickly.”

Clarivate said the acquisition would help address critical issues in the US$1.7 trillion ($2.4t) global research market, including fraud, lack of reproducibility in scientific research, inefficiencies and the ability to identify and understand top research.

The company has 14 staff including its co-founders, all of whom would continue to work for the business Moskovitz said.

First published in NZ Herald – 1st June 2017

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Movac Fund 4 reaches first close at $105 million

MEDIA RELEASE

Movac Fund 4 reaches first close at $105 million

Movac Fund 4 has raised $105 million to invest in the next generation of iconic Kiwi technology companies.

The Fund is underpinned by $75m in investment commitments from institutional investors including Ngāi Tahu Holdings, with the balance coming from the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, leading New Zealand family offices, community trusts, and private investors.

Movac Fund 4 will be investing in established New Zealand technology companies that are seeking capital to accelerate their growth.  These are companies with an established track-record of sales, a team in place to grow the business, and the ambition and potential to scale their business internationally.  This is a later stage fund than Movac’s previous funds.

Phil McCaw, Movac Managing Partner, commented: “We are really encouraged by the commitments from all of our investors, and in particular our new cornerstone investors who have recognised the significant investment opportunity that exists in the New Zealand technology sector right now.”

“Importantly, we have a strong pipeline of potential investments for Movac Fund 4.  We have already been meeting with and conducting due diligence on various opportunities, and are very impressed by the quality of the companies that we’re seeing.  We anticipate that we will make Fund 4’s first investments prior to Christmas.”

Ngāi Tahu Holdings Chief Executive, Mike Sang, commented: “Ngāi Tahu Holdings is excited about the addition of Movac Fund 4 to our portfolio.  We are looking forward to our new partnership with the Movac team and the added diversity the investment brings us from its focus on investing growth capital in the technology sector.”

Mr McCaw added: “As a team, we have 55 years of collective investment experience and we believe that we are uniquely placed to invest in and help accelerate New Zealand technology companies.  Our Fund 4 investors include a number of highly successful founders and business builders, experienced investors, as well as family offices and investment funds.  We also have a number of investor migrants investing in Fund 4.  We would like to thank them for their commitments, and look forward to working with them to grow the next wave of iconic Kiwi companies and delivering an outstanding investment return.”

Movac Fund 4 remains open for eligible investors until its final close in April 2017.

ENDS
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What does it take for agritech business to Sprout?

An agritech incubator is back for a second season of growing business ideas. But will they take root?
The problem is well-known: there are more people in the world than ever before, so there’s more need for food than ever before. But more people also means there’s less available land to grow that needed food. What is one to do?
That’s where agritech innovation accelerator Sprout comes in. Working with agritech startups from across New Zealand’s primary industries and boasting a bevy of big-name partners including BNZ, Callaghan Innovation, KPMG, Air New Zealand and Massey University and counting Fonterra as its supporters, the incubator has some serious firepower – or in this case, seeding power – behind it. Programme manager James Bell-Booth says it’s proof there’s a serious appetite for agritech ideas. “We have a lot happening around incubation and acceleration,” he explains. “We’re after ideas from the paddock to the plate.”
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R9 Accelerator Demo Day – 2 June

It would be great if NZ angels could get along to the R9 Demo Day to show our support for the large swathe of public servants in our community who are also aspiring to innovate and create ventures which are disruptive and scaleable….

We’re excited to announce that R9 Accelerator is having its second Demo Day on Thursday 2 June from 2:30pm – If you’re interested in attending please email Edd Brooksbank.

You’ll have the opportunity to invest in teams who are pitching their innovative solutions to improve public service for business customers, meet the teams and find out how they could help you. You will also hear what our panel of experts have to say and know why the R9 Accelerator is important to businesses across New Zealand.

Event details

  • Thursday, 2 June 2016, doors open at 2:30pm for a 3pm start
  • The Embassy Theatre, Kent Terrace, Wellington
  • Presentations will finish by 5:30pm with light refreshments and an opportunity to meet the teams from 5:30pm onwards

Any questions, please email Edd Brooksbank.

More information on R9 Accelerator

R9 Accelerator is a real life example of making it Better for Business when interacting with government. The teams are each working on an opportunity to make it better for businesses to interact with government.

The R9 Accelerator is led by the Result 9 Better for Business programme and delivered by Creative HQ to power better public services to business customers.

The R9 Accelerator brings together teams of entrepreneurs, developers, private sector specialists and government experts to work on projects to help solve major pain points for New Zealand businesses and reduce their effort in dealing with government.

The process takes just 14 weeks to generate a customer-validated prototype – ready for further investment. It takes a learn-as-you-go, fail fast approach to develop and test new products and services.
One of the teams – CoHelix. Dan, Nicole, and Alex are helping businesses be compliant by improving the fieldstaff services from regulatory agencies. Find out about the other teams and what they’re working on.

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R9 Accelerator Demo Day – 2 June

It would be great if NZ angels could get along to the R9 Demo Day to show our support for the large swathe of public servants in our community who are also aspiring to innovate and create ventures which are disruptive and scaleable….

We’re excited to announce that R9 Accelerator is having its second Demo Day on Thursday 2 June from 2:30pm – If you’re interested in attending please email Edd Brooksbank.

You’ll have the opportunity to invest in teams who are pitching their innovative solutions to improve public service for business customers, meet the teams and find out how they could help you. You will also hear what our panel of experts have to say and know why the R9 Accelerator is important to businesses across New Zealand.

Event details

  • Thursday, 2 June 2016, doors open at 2:30pm for a 3pm start
  • The Embassy Theatre, Kent Terrace, Wellington
  • Presentations will finish by 5:30pm with light refreshments and an opportunity to meet the teams from 5:30pm onwards

Any questions, please email Edd Brooksbank.

 

More information on R9 Accelerator

R9 Accelerator is a real life example of making it Better for Business when interacting with government. The teams are each working on an opportunity to make it better for businesses to interact with government.

The R9 Accelerator is led by the Result 9 Better for Business programme and delivered by Creative HQ to power better public services to business customers.

The R9 Accelerator brings together teams of entrepreneurs, developers, private sector specialists and government experts to work on projects to help solve major pain points for New Zealand businesses and reduce their effort in dealing with government.

The process takes just 14 weeks to generate a customer-validated prototype – ready for further investment. It takes a learn-as-you-go, fail fast approach to develop and test new products and services.
One of the teams – CoHelix. Dan, Nicole, and Alex are helping businesses be compliant by improving the fieldstaff services from regulatory agencies. Find out about the other teams and what they’re working on.

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Government earmarks $15m towards commercialising hi-tech developments

The Government’s $15 million investment into initiatives supporting Kiwi start-ups is a step in the right direction but there’s still more to be done, a Massey University economist says.

The Pre-Seed Accelerator fund is aimed at developing “cutting-edge” research into viable start-up businesses.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said hundreds of savvy hi-tech Kiwi companies were succeeding on the world stage.

“These programmes are all about filling the pipeline with the next generation of quality Kiwi start-ups.”

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Four weeks in: Feeling the pressure at the R9 start-up accelerator

Catherine Taylor from R9 Accelerator’s Tender Advantage team wants to enhance the success of companies doing business with the NZ Government. Here, she shares her experiences over the first four weeks of the R9 Accelerator.

We are at T-2 months to Demo Day.

This means we have just 8 weeks to focus on building a minimum viable product, testing it with the market (allowing enough time to pivot like Princess Odette in Swan Lake) and prepare our venture for Demo Day, the grand event, where we pitch to a large audience of qualified investors.

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In search of the next global agritech superstar

Angels should be looking forward to seeing what sort of ‘angel food’ Sprout, the recently announced agritech accelerator generates.

Business talent scouts are looking for a startup with the potential to be New Zealand’s next global agritech superstar.
Sprout, a national agritech business accelerator, is searching the country for eight budding entrepreneurs with embryonic agritech businesses for a new development programme.
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Publons pair get scientific publishing moving faster

Frustrated by the glacial pace of academic research, Daniel Johnston and Andrew Preston decided to propel scientific publishing into the 21st century.

“Everybody thinks of science as moving at a blistering pace, but it’s actually one of the most technologically challenged industries out there,” Johnston says.

Preston was working as a physicist in Boston when he and Johnston dreamed up Publons, an online platform for researchers and academics to review and discuss scholarly work and, for the first time in centuries, to earn credit for their efforts.

The idea won Publons $300,000 in startup funding via the 2013 Lightning Lab accelerator programme. According to Johnston, who earned a BA in history and political science from Victoria University, it takes 150 days on average to get a scientific paper published, with 120 of those days because of the peer review process.

Publons pair get scientific publishing moving faster – Business – NZ Herald News

“The way we publish and share research hasn’t really changed in the last 350 years.”

This slowness is caused by a lack of incentives for peer reviewers, he says.

“They don’t get recognition for their contribution, they don’t get paid and they don’t even get anything they can put on their CV, so this crucial part of science is seen more as a chore than anything else.”
Though Publons started off as a platform to discuss published research, this finding caused Johnston and Preston to switch Publons’ primary focus last year to incentivising peer reviewers before publication, bringing on board companies such as GitHub, Amazon Web Services and Makey Makey to sweeten the deal for participants with a rewards programme.
The concept is taking off, says Dave Moskovitz, a Wellington angel investor and one of the first investors to be attracted to Publons.
“The first 500 users took six months, we moved from 500 to 5000 in another eight months, while today Publons boasts nearly 35,000 researchers and 83,000 reviews.”
Moskovitz, a self-described failed PhD student, has watched Publons grow from its very early days three years ago, when Johnston and Preston attended one of his Lean Startup clinics in Wellington.

His own experience in academia showed the promise of the core idea and then when he saw the progress Johnston and Preston made during the 2013 Lightning Lab – where Moskovitz was helping as a mentor and evaluator – he decided to join the team. “I really like their approach to problem solving, to building a team and a market. This is going to democratise science to a degree.”

Johnston says the next big step for Publons is to set up a base in London where it can more easily establish partnerships with potential customers in scientific publishing and find industry investors.

The company’s capital raising, which stemmed from Lightning Lab, came from a number of sources, including the Government’s New Zealand Venture Investment Fund and several Wellington-based angels.

Johnston says it has helped build up the company’s team and rapidly increase its user base.

Publons pair get scientific publishing moving faster – Business – NZ Herald News

Produced in conjunction with the Angel Association of NZ.

As published in NZHerald 16 April 2015

 

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