Firm speeds data to cloud with help of Angel Investor

Jason Gleason and his business partner Nigel Thomas had that “eureka” moment for their company, Eight Wire, when they were working in the salt mines of IT consulting.

“The work we were doing was a very manual process. It was the IT equivalent to digging a ditch. It was frustrating,” Gleason says.

One data warehouse project they worked on required them to integrate data from 40 different sources, such as emails and different databases, with each feed requiring so many lines of code it was just one big error factory. As each information stream changed, so did the rules for sorting it, which meant a lot of very dull manual work, Gleason says.

So Thomas and Gleason left their “safe jobs” to build some technology to solve the problem and speed the integration of big data to the cloud. Less than two years and nearly half a million dollars later, Eight Wire is filling a vacuum in the cloud market.

“When we started we were surprised there was nothing like what we wanted to do out there. We saw startups that were raising tens of millions of dollars overseas for what were really just small, incremental changes to system integration. That was eye-opening,” Gleason says.

Thomas and Gleason have more than 35 years’ IT experience between them, spanning programming and management roles, where they oversaw teams of developers, but they knew they lacked the business acumen they would need as incipient entrepreneurs so they nurtured their idea at the Creative HQ business incubator in Wellington.

They attracted the attention of Wellington-based, tech-savvy (early stage) angel investor Darryl Lundy, the former chief financial officer of New Zealand tech success story GreenButton.

GreenButton specialised in high-performance cloud computing for clients which required huge amounts of data but didn’t want to invest in their own hardware. Lundy helped oversee GreenButton’s rise from rapid-growth startup to its acquisition by Microsoft in May last year.

“What these guys were doing was a similar story to GreenButton so I really liked what they were doing,” Lundy says.

Eight Wire helps companies move data, inexpensively, without the need to know how to code. It automates all the steps that once cost Gleason and Thomas hours of valuable time.

Tables of information are copied from old sources, moved to a database in the cloud and checked for common errors automatically in minutes instead of manually in hours.

Lundy said there were other tools available previously, but these were difficult to use, even for IT staff.

“Eight Wire is a simple solution for what doesn’t have to be a big problem.” Lundy has invested in about a dozen companies.

“Top of my list is to find good people who you think will take an idea and make a success out of it. Spend a good amount of time with them, ask them questions … and see how the process goes.”

Eight Wire secured $400,000 from a group of angel investors, including Lundy, last year. The capital will take the company through the next 12 months as Gleason and Thomas build up clients, attract system-integrator partners and establish an office in Dallas, Texas. The company has five employees and is expecting to appoint a sixth shortly.

Gleason says this year is about gaining traction in the US and Australia as well as NZ. “The capital we’ve raised allows us to finally press the gas on things. It’s very exciting.”

• Produced in conjunction with the Angel Association of New Zealand.

First published on nzherald.co.nz 19 February 2015

SmartShow app to enhance CeBIT

CeBIT, Australasia’s largest technology expo – taking place 05 – 07 May 2015 at Sydney Olympic Park – has contracted New Zealand-based SmartShow to provide its event apps via flagship product ShowGizmo.

“We’ve had event apps in previous years, but mobile technology is constantly evolving and the ShowGizmo app is an international market leader with an impressive feature set,” said Jan-Peter Lauchart, chief operating officer of Deutsche Messe, organisers of CeBIT Australia.

Read more on www.impactpub.com.au

Jones to head tech incubator

Former Seed Co-Investment Fund team member, Carl Jones is profiled in this story as he takes up the CEO role at WNT Tech Incubator in Tauranga putting the Enterprise Angels in the front seat to receive some high quality ‘angel food’ in the near future.

Carl Jones, a former Tauranga local with a strong track record in government-led venture capital investment, has relocated back from Auckland to take on the role of chief executive with new local technology business incubator WNT Ventures.

Mr Jones, who began his career with Craigs Investment Partners, was previously investment manager for the Government’s New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF). He also played a leading role in NZVIF’s Seed Co-investment Fund (SCIF), which provides matched investment alongside selected partners, including Tauranga early-stage investment group Enterprise Angels.

“Our partners are extremely important,” said Mr Jones, who took up his new role late last year. He noted WNT Ventures was a collaboration bringing together virtually all of the key early stage and technology investment entities in the region.

“The WNT Ventures structure is unusual, but the real selling point for me is to be able to walk into a Crown research institute or university and say, I have this really deep and wide network of not only people and capability, but experience and capital.
That’s really attractive to them.”

WNT Ventures was one of only three new technology incubators announced by the Government last year. It will access a repayable grant programme from Callaghan Innovation for start-up businesses based on locally developed intellectual property and novel technologies.

“There is a gap in the market I call where angels fear to tread, between post-research and where the angel investors get involved.”

While angel investors may like the look of a new technology, they usually required a degree of incubation to prepare it for commercialisation, he said. “We can leverage our internal funding and our Callaghan funding and take on the risk to help the people with the technology to get to the next stage where angels want to invest.”

He added WNT Venture’s ability to help new companies was greatly enhanced by the experience of its partners, as well as Enterprise Angels’ 150-plus members, who have invested almost $12 million in 37 early-stage deals to date.

The incubator had a goal of investing in four early stage technologies a year.

First published on nzherald.co.nz 12 February 2015

Leading angel set to impart wisdom

He’s been in NZ barely a week and John May is spreading the word about the power of angel investment. He’ll be in Tauranga this week and you can catch him in Wellington, Palmerston North and Christchurch over the next fortnight.

Tauranga investors interested in learning more about the angel investment space will get an opportunity later this month when American chair-emeritus of the Angel Capital Association John May visits the region.

“There are two ways of learning about angel investing ” by doing it and by hearing from people who have done it a lot,” said Bill Murphy, executive director of Enterprise Angels, the Bay of Plenty-based group which has become one of the largest and most active angel groups in New Zealand.

“Any of us who have been involved in EA for a while will tell you that the visits of people like Bill Payne and John Huston to EA have been critical in deepening our knowledge and making us better investors.”

The Angel Association of New Zealand is bringing Mr May out from the US.

Mr May has been at the forefront of the angel investor movement and is managing partner of the New Vantage Group, which has organised five angel investing organisations in Washington, D.C. placing funds into more than 50 companies.

In addition to having chaired the national US angel association, he is a lead instructor for the “Power of Angel Investing” seminars, a programme of the Angel Resource Institute.

He is also the co-author of two books, Every Business Needs an Angel and State of the Art: An Executive Briefing on Cutting-Edge Practices in American Angel Investing. Washingtonian Magazine named Mr May one of its 100 Tech Titans of DC, and he was awarded the Hans Severiens Award for the contributions to the angel investing industry at the Angel Capital Association Summit in San Francisco in 2010.

Currently, Mr May is active in cross-border angel investing and developing angel investment ecosystems in emerging markets.

He will speak at three events in Tauranga:

-A networking event from 5pm to 7pm on Thursday, 19 February, hosted by Enterprise Angels and Priority One, at the Ignition co-working space, Ground Floor, Rydal House, Grey Street.

-A half day workshop from 9am to 12pm on Monday, 23 February, at the BaseStation, Durham Street, hosted by Enterprise Angels

-An “angel at my table” event at Tauranga Art Gallery at 5pm on the Monday.

First published on nzherald.co.nz 12 February 2015

Angel behaviour – what should we expect?

Growing the business of angel investment in New Zealand is largely a result of “member get member” referrals. This is true when it comes to attracting new members to the networks and it’s true when it comes to sourcing new investors for our early stage funds.

So as we head into a new year, with lots of exciting opportunities looking for our support, a reminder about the standards of behaviour we should we expect of each other seemed a good idea.

A year or so ago, the Angel Association’s members wrote a Code of Conduct which sets out these standards.

Our values

We agreed the following values are important to us:

  • To be passionately ambitious for angel ventures,
  • To be collaborative and collegial, and
  • To act with integrity and honesty.

Our expectations of behaviour

These values are reflected in how we should behave.

One of the most fundamental components of success in the angel world is speed. So we have made it clear that communicating quickly and clearly is vital.

We also put great store on ‘doing what you say you are going to do’; keeping promises and commitments. If you commit to invest or offer to make an introduction – do it. If said you would sign a document – do it. Of course this isn’t always possible – we all know “life” happens – so if something does get in the way of you doing what you said you would, communicate!

Integrity is everything in angel investment which is why we highlighted respecting confidentiality and disclosing conflicts of interest.

We also expect professionalism. Dealing professionally with each other sets the standards we expect of the ventures we invest in as they grow into world-beating enterprises. Time and energy can be scarce resources in angel investment. This can make it challenging to operate at the levels of professionalism we are used to in other parts of our lives. It’s nevertheless important to ensure timely reporting, compliance with relevant legislation and good businesses practice.

So these are the principles which serve as the foundation for our dealings with each other and are the standards others working with us – incubators, accelerators and professional service providers -should expect.

What does this look like in practice?

The deals

Founders seeking angel investment should know that our members are looking for a credible entrepreneur with aspirations to grow an international business with a well defined product, customer and market. Founders should expect prompt, objective and constructive guidance from our members, whether or not they ultimately secure capital.

Doing the deal – syndicating, due diligence and closing

Any deal approved for presentation by one of our members will meet required standards of presentation in terms of content and performance to pitch to any of our investors. And if other AANZ members are approached to take part in that deal, they have made it clear they will do their best to disseminate that opportunity as quickly as possible. In fact if a deal has been approved for presentation by one of our members, it can only be declined for presenting to another of our members if it lacks alignment with their investor’s preferences or their fund’s portfolio strategy, but not for lack of investment readiness.

We all know the quality of due diligence has an impact on the success of a venture so our members support the use of DD checklists. We recognize the balance to be struck between thoroughness and timeliness. Our Code of Conduct notes that all investors must make their own assessment of any deal and we make it clear no one should place any reliance on satisfactory completion of DD by one of our members as a sign of the ability or future success of a venture and nor does anyone relying on any  member’s due diligence report have any recourse against that members.

Finally, once the screeds of documentation are completed we expect angels to respond to any final communication as quickly as possible and do their very best to secure relevant signatures.

Industry promotion

The world needs more angels so the last word in our Code of Conduct encourages our members to be “ev-angel-ists” for the space. You can expect our support if you need any help spreading the word about the benefits of angel investment. Do let us know if there is anything we can do!

Suse Reynolds

Executive Director

The touch of an angel

Angel investors are often an entrepreneur’s first port of call for capital. But what’s it like dealing with angels? Is it more halos or hassle? NZBusiness sat in on the Angel Investor Summit where entrepreneurs shared their highs and lows.

Scantily-clad forms don’t tend to dominate investment gatherings. So perhaps it wasn’t surprising that there was a palpable feeling of renewed interest when Kiwi entrepreneur Paul Cameron flicked up a slide of a rather beautiful female ‘angel’ at the recent Angel Investor Summit in Auckland.

“We really like angels. They are beautiful people. And this is what I think about when I think about my angels,” Cameron said to howls of laughter from the mainly male, mainly older and mainly well-to-do and (thankfully) fully dressed audience.

Cameron says he likes his angels for a number of reasons outside the cash they bring. Key for him has been the support they’ve given him and his business, Booktrack.

Booktrack’s patented technology lets anyone add a synchronized movie-style soundtrack, including sound effects, to an e-book or other digital content, with the audio paced to the reader’s own reading speed. The idea dates back to 2009, but it wasn’t until 2011 that Cameron sought help and capital. Since then, Booktrack has raised more than $2 million from early stage investors including Sparkbox, The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall’s K1W1, Kiwi entrepreneur Derek Handley and US tech entrepreneur and investor (and self-proclaimed Kiwiphile) Peter Thiel.

Quoting boxer Mike Tyson, Cameron says “Everyone has a plan until you are punched in the face,” and that’s what it’s like for entrepreneurs; things often don’t go to plan. When that happens you need to know there’s support there; that someone is guarding your back, he says.

Right from the beginning Sparkbox’s Greg Sitters has always been there for him, with almost daily contact at the beginning of his angel journey, he says. “It had been eleven months. It was 9.30 at night and my phone rang. It was Greg and he goes ‘How you going?’, and I reply ‘Good, what’s going on?’ He says ‘Nothing, I just haven’t heard from you so I was just checking in that everything was all right’.

“It was the first time in months we hadn’t actually touched base for more than 24 hours,” Cameron laughs.

But knowing that sort of support is there when you’re trying to build up a business and trying to raise capital is invaluable, he says.

Another thing angels bring to the table is connections and networks, says Cameron. When Kiwi entrepreneur Derek Handley sold his successful mobile marketing company, The Hyperfactory, a friend suggested he get in touch with him. Cameron went to Sitters and asked if he knew Handley. He did, and a meeting was arranged. Soon Handley was an investor and had arranged for Cameron to go to Silicon Valley to meet some members of his own network. These introductions led to Cameron netting Thiel as an investor and the rest, as they say, is history.

Antony Dixon, founder of super slimline radio frequency identification product manufacturer Times-7, says without his Kiwi angels’ encouragement and networks, he’d have never have got on a plane and met, let alone landed, his current Silicon Valley partners.

Similarly Marie-Claire Andrews, co-founder and CEO of smartphone event app ShowGizmo, says connections are vital, especially when you head off overseas. But it’s not just connections for sales or investment that are important, she says: “It can be connections for anything: a place to sleep; a desk.”

Another big plus is just the belief angels bring to an entrepreneur, says Cameron. “When someone says they want to invest in your business, as an entrepreneur you feel 100ft tall; like you can take on the whole world. It gives you amazing self-belief and the motivation to go an extra 200 percent when you’re already giving it 100 percent.

“That’s probably my favourite part of working with the angels; that belief they give us and how they bring that to the whole entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Andrews was also upbeat about her angel experience, even highlighting how important the frequent pitches were to both testing and honing her business strategy and as an important dress rehearsal for getting sales. “Practising pitching is practising selling… and that’s what we have to do every day as entrepreneurs.”

But the downside of all this relationship-building is the time involved for what is often not a lot of capital at the end of the day, she says. “It’s been the time pressure that’s been the hardest for us; the involved time, my time.” Every pitch is different and it differs between angel groups, but angels should streamline their processes more and be far more transparent about what’s happening and how as an entrepreneur you’re doing, so there’s no time wasted just wondering what’s going on, she says.

After three years, ShowGizmo has netted just under a million in external investor capital, compared with US$40 million raised by the company’s biggest competitor in the US, says Andrews. “Our last round was a simple just under $100,000 top-up for a specific reason. Admittedly it only took three months, but it still took about 80 hours of my time.”

Mind the time

John Huston, founder of one of North America’s largest Angel Groups, the Ohio Tech Angel Fund and a key note speaker at the 2014 Angel Summit, says the only constant entrepreneurs have is 168: the number of hours in a week.

“The most successful entrepreneurs are those who use those 168 hours most effectively.

“Angel groups who squander the time of entrepreneurs are not just unkind, they are evil,” he laughs. Investors need to get wise about “harmonising the size of their cheque with how much time they are going to take,” he says. “It just drives these folk crazy when they have to spend as much time with some $10,000 cheque writer as they do with someone who ran a $1 million round.”

The process to actually getting capital is really, really hard, admits Rachel Lacy, founder and director of Drikolor, which plans to revolutionise the paint market by introducing dry pigments that can be mixed by anyone. “It’s dating and we just want to get married.”

To improve the process Cameron says some angel groups need to realise it’s okay to say “no”. There’s nothing worse than having a great meeting, a seemingly great pitch and then never hearing anything again, he says.

“We’re feedback junkies,” agrees Andrews. “We need to know why.”

Comments like, “we did not invest because it’s not right for us at this time,” mean nothing, says Cameron. “Tell us if it’s because we look funny. It’s even best to say it in the meeting so we don’t waste any more time.”

Lacy says now there are more angel groups in New Zealand, they should be a little smarter about matching investors to companies and their founders – as you can’t, and you shouldn’t even try, to separate one from the other. “It would be really good if I didn’t have to endlessly pitch to people who just want to invest in the next Facebook.

“Starting up is hard enough, so you want as much investment alignment as you can. You want a group of angels to invest who understand and are interested in your space; and share a similar business philosophy as that will affect how your company develops. You can’t retrofit culture.”

Know the business

Understanding their space better was a common grumble among the entrepreneurs who shared their experiences. Andrews says it was still early days in the smartphone revolution when she started out, but she was a little shocked and dismayed when one potential investor asked not about the markets she was heading into, her financials or her team, but simply, how they could get her app on their phone.

Cameron says if investors want to be involved in tech companies they should learn more about it and the best way to do that was to actually start using it. “Go buy a smart watch and use it; go for a run and measure your heart beat online; start tweeting; just do it.”

It amazes him when some investors say they want to help him develop his company. “But hey, you have to get your kids to help teach you how to use your phone, so why do you think you know anything about the consumer Internet.”

Investors should ask themselves how relevant their experience really is, he says. “It doesn’t mean they can’t help with the strategy, but they need to recognise their own limitations.”

That said new entrepreneurs do need a lot of education, says Cameron. Even the terms investors use are like a foreign language.

Lacy says it would be useful if investors forced entrepreneurs to do a five-day Institute of Directors course on what your responsibilities as a board director actually are after they invest.

As to boards, it’s really vital you get the right people on your board at the right time, she says, and just because someone invests in your company, it doesn’t mean they should have a board seat.

“We have a fantastic first board with loads of sales and marketing experience, which is brilliant; it was just 18 months too early.”

Today Lacy’s company Drikolor has finally caught up to her board’s experience and she says she wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the angel investment route to other budding entrepreneurs.

“If you get the right mix, it’s phenomenal.” After all, without the angels, their knowhow, their connections and their cash, we wouldn’t be here, she says. “But obviously the reverse is true as well.”

First published on nzbusiness.co.nz 29 January 2015

More wonderful validation for angel-backed ShowGizmo rocking the event app space

A Wellington company’s “virtual goody bag” will be part of the actual goody bag at Australasia’s largest technology expo in May this year.

With more than 20,000 visitors from 30 countries expected to attend CeBIT in Sydney, SmartShow is gearing up for the next phase of expansion.

Read more

Web design aid catapults students from Dunedin to Silicon Valley

George Phillips and Mike Neumegen were a couple of Dunedin uni students when their part-time work as freelance web designers led them to hit on a business idea.

Less than two years later that idea has taken them to Silicon Valley, garnered them customers in Europe and the US and been backed by big-name Kiwi investors like Trade Me founder Sam Morgan.

It’s been a wild ride for the pair behind Cloud Cannon, a software company whose solution is aimed at making life simpler for web designers by automating some of their backend work.

“I still have moments where I’ll sit back and listen to one of my team talking about why we should be doing something, and how it fits with the company’s philosophies, and I’m like, ‘Holy crap, this isn’t two guys just making something in their bedroom anymore’,” Neumegen says.

Phillips and Neumegen were computer science students at Otago University and freelancing for local companies in their spare time when they first hit the pain point their company Cloud Cannon aims to soothe.
As designers their brief was to come up with a web design for clients, get sign-off on it, then create the site itself. At that point clients were thinking the job was done, but in reality the designers then had to spend hours on back-end coding and other work that would then allow the client to edit the site themselves.

The pair began spending their evenings working on a solution. Their initial project looked at solving the core issue, but also aimed to address a whole host of web designers’ needs. But the solution ended up being bloated and unusable, says Neumegen.

They scrapped all their code and started over.

The pair launched a pared-back and far more defined solution. After a handful of people started using it, they got a lucky break, featuring in tech industry blog TechCrunch.

“Startup entrepreneurs would chew their own arm off to get on TechCrunch and we just randomly happened to get covered by it,” Neumegen says. “Out of that we got a lot of traction, and a few months later we put in a business model, started charging and found people were willing to pay for it.” Early last year, Cloud Cannon was among the companies accepted into the Lightning Lab digital accelerator in Wellington. While there the pair met John Holt, managing director of the Kiwi Landing Pad – the government-funded base for Kiwi tech companies in the US. Holt sensed their potential and organised funding through New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to put Neumegen on a plane to Silicon Valley to fast-track networking.

Neumegen returned to New Zealand in time to prepare for Demo Day – the penultimate event in each Lightning Lab intake where companies pitch for investment. Cloud Cannon ended up gaining $650,000 from 16 investors including Sam Morgan, Datacom deputy chairman Simon Holdsworth and early stage investment company Movac’s managing partner Phil McCaw.

Among the investors was Laura Reitel, the former manager of the more well-known TechStars digital accelerator in Boulder Colorado, who later mentored Neumegen and Phillips at Lightning Lab.

“The funny thing is I’ve never made an investment before,” Reitel says. “But I found myself thinking, ‘If I’m ever going to bet on any team it’s a team like theirs’. I’ve seen a lot of investment activity and I’ve seen a lot of teams, and you always bet on people who you know you can work with and who really pour their heart and soul and energy into a venture.” Reitel says the ever-increasing number of websites being created annually means Cloud Cannon is in a fast-growing market.

“And there’s real demand for tools that help make websites more beautiful and easy and intuitive to use.” The investment has allowed the company to grow to a team of four and for Neumegen to spend six months in the company’s primary markets of Europe and the US.

Growing the number of freelance web designers using its software has been the main focus of the company in recent months. Connecting with those prospects has been made easier because web designers tend to be well-connected and vocal in online communities, Neumegen says.

Another opportunity the company is now pursuing is the enterprise market, and they’re currently talking to some large organisations about how they might use Cloud Cannon’s solution.

“Enterprises have a lot of websites they’re managing and they need non-technical teams to be able to update those websites. That’s not something we had really thought of, but once we started looking at it we realised we could solve some big problems for some very big companies,” Neumegen says. “And that’s a great feeling.”

First published on nzherald.co.nz 22 January 2015

Angels fund expansion by Vocado

Vocado is using its latest round of $600,000 in angel financing to boost its sales and marketing capabilities and ensure it can meet the supply needs of the biggest global fast-food chains, say the Tauranga-based company’s directors.

Vocado has developed a proprietary method of processing avocados into pulp for use in guacamole and other food products. The method allows the refrigerated pulp to have a longer usable life.

After building up domestic sales, Vocado was now close to securing one of the biggest international fast food companies as a client, following a rigorous audit process, said director and shareholder Andrew Darling. The company cannot be named because of a non-disclosure agreement.

“We’ve established sales, the factory is operating and the base of the business is there,” said Mr Darling. “We’re growing new sales and to do that we need to invest in our sales and marketing capability.”

The new funding would go in the first instance towards recruiting a general manager and build up stocks to ensure the company was well-placed to supply bigger clients.
Company founder and managing director Collin Elder, who developed the processing technology, said the business had built up the capacity to secure local fast food franchise and other food service industry clients. “With these big global fast food groups, it takes a lot to get them, and it’s a big drama for them to change, so once they change they are reluctant to move. They live in a world of needing to know the supply lines are in place.”

That meant Vocado had to be able to compete on every level to win global clients, he said, and not just on price and taste, though that was essential. “They need to be assured that we can give them security of supply.”

Vocado uses a mechanical production process that aims to get the avocado pulp into an oxygen-free environment as soon as possible so that the fruit doesn’t brown. Competitors mostly use a system called High Pressure Processing (HPP), said Enterprises Angels executive director Bill Murphy, who is on Vocado’s board.

Mr Murphy said Vocado’s process was more efficient than HPP, did not require millions of dollars in equipment, and resulted in a product that lasted longer and stayed fresher.

“Collin is a smart Kiwi who was determined to find a new solution,” said Mr Murphy.

Mr Elder said all the companies Vocado had approached had given them an opportunity to compete. As well as domestic clients, the company had also now begun to pick up some export work, shipping five containers to Australia this year.

Mr Darling, whose own company Just Avocados grows and packs avocados, said Vocado was in a hugely exciting category internationally.

First published on nzherald.co.nz on 23 December 2014

Kiwi entrepreneurs investing back

In this terrific story we see ‘proof positive’ that angels truly deserve their title. They are not only champions for the incredibly inspirational products and services New Zealanders are creating but real engines for economic growth and job creation. Seriously awesome!

 

They’ve been there, they’ve done it, and now the likes of Sam Morgan are backing a new generation of Kiwi entrepreneurs to build thriving businesses.

The idea of success begetting success is one of the strongest themes in this year’s Deloitte Fast 50, which features a number of startups that have either been launched or backed by individuals who have already enjoyed a taste of success.

Read more

Giant accolade for miniature apple developers

Another angel backed venture gets international recognition for innovation. Rocket apples are now being sold in over half a dozen international markets. Doing exactly what angel ventures should do! Congrats to Enterprise Angels investors.

The Rockit apple, an export success largely funded by Tauranga Enterprise Angels investors, has scored an international award.

It won the New Zealand-Taiwan Business Excellence Award in Taipei last week.

Phil Alison, managing director of Hawkes Bay-based Havelock North Fruit Company (HNFC), which grows and markets the Rockit, attended the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.

Board members Steve Saunders, Murray Denyer and Rob Craig were also present.

“This is a fantastic achievement for us, as we continue to grow our global markets,” said Mr Alison.

The Rockit apple is a miniature apple – slightly bigger than a golf ball, which was created in Hawke’s Bay. It is uniquely marketed in a branded clear plastic tube aimed at the high-end convenience food market.

The awards recognise Australian, New Zealand and Taiwanese companies that have made a significant contribution to the bilateral business relationships among the three countries. The judges noted HNFC’s innovation in positioning Rockit as a premium brand snack food and its outstanding 700 per cent year-on-year growth.

“It is nice to get recognition along the way, as it is hard work establishing a truly global brand,” said Mr Alison.

Mr Saunders, who heads Tauranga-based Plus Group, said the award reinforced the importance of strong international relationships.

“We were particularly proud to celebrate this event with our Taiwanese partners.

“It was also great to see a company which has been backed by Tauranga investors through Enterprise Angels been recognised internationally.”

The fruit is now being sold domestically and in the US, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the UK, with more international markets being opened up as new production comes on stream.

HNFC worked with Plant and Food Research and Hawke’s Bay company Prevar, to develop the apple.

The company has 79ha under cultivation with a further 55ha planned.

“We’re growing the apple to bigger production levels,” said Mr Alison.

First published on nzherald.co.nz on 2 December 2014

Build to sell

Tom McKaskill has some pithy advice for angel investors and angel backed companies in the article. He encourages us to build ventures that acquirers can exploit quickly on a global basis.

Australian-born entrepreneur and angel investor Tom McKaskill drifted into business from academia and consultancy after spotting a software for small business need in the UK. Pioneer Computer Systems went from three people in Tom’s dining room to more than 160 staff in just 12 years, before being sold.

A few more companies, investment deals and exits later Tom returned to Australia to take up the post of Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (AGSE) in Melbourne. Today he’s a member of several Australian angel investment groups, a successful author and recognised authority on exit strategies.
Lesley Springall caught up with him at the 2014 Angel Association Summit in Auckland to learn how it all started and what’s key to selling your business successfully.
NZB: What’s it like being an entrepreneur?
Tom: It’s a roller-coaster ride. Some days you’re close to bankruptcy, others you’re awash with money. But it’s never really about the money; it’s about achieving something and making a difference. It was a great ride, but after 12 years with Pioneer we were exhausted. So we sold the business to a company in Atlanta, which I then worked for over three years, before doing it all again.
NZB: Why do it all again?
Tom: Because we realised we could do a much better job. We had the experience, the money and the marketplace and we knew what we were doing. Also next time around you understand how to manage risks, people, and deals better. It’s just experience. You get better at it, so it’s an easier ride. We also built the company for sale, so it was even more successful.
NZB: What triggered your focus on exits and writing books on exits?
Tom: It was after I went back to academia. I shared the stories of the different exits I’d done and the students would say, “but Tom you were in the software business in the ‘90s when people paid for high-priced exits”. I had four exits over a dozen years and we did sell very successfully even when England was in recession, but I thought I should do some research. When I looked into it I realised there were no academic publications on privately-held exits, so I started thinking about why my exits were successful and differed to others. I built a theory around strategic value and strategic exits, which occurs when a smaller company is purchased by a large corporation for a value which incorporates what the corporation is going to do with your business – so valuing the company on its potential worth to the purchaser.
But to do this you have to deliver high competitive value, rapid scalability and final distribution channels, so the corporation buying you has at least two years where it can exploit your product rapidly. It you understand this; understand how that value is created and who would buy your business, you can build a business to offer that value from day one.
NZB: Do most entrepreneurs consider their potential strategic value when setting up?
Tom: No, because they don’t understand it. The trouble is when people look at eBay, Cisco, Yahoo and Google, who made hundreds of millions and billions of dollars in exits, people say “gee they were lucky.” But if you put hundreds of these exits together you realise they were actually very sensible investments because the investors bought something that could be quickly exploited on a global basis.
Creating strategic value is an education process for everyone in the investment ecosystem. Whether angel (early stage investor) or entrepreneur – both have to learn
how to create businesses for exit. Then everybody wins.
NZB: What’s the most common mistake entrepreneurs make?
Tom: They rush in where angels fear to tread; partly because they don’t have the education; the good theoretical knowledge to see where the dangers are and what they should avoid. They are also too reluctant to ask for advice. There are lots of people out there who will give you free advice and it’s worth talking to lots of people, because that’s probably one of the best ways to avoid most mistakes.
NZB: What’s the biggest reason companies are successful?
Tom: Eighty percent comes from where they started. If you’ve got a good idea, which has great potential, your chances of surviving, learning as you go and getting to the point where you’ve learnt enough to grow and survive is pretty good. The other 20 percent comes from getting a good education and getting good advice from the people around you.
Every day I listen to business ideas and I tell 80 percent to just forget it: you’ve got no competitive advantage; you’re in a low growth sector; your markets are too small; it’s a cost-based business where everyone is driving costs down. Once you understand what creates value, what creates growth and what creates resilience and sustainability you can look at an idea and go forget it. Trouble is too many get too far into it and get committed to it.
NZB: When should an entrepreneur consider how they might exit their business?
Tom: Day one. Right from the concept stage. If you can’t figure out who’s going to buy it, it’s got no value, so why would you want to do it.
NZB: How does New Zealand’s entrepreneurial space compare with Australia’s?
Tom: It’s better. I’ve been to angel investment workshops in New Zealand and met a lot of Kiwi angels. I think the New Zealand government better appreciates the contribution of their angel community and backs them better. It creates space for them where they can be successful. You’ve got more of a collegiate environment where people help each other more. So I think New Zealand has a very positive entrepreneurial environment.
NZB: What’s your one key piece of advice for any business owner?
Tom: If your business is going nowhere, sell it. Take the money and find a better business. Because you get locked in and it’s soul destroying. Entrepreneurs need energy, motivation, positiveness to do well. So if you’re stuck in a business that’s not going anywhere then get rid of it. Buy one or start one, or get into a partnership and get yourself going again.

First published on nzbusiness.co.nz 26 November 2014 

Did the wings work?

This update provides an unvarnished look at where the 2013 cohort of showcase companies are a year later. It illustrates the ups and the downs, the challengers and the cheer leaders. All part of being a start up venture and of course the journey that angel investors are part of too. It’s not for the faint hearted. We need to unrelentingly celebrate, support and applaud the founders and investors who are willing to get involved.

Times-7

Anthony Dixon is happy to be back. The chief executive of electronics technology company Times-7 was in front of New Zealand’s angel community again at the annual showcase investment event, but this time he had a lot more to smile about.

Accompanied by a new lead investor from Silicon Valley, Jo Major, Dixon appeared at the 2014 showcase as part of a joint US-New Zealand capital raising which aims to bring in $1.5 million. The goal is to fast-track sales of the company’s slimline antennas for the radio-frequency identification (RFID) or smart-tag market.

“Revenues have been growing but not as fast as we want,” says Dixon. “We met all our initial targets from [our last $600,000 investment round] … and now that we have an established brand and reputation, it’s time to more effectively leverage those credentials, which can only be done with dedicated resources in our most important market.”
Dixon had a hard time nailing the first $600,000, but the past year has been much, much better, he says, with the RFID market really taking off.

“We’re looking to transition our high volume [products] to a contract manufacturer by the end of this year … and we have a US-based senior sales executive already lined up. It’s a great journey to be on.”

Syl Semantics

Less enthused was former showcase golden guy Sean Wilson from Syl Semantics.

With an impressive early client list, including the NZ Police, Syl Semantics’ clever search and big data management technology closed its first investment round oversubscribed at $1.5 million. However conflicting advice and market signals shelved initial plans for a big US push after the company didn’t secure the capital its directors thought it needed to make the jump.

Wilson and his team have since returned their focus to New Zealand and (with partner Datacom) Australia.

“It’s been a bit of a tough time, but isn’t that what most early stage tech companies experience from time to time?” says Wilson.

“We’re adapting to the environment, re-scoping our plan and are still confident of meeting our revenue plan this year.”

Star86 (BigLittleBang)

Another feeling the heat of international expansion is Star86, which pocketed $1.2 million, $200,000 more than targeted, after the first showcase round. At the time, founder Chris White was upbeat after hiring a new chief technical officer and a new US-based chief marketing officer to help promote the company’s flagship product, a kids’ virtual music-making world (renamed Star86 from BigLittleBang after competitor issues). But in July the company pulled the plug on the product.

White is now based overseas and could not be reached for comment, but after repeated requests a statement attributed to Claudia Batten, Star86 chairman and well known Kiwi IT entrepreneur, was supplied, stating: “Star86 is in the process of moving to the US.” Other sources say the company isn’t dead, but is soon expected to “pivot” (change focus or target market).

Polybatics

Biotech company Polybatics has also pivoted, after raising less than half of its $1.5 million target at the last showcase. Chief executive and seasoned capital raiser Tracy Thompson says the company is now focused on developing a tuberculosis diagnostic test for the dairy and deer industries, using its patented technology, which allows it to grow protein-covered, biodegradable, bionanoparticles, or “bio-beads”. Beads are used to produce a host of industrial and medical products.

To reach this point Polybatics had to raise another $2 million this year, to add to the $4.5 million raised previously. Thompson expects the new diagnostic to be on the market next year.

IM-Able

Fellow life sciences company IM-Able finally achieved its capital raising target of $1.5 million ($250,000 more than first sought) in September, more than two years after climbing on to the capital raising treadmill.

Chief executive Elliott Kernohan says now the company has achieved its target, it can move its “ableX” rehabilitation technology – designed to help people with neurological disabilities regain their abilities – to the cloud, to ease sales, distribution and use. The technology has also been deployed in a major clinical trial at Royal Melbourne Hospital and discussions and pilot projects are under way in other overseas markets, he says.

IndieReign and Shift72

Online film distribution company IndieReign is still going great guns, says founder David White from Los Angeles. “We are signing up customers faster than we can deploy them.” But the biggest growth has come from IndieReign’s business-to-business sister company, Shift72, set up to capitalise on unexpected demand for IndieReign’s secure video on demand technology from US distributors and producers.

The companies now employ 10 staff in Hamilton, two in Australia and three in India, though 80 per cent of business is in the US.

White is now kicking off a new capital raising round to accelerate US sales, set up a sales and marketing team in LA and hire more software engineers to keep up with demand for Shift72.

First published on nzherald.co.nz on 21 November 2014

Lightning jolt on offer to startups

Ten New Zealand startup companies could be getting fast tracked into the business world, with the launch next year of Auckland accelerator programme Lightning Lab.

The programme was founded by Wellington-based Creative HQ, which has since run two rounds of the Lightning Lab programme.

The success of the three-month mentoring programmes has led to expansion into Auckland and Christchurch.

Lightning Lab Auckland director Mark MacLeod-Smith said the programme was a great opportunity for start ups to accelerate their growth with seed funding from the programme as well as mentors and support.

“There’s a lot of companies up here that are looking for funding and looking for expertise and networks, and so that’s what we’re trying to provide,” MacLeod-Smith said.
“Giving access to these amazing mentors that possess experiences and have run tech companies and have networks they can open up, can really help grow these businesses throughout the programme.”

Ian Bishop, chief executive of coaching administration business CoachSeek which went through the Wellington programme last year, said the experience and guidance it had provided had significantly accelerated company growth. CoachSeek now has more than 400 customers in 40 countries, with Bishop saying that the company “simply would not be where [it is] today without having gone through the Lightning Lab programme”.

“I think the main thing for me is especially the early days of any startup, are absolutely crazy, and so Lightning Lab provided a proven structure to the early stage chaos,” Bishop said.

“To my mind it’s the single best opportunity here in New Zealand to fully focus on making an idea work, and like I said, it’s not just the money it’s the expertise and the networks it provides.”

The 10 companies will be selected early next year, with applications for the programme closing on December 17. Each of the companies receives seed funding of $18,000 as well as mentoring and programme support from a group of tech and business mentors, with the Lightning Lab programme taking an equity stake in each of the companies in return.

This year’s mentors include Greg Cross from PowerbyProxy, Vaughan Rowsell from Vend, Ben Young from digital agency Young & Shand, Claudia Batten entrepreneur and a number of others. MacLeod-Smith said the Lightning Lab team would be looking for digital and technology companies of a range of sizes and backgrounds.

“We’re looking for companies with anything from an idea with initial work, through to paying customers with revenue,” MacLeod-Smith said.

“It’s been fantastic what Wellington’s been able to achieve so obviously we’re looking to grow on that and make sure it’s a success nationally”

Applications for the programme close on December 17, with accepted companies chosen next year. The programme runs from March through to May.

Intensive mentoring

What is the Lightning Lab programme?
Lightning Lab is a 12-week intensive mentoring programme for startup companies providing mentors, networking and seed funding.

Who can apply?
Any small to medium company with an idea and a team through to a formed company with customers and revenue.

When do companies need to apply by?
Applications for the programme close on December 17.

First published on nzherald.co.nz 20 November 2014

System gives coaches a business edge

Ian Bishop was buried in paperwork. He was spending almost as much time in front of his computer as with clients on the tennis court.

“Here I was with a growing coaching business and a team of dedicated coaches and it’s embarrassing to admit, but I was running off 150 separate spreadsheets just to keep it all going.”

Bishop went shopping, and was surprised to find nothing like a Vend (software solutions for retailers) or Xero (accountancy software for small businesses) occupying the sports management niche. So together with his business partners, IT sales and marketing manager Shaun Fitzmaurice and web developer Matthew Skilton, decided to invent something. They called it Coachseek.

After putting the business concept through its paces in Wellington’s business accelerator Lightning Lab, they realised they had stumbled on to a much more common problem than anticipated, says Bishop, chief executive of Coachseek.
“We surveyed hundreds of coaches around the world, across many disciplines, and found that 80 per cent were using some form of spreadsheet or paper-based system to run their business, all to varying degrees of accuracy and reliability.

“So there’s an interesting paradox in the sports coaching industry where coaches are using cutting edge technology in their coaching, but are stuck with out-of-date systems for how they run their businesses.”

Bishop says he’s seen how technology has filtered into the everyday life of a sports coach, from heart-rate monitors to video analysis apps, but it hasn’t really reached the back office.

“Through the pain I was experiencing in my own business, I had a natural interest in understanding how technology could benefit the way a coach operates their business.”

Coachseek pitched for funds at Lightning Lab’s May demonstration day. By September, the company had secured more than $450,000 through Auckland’s angel (early-stage) investment group Ice Angels and Wellington’s AngelHQ.

First published on nzherald.co.nz 20 November 2014

Kiwi craft leads the way in drone industry

Check out this amazing example of the sort of ventures angels have the opportunity to support into international markets.

Good old Kiwi ingenuity on a shoe-string budget could see the world’s first unmanned aerial vehicle for long-range search and rescue operational within the next two years.

The Coastguard has been working with Christchurch-based Global Aerial Platforms (GAP) for three years on two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that could help save the lives of more people lost at sea.

The smaller UAV can be launched off a boat and relays information back to Coastguard staff on where any survivors are in the water and also a better view of what’s under the water.

The larger UAV, named Toroa after the Maori word for albatross, will be used to drop off emergency supplies to survivors, such as life rafts, and to send back information via sensors from a much longer range offshore. It can fly up to 10 hours at a time and up to 200 nautical miles offshore in weather conditions too severe for more conventional craft.

“That’s quite a leap over other UAVs,” said Coastguard spokesman Gordon McKay.

Following recent successful trial flights of the two prototype UAVs in Canterbury, McKay hopes to have the smaller model operational within a year and the larger 60kg one within two years pending new Civil Aviation regulations on flying into commercial airspace and beyond the operator’s line of sight.

The Coastguard UAVs have also reached the semifinals in a United Arab Emirates Drones for Good competition offering a Dh$1 million ($340,000) prize to international entrants for drones providing value-added services to improve human life.

The volunteer-run charity holds the intellectual property rights for the communications system within the drones while GAP has the IP for the composite frames supporting them.

GAP co-owner Graham Tully said his company has fronted about $360,000 in development costs so far and is now seeking angel investors to fund completing commercial models of three variants of the UAVs which are under construction. The company wants to raise between $250,000 to $750,000 to get the models to the point where they can be commercialised for search and rescue here and overseas.

Meanwhile, UAVs made by Raglan-based Aeronavics are one of only two systems granted US Federal Aviation Authority exemption to be used for film and television work in Hollywood.

The exemptions, covering six media and film companies, were a milestone in broadening the currently limited legal use of commercial drones in the US.

And in another major breakthrough for the local UAV industry, the University of Canterbury was the first in the country to be given Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) permission for two test zones for flying drones out of the pilot’s line of sight.

Aeronavics director Linda Bulk, who co-owns the four-year-old company with husband Rob Brouwer, said publicity over the FAA decision had sparked demand for its SkyJib 8 engine craft.

“We’ve had an influx of inquiries and there’s a lot of potential revenue but we are now really stretched. Everything requires energy and investment. The interest is far beyond what the company can digest,” she said.

That has prompted them to launch a $700,000 capital raising from private investors to rapidly expand the business.

The company was originally started in Australia before the couple moved to New Zealand where they now have 10 staff. It started out producing multi-rotor airframes now used worldwide for aerial photography, film-making, and agricultural and industrial applications and later expanded to become a one-stop-shop, selling ready-to-use UAVs as well as the airframes.

Aeronavics is one of a number of New Zealand businesses at the forefront of developing UAVs, which are also known as drones or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAs).

Their use has taken off in New Zealand and beyond but that is causing growing concern about public safety and privacy issues.

The CAA will release new interim regulations in March that better accommodate use of the new technology while still ensuring safety.

Commercial uses here include mapping and auditing kiwifruit orchards, farm mapping and pasture measurement, and monitoring electricity lines and infrastructure.

To help the local industry capitalise on world demand Callaghan Innovation has established an industry association, UAVNZ and is preparing an economic case study. It has also organised the industry’s first symposium and trade show in the Wairarapa next January.

Aviation programme manager Chris Thomson said the industry cluster of around 100 organisations wanted to differentiate themselves from cowboy operators.

“They wanted a combined voice on the market opportunity rather than a fractured one. There are a lot of small players and they wanted more horsepower in negotiations,” he said.

Shaun Mitchell, co-founder of Napier-based Altus Solutions which provides UAVs to capture aerial images in virtually any field, said the biggest advantage of the industry cluster was encouraging collaboration so local companies make the most of the export opportunity. Recent market research has forecast the economic impact of UAV technology in the US alone to be $82 billion by 2025.

There’s nothing stopping anyone buying a UAV and two years ago one crashed into an Auckland building. Mitchell said the low cost of UAVS and easy accessibility had meant some “rogue operators” were breaking aviation rules, mostly out of ignorance.

No country has yet developed a workable regulatory framework though the international civil aviation body is due to release new guidelines for drone use in March.

The University of Canterbury’s authority allows it to test long-distance use of UAVs without endangering other airspace users. The nation’s remoteness, geography and sparse population makes New Zealand an ideal testing ground.

Fred Samandari, director of the university’s Wireless Research Centre, said the plan is to have products ready to go to market once aviation regulations change and legalise flying out of the pilot’s line of sight. This rests on the unmanned aircraft having “sense and avoid” technology.

“These UAVS may be one or two inches up to as large as major aircraft – all of these things will be possible in the future, ” Samandari said.

“We’re dealing with things that are part of our daily routine whereas 20 to 30 years ago they would have been in sci-fi movies.

“We’re now working on the next 20 to 30 years and what can be done safely.”

Novice aviators able to get tips from website

Airways Corporation has set up a website www.airshare.co.nz to provide tips for novice aviators and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is considering a Google pop-up providing regulatory advice when someone searches about UAVs.

Drones weighing under 25kg fall under the rules for model aircraft and can be flown in most places under a certain height, 4km away from airfields, and within the line of sight of the pilot.

CAA general manager of general aviation Steve Moore said the new interim guidelines aim to ensure public safety while still being flexible enough to incorporate new technology yet to be developed and allow the industry to exploit the significant export opportunity.

“Under this first phase the part 102 rule will accommodate all current UAV operations into the CAA system. The long-term game is to integrate UAVs so unmanned aircraft will share airspace with manned aircraft,” Moore said.

“A commercial aircraft on its final approach to Wellington airport, the next one coming down is an unmanned aircraft, and people watching are not going to know the second aircraft was remotely piloted – that’s where we’re going.”

First published on nzherlad.co.nz 8 November 2014

Consumer Watch: Prosper by following the crowd

Congratulations to the crowd funding guys – Snowball and PledgeMe – who are getting some great profile at the moment and providing another source of capital for early stage ventures.

Fancy a slice of a New Zealand company with its sights set on growth? Backing businesses in their first growth phases were once for mega-wealthy angel investors but since the Financial Markets Conduct Act made crowdfunding investment possible it has opened up to “mum and dad” investors.

Previously, only charitable crowdfunding was permitted, in which people did not want anything in return for their money except maybe a copy of the new album they were helping to record.

But people can now buy shares in companies that should aim to eventually pay dividends. So far licences have been granted for crowdfunding equity platforms Snowball Effect and PledgeMe.

Snowball Effect has closed two offers, one for funding Renaissance Brewing, which raised $700,000 from 287 investors, and one for a new Lee Tamahori film The Patriarch, which raised $468,800 from 182 investors.

It has one offer, for as much as $1.5 million for cleantech company CarbonScape. If the offer raises $400,000 then 4.32 per cent of the company will have gone to crowdfunding investors. If it gets $1.5m, almost 14.5 per cent will be in the hands of the funders.

PledgeMe has two equity offers open, for investment in tourism company H2Explore, which wants to provide hovercraft trips on the Tasman River, and computer museum Techvana.

PledgeMe also runs a “projects” arm that offers more traditional crowdfunding, helping fund projects in return for small, non-financial rewards. Another company, Liftoff, is still waiting for a licence.

Tim Langley, of Carbonscape, said crowdfunding was an accessible way for people with relatively small investments to be involved. It had been difficult to raise capital under the old rules.

“We saw moves being made last year to amend the rules to enable crowdfunding and thought it was an opportunity.”

Carbonscape uses microwave technology to turn carbon in waste wood into products such as high-quality coking coal.

The company wants the money to build a pilot plant to supply New Zealand Steel.

Snowball Effect spokesman Shaun Edlin said crowdfunding was a way to “democratise” investment. “It’s allowing mum and dad investors to get on board. They previously didn’t have the opportunity to invest in companies that weren’t making a public offer.”

Edlin said most offers could be described as high risk but high return. “This is a great way to broaden a portfolio with some investment in small to medium businesses at an early stage in their growth.”

Crowdfunding offers don’t have the same disclosure requirements as most financial products so investors should have a clear idea of what they are getting into. The shares may not be easily traded if you want out.

Claire Matthews, of Massey University’s school of economics and finance, said investors should understand what returns were expected. “If you’re expecting a return, do the normal analysis: what are the risks, what is the risk I’m not going to get any return or I’m not going to get my money back?”

Adviser Liz Koh said the fact investments could be small meant the risk would be spread.
First published on nzherald.co.nz 9 November 2014

The Executive Club: Entrepreneur draws on love of art

An example of the sorts of things that energise angels. In this article Enterprise Angel’s active member, Daryl French talks about his involvement with a Locus Research and Design in Tauranga which provides advice on commercialisation.

Timothy Allan has turned a childhood love of drawing and painting into one of New Zealand’s most successful industrial research and design firms.

Tauranga-headquartered Locus Research and Design, founded 12 years ago, advises companies and entrepreneurs on how to take ideas from concept through to commercialised products.

Locus has also become a key element in the Bay of Plenty’s export-focused business community. It is, with Plus Group, part of Newnham Park, one of the three key partners in WNT Ventures, the innovative collaboration between Tauranga companies that was one of only three government-backed business technology incubators announced by the Government earlier this year.

“With WNT Ventures, we’ll do the pre-incubation and feasibility work, because we’re well-equipped to do that,” said Mr Allan, who was named a Fellow of the Designers Institute in 2010 for his services to sustainable design in New Zealand.

“As a company, our clear differentiator is the focus on product development. We draw on science, engineering, design, all sorts of different disciplines and industries. Our core competency is getting a product from A to Z in the best shape possible.”

Daryl French, a board member of Tauranga start-up funding group Enterprise Angels and an investor/director, works closely with Mr Allan on screening and doing due diligence on new start-ups.

“Tim is a very astute individual,” said Mr French.

“Locus as a company is a really integral part of helping other companies in the Bay of Plenty to bring products to market. They’re rapidly becoming key in the overall developing entrepreneurial culture we’re getting in Tauranga. I see them as having a very big part to play and I’d like to think they will continue to grow. They are an asset.”

Mr Allan migrated to New Zealand as a 9-year-old with his South African father and Kiwi mother and the family settled in Hamilton. They arrived in 1982 during the Springbok tour protests and, said Mr Allan, “I lost my South African accent in two weeks”.

After primary school at Marist Brothers, he went to Hamilton Boys High and began developing a childhood love of painting and drawing that saw him pick up commercial illustration and graphic design work when he was still at college. After finishing high school, he did a one-year visual arts diploma at the then Waikato Polytechnic, then won admission to the four-year course at Wellington Polytechnic.

“At the time it was the best design school in New Zealand. And the great thing about the Wellington course was that it had a first general year where you got exposed to everybody going into every discipline,” he said.

Mr Allan’s decision to focus on industrial design was triggered by seeing the complex finished 3D objects being created by final year students. He was also mentored by Dame Doreen Blumhardt, the ceramicist and potter who was a key figure in introducing arts and crafts to the New Zealand education system, and who died recently in her 90s. He used to visit Dame Doreen regularly during his polytechnic years and help her with heavy work.

“She was an amazing person, and an incredible teacher and artist in her own right,” he said.

When it came time to do his own final-year project, he visited the Christchurch headquarters of Macpack, founded by Dave McIntyre, and worked closely with the firm in developing a technical harness system with a series of packs that hung off it.

“I was really interested in research and development and they were fantastic in agreeing to do a product with me,” he said. “I had to test it, prototype it, make it, re-test it, re-prototype it, and then they helped me make an actual functioning prototype.”

It was an incredible learning experience to see how really good companies were run. Timothy Allan

Macpack offered him a job when he graduated, but he decided to stay on in Wellington and accepted an offer from Te Papa, then in its set-up phase, to work with old friend Adam Ellis on the Mountain to the seas, and Geological exhibits.

After completing the Te Papa projects, he came to Tauranga to take up a job with Design Mobel, the award-winning furniture and bed-making company set up by Dave MacFarlane, which the founder sold to Sleepyhead in 2008.

“It was a really cool company to work for and Dave was an amazing guy,” said Mr Allan. “I got to cut out my own track there and grew the design team. It was an incredible learning experience to see how really good companies were run. That really set a benchmark.”

In 2002, Mr Allan set up Locus Research with support from Mr MacFarlane in the form of design work in the first year to help him get started.

“I employed the first person and then it went on from there and it’s been a pretty steady development,” he said.

The company began in Tauranga, then moved to a larger office in Mount Maunganui, before its recent move to custom-built premises in Newnham Park, Te Puna, the base for Steve Saunders’ Plus Group and Rob Jeffries’ group of companies, as well as Halala Vanilla.

Locus Research now has a staff of seven. Mr Allan retains ownership of the company, but envisages eventually moving to a partnership structure.

Locus Research works on both a fee-based and a cost recovery plus equity stake basis, and has worked with companies throughout New Zealand as well as some international work. A major focus is on the research and development side of product development, and the company advises on all facets of commercialising a product, from sales channels to manufacturing processes.

The company works with large corporates, as well as new start-ups such as Balex Marine’s award-winning Automatic Boat Loader.

“We’ve got a very broad suite of skills which works well for when a company is in start-up mode,” said Mr Allan.

“We try and help people get through the eye of the needle.”

Commercial culture key
Tim Allan says that Locus Research operates with a flat management structure.

“Culture is critical,” he said. “You want people who can work with each other and we’ve been very lucky in getting people who are willing to collaborate.”

Mr Allan said a lot of successful management was about ensuring staff were doing work that was interesting.

“I’ve always been a big driver on quality of work. If you get the quality of work right, the other things fall into line.”

He acknowledged that it could be challenging to get the right people, especially in Tauranga.

“Being a smaller company attracting the right people is not straightforward,” he said. “But lately we seem to have managed to find people locally that are bang on for our needs.”

Darryl French, an Enterprise Angels board member who works closely with Locus, said Mr Allan had built an extremely-talented group of designers and marketers around him.

“Tim’s got strong opinions and that’s what I like about him,” he said. “We don’t always agree, but I’ve never got to the stage where we haven’t been able to find the middle ground. And that’s unusual. People who have good scientific knowledge can sometimes be a bit immovable, but Tim’s different.”

Mr French also noted Mr Allan had evolved from a designer and product creator to someone who truly understood the issues of moving into the commercial space, such as cost of manufacture and getting a product to market.

“He understands all the technical stuff, but now he can sit down and have the conversations on whether a product makes commercial sense.”

On bike if time
Tim Allan says he tries to devote his non-working time to his family, partner Paula Zinzan, a senior environmental officer with Trustpower, and children Ruby, 5, and Isaac, 7.

However, he is an enthusiastic mountain biker, when he gets the time.

Mr Allan remains very much an artist and is a keen photographer.

“I’ve always had a few projects bubbling away at home,” he said.

“But it’s quite hard to find the time and the creative energy, because my job is pretty demanding on the creative front.”

First published on nzherald.co.nz 11 November 2014

 

 

Valuable advice from Lowndes Angel Investing workshop

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors Lowndes for organising such a lively and engaging event with our wonderful international Summit speakers. This was a great forum for the international speakers to talk about what motivates them personally and professionally as angel investors and was truly valuable to the audience.

Read more

 

Ray Thomson named as New Zealand Arc Angel 2014

Ray Thomson, the Auckland-based director of several budding Kiwi companies and a long-term angel  investor and early-stage investment champion has been awarded the prestigious Arc Angel Award at the 2014 Angel Summit in Auckland this week.

The Arc Angel Award is the highest honour New Zealand’s angel investment community can bestow. It recognises someone who has steadfastly championed the cause of angel investment and the investors who are willing to give a significant amount of time and money to help those start-ups and early stage companies, and particularly the entrepreneurs who risk all to establish those companies, to reach their potential.

Marcel van den Assum, chairman of the New Zealand Angel Association (AANZ) says the award was an acknowledgement of Ray Thompson’s long contribution to New Zealand’s angel investment industry. “Ray has been a long-term investor in and champion of early stage companies in New Zealand. He’s played active roles in both the Auckland-based Ice Angels group and the Angel Association, of which he is a past chairman. Most importantly he has unstintingly promoted angel investment, helping it to become a powerful force in New Zealand’s economic development today.”

Suse Reynolds, AANZ Executive Director, says Ray has not only been a mentor to many new entrepreneurs, but many new angels too. “He always has time for a cup of coffee with anyone needing help or advice whether about the company they are growing or the companies they want to invest in. He’s a true New Zealand angel and we’re all delighted he’s been given this year’s Arc Angel Award.”

Ray Thomson joined the ICE Angels in 2007 following an active and extensive career as a share broker, director and chair of a number of different investment groups. He has invested more than $1 million through the ICE Angels and directly into more than 25 companies, including Biomatters, Nexus 6, Inro, Drumleaf, Caldera, IM-Able, Nextspace, Booktrack, Parrot Analytics, Footfalls & Heartbeats, Varigate, Puteko, GreenButton, Manuka Health and Supreme Biotechnologies. He was a member of the ICE Angel’s Advisory Board from December 2010 until December 2013 and was the inaugural recipient of the William H. Payne Active Angel Award in November 2010 for being the most active ICE Angels’ Investor. He is on the Global from Day One (GD1) Fund Investment Committee and serves on a number of boards including Manuka Health New Zealand, Supreme Biotechnologies, Rush Digital Interactive and the Institute of Directors.

Former Arc Angel winners include Phil McCaw, managing partner of investment firm Movac; The Warehouse founder and long-time angel investor Stephen Tindall; Andy Hamilton, chief executive of Auckland-based incubator and business educator The Icehouse; and US super angel and Kiwiphile Bill Payne.

The sixth annual Angel Summit in Auckland was attended by over 120 delegates including investors from New Zealand, Australia and the United States. The Summit included an investment showcase in association with the local angel network, ICE Angels, where 12 high-growth companies, all with global aspirations, pitched to a packed house of investors.

Ends

For more information, please contact:

Marcel van den Assum, chair AANZ, on mob: 021 963 459 or email: [email protected]; or

Suse Reynolds, AANZ executive director, on 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; to support the angel networks and help create new networks; to promote the growth of angel investment in New Zealand by encouraging and educating entrepreneurs, new angel investors and angel groups; and to ensure the ongoing success of the angel movement through developing industry strategy, encouraging collaboration and educating the wider New Zealand public about the importance of angel investing in growing our economy. AANZ currently has 13 members representing more than 600 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. Recent NZ Venture Investment Fund data revealed angels have invested almost $NZ300 million in over 600 deals in the last 7 years. For more, please visit: www.angelassociation.co.nz

Entrepreneur flourishing in start-up mode

Angel investment providing potential growth capital to a returned Tauranga businessman, Paul Symes developing an electrically powered trailer boat loader.

Paul Symes is back in start-up mode.

After almost two decades building his previous CAD design firm 4D into a global company with 200-plus staff, he sold his stake and last year relocated from the Philippines to Tauranga to look for a different lifestyle and new opportunities.

There he connected with Tauranga realtor and boatie Lex Bacon, who had come up with an idea for an electrically-powered trailer boat loader. After rigorous due diligence on the concept, Mr Symes became the majority investor in Balex Marine, which is developing and marketing Mr Bacon’s invention as the Automatic Boat Loader. Industrial design firm Locus Research has also taken an equity share in the company.

The ABL prototype won the Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show Innovative Product Award earlier this year, and Balex is currently engaged in an $800,000 series A fund-raising round with angel investors.

“I miss having my old executive management team of 10 people who were absolutely fantastic,” said Mr Symes.
“It’s difficult not to have those resources available, so that’s a change and a challenge. But I’m really enjoying it.”

Mr Symes grew up in Hawera, before going to boarding school at New Plymouth’s Francis Douglas Memorial College.

In the sixth form he took up a draughting cadetship with the local office of engineering consultancy Holmes Consulting Group, moved to the company’s Wellington headquarters, and later worked for his father’s company Valley Steel.

But the 1987 sharemarket collapse hit the construction industry hard and Mr Symes decided to go to Victoria University, where he got a BCA in accounting, commercial law and IT. To support his studies, he worked for himself. By the time he finished his degree, he had a staff of 15, so he decided to stick with the business and incorporated it as 4D.

He had met his wife Joanne, who came from Christchurch, as did two of his partners, so the business was rebased in the South Island city.

The business did well with New Zealand projects, and 4D also began working across the Tasman. The game-changer for the company came in the late 1990s. An Australian competitor offered the firm the opportunity to join it on the massive Olympic Dam Copper Project, if it committed to investing in the expensive CAD design programme XSteel (now Tekla), which had become available for the first time on PC.

Mr Symes and his wife were forced to turn to family and friends to come up with the $150,000 cost of five of the only 2000 software licences available worldwide.

“It was a ridiculous amount of money to find at the time,” he said. “But everything we achieved resulted from that.”

The software enabled 4D to develop highly-detailed 3D designs for steel structures, down to the nut, bolt, washer and weld placements, which could then be fed directly into computer-controlled machinery to cut, drill and punch out the steel components for the build.

“We started getting involved in mega projects in Australia and were then approached by a company in Nova Scotia, Canada, to work on projects in the USA.”

Over the next decade the company became 90 per cent focused on the North American market. But it was running into increasing problems getting skilled staff. After evaluating China, India and Indonesia, the company settled on the Philippines for an offshore site and opened an office in Manila in 2006.

“The thing with Paul was that he really took the time to try and understand the way things worked in the Philippines and the culture of the Filipinos as well,” said Richard Cullen, now managing director of Te Aroha-based Cullen Engineering, who was part of 4D’s Manilla management team in the early days. “They really respected him.”

But after the firm expanded its Manila office, the global financial crisis kicked in around 2008, forcing a massive restructuring.

“We had come off the back of some massive projects that had tied up a lot of people, then we found ourselves with nothing to do and a really bleak outlook,”said Mr Symes.

The Christchurch office was wound down, and the business based in Manila with total staff cut by 30 per cent to less than 90. The restructuring cut costs by 55 per cent and led to the company growing by 100 per cent over the next two years, with staff eventually building back up to 215 last year.

Meanwhile, 4D Global Group was merged into Australian company PDC Group in 2011, and went on to win a number of significant steel design projects, including the World Trade Centre 3 – which used 30,000 tonnes of steel, equivalent to one-third of New Zealand’s annual steel consumption – as well as the new Google headquarters. Mr Symes was eventually bought out in March 2013.

Michelle Malcolm, a partner with business adviser Crowe Horwath in Tauranga, said Mr Symes knew what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go.

“His past expertise in growing businesses and taking them to where he has, shows in everything he does,” she said. “I have total faith Balex will be a success because you don’t have too many people who have an entrepreneurial head like his.”

Easy fit for dedicated boatie
Getting involved in the Automatic Boat Loader was to some extent a no-brainer for Paul Symes, who is a dedicated boatie and keen beach catamaran sailor.

He was heavily involved during his stint in Manila with the Philippine Inter-Island Sailing Foundation, which runs regattas throughout the archipelago. A member of Phinsaf’s board of directors in 2012-13, he chaired the 2010 Philippines Hobie Championships, and the 13th Philippines Hobie Challenge last year.

“And I went up and sailed again in March,” said Mr Symes. “I love tropical sailing.”

Mr Symes bought an 18ft (5.5m) Nacra catamaran when he returned to New Zealand but sold it again, and is in the market for something smaller that can be easily sailed by one person.

He and his wife Joanne have two daughters, Alannah, 17, and Danielle, 12.

Outside help had a major impact
Paul Symes said that one of the critical moments in his business career came in 2005, when he learned the lesson of working “on not in” the business.

He engaged the business advisory group at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Christchurch and worked with them to more effectively structure 4D’s governance, which included bringing in an outside chairman.

“I worked closely with PWC in terms of strategic planning, getting really diligent about it. And that was really instrumental in paving the way forward.”

Part of that process included looking hard at pressing issues of the time, such as the need to find skilled staff, and resulted in the decision to open an offshore site in Manila.

“And I don’t know how much the key to success is attracting the right people — I’ve had absolutely fantastic people working with me.”

Richard Cullen, now managing director of Te Aroha-based Cullen Engineering, who was formerly in 4D’s Manila management team, said Mr Symes was highly organised and motivated.

“He has the ability to motivate his team and to share the vision of the business with his team so that everyone’s going in the same direction,” he said. “He’s very good at dealing with people and very knowledgeable.”

Michelle Malcolm, a partner with business advisers Crowe Horwath, said Mr Symes was really well- informed and well-prepared. “His minutes for board meetings are probably the best I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Mr Symes paid tribute to the local business community for the support he’d received since relocating to Tauranga.

“They’ve put their hands up to help, which is humbling and refreshing,” he said.

“The secret of Tauranga’s success, when the rest of the regions are struggling, is that there’s such a vibrant group of people here that are absolutely passionate about making this a successful business community.”

First published on nzherald.co.nz 26 Sept 2014

AngelSummit14

The Money’s In… Now What? 

Taking place 15 – 17 October 2014, the Angel Association Summit’s goal is to answer the question “the money’s in – now what?

This summit will focus on providing Angels and those who are considering early-stage investing practical insights on managing your angel venture to best ensure success after the first round of funding has been secured.

You’ll hear from seasoned investors and top advisers about the importance of a capital strategy, about board stewardship and alignment in a high growth company.
An important highlight will be the sessions on how to successfully court acquirers and how to manage market disrupting intellectual property for commercial success.

Brian Casey, Ice Angels Chairman commented about previous Amgel Association summits that “ the highlight for me was the caliber of speakers at the Angel Association conference. I would strongly recommend our members consider attending for the valuable insights gained.”

This year the Angel Association have raised the bar further with four “walking Wikipedias” of Angel Investment and success as our guest speakers.
John Huston is the founder of Ohio Tech Angels,
Catherine Mott is a former chair of the US Angel Capital Association,
Jim Connor is the former President of Sand Hill Angels; and
Australian Angel Tom McKaskill who is renowned for his work on liquidity success.

The Angel Asociation Summit #14 is being held in Auckland at stunning Orakei Bay, October 15-17. In keeping with our desire to keep this event an angel-centric, intimate gathering, this terrific venue has limited capacity so register now to avoid missing out!

Find out more about the Angel Association Summit 14

Book one of the remaining tickets to the Angel Association Summit 14

AngelSummit14

Startup driving cystic fibrosis drug to market

Andrea Miller is used to facing tough situations. As a senior army officer for 22 years, she’s faced all sorts of challenges, including a UN peacekeeping tour to East Timor. Now, as the chief executive of Auckland-based startup company Breathe Easy, she’s fighting for the 75,000 people around the world who suffer from cystic fibrosis (CF), including her 26-year-old daughter, Sarah.

CF is a chronic genetic illness that affects the lungs and digestive system. It’s debilitating and destructive, says Miller. “It’s a tough foe. Sadly the prognosis is really grim.

“It’s improving now, but the average life expectancy is still only in the 30s.”

Sufferers have thick and sticky mucus in their lungs, which settles and clogs the small airways and causes recurrent lung infections.

Miller’s partners in Breathe Easy are Professor Bob Elliott, who Miller first met more than two decades ago when he was her daughter’s paediatrician, and Auckland-based life sciences investor and champion Brent Ogilvie.

Through years of self-education, attending overseas medical conferences and completing an internship with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in the US, she’s gotten to know Elliott and Ogilvie pretty well, she says.

Breathe Easy came about after Professor Elliott invented a new drug called Citramel, which melts the biofilms or mucus obstructing the effectiveness of existing antibiotics and the patient’s own immune system in dealing with CF.

With the backing of Ogilvie’s life science investment company Pacific Channel, Ogilvie and Elliott formed Breathe Easy to develop Elliott’s findings into a useable product and bring it to market with Miller’s help.

Since then Breathe Easy has gained regulatory and ethical approvals for the crucial Phase I/IIa clinical trial to test its efficacy and safety. The trial is due to start in early 2015 at the Christchurch Clinical Studies Trust.

It’s potentially a huge breakthrough for the medical world and an important milestone for New Zealand’s medical innovation as this will be the first CF product to enter clinical trials that was invented here and will be manufactured here. “At Pacific Channel we look for both a high potential social good as well as high potential financial returns and Breathe Easy embodies both, very much,” says Ogilvie.

Pacific Channel and its network of angel (early-stage) investors have already pumped in “a few hundred thousand dollars” to get to this stage, says Ogilvie, but Breathe Easy needs another $1.5 million to complete the clinical trial to test Citramel and move the product forward.

It’s a lot of money, but the task is a little less daunting because CF is classified as an “orphan” disease – a disease that affects only a relatively small percentage of the population – and as such can get fast-track approval with important international regulators such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Drug development is tough, and doing it from New Zealand is very tough. However, the beauty of working on an orphan drug, where the market for the number of patients is obviously much smaller than something like heart disease, for example, allows for faster and lower-cost drug development,” said Ogilvie.

Running the clinical trials in New Zealand is also a lower-cost alternative to conducting the trials in Europe or the US, plus it has the added benefit of spreading knowledge and awareness about CF and the treatment possibilities among New Zealand’s medical fraternity, says Miller.

Breathe Easy also believes that Citramel may benefit those with diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which affects around 330 million people, so the potential is enormous, she adds.

“It’s a sensational story! Rather than the awful situation of having to sit and wait for the illness to take its toll, here we are getting up, taking action, and developing a medication that could be really helpful in the fight against CF.”

Produced in conjunction with the Angel Association of New Zealand.

First published on NZHerald.co.nz Thursday Sep 25, 2014

Borton & Sons Inc. Adds Koru, Rockit Apples to lineup

This season, Borton & Sons Inc., headquartered in Yakima, WA, plans to add two new apple varieties to its manifest. The company is a premium grower, packer and shipper of high-quality apples, pears and cherries with more than a century of industry expertise. The fourth generation of family members currently spearheads operations.

“We have started marketing two new varietals out of New Zealand with intentions in growing both here in Washington state,” said Lindsay Ehlis, part of the company’s sales and marketing team. “The first apple is the Koru. Along with Oneonta and New York Apple Sales, Borton Fruit has started marketing this unique variety in the United States. Consumer testing has proven to be overwhelmingly positive thus far. At this time, we are carrying limited volume out of New Zealand while commercial U.S. planting is under way.

“The second variety is the Rockit apple, which we are marketing here in the U.S. along with Chelan Fresh Marketing,” she continued. “These snack-sized apples provide a new healthy eating option on the go. The unique tubed packaging has already seen positive feedback from many industry veterans that have come in contact with the variety. Borton plans to start planting the Rockit here in Washington state next spring.”

Byron Borton, the company’s chief visionary officer, said conditions during the current apple production season have been favorable.

“The first varieties to come off the tree are Ginger Golds and Galas, which we have started picking this August,” he said. “We will be picking apples through November ending with our Cripps Pink/Pink Lady apples.

“Overall, quality is looking fantastic,” he commented. “Size will likely be up one full count across the state from normal years. The great weather early in the season made the apples jump out of the shoot. But perhaps the heat we have had the past three to four weeks may have slowed the sizing down a tad.”

Borton said the company is finalizing a new apple box “that will be one of the strongest in the industry. We have taken our approach to providing the market with the best fruit possible, and applied it to our full supply chain and packaging. This packaging investment ensures that the fruit will retain its superior quality when it arrives on customers’ shelves.”

The company markets apples under the “Apple Tree,” “Sno Chief,” “Yakima Chief” and “Sno Crisp” labels. “We do not grow organic produce, but do source some organics for our customers in small volumes to help fill when needed,” said Eric Borton, vice president of international sales and marketing. “Demand has grown some. But the greatest demand for apples still remains in traditionally grown fruit by a large margin because of its higher overall quality, yield and consistency.”

Borton Fruit markets apples to customers throughout the globe, and Eric Borton said, “We are continually seeking development of new markets and export opportunities.”

The company has a number of seasonal and nonseasonal marketing programs in place that have been highly successful. “One we will be focusing on in the next couple months will be our NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 program,” Ehlis said. “It’s great timing with the new school year beginning as well as the NFL kicking off. The program was designed to tackle childhood obesity by engaging youth to take action for their own health by implementing long-term, positive changes for themselves and their schools, starting with healthy snacks and foods and 60 minutes a day of exercise. This will be Borton’s third year being a part of this movement.”

On the facilities size, Ehlis said some improvements were made this past year. “We’ve implemented a new racking system to improve staging area at our main plant,” she told The Produce News. “This is allowing us to get ahead of orders and turn our truck loading times around much quicker. With an internal Loading Dock Analysis reporting process, we have improved the overall wait time at our facility by about 35 percent already, and are working toward making that an even better percentage. In addition to this staging and loading process, we’ve also designed a new truckers’ lounge for the drivers while they are here.”

First published on Enterprise Angels 15th September 2014

AngelSummit14

Kiwi trailblazers plot success with mapping tool

Online research can be a messy process. Anyone who’s ever searched for something online, only to find themselves hours later, hazy and buried under dozens of open browser tabs, will have some idea of the impetus behind Wellington software startup Twingl.

Trailblazer, Twingl’s first product, is a web browser add-on that automatically tracks and visualises the various paths people take as they follow their nose through any form of online research.

The obvious application for such a product is the education market, which is exactly where Twingl and the company’s backers are taking the product first.

Andy Wilkinson, Twingl’s founding chief executive, was in the late stages of a multi-school pilot programme and on the verge of launching a nationwide school holiday Minecraft competition when he took time out to explain how Trailblazer takes the donkey work out of documenting the research process.

“Trailblazer makes your learning visible. Say you’re researching something new – it might be a paper at uni or an overseas holiday – and you end up with dozens of open browser tabs, bookmarks and a Word document full of notes, well we’ve built a browser extension that turns all those tabs into a map which shows you why that tab is open and where to go next. It also automatically organises the notes you take. And in schools, your teacher will be able to see your map as well, so they can become better at teaching you how to research more effectively online.”

Wilkinson’s belief that humans are spatial thinkers kicked off the idea for Trailblazer.

“The internet doesn’t give you a very good sense of space, it’s almost edgeless in a way and anything we can do to help shape and adapt that content to the way our brains actually work is a good thing.”

Twingl itself is a product of New Zealand’s flourishing startup ecosystem, beginning with Wellington Startup Weekend in 2013 and progressing to theLightning Lab business accelerator programme this year, where Wilkinson and his fellow co-founders, Greg Signal and Matt Kennedy, raised $100,000 in seed funding to develop Trailblazer.

First published on nzherald.co.nz on 18th September 2014

AngelSummit14

How do NEW Angel investors know how to really help entrepreneurs?

View from the other side:

Delegates to this year’s Angel Association Summit, Auckland, 16-17 October, will have the opportunity to formulate some answers to this question. The comprehensive Summit programme, full of crucial information for Angels to apply in their investment activities, gives Angels a rare opportunity to “walk in the founder’s shoes”.

During the session on day two they will gain some understanding of “the other side of the deal” from three of New Zealand’s brightest founders. Marie-Claire Andrews from ShowGizmo, Paul Cameron from Booktrack, and most recent investee Rachel Lacy from Drikolor will tell their investment story. They will explain what they loved and loathed about the process and the changes it’s meant for them and their businesses.

In part two of the session John Huston, special guest and keynote speaker at the Summit will lead a discussion around founder-friendly vs investor-friendly term sheets, the role of angel investors in explaining deal terms, setting expectations, aligning for exit and follow-on funding.

The session, conceived by Robbie Paul, Startup Funding Manager from Ice Angels and Suse Reynolds, Executive Director, Angel Association of New Zealand gives an opportunity to understand from the entrepreneurs perspective, what executing for success might look like.

An important addition to the Angel Association Summit’s two day networking, intel and insights experience. This is the first in a series of initiatives with the aim to improve founder/investor relationships and communication.

A critical element of the Angel Association of New Zealand’s work is to increase the quality and quantity of early-stage deals the majority of which require close collaboration including shared understanding and language in order to set the right milestones, deal with missed and unexpected opportunities.

Find out more about the Angel Association Summit 14.

Book one of the remaining tickets to the Angel Association Summit 14.

AngelSummit14

Angels lifting the Far North higher

The Angel Assn, with backup from Ice Angels is delighted to support the creation of an angel network in Northland.

Northland start-up companies could now get their hands on investments of up to $100,000 as an Angel Network is ready to spread an investment mantle across the region, with up to 20 high net worth investors poised to give wings to new business. Christine Allen looks at the Dragon’s Den style divine intervention blossoming in the region

There is nothing supernatural about the investors that will consider the business pitches of two Northland companies next month – they just have the capital that start-ups need and are hungry for some tasty returns.
The New Zealand Angel Association is operating networks in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Queenstown, connecting investors with early stage companies.

Through Ice Angels in Auckland, economic development group Northland Inc has so far engaged up to 20 investors in Northland.

Two Whangarei companies, and one from Auckland, will face the panel of Northland angels in October. The companies have IT-based pitches and have been working with Northland Inc to perfect their applications before meeting investors.
Their training has focused on due diligence, business opportunities and presentation skills.
Suse Reynolds, executive director of the New Zealand Angel Association, said individual angels invest between $5000 and $100,000 in any one deal.

They often have up to 20 deals on the go at any one time and accept that 50 per cent of deals will flop.
“Angel investing is such a powerful thing to do for a local economy.
She said some angels preferred to remain under the radar.
“But others are very happy to be ev-angel-ists for the cause.”

Mostly, they are looking for a meaningful return. The association offer networks and also funds, which companies can apply for, with or without opportunities for mentoring and strategic influence.
Currently, angels must earn a net $200,000 per year for over two years or have access to assets worth $2 million or more.
Financial Markets Authority reforms would soon allow smaller investors to come on board, thus expanding angel networks for smaller deals.

Technology is one of the network’s preferred areas of investment. Networks are also accredited with the Seed Co-Investment Fund, allowing for potential for qualifying transactions to receive the matching Government funds.
Joseph Stuart, general manager of business growth at Northland Inc said as 25 per cent of New Zealand’s top 50 rich listers had homes or holiday in the east coast of Northland, we have plenty of angels.
Mr Stuart said Northland offered an attractive lifestyle to business people, which was perhaps why we had so many potential investors here.

“Lots of wealthy New Zealanders come here on holidays, but have they been approached to become investors and mentors?
“Yes they are on holidays, but businesspeople love a good investment opportunity.”

First published on nzherald.co.nz 11 Sept 2014

Lead Partners

NZTE NZGCP PWC “NZX” Callaghan Innovation

Expert Partner

AVID “Jarden”

AANZ Summit Sponsors

“UniServices” Kiwinet “AWS” “BNZ” “Momentum” “Punakaiki” “MBIE” “GD1” “WellingtonUniVentures” “Movac”