Giving wings to business risks

From humble beginnings in Kolkata, India, engineer-turned-serial angel (early stage) investor Jayesh Parekh is poised to close his second fund with Jungle Ventures.

The seed and Series-A US$100 million pan-Asia investment fund, comes hot on the heels of the Singapore-based venture firm fully investing its first US$10 million pan-Asia Angel fund, which invested in 30 start-ups including two with Kiwi origins: video transfer firm Ebus; and inventory management company Tradegecko.

A self-confessed Kiwiphile, start-up mentor and social enterprise champion, Jayesh took time out from sharing his wisdom (and humour) at the combined 2015 Angel Summit and Asian Business Angels Forum in Queenstown last month to tell NZBusiness whether being an entrepreneur is more nature or nurture, and why an entrepreneurial mindset is important for business growth. Lesley Springall asked the questions.

There are people who are born-risk-takers. It’s handed to them genetically.

Then there are people who are from a business background, but not a risk-taking background, but that does not mean those people can never be entrepreneurs. If you can cultivate a risk-taking ability then you can become an entrepreneur.

But why is an entrepreneurial mindset important for businesspeople?
Jayesh: “There are two things about an entrepreneurial mindset – one is that risk-taking ability and the second, and most important, is what I call ‘business acumen’, a visionary who sees opportunities and how to make money from them.

“There are people who have business acumen, but don’t have the risk-taking ability. They can grow to very senior levels in Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, but they never start their own business because they don’t have that risk-taking ability. The only risks they take are ‘intrapreneurship’ risks; they don’t risk their own money.
“You need both to grow a business.

“An entrepreneur often thinks just because they have started a business, they have taken a risk, but there are three levels of risks: the first is to graduate from college and start a business or work for two years then start a business, but that’s not really much of a risk for anyone. Then there’s the next risk level, when you first take someone else’s money. The third level is growth money, when you take $5 million or $10 million dollars to energise and change the company from a secure path to a growth path.
“That’s a big level of risk because that businessperson could just stay where they are – they’ve got a good life, why do they want to take $5 million more, why put everything at stake? So there is some risk taking at each level, but it’s extremely important to be entrepreneurial at the third level, because that’s when there’s the most risk and that’s when you need the vision to see the opportunity to scale.”

NZB: Is that something a business person can hire in?
Jayesh: “Yes and no. In India you can, for example, hire in a graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology or an MBA graduate from the Institute of Management. However, the economics of making profits out of a business must really come from the business owner because it is their vision and strategy and any person they hire in, however business savvy, will still just be executing this strategy.”

NZB: What do you look for when choosing to invest in someone?
Jayesh: “There are three things I look for. The first is ‘who’. Who is the entrepreneur who’s standing in front of me?

What is their background? What is their passion? What is their vision? And what is their business acumen and risk-taking ability?

“If they pass that only then will I move on to the next step – the ‘what’. What is the idea? Is it scalable? Is it a repeatable? What are the economics of it? Is it well thought through? Is this something that I can see growing in leaps and bounds? Is it an innovative idea? Is it a disruptive idea? Is it a ‘me too’ idea? As soon as I know that and if I like it, I will go on to the next question, which is ‘how’.

“So I go to this hugely important risk factor, the one most people look at first, and look at it third. How are you going to execute this? Is this really going to work? Is this just multiplying 20 percent per quarter growth? Is this something the entrepreneurial team can defend? Do they have the ability to do this? Do they have the ability to hire and plug the holes in the team if they don’t?”

NZB: What percentage get to ‘how’?
Jayesh: “At Jungle Ventures we see a few thousand ideas, but we can only make three to five investments a year.
“Sometimes I do come across some amazing people, but the idea might not fit the Jungle thesis, as we are four partners – whereas before when I was just an angel investor, the percentage was a lot higher. I used to be a lot more all over the place; as soon as I liked something I’d fall in love, and I fall in love very easily.”

NZB: What gets you excited?
Jayesh: “Personally I get excited about innovation and disruption and therefore I look for intellectual property (IP). If the idea is defensible, that really excites me.”

NZB: What’s the most common mistake entrepreneurs make when they try to approach investors?
Jayesh: “They get really carried away with the market size and the top down approach. They say, ‘look the market is $3 billion and I just want two percent of it and therefore I’m going to make $50 million, $60 million or $100 million’.

“In the past, the economic model was all important. But nowadays anyone can build a community so it’s not so dramatically important; but I see entrepreneurs getting hung up on it. They throw in things like 100 million users or $100 million revenue in three years and that’s in the unbelievable category.

“So, really, the biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs making is undermining the ability of an investor to see through the rosy picture they are painting. Yes, we like our entrepreneurs to be passionate and to think big, but if they are honest and show a little bit of self-doubt that gives the impression they will listen. And a good entrepreneur has to be smart, savvy, but he also needs to understand other people’s points of view and then be able to make a decision and follow it.”

First published on on 7th December 2015

Closing Remarks #ABAF15NZ and intro to #ABAF16Korea

#ABAF15NZ: Closing Remarks and intro to #ABAF16Korea

Wrap up of #ABAF15NZ from #Marcel Van den Assum (Angel Association New Zealand)

Introduction to # John Choy (Korean Angel Association) who invites international visitors to #ABAF16Korea

Click here to view video on youtube

Silicon Valley / Silicon Dragon – Complimenting or Competing #ABAF15NZ

#ABAF15NZ: Silicon Valley / Silicon Dragon – Complimenting or Competing

What influence or roles does “the valley” play in approaches to scaling, building markets and creating value in Asia for liquidity success? How do we best access capital connections and customers across the two? Is that even possible for early-stage ventures?

Key note : #Jayesh Parekh (Jungle Ventures, Singapore)

Two promising New Zealand entrepreneurs discuss international scaling from the founders perspective.

# Jo Mills (Fuel50, NZ)

# Jonny Hendrikson (Shuttlerock, NZ)

DEBATE: “Silicon Valley can’t teach us much about scaling angel backed ventures in Asia”

Moderator : # Raiyo Nariman (Malaysia)

Affirmative :

# Marcia Dawood (Golden Seeds, USA)

# Eric Wikramanayake (Lankan Angels, Sri Lanka)

# Lee Bagshaw (Simmonds Steward, NZ)

Negative :

# Jamie Rhodes (Central Texas Angel Network, USA)

# Lucy Lu (Life Science Angels, USA)

# Jordan Green (Australian Association of Angel Investors)

Click here to watch video on youtube

Building an International Portfolio #ABAF15NZ

#ABAF15NZ: Building an Internation Portfolio

Getting real on the likely hood of cross-border deal syndication – the risks, the restrictions and the potential. Is it possible to build an international portfolio? What are the pros and cons?

Moderator – # Nelson Gray (Scottish Angel Capital Association, SCT)

# Ashley Krongold (Our Crowd, AUS)

# Raiyo Nariman (Malaysian Business Angel Network)

# Bob Kelly (Microsoft, US)

Click here to view video on youtube

The Role and Relevance of Listing #ABAF15NZ

#ABA15NZ: The Role and Relevance of Listing

Where does listing fit in the lifecycle of an early-stage company? Is it different internationally? What are the options?

Introduction presentation from Tim Bennett, CEO, NZX who explains New Zealand’s regulatory environment, markets and opportunities for high growth companies and angel and venture capital investment markets.

Moderator – # Chris Twiss (NZVIF, NZ)

# Chris Twiss, New Zealand Venture Investment Fund

# Garth Sutherland, and Bronwyn McGrayth from Adherium, NZ who recently listed on the the New Zealand stock exchange

# Chris Twiss, NZVIF explains the NZ fund investing and compares to international markets with comment from Ron Weissman, US and David Chen, China.

How much time should founding team of early-stage companies be giving to thinking about IPO.

Click here to view video on youtube

Role and Importance of IP in building Angel Venture Value #ABAF15NZ

#ABAF15NZ: Role and Importance of IP in building Angel Venture Value

A practical look at how IP can be leveraged to build value in ABC’s (Angel Backed Companies). Building revenue streams and IP portfolios.

What IP are Asian acquirers looking for? Do angels need to own the IP? What role does the exclusive licence play? What are sector specific consideration in IT vs. life science deals.

Moderator – # Anton Blijlevens (AJPark, NZ)

# Allan May (Life Science Angels, USA)

# Introduction to international panel and their ‘war stories’ about intellectual property in China, Australia, and New Zealand

# David Chen (AngelVest, China)

# David Hugues (NZ Plant and Food – Crown Research Institute, NZ)

# Jim Kalokerinos (Brisbane Angels, Australia)

Click here to watch video on youtube

Minister Steven Joyce addresses angel investors at #ABAF15NZ

#ABAF15NZ: Minister Steven Joyce addresses angel investors

# Minister Steven Joyce – Economic Development & Science/Innovation Minister, an entrepreneur himself who started in the Radio industry, talks to #ABAF15NZ investors about creating stronger links for New Zealand in the Asia Pacific rim and driving New Zealand’s Business Growth Agenda.

Includes the announcement of the 2015 fiscal surplus for New Zealand, mention of the free trade agreement with China and TPPA.

“New Zealand is far more innovative and a far lower cost”

BGA paper including ‘Innovation Chapter’ available here

BGA Building Investment – “New Zealand needs more capital”

Click here to watch video on youtube

Equity Crowd Funding #ABAF15NZ

#ABAF15NZ: Equity Crowd Funding

Presenters from three platforms spanning UK, Australia and New Zealand look at current developments and dynamics of both accredited and unaccredited equity crowd funding. They also discuss its impact on angel investment and advances made by early-stage companies to change the world.

Moderator – # Ashley Krongold (Our Crowd, AUS)

# An intro to crowd funding in Australia

Slides available here

# Josh Daniell (Snowball, NZ)

# David Wallace (Armillary Private Capital and Crowdcube, NZ)

Click here to wtch video on youtube

Pan Asia Angel Investment Markets #ABAF15NZ

#ABAF15NZ: Pan Asia Angel Investment Markets

Angel investors from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka compare notes and comment on international early-stage deal making. Deal size, valuation, exits, sector preferences, government support, regulatory issues and more. They discuss cross-border investment and access to follow on capital.

Moderator – # Andy Hamilton (Ice Angels, NZ)

# David Chen (Angel Vest, China)

# Mark Hsu (Pinehurst Advisors, Taiwan)

# Samson Tam (Hong Kong Business Angels)

# Eric Wikramanayake (Lankan Angels Sri Lanka)

# Andy Hamilton throws out a challenge and starts Q & A

Click here to view on youtube

Welcome to #ABAF15NZ with Angel Association NZ

#ABAF15NZ: Welcome to ABAF with Angel Association NZ

#Marcel Van Den Assum (Chairman, Angel Association NZ) introduces the Asian Business Angel Forum. Hosted by the Angel Association of New Zealand, the 2015 Forum offers the opportunity for international and local investors to join together in celebrating this small country’s big contribution to early stage investment.

Leading angels agree that New Zealand punches above its weight.

“The AANZ has become one of the TOP angel summits in the WORLD,” – Bill Payne, US Angel Capital Association Hans Severiens Award Winner.

Click here to view on youtube

New Zealand: Angel Investment activity by Harveen Narulla

This week I attended the Asian Business Angels Forum in Queenstown, New Zealand. It was well attended. I noticed some things and gained valuable insights from speaking with members of the community.

A few things jumped out at me:

  • How many people in New Zealand were interested in angel investing;
  • That they recognized the limitations of the help that they could give to the companies, but still persisted undeterred;
  • That the angel community had over time coalesced in groups, mainly geographic based;
  • That the government was aware of the angel investment community and it had ministerial attention and support from heavyweight ministers;
  • That there were strong co-investment programs (which I need to learn more about);
  • That increasingly the angel community was looking within itself for leadership to better organise itself with a view to making better decisions (on for example due diligence) and getting better results from its investment activity;
  • Leaders had emerged from within the community, and were well supported by most of the community; there was also a big push from these individuals to disseminate best practices among the angel community;
  • That deals were shared among the different angel investment hubs, so in practice almost the entire community could participate in deals.
  • Some startup founders I engaged with there had interesting perspectives in relation to the need to build sound businesses that generated profit, more than just aiming for a big exit.

It seems much of the mechanics of the community’s working are a result of having to deal with the circumstances in which the community operates:

  • Follow-on or growth funding is limited;
  • the domestic market is small and not of meaningful size to fulfill the ambitions of most of the startups; hence companies need to head overseas early or turn profitable quickly;
  • being a relatively large and sparsely populated country, it was natural for personalities and individuals instead of group structures to have taken precedence in the early growth phases of the community.
  • However, there had then been a phase of experimentation with various incubator structures. Many of these had not yielded outstanding results, and the lessons were still being discerned and digested.
  • The size of the country also led to an understandable push to move organized activity around the country, when it may have yielded more return just being allowed to take root in particular places.
  • The lack of follow on funding and advice and market opportunities for growth had led the community to turn to the US. This in turn had led to valuation inflation, and migration of companies out of New Zealand.

What I appreciated about the community was that there was recognition that some of the early phenomena resulting from the natural evolution of the community should be corrected. In particular, it used to be seen as a badge of honour for startups to do second or third rounds at large valuations, which ended up trapping some start-ups up a tree they then had to make the unpleasant decision to climb down from. Today there seems to be more understanding that valuations need to be explainable by reference to where the company was in its growth journey.

The community was also very open to learning how to do things better.

There, I feel the experience we have had growing Hatcher’s processes and portfolio could add some value. Points I made in my panel session about the value of applying process and intensive involvement as a venture builder, focusing on a niche (B2B in our case), having a clear idea of founder profile (we preferred older founding teams that had a range of experience and competences), were not lost on those listening. I had many good conversations about this after my panel session at the event and look forward to more such exchanges.

Another thing that struck me – and this is larger than just the angel or venture scene – was how down to earth, open and sincere people in the community were. There was a lot of warmth, tremendous amounts of kind sentiment, and a willingness among people I spoke with to make introductions. This community clearly has a strong ethic and all the ingredients for progress together.

Hatcher looks forward to being involved with the New Zealand venture community in the years ahead.

See the original post here

Marcel van den Assum named as New Zealand Arch Angel 2015

Marcel van den Assum, the current chair of the Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ) has been awarded the prestigious Arch Angel Award at the 2015 combined Angel Summit and Asian Business Angels Forum (ABAF) in Queenstown.

The Arch 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.

The Committee deciding the award (comprised of past Arch Angel awardees) noted Marcel has not only been a particularly active angel investor but has taken a leading role in the governance of a number of angel investee companies, distinguishing himself with his widely acknowledged assistance in the Green Button exit last year.

“However, it is his contribution to the administration and promotion of New Zealand’s angel investment world that was key to Marcel becoming this year’s Arch Angel,” says 2014 New Zealand Arch Angel and former AANZ chair Ray Thomson. “Not only has he been heavily involved in the development of the Wellington-based Angel HQ group, which was instrumental in founding New Zealand’s first startup accelerator Lightning Lab, but he has generously given his time to the development of New Zealand’s angel community, serving two years as deputy chair and then, for the last two years, chair of the AANZ.”

Marcel was presented with this year’s award in front of more than 170 angels, including 50 representatives from overseas, in the first event of its kind in New Zealand combining the eighth annual Angel Summit with ABAF.

Andy Hamilton, chief executive of Auckland’s angel, startup and business education hub, the Icehouse, and another former Arch Angel, says giving this year’s award to Marcel in front of so many national and international angels was fitting as Marcel has always strived to help build overseas connections to help our startups succeed. “Like all business angels, Marcel is completely dedicated to helping entrepreneurs achieve their potential and to do that we need to build international connections to provide the capital and connections our young businesses need to compete in a global marketplace.”

Marcel is AANZ chair, a professional director and an angel investor. He serves on the boards of Flick, Voco, Simplhealth, Yonix, CropX and the Wellington-based angel group AngelHQ. He was an investor in and chair of GreenButton, a successful angel-backed company that was acquired by Microsoft in 2014. He is a founding investor in Lightning Lab, a member of the GD1 (Global from Day one) investment committee, and he holds a number of advisory board positions with private and public sector entities. Prior to donning his wings, Marcel was CIO of Fonterra and managing principal of Unisys New Zealand.

Former Arch 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; US super angel Bill Payne, and last year’s awardee veteran angel investor Dr Ray Thomson.

For more information, please contact:

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

Dr Ray Thomson, former AANZ chair and 2014 Arch Angel, on mob: 021 646483 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 14 members representing more than 650 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. Recent NZ Venture Investment Fund data revealed angels have invested more than $NZ370 million in over 640 deals in the last 8 years. For more, please visit:

Building investment in New Zealand’s future

This year New Zealand is hosting the Asian Business Angels Forum, combining it with its own Angel Summit to strengthen ties, build alliances and make it possible for our entrepreneurs to have the cash and the connections they need to become New Zealand’s businesses of tomorrow.

On October 14th to October 16th 2015, in the stunning surrounds of Queenstown, alliances will be forged and best practices shared at the combined eighth annual New Zealand Angel Summit and the Asian Business Angels Forum (ABAF).

More than 150 angels, including 50 representatives from about a dozen countries, are expected at the event. All are dedicated to helping young businesses achieve their potential by building the networks they need to thrive in today’s global world and providing the capital they need to compete.

“Having this many investors visit with an appetite for early stage entrepreneurial ventures rather than property, and from such a range of countries is unique, if not a first for New Zealand,” says Marcel van den Assum, chair of the New Zealand Angel Association (AANZ).

“Angels invest their own ‘courageous capital’ in high growth startups. They are largely motivated by the desire to ‘give back’ and support their local economies. It’s not a financially rational endeavour because on a deal-by-deal basis angels are more likely to lose their money than not. So it’s a portfolio game where, both personally and from a wider economic benefit perspective, investors plant a lot of small seedlings to grow the giants in the forest.”

That’s why building alliances with other angels nationally and overseas is so important as it opens up a wealth of educational and experiential talent for the investee entrepreneurs and helps spread the risks and diversify angel portfolios, says van den Assum.

Given the tie-up with ABAF, the theme of this year’s Summit is Doing Business Together.

The summit kicks off with a a New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) hosted technology showcase where 15 ventures, most of them angel-backed, will pitch to the gathered national and international angels on the Wednesday evening.

“While it will be terrific if some of the inbound visitors invest in these companies, the real value is in building an international network,” says van den Assum. “Angels are collaborative by nature. And without doubt the New Zealand angel-backed success stories have benefited from relationships built with prominent US angels over a number of years, which we are now extending into Asia.”

Building a global business from New Zealand is challenging, says van den Assum. “It’s a bit like climbing Everest – you need a good team behind you. A connected international network of support is critical to their success and that is what ABAF is all about: connecting Kiwi entrepreneurs and angel investors with angels in other places where we want and need to do business.”

For more information, please contact:

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

Suse Reynolds, AANZ Executive Director, on mob: 021 490 974 or email: [email protected]

Angel Association attracts major global investors to NZ

Hosted by the Angel Association of New Zealand, the 2015 Asian Business Angel Forum takes place in Queenstown, New Zealand, 14 – 16 October 2015.

The event, an expertly curated, three day and completely investor-centric summit subsumes the AANZ’s annual summit this year.

It brings together leading investors from around the world to share their knowledge and join together in celebrating this small country’s big contribution to early stage investment.

The AANZ is pleased to have attracted a stellar line-up of international speakers who bring with them hundreds of investment experiences and personal involvement in the most significant international investment funds and angel groups.

Their combined portfolios include some of the biggest, most important and well known early-stage companies in the world.

Thought-leaders gathering to present at ABAF in New Zealand’s beautiful Queenstown’s include:

Jayesh Parekh – Jungle Ventures, 500 Startups and Mumbai Angels

David Chen – AngelVest

Sasha Mirchandani  – Kae Capital and Mumbai Angels

Nelson Gray – LINC Scotland, Firth Ventures and winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion for individuals who have played an important role in promoting enterprise skills and supporting entrepreneurs,

Bill Payne – ACA, Hans Severiens Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Angel Investing and 2010 New Zealand Arch Angel Award for his impact on angel investing in New Zealand

Jon Medved – OurCrowd

Ian Sobieski – Band of Angels

Jamie Rhodes – ACA, Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN) and Texas into the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks

Marcia Dawood – ACA Board member, MD, Golden Seeds and Blue Tree

Allan May – Life Science Angels, Emergent Medical Partners

and Carolynn and Jon Levy – the legal team from the United States most successful incubator – Y Combinator, which has launched the likes of Airbnb, Dropbox and Stripe.


To see the entire stream of social media as Angels actively connect New Zealand to the globe, the latest from international guests, hashtags and other social networks in one place click here.

Using twitter you can follow the Angel Association of New Zealand at @AngelAssn, and keep up to date with the Asian Business Angels Forum news and the event itself as it unfolds by using the hashtag #ABAFNZ15.

To meet and hear from New Zealand’s largest gathering of global investment thought leaders, along with a host of angels from New Zealand’s angel investment community in person secure your seat now.

There are only 30 places left at one the southern hemisphere’s largest and exclusive investor events Asian Business Angels Forum, Queenstown, New Zealand, October 14-15 2015.

 ABAF2015, NZ

#ABAF15NZ Speakers – Jayesh Parekh

Meet the speakers #ABAF15NZ – Jayesh Parekh

Queenstown, New Zealand, is gearing up for 2015’s Asian Business Angel Forum. The event runs from 14-16 October 2015 with an impressive line-up of business angels from all over the world.

Among the investment experts coming to New Zealand to share their knowledge and networks is managing partner of Jungle Ventures, Jayesh Parekh.


Mr Parekh has accumulated an extensive portfolio of technology, media and social impact investments with over ten exit or acquisition events among them.

He is also well placed to provide attendees of #ABAF15NZ with an authoritative view on funds and the benefit of angel networks, incubators and accelerators as a partner in a wide range of early-stage business growth and investment vehicles including Jungle Ventures, 500 Startups and Mumbai Angels.

Jayesh is a Singapore citizen and lives there with his family where he is actively involved in the ecosystem. He is Chief Mentor at the Hub Singapore, an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INSEAD, an Executive Advisor to NUS (National University of Singapore) Enterprise and a TiE (Tech In Asia) Charter Member. As a judge at TiE’s Startup arena in Jakarta in 2014, Tech in Asia’s biggest Startup Asia to date with 2,202 participants, Jayesh was on the judging panel coaching founders to clearly articulate their monetization strategies.

Drawing on his background as an engineer with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from MS University in Baroda, India, a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, USA and over 12 years at IBM based in Houston and Singapore, he supplies valuable guidance around product believing “best of class product is extremely important and that means the user experience fits across all regions.”

Jayesh also works with existing businesses to help them apply a more entrepreneurial mindset and approach to their enterprises. He delivers in-company presentations and often facilitates deep discussions with sales and marketing and business development teams to help them embrace corporate entrepreneurship as a way to identify new business opportunities.

In his long list of achievements Jayesh counts being a co-founder of Sony Entertainment Television, a major network launched in collaboration with Sony Pictures Entertainment and his board membership of One Animation, Shemaroo, Milaap, and investment in Asvathaa (gaming & animation), Game Ventures (online gaming) and eBus (TV commercial digital distribution).

He is also a passionate advocate and investor in ventures which give back to the community with roles on the Boards of social enterprise focused ventures such as the Investment Committee of Aavishkaar India, which invests in enterprises active in the social infrastructure sector in rural and underserved India. He was on the board of SONG, a fund owned by George Soros which invests in SMEs in India that meet social objectives. He served on the Board of United Way International for six years and is a founder of ProPoor, a non-profit portal for Non-Governmental Organizations in South Asia, and now a service of CharityFocus.

You can follow Jayesh on Twitter and meet and hear from him in person, along with a host of angels from New Zealand’s angel investment community and the world at one the southern hemisphere’s largest angel investor events Asian Business Angels Forum, Queenstown, October 14-15. Seats are now very limited. Be quick to register yours. ABAF2015, NZ

Angel evangelist making the New Zealand connection

John May is founding chair of America’s Angel Capital Association (ACA). He’s championed the cause of entrepreneurs and angel investors all over the world since realising big organisations weren’t for him, establishing five US angel groups and working internationally to establish more. He’s co-authored books on the subject, is managing partner of angel investment firm New Vantage Group and is investment director for UK-based global venture fund, Seraphim. He came to New Zealand to meet our angel community setting the scene for ABAF 2015 in October, Queenstown, NZ. We asked him why?

I loved it when I was here before, but I wanted to come back for longer, not just for a four-day thing… to get a better feel for the New Zealand business community, the angel community, but also the neighbourhood.

It hasn’t disappointed.

But to what end, exactly?

I’ve been around the world running the (Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s) Power of Angel Investing series and trying to get a better feel for what’s going on in different countries and how best to collaborate.

We’re not looking for countries that have the best deals to go write cheques, that’s the big fallacy: we’re not running international angel development workshops and building global networks because we’re deal orientated; we’re movement orientated.

What happens when your company wants to go from here to a bigger market in Southern California? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was communication between the angels of Southern California and the angels backing the company here? You don’t want to hire a lawyer in Southern California to tell you how to run a business in Southern California… wouldn’t it be better to have mentors and supporters in Southern California who are co-investors.

So you wanted to come here to build connections?

Yes and more. One of my big things is to get more overseas investors to come to our ACA conference to learn what we are doing.

Here’s some sobering statistics: even in the US – the largest economy in the world, the largest venture capital community in the world – we believe only about 5% of households are wealthy enough to be angels, not friends or family, but proper angels. And my definition of a proper angel is an individual who invests their own money in a stranger’s business, in a minority position, gives their time as well as their money and there is no one else in-between.

And of those 5% who can, we think there’s only 5% who do. And now we’re getting to the bottomline: not only do we think that only 5% of those who can, do, only 5% of those who do, ever do it in a structured, disciplined, portfolio diversification, networked group way and I bet New Zealand is pretty similar.




You really push the group concept. But why is it so important for that 5% of 5% to be part of an investment group?

What we’ve learnt is that we need to diversify our portfolios, which means getting out of our comfort zones. It also takes more money than we have personally to take a company that’s going to be significant from startup to breakeven and it takes time to do due diligence on the opportunity. Who’s going to make the phone calls? Who’s going to have the meetings? Who’s going to do the market research? So if you decide you’re going to diversify, if you’re going to do due diligence to make you comfortable, and you’re going to have enough money on the table to make it a viable company, what you learn very quickly is you can’t be a solo angel and do this.

What our companies need are cheques for US$250,000 to US$1 million and to deliver that and diversify your portfolio you need to be in a group, even better, a syndicate of groups – that’s the big movement in the US right now – the syndication of groups.

Why is that so important?

Well if you need US$2 million, it may be above the capacity of an individual group, but you may be able to bundle four angel groups or funds together and all of a sudden you’ve got a couple of million dollars, so then the company can finish developing their product or get their first sales and really get on their way.

 You wrote the book: “Every business needs an angel” – why does every business need an angel?

The real wink is every high-growth, successful business, as opposed to a mom and pop store, needs an angel because it’s lonely out there doing it on your own; you need a mentor; you need risk capital; there’s so many reasons why angels are important for companies…an entrepreneur gets a board member, a friend, an adviser.

Doesn’t it depend on the angel they get?

Yes, and it depends on the entrepreneur. Some entrepreneurs just give lip service to the help; they really just want the money. Then there’s the lip service of an angel who says I’m going to be your friend, I’m going to be your adviser, I’m going to be available and then doesn’t answer the phone. It doesn’t always work. But it’s an art not a science.

The real wink is getting the right angel with the right entrepreneur because some angels can be great board members, but aren’t good at helping to find staff, sales or marketing; while some are good as a shoulder to cry on, but aren’t good at financials; some are good for startup and some are good for growth companies. That’s another reason why groups are better than individuals.

The right angel should always be a joint decision between the entrepreneur and the investors. There should be a chemistry between them and there should be a staging of the need, so the right investor for the company at the right time.

Should angel investors always have representative on the board?

Advisory boards are very important, but companies don’t need boards of directors until they’ve grown a little bit.

It’s also very important for [the chosen investor representative] to have a way of communicating to the other angel investors, so the entrepreneur doesn’t have to waste their time communicating with all of them.

What’s the most common mistake entrepreneurs make when they seek investment?

Thinking they know it all. It’s quite rare to find a coachable, industry-savvy, less egotistical entrepreneur their first time around.

I’m a big believer in investing in second-time entrepreneurs. A serial entrepreneur is a wonderful thing to invest in, because someone has already paid for their mistakes the first time round. But that’s another thing that’s fascinating about here: New Zealand is a place where almost everyone is a first time entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs need to understand the first thing angels look for is management, management, management; the second thing is a large market; and the third, if we’re smart, is the product or service, the technology, whatever. Yet most entrepreneurs want to sell us on the fact their thing is faster, cheaper, better, slicker, more fun first. But we invest in the jockey not the horse.

The problem is an entrepreneur has to have the dream and the ego to handle it. So there is a natural tendency to want to invest in someone who has a lot of confidence and a lot of energy. But if they are really going to grow their business into a significant company, they need to be humble enough to understand they can’t know everything: they are going to have to hire people; they are going to have to listen to people, so finding someone who is coachable is important.

What’s the most common thing angels do wrong?

Hearts over heads…and not providing enough tough love once we’ve invested: are you being direct enough; are you talking about the exit; are you educating the entrepreneur; are you telling it like it is instead of waiting until it gets worse to say something? That’s why you have to have the right chemistry; you can’t be in awe of each other. The entrepreneur shouldn’t think we’re just money and we shouldn’t think they are running the company so we shouldn’t give them our frank opinion.

Why do you love this area so much?

It’s the people. It’s the entrepreneurs. They are so important because they make businesses; they make money. We benefit from the vision, the energy, the business model of the entrepreneur…so the excitement for me is being a part of this journey.

Plus it’s what it does. It boosts any economy, any city to find a way to finance innovative new technologies and products. Economies will go backward if they don’t stay in touch with newer, faster ways of meeting their needs. And it creates jobs, futures. Major corporations are net job losers; they cut costs, find efficiencies. All the research shows startups and SMEs are the net job creators of modern economies.

But angels also have to make money in the end or it’s a losing proposition and will fade away.


What should we be doing more of in New Zealand to improve our angel ecosystem?

Find as many ways as possible to educate the media, the government, the wider community that supporting high-growth companies matters; make people aware of the benefits to the entire economy of making this work, of encouraging more entrepreneurs, of making smarter entrepreneurs and of helping to make more and smarter angels.

We need to encourage more angels to increase the amount of capital available, because the more capital there is available the more likely people are to diversify and thus the more capital there is for different sectors to develop new products, and we need more angels to bring different skills into the mix. There is so much going on in social media and some of the new technology, for example, that you almost have to find a way to search out the recently cashed-out, under 40-year olds because they can make a material difference to understanding the current consumer market for those sorts of companies. It’s also hard to be an investor and help an entrepreneur and do due diligence on them if you don’t understand what they are doing.

We tend to talk to ourselves far too much.

by Lesley Springall

To meet and hear from international angels and leaders in New Zealand’s angel investment community and make your New Zealand connection secure your seat at one the southern hemisphere’s largest international exclusive investor events Asian Business Angels Forum, being held in Queenstown, New Zealand, October 14-15 2015.

ABAF2015, NZ

ABAF 2015, Queenstown, New Zealand Connection

Discover your New Zealand connection.

Angel investors do business together – we do business together when we invest in deals, when we are looking for follow on funding rounds and when we are looking for in-market opportunities. We do business together when we are looking for acquirers and we do business together when we are celebrating exits. We are a collaborative group of professionals who acknowledge and appreciate each individuals unique experience and expertise.

The Asian Business Angels Forum being held in Queenstown at stunning Mount Soho Winery is in keeping with the nature of our community.

It is the Angel Association of New Zealand’s desire to keep this event an angel-centric, intimate gathering, this terrific venue has limited capacity so we advise that you register quickly to avoid missing out.

This summit will focus on providing delegates with practical insights on how to build and execute successful, capital-acquisition strategies from the first round through to exit.

You will hear from seasoned practitioners about the importance of a capital strategy in angel venture success, about board stewardship and alignment, how to successfully court acquirers internationally and how to manage market disrupting intellectual property for commercial success across the globe.

With delegates coming from across the Asia Pacific, Europe and North America we are going to dig into how to do more cross border deals and work on live examples of deals which have the potential to be exactly this while having the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of our chosen location – Queenstown.

The stunning scenery, natural beauty and the vibrancy of the region make Queenstown the perfect destination to relax and enjoy sophistication and world-class facilities.


Here’s a list of superb accommodations to make your stay a memorable one:


millbrook_imageMillbrook Resort is a luxury resort only a 20 minute drive from Queenstown. The five star accommodation resort includes three restaurants, a bar/cafe, award winning spa, a 27-hole golf course, health and fitness centre with outdoor hot pool, heated swimming pool, mountain bikes and much more. Millbrook is two minutes drive from the nearby historic gold mining village of Arrowtown. The perfect getaway scenario to energize and relax surrounded by mountain air and open space.


crowneplazaCrowne Plaza is centrally located and a walking distance to everything you need in Queenstown. The hotel offers fine hospitality and a magnificent scenery. This modern hotel provides luxury at its best to make your stay enjoyable and dynamic: an on-site gym, meeting rooms and 24-hour room service. Or relax and invigorate at the in-house spa and wellness centre with a variety of facial and body treatments.


heritageHeritage Queenstown is located just outside the town centre. The hotel offers  alpine-style accommodation with stunning views over Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown. Heritage Queenstown buildings are the typical mountain style accommodation made from centuries-old-schist stone and cedar. The world-class services and facilities feature a heated indoor/outdoor swimming pool, sauna, gym and an elegant restaurant. Great choice for guests interested in experiencing comfort and sophistication.


Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 11.20.44 amVilla del Lago offers quality self-catering apartments on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, just 2 minutes drive from Queenstown. With stunning views to the Remarkables Mountains and across the lake, the property has its own pebbled beach. Villa del Lago features ski, bicycle and sports storage and is close to all the attractions Queenstown has to offer, from vineyards to ski fields to bungy jump and world-class golf. Impeccable surroundings and quietude by the lakeside Frankton walkway and cycle path, and located only a 20 minute walk from the Queenstown centre.


Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 11.23.49 amMillennium Hotel Queenstown is located in central Queenstown and only 2 minutes away from local shopping and entertainment areas and close to all ski fields. It features sauna, spa, gym, massage therapist, sightseeing and activities desk. Millennium’s Observatory restaurant speciality is modern New Zealand cuisine and the Club Bar is ideal to relax after a great day outdoors. Millennium Hotel Queenstown offers luxury and elegance committed to minimize environmental impact.


Hotel ExteriorHilton Queenstown Resort & Spa situated on the eastern shore of Lake Wakatipu in the Kawarau village. The Resort & Spa facilities include indoor pool, a fitness centre and the Eforea spa. The rooms offer spectacular views to the lake or mountains and amenities to keep guests focused at work or relaxed in the luxurious bath or in front of the fireplace. At Wakatipu Grill Restaurant guests can sample local seasonal produce while enjoying the scenic views and the Cru Wine Bar & Lounge specializes in local and international wines. Workout in the fitness centre, take a swim in the 25-metre heated lap pool or indulge in a treatment at the Eforea Spa. Pure indulgement for travellers interested in vineyards and fine dining.


(Contact Angel Association New Zealand at [email protected]  to get the promotional code for discounted delegate rates at these hotels).

ABAF 2015, Queenstown, NZ – the Social Scene

Get amongst it!

ABAF 2015 and the lively social scene of Queenstown

The Asian Business Angels Forum being held in the extraordinary scenery and atmosphere of Queenstown will add to a valuable experience. This lake and alpine resort region surrounded by magnific mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu is inspiring and revitalising.

This summit is a wonderful opportunity to connect with the most refined and active angels from around the globe to learn more about exits, the best practices, investing trends, succeding in the changing early-stage investment environment, and how to attract cross-border invetments.

We do hope you enjoy your time and be indulged by Queenstown’s top restaurants. Some of them are listed below:


bbq TSS Earnslaw / Walter Peak – Thursday dinner: The ultimate kiwi experience. Enjoy a lake cruise on board TSS Earnslaw and feel like going back in time. Admire the sumptuous alpine scenery before disembarking on Walter Peak for a gourmet BBQ dinner. Indulge best-quality meats, delicious vegetables, salads and finish with a delightful selection of desserts.



Rata: The award winning restaurant owned by internationally    acclaimed Michelin starred-chef Josh   Emett added to the heritage building and relaxed decor holds all the elements to a top-notch cuisine experience.





Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 10.25.58 am


Amisfield Winery & Bistro: Located in the quintessential building housing the cellar door and bistro offering exquisite selection of seasonal dishes that compliment the fruit purity quality of the Amisfield wines.









Botswana Butchery: The restaurant offers a diverse menu with a speciality on fine cut beef and local organic foods accompanied by the perfect wine from the impressive private 1800 bottle cellar.



Tom McKaskill talks Angel/Founder alignment #AANZSummit14

Angel Association New Zealand Summit 2014

Each year’s Angel Association New Zealand Annual Summit brings keynote speakers from around the world to share their knowledge and networks.

In 2015 we will hold a special Summit, merging it with 2015’s Asian Business Angel Forum and welcoming Angels who are looking for opportunities to do business with New Zealanders.

In 2014 we welcomed Australian entrepreneur and Angel investor Tom McKaskill as guest speaker and panel member. Tom McKaskill has some pithy advice for angel investors and angel backed companies. He encourages us to build ventures that acquirers can exploit quickly on a global basis and create alignment early on.

Read more from Tom here

To view this video on youtube click here

ABAF2015, NZ

John Huston: Knowledge and Insights #AANZSummit14

Angel Association New Zealand Summit 2014

Angel Association New Zealand Annual Summit 2014 welcomed leading American Angel John Huston as keynote speaker and panel member to share his knowledge and insights with the New Zealand Angel investing community.

Read more from John Huston here:

Download resources shared by John Huston here:


To view this video on youtube click here

ABAF2015, NZ

Jim Connor talks Acquisition Strategies #AANZSummit14

Angel Association New Zealand Summit 2014

Angel Association New Zealand Annual Summit 2014 welcomed Jim Connor, Board Director and founder of Californian Sandhill Angels to speak about how to find and engage with acquirers, all the elements needed and how to obtain information in the process of planning acquisition strategies.

Read more from Jim Connor here


To view this video on youtube click here

Hon. Stephen Joyce introduces #AANZSummit14

Angel Association New Zealand Summit 2014

In Auckland, New Zealand, October 2014, over 120 Angels, members of networks and funds across New Zealand, along with international guests from the United States, Australia and Singapore came together for 2 days of mind sharing, networking and collegiality.

The event was introduced by AANZ Chair Marcel van den Assum followed by Minister Stephen Joyce who gave an opening address acknowledging the special role angel investors play across the country. The work they do, by choice, contributing to building the confidence, capabilities and capacity of entrepreneurs, investing in them to achieve success was recognised as bringing significant benefit to New Zealand’s economy and its positioning as an innovative and future focused country.

To view this video on youtube click here

ABAF2015, NZ

‘Chunk of capital’ puts Rocket Lab on launch countdown

Congratulations to the team at Rocket Lab on raising their latest round of funding. Andrew spoke compellingly at the Angel Summit last year about the ability to build global companies from NZ and this is another proof point.

Rocket Lab has attracted new financial backing from one of the United States’ oldest venture capital firms and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin to put it on course to launch its latest vehicle into orbit this year.

The Auckland-based company aims to send satellites into space for a fraction of the price of bigger existing ventures. Founder and sole director Peter Beck said the latest financing round would allow the company to test launch its Electron rocket this year and a commercial launch next year. Existing backers have also committed further towards the firm.

“The size of the investment is commercially sensitive [but] you can see by the size of these projects these are not trivial amounts of money. This is a significant chunk of capital that will hopefully bring us into commercial operations in 2016.”

The company said it would soon announce its New Zealand launch site.
The 18m tall carbon composite Electron could be launched from a site the size of a rugby field. The site required a northeasterly aspect and had to be clear of populated areas.

The firm aims to transport small satellites into space for less than $6 million, compared with more than $160 million for an average launch overseas using rockets 60m tall.

The lead-time for businesses to launch a satellite would be reduced from years to weeks.

Beck said Lockheed Martin has had a relationship with his firm for the past five years but the strategic equity funding was the first financial investment it had made.

While the Maryland-headquartered firm is among America’s military giants, Electron rockets had no weapons capability because they couldn’t carry sufficient mass and flew on the wrong trajectory.

Lockheed has been involved in the US space programme since its inception and launched satellites using Atlas rockets. Last year it earned more than $10 billion from the services and “strategic missiles lines of business”.

Venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners is more than a century old and has provided seed funding for companies ranging from International Paper, retailer Staples to high-tech firms Skype, and LinkedIn.

David Cowan, a BVP partner, has joined Rocket Lab’s board as part of BVP’s funding.

The Electron rocket would revolutionise aerospace, Cowan said.

Existing backers, Silicon Valley’s Khosla Ventures and Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 investment fund participated fully in the latest funding round, Beck said.

The eight-year-old company has developed and launched a number of rockets and received up to $25 million of government funding over five years.

He said Rocket Lab was able to raise funds from venture capital firms very quickly which was important as there was growing competition in the small rocket market.

“The market opportunity for small satellites is massive at the moment and we see a number of competitors in the US. Their biggest issue is trying to get funding.”

Lockheed Martin chief scientist Ned Allen said his company invested in technology to help keep up with innovation across the industry.

“Rocket Lab’s work could have application in a number of aerospace domains, and we look forward to working with them to complement our overall efforts in small lift capabilities and hypersonic flight technologies.”

Rocket Lab expects to unveil further details about the Electron at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs next month.

First published on 3rd March 2015

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 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.


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).


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.


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 on 21 November 2014

Guest post: John Huston, Keynote Speaker, AANZSummit#14

Tags: Angel Summit

“Having previously visited your gorgeous country I’m excited about returning, but this trip will be even more fun because instead of being a tourist I’ll be getting to interact with your innovation community and business angels.

I very much look forward to comparing and contrasting your angel investing strategies and tactics with ours.

Over the last 15 years that I’ve been investing in early stage ventures, I’ve been quite fortunate to have interacted with many angels and angel groups outside the U.S.

I’m always interested first in learning about the various types of governmental programs aimed at fostering the country’s entrepreneurial spirit. Then I like to understand how the angels’ optimize the impact of these programs. And, naturally, I like to compare notes on what is working in each locale to build entrepreneurial wealth.

It seems that in every country I leave with a few more “best practices” to add to my inventory and I’m confident that will be one of the pleasing outcomes of my visit.

I’m less confident I can provide much wisdom to reciprocate, but I can share some of the approaches we’ve tried that have not worked. Candidly, I think the 340 members of my angel group feel that sometimes knowing what to avoid doing has more value than thinking there is one silver bullet in this angel investing realm. We do think there is some silver buckshot, however, and I can’t wait trade buckshot stories with your angels.”

John Huston, Ohio TechAngel Funds

Find out more about the Angel Association Summit 14.

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


Who will buy your Angel backed company?

Tags: Angel Summit

The importance of understanding a potential acquirer’s acquisition strategy can not be understated for Angels who want to maximise their portfolio’s. Ascertaining the acquirer’s budget, their ability to resource the acquisition and whether they have the right people to leverage their acquisition is essential before approaching the valuation discussion.

Jim Connor presenter at the Angel Association Summit of New Zealand 2014, a Board Director and founder of Sandhill Angels in California will discuss these elements and how to obtain this information in the process of planning acquisition strategies during his session on day one of the highly praised early-stage investment conference. He has enormous experience with emerging technology companies, including starting them, building them and selling them.

For twenty years Jim has been active in financial software applications – most recently the President of JPMorgan SymPro the leading provider of Treasury Management software to the public sector, specifically focusing on investment management, bond issuance/debt management and the integration of treasury and liquidity operations.

With this vast wealth of experience, insight and knowledge Jim’s 20-minute presentation on how to woo an acquirer is an essential session for Angel’s who really want to drive satisfying returns. Jim will cover how to find acquirers, what are they looking for and elaborate on some of the nitty gritty of negotiating and closing a deal.

Following his presentation, in conversation with John Huston, keynote speaker at the 2014 Angel Association Summit, Jim will discuss how to begin engaging with acquirers, where, with whom.

Having been embedded in financial services and software and the early-stage investment eco-system in the USA for many years the pair will share what they know about acquisition deal sizes at the moment, how they compare with NZ and give a clear understanding of the key things that can derail a deal.

Of particular interest will be their views on the variance across sectors and the nuances of ensuring your investees existing contractual relationships allow for acquisition. The role IP play’s in an acquisition is a subject on which both are experts and they will give examples so delegates to the Angel Association Summit will get a clear understanding of the path to acquisition and what motivates acquirers.

The Angel Association Summit 2014 is in Auckland at stunning Orakei Bay, October 15-17. It is New Zealand’s only angel-centric gathering with members of the Angel Association Council, Lead investors, Fund and Group Mangers from around the country in attendance. The line-up of valuable sessions along with the terrific venue makes this AngelSummit#14 a special event and as always a high point on the early-stage eco-system calendar.

Note: There is limited capacity at the venue 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. 



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”