Rockit Global’s mini-apples grow maxi-value

Rockit markets the miniature Rockit variety apple snacks and can’t keep up with demand. The apple snack is grown in both hemispheres with Rockit holding variety rights.
Pioneer Capital and Oriens Capital’s purchased Mr Alison’s stake in March.
“This result, while not cash-in-the-pocket, is a great outcome for the angel investors in these companies, the early-stage investment community and the agtech sector in New Zealand,” Mr Murphy said.
“Not only does it demonstrate that it is possible to get close to that mythical 10x return but that it’s possible to achieve that in a New Zealand food/agtech company. That’s something we’ve been working on for years.”
Enterprise Angel investors first invested in Rockit Global Limited (then called Havelock North Fruit Company) in 2011 and in the Rockit Orchard Limited Partnerships, becoming the first large-scale growers of the Rockit apples variety in 2012 and 2014. They formed the board of Havelock North Fruit Company Limited (now Rockit Global Limited) and guided growth thanks to expertise in the kiwifruit industry.
Last year Rockit exported 77 containers and earned its first profit while a wrestle for control between Mr Alison and six other shareholders went to the High Court. Mr Alison owned the largest single share in the company and had sought to buy the others out, instead bowing out a wealthy man this year.
“Securing funding as Rockit has from New Zealand private-equity growth investors is very significant and something I hope we see a lot more of in future,” Mr Murphy said.
“It sends a signal to the early-stage investors and entrepreneurs that it is possible to achieve post angel-round funding to better position young New Zealand companies to provide substantial investment returns.”
Rockit chairman John Loughlin said it was very positive that high-calibre growth equity investors such as Pioneer and Oriens recognised “the tremendous potential” in Rockit and would contribute governance expertise and additional capital to help the company deliver on “ambitious” growth plans.
Mr Murphy said Mr Alison did a great job in identifying “the lovely little apple” and a successful marketing strategy.
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Firms vie for slice of Enterprise funding

This week’s Enterprise Angels meeting saw funding pitches from three companies, including Bay of Plenty-based Balex Marine.

Balex is looking to close out its third funding round of $900,000 and has already raised $415,000 in a rights issue from shareholders in its latest round.

Enterprise Angels (EA) is also about to begin beta testing its new online funding platform, AngelEquity, which will allow any qualified investor in New Zealand to take part in an angel investment deal either originated by or syndicated through the early stage BOP funding group, said executive director Bill Murphy. EA has members from Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo and the Waikato.

Balex Marine has been developing its production and distribution channels for its Automatic Boat Loader (ABL), which allows for remote controlled launch and retrieval of trailer-boats. The ABL is now being used in the NZ market, with 21 marine dealers, four trailer manufacturers and three boat manufacturers on board.

The company has also lined up a distribution deal with Forge UK for Europe and the Middle East, and is developing its Australian network.

To date, in addition to seed and early stage capital from founders and friends of the company, Balex has completed a first round of $600,000, a second round of $1.2 million, and is now almost halfway through its third round of $900,000, with $415,000 raised in a rights issue from existing investors, including Enterprise Angels members.

“The company is looking to raise funds from new shareholders, including EA members that are new to the deal,” said Mr Murphy.

Paul Symes, Balex’s chief executive and a major shareholder, said it was possible the company could complete the latest round through EA members.

“We’re continuing to work closely with Enterprise Angels,” he said.

“However, we are also going to be casting our net a little wider and will be working with other potential investors, including crowdfunding options such as AngelEquity when it goes live.”

Balex will be taking part in the Sydney International Boat Show where it will share a display with Sydney-based Watersports Marine, which is a key dealer for Dunbier Trailers, Australia’s biggest boat trailer company. Balex is currently in discussions with Dunbier on Australian distribution.

This week’s EA meeting also saw funding pitches from Agersens, a fenceless farming agri-tech startup developing a virtual shepherd, and Synthase Biotech developing a proprietary technology known to neutralise lipid peroxides, which could extend the life of bull semen used in artificial insemination.

Mr Murphy said Enterprise Angels had been busy this year with eight follow-on investments and a number of new deals under way.

First published –  NZ Herald 28 July 2016

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