Into the dragon’s den with New Zealand’s million-dollar investments

Hundreds of New Zealand’s wealthiest investors gathered for the 2018 Flux Demo Day last week for a night of wining, dining, and million-dollar business investments. Jihee Junn went along to watch this year’s plucky startups pitch it out.

“The first rule of investing is: don’t leave the table when the food’s being served!” a jolly looking man at my table exclaimed. We were halfway through the night’s events when platters of braised beef, roast potatoes and Akaroa salmon were brought out to the room’s 400 or so investors. As we dug into our family-style meals, passing along giant plates of food from left to right, I asked some of my fellow diners – all older, wealthier, and a lot more male than me – for their thoughts on the startups that had pitched so far. On the whole, their responses were akin to a placid shrug.

“They were okay,” said one man, who told me his day job was working at a private investment firm. Those sitting next to him nodded in agreement. “I’m not really here to invest tonight, but if I was, there probably hasn’t been anything yet to make me want to get out my wallet.”

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Why you SHOULD be an angel investor… it’s all about portfolio management

Australian early stage angel investors often treat start-up investing like horse racing. They punt with money they’re willing to lose, but this approach has led to a lack of discipline and very poor returns.

They place a few bets based on a good jockey (founder), their form (prior success), the stable (team and advisers), horse (business), equipment (technology), running line (strategy) and weather conditions (market), but start-ups should not be treated as an adrenaline-shot gamble where the majority of investors lose their money and a few “lucky” punters make a killing.

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Get More Value From Your (Startup’s) Board

“Who’s on the board?”

A question I hear at least as often as I see a new startup.

Over the past 3 years I have been fortunate to see five boards working in practice, one as member of the management team and the rest as an observer. Alongside that, every entrepreneur we invest in talks about their board: there is good, there is bad, and every one has some ugly.

I wanted to share some observations on boards that I’ve formed in the hope of helping entrepreneurs and directors better select each other, work together, and create value.

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