AANZ Update for Investors about FMCA Compliance

AANZ Advice on FMCA Compliance

Introduction

Late last year the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 (the FMCA) came into force and brought with it a new regime for regulation of the capital markets. The “bright line” definition of an eligible person (net assets of at least $2m or gross annual income of $200,000 for the previous two years) was abandoned.

Rather than tick-box compliance, this new regime approaches compliance through the lens of what is appropriate in light of the FMCA’s purpose and acting professionally. The focus is on promoting fair, efficient and transparent markets, which means more useable disclosure documents for investors, but also appropriate exclusions so that regulatory burdens are more proportionate to the risk of potential harms being addressed.

It’s not practical or economic for early stage companies to comply with the disclosure requirements of the FMCA when raising capital so they therefore look to rely on the FMCA exclusion regime. These are generally referred to as “Schedule 1 Exemptions”.

A clear understanding of the application of these exclusions by early stage companies, their investors and advisers is therefore an important component of the vigour and health of the early stage ecosystem.

The FMA has a set of useful FAQs, which can be found here.

The FMCA specifies three broad categories of exclusion:

  • wholesale investors;
  • close relationships; and
  • exclusions based on the nature of the offer.

Within these three categories there are two key exemptions applicable to angel investors. Satisfying the conditions of these exemptions minimises the risk of action by a disgruntled founder or fellow investor.

Angel investors fit most neatly as either meeting:

  • “eligible investor” criteria under the ‘wholesale investor’ exemptions, or
  • the requirements of the “small offers” regime under the ‘certain offers as a whole’ exemptions.

In our recent discussions with the FMA two additional issues have been clarified with respect to small offers:

  • the implications of investors using a nominee structure; and
  • the implication for angel deals of the advertising strictures under the FMCA.

Wholesale Investors

There are a range of categories of wholesale investor but the one most angels will rely on is the “eligible investor”. Eligible investors may self-certify but a third party must verify the self-certification; either a lawyer, chartered accountant or authorised financial advisor.

An “eligible investor” is defined, in summary, as having “previous experience in dealing with financial products such that they can assess the risks, information needs and adequacy of the information provided.”

There was some initial concern that verifiers of eligible investor certificates would be unwilling to do so because they were left exposed due to the subjectivity implicit in making this assessment and the risk that the previous experience could be found to be insufficient.

The FMA has subsequently provided a substantial degree of comfort for certifiers and offerors.

The FMA advised that the certifier need only:

       ensure that the person self-certifying has been sufficiently advised as to the consequences of being certified; and

       assess whether, factually, the “relevant experience” cited has actually occurred (i.e. they do not need to provide a value judgment as to whether or not the experience cited is, in fact “relevant” experience). 

By way of example, if a person, wishing to make an investment in a start up company, cites previous experience in trading listed stocks, a third party lawyer, counter signing the certificate can be comfortable in doing so as long as:

       they are comfortable that the investor has been sufficiently advised as to the consequences of giving the certificate; and

       they have no reason to believe that the stock trading never actually occurred (i.e. he/she does not need to consider whether or not the experience in listed stocks was actually “relevant”).

In summing up, unless there is reason to believe that the actual facts stated in the certificate are incorrect or the certificate does not include statements that it is required to include, the offeror will be able to rely on an eligible investor certificate and no action could be brought against the independent advisor on the basis that their only role is to advise the relevant person as to the consequences of self-certifying as an eligible investor.

We have been assured there is no need to certify angels on a deal by deal basis. This is certainly the case if they fall under any of the “wholesale” investor definitions. As long as wholesale investors are certified every two years and the certificate relates to the class of financial products (in most instances for angels this means acquiring equity securities or making loans convertible into equity securities) this is sufficient.

Small offers

The small offers exemption (often referred to as an SOE) is a personal offer of equity or debt securities:

       where no more than 20 people are issued or sold the financial products;

       in any 12 month period; and

       where no more than $2m is raised in the same time period.

A personal offer is one made to, and that may only be accepted by, a person who is likely to be interested in the offer having regard to:

       previous contact or a professional or other connection between the offeror and the person;

       statements or actions made by the person indicating that they might be interested in such offers (such as the person’s membership of an Angel network); and

An offer will also be a personal offer if it is made in the same manner to a person who has had an annual gross income of more than $200,000 per annum over the past two years. 

It is also important for an angel backed company to be aware there is an obligation on them to notify the FMA within a month of the relevant accounting period that they have made a small offer. In clarifying the extent of this obligation the FMA made it clear the issuer need only report once a year on a very simple basis:

       the name of company seeking investment,

       note the type of securities offered,

       the date of distribution of the document containing the key terms,

       the number of investors (no names required); and

       the amount raised.

The ‘personal offer’ nature of this exclusion has a fairly high degree of subjectivity. It is therefore important, particularly in an angel network context that any investment event is clearly introduced with the disclaimer that the offers made at the event are “personal” and do not “constitutea regulated offer of financial products i.e. an offer to the wider public”. Investors will not be able to take up any offer unless they clearly meet the criteria of FMCA Schedule 1 exemptions.

It is also important to be aware that relying on this exclusion requires the company raising funds to be very careful that ONLY those people who fit into one of the personal offer categories receive the offer. Advertising has a wide meaning under the FMCA as essentially “any communication promoting an investment offer, or intended offer, to a section of the public”.

Advertising when wholesale and ‘small offers’ investors are involved

Issues arise when a company is pitching to both wholesale investors and those who seek to invest under the ‘small offers’ criteria. The FMA’s guidance is that the company must take “all reasonable steps” to ensure any advertisement about the small offer is not received by any investors that don’t meet the ‘personal offer’ requirements.

So a company may advertise a contemporaneous wholesale offer as long as in that advertisement it is clear the ‘wholesale offer’ may only be accepted by people meeting the requirements of a wholesale investor.

It is of course common for angel investor networks to notify their existing members about new offers, and those members may then pass on information to others. For contemporaneous ‘small’ and ‘wholesale’ offers the company should ensure that any communication to the angel investor network makes it clear that there are two offers and that only the wholesale offer communication is able to be passed on to other wholesale investors.

The FMA have made it clear that they are very happy to be approached if anyone has concerns about advertising. The first port of call is [email protected] to raise these concerns. 

Nominee structure and the Small Offers Exclusion

A number of angel networks operate nominee companies. These entities hold the shares of their members who invest in any individual angel deal. The nominee in most of these instances operates as a bare trustee holding the shares for the individual angel. The nominee structure minimizes the number of shareholders on the capitalization table.

In our discussions with the FMA we have been assured that the nominee structure does not limit the usefulness of the small offers exemption.

We explored a number of different factual scenarios with the FMA that lead to different assessments of how the FMCA applies, but in general, to reiterate the point just made, we were advised that the small offers exclusion does not prevent investors investing through a nominee company.

Where investors are relying on the ‘small offers’ exemption, the 20-investor limit applies to the number of persons to whom financial products are issued or sold. Where a nominee company holds shares on bare trust for an underlying investor, the effect of the FMCA is that the underlying investor is still receiving an equity security therefore the underlying investors count in the 20-investor limit, because they are still being sold financial products.

The impact of the advice we have received is that it is necessary for AANZ members to keep clear records, on a deal by deal basis of the relevant exemption under which individuals are investing. The more members categorized as ‘wholesale investors’ the easier this aspect of network administration will be.

Conclusion

In an ideal world, all this would be more straightforward and we would have unequivocal advice that the way we are operating is legally robust and all participants are safe. There is no such thing as an ideal world! The AANZ is nevertheless satisfied the FMA has a high level of understanding about how we operate and even more fundamentally about our intention to do so in good faith within the confines of the Act.

#ABAF15NZ Speakers – Raiyo Nariman

Meet the speakers #ABAF15NZ – Raiyo Nariman

The Angel Association of New Zealand brings the 2015 Asian Business Angel Forum to Queenstown this October. Leading investors and early stage business specialists from around the globe will share their knowledge and make their New Zealand connection at this premier global investor forum

Presenters sharing personal learnings garnered from years of investing with the carefully curated audience of Angel groups, network and fund members from across this dynamic country include Raiyo Nariman founding VC of the Malaysian Business Angel Network.

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Raiyo Nariman specializes in commercialization of technology, research & IP, and the development, funding and growth of start-ups. As a Venture Manager, Raiyo personally invests and partners with founders, taking a hands-on role to ensure successful execution of commercialization & growth strategies, including international market entry and capital raising.

Raiyo’s entry into the venture arena started in New Zealand, as part of the founding executive team for a Foundation, where his focus was on the development, funding and incubation of new ventures. Raiyo’s executive-level engagements include CEO of Canterprise, the venture company at University of Canterbury, and MD of Encore Professional Services, a business he spun-out, established and grew for a PE fund in Hong Kong.

As the founding VP for the Malaysian Business Angel Network, Raiyo played a key role in establishing the current angel investor community in Malaysia and has also established, developed and managed angel networks in Hong Kong and Singapore, and works with angel clubs and associations across Asia and the West.

Raiyo is MD and Partner for Mercatus Ventures, a Malaysian-based early stage venture firm that invests in, and takes a hands-on role to develop, regional ventures. He is also a Partner in Serendipity Ventures, a Hong Kong-based boutique venture management firm, where he personally invests in early stage ventures and takes them to market.

Meet Raiyo, along with a host of angels from New Zealand’s angel investment community and the world at the Asian Business Angels Forum, Queenstown, October 14-15. Only a handful of seats remain.

Be quick to register yours. ABAF2015, NZ

Research Delivers Investment Lessons for Achieving International ROI

In May 2014, New Zealand tech success story GreenButton was acquired by US software giant Microsoft adding the company to a small but growing list of successful Angel funded kiwi technology exits. 

Dan Khan a tech entrepreneur, investor and former director of Lightning Lab, New Zealand’s first tech company accelerator, has conducted in-depth research on behalf of AANZ and NZVIF into the journey of the company from startup to exit. The resulting papers provide valuable insights for kiwis driving towards doing international deals, the subject of this years Asian Business Angels Forum (#ABAFNZ15) in Queenstown, October 14-16 2015.

ABAF2015, NZ

GreenButton’s success was not born overnight. The reality is one of relentless determination by the founder; big, bold decisions, backed by serious hard work; emotional challenges resulting from financial strains and extensive periods of being away from friends and family; an unrelenting focus on the end goal and a substantial commitment of expertise, time and effort by lead investors.

Angels invested in, or working on investing in Kiwi tech companies can learn how to achieve the highs and bear the lows of tech success on the world stage from the detailed research paper which steps through the “Anatomy of a Successful Exit: The GreenButton story”. Download it here.

Dan has also written a short form overview of his findings in a personal “Reflections on a Successful Exit: A Post-Post-Mortem of the GreenButton Story”, to entrepreneurs as he tours the country. His travel is being supported by the Angel Association of New Zealand and The New Zealand Venture Investment Fund. To receive a copy of the overview paper click here.

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.

Register-now

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 – Marcia Rick Dawood, Jamie Rhodes

Meet the speakers #ABAF15NZ – Marcia Rick Dawood, Jamie Rhodes

A truly international trio rounds out an exceptional line-up of speakers at the 2015 Asian Business Angel Forum (ABAF) hosted by the Angel Association of New Zealand. ABAF event plays a pivotal role in bringing together speakers and delegates from 12 of the most active and connected early-stage investment ecosystems in the world.

Marcia Rick Dawood, Sasha Mirchandani, Jamie Rhodes all come to ABAF with intent to share a combined 100 years of experience in founding, finding, screening, funding, growing and exiting startups.

It’s an honour to welcome all three to Queenstown, New Zealand, from 14th until 16th of October to share their insights at #ABAFNZ15.

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Marcia Rick Dawood is on the Board of the Angel Capital Association (ACA) in the United States an organisation which represents over 12,000 accredited investor members, 220 angel groups and accredited platforms who have invested in well over 10,000 entrepreneurial companies.

Marcia is also Managing Director of Golden Seeds, an investment firm dedicated to delivering above market returns through the empowerment of women entrepreneurs and those who invest in them. The firm’s nationwide angel network is the fourth largest and most active in the US with 250 members. Its venture capital group has $35million under management. The firm, headquartered in New York, also has groups in Boston, San Francisco, Dallas and LA and has invested over $50million into 52 companies since 2005.

Syndication of deals between Golden Seeds and BlueTree Allied Angels is also lead by Marcia where she is also a member and Chairman of the Education committee. BlueTree’s focus is investing in regional, early-stage companies.

Not content with the ACA and 2 angel funds Marcia is Managing Director of OneHEEL Partners in Greater New York too. She focuses on helping businesses grow, through direct investment and expert consulting services. The firm also offer a laboratory with resources to grow, develop and encourage business ideas and investments, identifying those concepts with the highest potential, and providing the financial and business expertise required, leveraging the background and network diversity of its partner members.

She supports women led, impact as well as tech/life sciences and overall fun companies and is passionate about education as well as investment. In her 16+ year career prior to becoming an active investor she gained experience and success in operations, sales and marketing with Kaplan Higher Education Campuses (KHEC). She has also walked the road of an entrepreneur as a founder, owner/operator of a professional sports franchise.

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Jamie Rhodes is a serial entrepreneur and investor with deep experience in science and technology. He is co-founder of National NanoMaterials, manufacturer of Graphenol™, a functionalized form of graphene and previously founded Perceptive Sciences Corporation.

He brings over 30 years of experience managing investment in technology with him to his presentation at ABAF based on nine years in management at IBM, being co-founder of a venture capital funded start-up focused on the telecom industry (which IPO’ed in 2011) and, in the early years of his career, working with numerous start-ups, most notably National Instruments in its early stage. He holds both a Bachelor’s of Science degree and a Master’s of Science degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

A leader in his community in Texas, Jamie has been named one of ‘The 30 Most Influential People in Central Texas in the Last 30 Years’ by the Austin Business Journal and ‘Technology Volunteer of the Year’ by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce where he previously served on the board.

Among other advisory and governance roles Jamie also counts his position on the board of the Central Texas Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization and the Texas Tri-Cities Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors, St. Edward’s University, Texas State University and the University of Texas. He is also an IC2 Fellow.

With the support of the GACC in 2006 Jamie founded the Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN), which provides funding and support to Texas entrepreneurs across a broad spectrum of industries. Jamie, along with a group of local investors and community leaders, were among the early adopters who believed that early-stage investing could provide a meaningful return for investors while also spurring local economic growth and so CTAN was formed as a not-for-profit corporation. Like most angel groups CTAN began with individual members of the organization volunteering their time and expertise to review potential investments, assist entrepreneurs and take care of administrative duties.

Jamie has also organized angel groups around the state of Texas into the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks, which represents over 300 investors and investment in over 60 companies in 2012. He is vice chair of the board of directors of the Angel Capital Association, a national organization spun out of the Kauffman Foundation representing seed stage investors.

Register-now

Meet the trio in person, along with a host of angels from New Zealand’s angel investment community and the world at the Asian Business Angels Forum, Queenstown, October 14-15. Seats are now very limited. Be quick to register yours. ABAF2015, NZ

#ABAF15NZ Speakers – Carolynn and Jon Levy

Meet the speakers #ABAF15NZ – Carolynn and Jon Levy

Hosted by the Angel Association of New Zealand, the 2015 Asian Business Angel Forum brings together leading investors and early stage business specialists from around the globe to share their knowledge make their New Zealand connection.

They join a carefully curated audience of investor members of Angel groups, network and fund members from across this dynamic country bought together by the AANZ to celebrate this small country’s big contribution to early stage investment and build international relationships.

Among the highly experienced line up of speakers AANZ is extremely pleased to be able to bring Carolynn and Jon Levy from Y Combinator, one of the most successful incubators in the US to ABAF to share their insights and experience at #ABAFNZ15.

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Carolynn Levy is a partner at Y Combinator (YC). She was previously at renowned West Coast US firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, where she helped hundreds of startups with legal questions and acted as Y Combinators counsel for 6 years. She has a BA in political science from UCLA and JD from the USF School of Law, and is a member of the State Bar of California.

Jon Levy, is also a partner at Y Combinator and previously counselled public and private technology companies as an attorney for Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati. He ran ThinkEquity’s private placement department and worked as a Managing Director at Merriman Curhan & Ford. Jon earned a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, and a B.A. in English Literature and Religious Studies from Wesleyan University.

Both Carolynn and Jon are skilled and experienced in dealing with entrepreneurs at all stages of the lifecycle, offering services to those beginning their ventures, those exiting and experiencing the process of merger or acquisition and those that recycle their capital investing in the new. They make themselves available for office hours at YC and Carolynn is active in entrepreneur education via Stanford University providing insights to founders Finance and Legal Mechanics for Startups helping them to get the structure right at the start.

Joining YC was a natural move for the couple, Carolynn says “YC was becoming bi-coastal and needed legal help on the west coast.  So for years, as an associate at WSGR, I helped YC’s portfolio companies with formations, fund raising, etc.  YC kept getting bigger, and my husband Jon joined YC as a legal consultant.  Jon was (is) so happy working with YC because of the people and the culture.  So eventually, since YC kept getting bigger, I decided to leave WSGR and come to YC as a full time partner.  It was a great decision.”

She councils startups with pragmatic guidance, for instance “It doesn’t matter who thought of the idea, who did the coding, who built the prototype, or which one has an MBA. It will feel better to the whole team if the allocation is equal because the whole team is necessary for execution. The take away on this point: in the top YC companies, which we call those with the highest valuations, there are zero instances where the founders have a significantly disproportionate equity split.

Y Combinator itself has an impressive track record, so in their time as independent and in-house council Carolyn and Jon have been involved in some of the biggest deals and best known companies in technology today, including: Airbnb (valued at approx $10B), Dropbox (valued at approx $10B), Stripe (over $1B and growing), Twitch, Heroku and Reddit. Twitch (formerly known as Justin TV) was acquired by Amazon for $970M, Heroku was acquired by Salesforce for $212M.

As detailed by investors following YC’s progress tens of other YC companies have been acquired, those “based on reports had a price greater than $10M were Parse (Facebook, $85M), SocialCam(Autodesk, $60M), Xobni (Yahoo, $48M), Cloudkick (Rackspace, ~$50M),Loopt (GreenDot, $43M), Wufoo (SurveyMonkey, $35M), Omnisio(Google, ~$15M), 280 North (Motorola Mobility, $20M), and Appjet(Google). Parakey‘s acquisition by Facebook likely involved Facebook stock which is now worth a greater amount also. Others that were smaller but non trivial and were likely deemed successes by the founders were Auctomaticand Zenter.

Meet Carolynn and Jon Levy, along with a host of angels from New Zealand’s angel investment community and the world at the Asian Business Angels Forum, Queenstown, October 14-15. Seats are now very limited. Be quick to register yours. ABAF2015, NZ

Steve Blank – Angels and the Lean Startup #ACAAngelSummit15

Angels Connect NZ series – Bill Murphy from Enterprise Angels reports from ACA Conference 2015

A major highlight of the American Capital Associations annual conference was Steve Blank’s presentation of his customer development methodology – a process which has had an impressive impact on the teaching of enterprise creation in the last decade.

Steve, an academician, serial entrepreneur and investor with over thirty years experience in the technology industry who has founded or worked within eight startup companies, (four of which have gone public), is recognised for being one of three founders of the Lean Startup movement.

His contribution was recognising that commercialisation is a process of testing a series of hypothesis. He currently shares his theories at Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley, Columbia University and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). His methods are now being taught in more than 200 universities worldwide, and are recommended by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health in connection with federal grants.

Prior to the lean startup movement and wide spread use of Steve’s customer development methodology investors assumed because they funded a company the entrepreneur would follow a set plan and the board simply monitored it. Investors were treating startups like they were big companies – work out a business plan and then simply implement it.

Great tools were built for execution against plans in large corporations and then used in early-stage ventures and it was assumed this was enough. People who didn’t execute were fired.

Steve proposed that while large companies execute known or proven business models, startups don’t. What angels and other early-stage investors thought they were funding – execution – was actually the search for a scaleable business model that created true value. Instead of assuming entrepreneurs were ‘doing it wrong’ the question that should have been asked was ‘are the critical assumptions about the business plan wrong’?

He has gone on to show that a large percentage of the time entrepreneurs are just guessing about execution. There are no models for early stage venture execution – and no-one is executing in that first year. They are in fact just burning cash conducting a search for that business model – performing a series of experiments to test a problem, solution, a product and a market.

He then went on to create a much-needed methodology to do this work in a robust and repeatable way.

The customer development methodology is now well documented. A good place to start learning more about it is at www.steveblank.com or on his free Udacity Lean Startup course.

Here are the key points Steve shared with angel investors at ACA:

  • Customer development is a process – founders need to get out of building and turn hypotheses into fact by testing the problem exists, the solution is valuable, the product will work and the market wants it.
  • Only then should they build a minimum viable product.
  • Founders need to do the work themselves so that they hear first hand that ‘this or that’ is a bad idea or ‘I wouldn’t pay for it’, read non-verbal signals and pick up on leads to alternatives that might prove to be the solution, ‘Oh we don’t want that – but if you could invent X we would…’
  • Talking to a minimum of 10 to 15 customers a week is the role of everyone working on the startup, with a goal of talking to 100 to 150 potential customers being the benchmark. This number is shown to produce the best results.
  • Then the founder can report back, ‘here’s what I thought, here’s what I learned, here’s what I’m going to do’.

At the conference Steve also pointed out a great thing about this process is tech founders already understand it. The process of defining hypothesis and testing it is used in their work to create and test software and hardware. Striving for evidence based commercialisation is similar to the process engineers go through to work towards deploying programmes and technologies that work.

Its a proven process for minimising time, money and resources.

So, what should angels learn and do that’s different in light of the lean startup movement and in particular customer development methodology?

  • Recognise that often all the entrepreneur has in reality is a hypotheses – ask for evidence or at least what the plan is to collect the evidence.
  • Understand that a startup is a temporary organisation designed to search for repeatable and scaleable executable business model – it is not a business yet.
  • Know the goal is not to stay a startup, but rather to build something which has real value to a set of customers – a sustainable enterprise – and if it scales too you are going to increase the speed of growth and hopefully the size of your returns.
  • Don’t fund people to execute on an idea, that shouldn’t be done on angel money. Before investing check what evidence the entrepreneur has collected that who they say are customers, really are the customers of the product or service they propose. Ask who they have talked to (and how many) and how they have tested their hypotheses. Rather than angels finding out by funding entrepreneurs ideas and blowing $500k, get the founder to go out and do this validation work themselves. Take the time.
  • Then insist you get access to all those conversations and get the founders perspective on the evolution of the idea.
  • Work with founders who are passionate about doing the quantitive and qualitative validation of facts themselves, using a marketing research company to validate the market is not as effective. It is critical is that the people with skin in the game validate whether anything a marketing company tells you is true.
  • Get out of the building yourselves as angels too, make validation your work too – the purpose being to inform the founder’s vision.
  • Your job is not to fund someone to just do focus groups which come up with superficial data such as ’47 say one thing 3 say another’ the skill you’re investing in may be a founder’s ability to pick up on the feedback from the 3 and testing the opportunity to build a business model around them. (47 say sell it for $9.99 – 3 say its an enterprise play and we’ll pay $200k).
  • Once you have a marketing plan aim to test it yourself and see what you learn that’s different from the entrepreneur’s plan.
  • Celebrate the fact that the startup is a search for that executable business model rather than focus on the original business plan and its implementation. Be glad when you and the entrepreneurs learned these new important things instead of beating up the founder for not delivering on a plan.
  • Do the customer validation test yourselves. When you hear ‘I want to order now’, say ‘OK give me $20 I’ll hold it and give you the product when its done’.
  • Invest with the full understanding the initial goal of a startup is to maximise learning not revenue. Returns come from real value-creating scaleable, sustainable business models that are born from that learning.

Bill Murphy

For more highlights from attendees who attended the conference clik.vc/Angels_connectNZ

To meet and hear from international angels and leaders in New Zealand’s angel investment community 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.

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#ABAF15NZ Speaker – Ian Sobieski

Meet the speakers #ABAF15NZ – Ian Sobieski

The Asian Business Angels Forum 2015 takes place in Queenstown, New Zealand and will run 14-16 October. The event has attracted an impressive line up of speakers from all over the world.

The AANZ is particularly proud to have secured Ian Sobieski as a key presenter. Ian leads the Band of Angels, one of the United States most active and successful angel groups.

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The Band of Angels is an impressive group of high-net worth individuals who are all former officers or founders of the kinds of high tech companies that have made Silicon Valley famous. They have invested approximately $231M into 270 startup companies helping to create more than 3,000 jobs. More than 55 of these companies have had successful exits and 10 have IPO’ed.

Growing up in Virginia close to a significant US naval base, Ian was inspired to look into how to make submarines quieter. This led to him being a finalist in the 1987 Westinghouse Science Talent Search.

Ian held senior roles at Evite.com and engineering positions at medical device company Enact Health Management and Kaman Aerospace. He earned an aerospace engineering PhD from Stanford University and a BA in Philosophy from Virginia Tech – an interesting path which took him from submarine acoustics to financial modeling as a venture capitalist.

Ian’s portfolio includes over a hundred early stage investments and he has served on over twenty boards. Seven of his investments have successfully exited via ‘M&A’ including SeaDragon Software, Quorum Systems, Nellix, Novus Packaging, and Ordinate. Two of his investments have been listed on Nasdaq: Genitope and PortalPlayer.

As a founding partner of three seed venture funds, Ian has raised $US65M and a further $US120M as a partner in an early stage venture fund. The Band of Angel’s Acorn Fund backs entrepreneurs with a strategy to build profitable companies or exit on the sole investment of the fund.

Highly active in the early-stage ecosystem in the US, Ian is a founding board member of the Angel Capital Association and is a member of the Young Venture Capitalists Association, as well the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

He is author of a dozen technical publications, a former lecturer at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of California at Berkeley, and is a frequent speaker, lecturer, and commentator in Silicon Valley.

In this video from a series on the popular investment platform ‘Gust’ he talks about the angel experience and how angel investment offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to benefit not only from the capital, but also the intellectual investment of angel investors.

Register your place at Asian Business Angels Forum, Queenstown, New Zealand, October 14-15 2015, one the southern hemisphere’s largest international angel investor events, to meet Ian Sobieski in person. Seats are limited, act now. ABAF2015, NZ

#ABAF15NZ Speaker – Allan May

Meet the speakers #ABAF15NZ – Allan May

The 2015 Asian Business Angel Forum is our country’s big opportunity to meet and build connections with some of the world’s most successful and insightful investors from around the world.

AANZ is pleased to welcome Allan May – Founder, Life Science Angels and General Partner, Emergent Medical Partners as one of its international line-up of thought-leaders.

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As a founder of Life Science Angels (LSA), focused solely on medical device and biotech startups, Allan has curated a group comprised of high net worth individuals who are veterans from the medical device or biotech fields in the US.

The group have, since 2005, invested over $35M in 32 early stage companies who have gained over $700M in follow-on funding. The LSA portfolio also boasts five favourable exits.

Allan’s experience spans founder, CEO, board member and Chairman roles on a number of early stage companies in life sciences – including Intella Interventional Systems, MAST Immunosystems, ImmuneTech, Athenagen (Comentis), Nanostim, nSpine, and BioMimedica. In 2007 Allan joined renowned inventor, entrepreneur and cardiac surgeon, Dr. Thomas Fogarty, in co-founding Emergent Medical Partners. EMP is a boutique venture fund focused on early stage medical device company creation and investing. It has made 25 investments to date with 4 successful exits, including eValve and Ardian.

In 2010, Allan was elected Chairman of the Board of the Kauffman Foundation’s Angel Capital Education Foundation, now known as the Angel Resource Institute. ARI is devoted to the promotion and study of angel investing.

A strong advocate for developing angel investing as a complex ecosystem of peer-to-peer support and mentorship and also the formalization of angel investment engines, Allan has been outspoken on the benefits early-stage investing to the growth of ecosystems. For instance in a 2011 piece for The Atlantic he goes so far as to say angels were key to ‘saving Silicon Valley’; operating as they do on the clear understanding “capitalism still works, and the higher the risk the higher the return”.

Allan began his academic career at Case Western Reserve University where he received his Juris Doctorate. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1969 from Kent State University and is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Program for Small Business. Allan now frequents conferences and government programs as a lecturer on trends and developments affecting investing in life science. He has co-chaired Singularity University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Track at its FutureMed Program and is a member of the editorial board of Elsevier Windhover’s In Vivo magazine.

Allan brings to New Zealand insights from his extensive background of involvement in negotiating mergers, acquisitions, strategic alliances and successfully completing transactions with both public and private companies.

Meet Allan along with New Zealand’s angel investment community and other thought leaders from over a dozen countries by securing your seat now at one the southern hemisphere’s largest international exclusive investor events Asian Business Angels Forum, Queenstown, New Zealand.

 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.

Register-now

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

ADMA Global Forum introduces beacon technology

Angel backed ShowGizmo is kicking on driving sales and business opportunities in new technologies adding value for event organisers.

The Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) will use new beacon technology as part of its upcoming Global Forum.

Event app company, ShowGizmo, and location-based marketing company, iProximity, have teamed up to integrate iProximity’s technology into ShowGizmo, allowing ADMA Global Forum attendees to experience location-based interactions.

Beacons placed throughout the Forum will allow delegates to receive in-app notifications, ticketing on arrival, and seminar specific information when delegates arrive at certain locations.

“ADMA Global Forum is the largest data-driven marketing conference in the Asia-Pacific region and we have to have the latest data-driven technology to showcase at our event,” said ADMA CEO, Jodie Sangster. “We hope the new ShowGizmo app will deliver on providing a fun, engaging, relevant and personalised experience for our delegates – one that really walks the talk.”

Read more on www.cmo.com.au

Govt extends underwrite to start-up investor, NZVIF, to 2022

The Government’s decision to extend it’s support for venture capital is enthusiastically welcomed by the Angel Association. We are passionate believers that this end of the capital markets is the engine room for the country’s future economic success.

The government is extending its underwrite of the Crown-funded start-up investor, New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, through to 2022 and allowing $12 million to be transferred to the investor’s cash-constrained seed fund, but the level of support will drop from 2018.

The Crown’s $100 million underwrite facility will be extended until 2018 and then reduced to $60 million until 2020, as returns to NZVIF from earlier investments become available for reinvestment. The move, along with a $470,000 increase in operational funding, allows the fund to make co-funding commitments to new venture capital funds and partnerships.

NZVIF hasn’t yet called upon the underwrite, even in the depths of the global financial crisis, but chief executive Francescka Banga said it was a useful safety net that gave other investors confidence in dealing with the fund.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the NZVIF played an important role in developing the start-up and growth capital markets for New Zealand companies.

“It has been instrumental in building up New Zealand’s angel and venture capital investor markets from small beginnings to the point where private and public venture capital investment since 2003 has reached $1.1 billion,” Joyce said.

“The angel investment formal market has provided a further $353 million since it started in 2006.”

Joyce said the government expects NZVIF to become self-sustaining over time and the extension of the underwrite guarantee gives the fund time to make that adjustment.

Banga said there had not previously been a deadline for the fund to become self-sustaining but that would now likely happen within the next four years as returns grow.

The $260 million Venture Capital Fund, which invests in start-up young growth companies through privately-managed venture capital funds, is already self-sustaining, she said.

But the $40 million Seed Capital Investment Fund, which invests in early-stage companies with angel investors, still had a way to go, she said.

Banga said it was NZVIF’s idea to get government approval to transfer $12 million from one fund to the other as the SCIF, set up in 2006, was in danger of running out of money to co-invest at the levels it had been.

Many of the 115 companies the seed fund has invested in are still at an early stage – averaging four years of investment – and it takes on average seven to eight years for returns to come through.

Banga said the fund will gradually modify its level of investment as the time draws nearer for it to become self-sustaining so it could withstand the fluctuations in the market which can alter expected returns and cash flow.

Since its establishment in 2002, NZVIF has invested $147 million, alongside private investors, into 187 of New Zealand’s most promising growth companies including Xero, Orion Health, PowerbyProxi, Vend and Booktrack.

It said in a report last week that it had broken even or made money on 21 per cent of its exited investments, which is said was in line with early-stage investment expectations.

The fund manager has exited 62 investments to date, of which 13 have broken even or produced a positive net return.

Eight returned between 1.0 and 1.99 times the total invested, one was between 2.0 and 3.0 times investment and another four realised more 3.0 times the total invested.

The seed fund has broken even or made money on five exits out of 26 while the Venture Investment Fund has had eight successful exits out of 26.

Banga said she was satisfied with returns to date given New Zealand is still a relatively young market for this type of investment.

“We’d always like to see more success, faster, but that’s the nature of the market. It has taken time.”

First published NZHerald 13 July 2015

Start-up investment rewarding but takes time and money

Don’t miss out on NZVIF’s snapshot or our market…  just released today.

It contains a raft of fascinating insights into the NZVIF portfolio. Franceska’s press statement is below and the report is attached. It includes such things as:
•    for every dollar of initial investment 2-4 times is needed for follow-on investment
•    20% of exits have earned the level of investment back or better
•    average hold times for investments are 3 years for angels
•    $1 of public investment leverages $9 of private capital
•    57% of the portfolio (131 angel and 66 venture) were valued under $1m at investment and 27% under $500,000.

Investing in start-ups and young technology companies can be rewarding but investors should not hold high expectations of fast turnarounds in investment gains, according to a New Zealand Venture Investment Fund report released today.

NZVIF’s Snapshot Report says that speedy profitable exits occur occasionally but, in general, investors should take a portfolio approach, be prepared for the long haul, and be well provisioned for follow on investments.

As an example of the latter, the report says that investors making an initial investment of $20,000 into a young technology company should typically expect to make follow-on investments taking their stake to between $40,000 and $80,000.

NZVIF CEO Franceska Banga said that while early stage investing is a high risk investment class – at least four in 10 companies fail – it is enjoying a period of marked growth.

Read more on www.scoop.co.nz

Crowdfunding – Today & Tomorrow #ACAAngelSummit15

Angels Connect NZ series – Chris Twiss from NZVIF reports from ACA Conference 2015

There was a palpable tension in the room between equity crowdfunding operators and traditional Angel groups/operators for Track 1 at the ACA Conference.

Setting the stage Bill Payne outlined how crowdfunding has been reported in the media as everything from ‘the end of the road for Angels’ to being ‘doomed to failure’ itself – which explains the tension.

For some more concrete perspective Bill began his presentation by laying out some facts and figures around current crowdfunding activity in the World, US and UK/Europe for all forms of crowdfunding; Donation based; Rewards based; Lending based; Real Estate based (Equity and Debt); and finally Equity Crowdfunding (EC) which can either be from accredited and/or unaccredited (i.e. the general public) investors.

Quoting figures from Tabb Group;
– total crowdfunding worldwide in 2014 ran at about US$10bn.
– the bulk (60%) came from US, 30% from Europe followed by Oceania at 3%
– by far the biggest category stateside in 2014 was lending based crowdfunding (50% of the US total of $8.0bn or so)
– a mere 5% of the total investment was Equity Crowdfunding, which at @$0.3bn was only 2% of the size of the US Angel investment market
– In the UK, where equity crowd funding to the public is permitted (it still isn’t in the US) equity crowd funding is a relatively small proportion of the total amount of early stage funding activity. Bill suggested, based on this data, that it is therefore not obviously “taking off” – at least not yet.

Having delivered the numbers Bill gave up the stage to Matthew LeMerie an ex McKinsey analyst now working with the Keiritsu Forum who outlined some scenario planning work that he had recently done on the likely near future of EC.

The overall outcome the scenario planning identified two critical uncertainties for EC.

First, the regulatory environment – and within that the question of whether it will become more or less supportive in the future; and second, the failure rate in EC (i.e. numbers of companies funded though EC that will fail).

Matthew’s personal view was that the regulatory environment will get less supportive for EC overtime – largely because regulators will find that they have been too “lite” with the current regulatory settings.  The antcipated outcome is this will lead to the significant consolidation of EC operators and the emergence of a small number of big players as the hurdles end up becoming too great for small and even mid-sized operators to cope with.

Speaking to the second point the predicted uncomfortably high rates of “failure” will manifest because the key things that need to be done to mitigate that risk when doing this type of investment (i.e. appropriate levels of DD, strong terms setting  – including appropriate valuations, and post investment monitoring etc) will not be done well enough by the majority of EC platforms.

There will be winners and losers. The winners will be those able to demonstrate that they have robust risk mitigating processes in place and, critically, be totally transparent about their failure rates.

Mathew’s analysis was crowdfunding is still a fairly/very modest part of the early-stage funding landscape, and the EC market overall is in borderline wild-west territory in terms of current levels of integrity of process and overall risk mitigation for investors.

Those views were explored further by the third presenter from Seedrs (UK based EC platform) CEO Jeff Lynn. In the ensuing Q&A he passionately rebuked much of what had been said before.

In short, Jeff’s view was in general the future impact of EC was totally underestimated – and disruptive to the current Angel investment models being practiced around the world. He believes that EC has the potential to deliver better investment returns.

Why? The answer was not clear, maybe because having 300 extra people to help your company out leads to greater investment outcomes – right?

And so the debate continued… the crowd shuffled out of the room, ready for the next instalment of it, somewhere nearby, a few sessions later.

 Chris Twiss

 

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#ABAF15NZ Speakers – David Chen

Meet the speakers #ABAF15NZ – David Chen

The 2015 Asian Business Angel Forum takes place in Queenstown, New Zealand, 14 – 16 October 2015.

Hosted by the Angel Association of New Zealand, the 2015 Forum 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 be able to bring David Chen – Co-founder, AngelVest to ABAF to share his insights and experience at ABAF.

Register-now

Mr. David Chen is a seasoned business leader and entrepreneur with over 20 years of global experience focusing on investments, operations, and business development in China and the United States. He has led and participated in M&A transactions valued at over US $7 billion and has deep investment experience in China and the US.

A co-founder of AngelVest, an investment interest group helping individual angel investors identify and invest in compelling early stage companies in China, he has grown the group to be one of the largest angel groups in China. With over 80 members in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong they have funded over 35 companies.

Entrepreneurs typically seek to raise from $US100-$500K from AngelVest and enjoy the benefits of continued interaction and mentorship by its strong group of angel investors. They provide hands-on execution support to help companies achieve their strategic and operating goals.

Unlike the United States and other developed countries, there are few, if any institutionalised angel groups in China today.  AngelVest is the leading the industry in China with presences mainly in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Increasingly, AngelVest is actively pursuing middle-market cross-border investment opportunities between China and Europe/USA while capturing the growth opportunities in China.

Mr. Chen is originally from New York and has been living in Shanghai for the last eight years. He started as an Engineer with a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Rochester and MBA from Harvard Business School, as well as studying Chinese at Peking University.

He came to Angel investing through his experience as a founder and manager of technology start-ups (as lead on strategy, operations, finance), his work with large institutions (including Salomon Brothers, Advanced Micro Devices, Honda Motor) and specialty boutique investment banks, where he helped a number of clients pursue and complete cross-border M&A (particularly China inbound) and financing transactions.

Mr Chen is a highly sort after thought-leader, particularly on the subject of cross-border investments. He has presented at the APEC Accelerator leadership summit, is a member of the Harvard Business School Business Angels alumni dedicating time and commitment to providing investor expertise as a judge in the HBS New Ventures Competition for the “best investment” category.

You can follow Mr Chen’s activities on twitter @AngelVestGroup

To meet and hear from Mr Chen in person, along with a host of angels from New Zealand’s angel investment community and the world make your New Zealand connection and secure your seat now at one the southern hemisphere’s largest international exclusive investor events Asian Business Angels Forum, Queenstown, New Zealand, October 14-15 2015.

 ABAF2015, NZ

#ABAF15NZ Speakers – Jonathan Medved

Meet the speakers #ABAF15NZ – Jonathan Medved

A key feature of the 2015 Asian Business Angel Forum is its international focus. The forum, brought to New Zealand by the AANZ, runs from 14-16 October and has attracted leading early-stage investors from over a dozen countries.

Among a stellar group of thought-leaders the AANZ is pleased to welcome Jonathan Medved,  founder of OurCrowd, an equity crowd-funding platform based in Jerusalem, Israel. He will share his thoughts on ‘thinking, acting and investing globally’ and how to build the culture needed for startups to flourish.

Register-now

Jon grew up in San Diego, went to Berkeley University, and first visited Israel when he was 24 . Since then he has been part of the energy making Israel the 3rd largest source of startups after north America and China.

Israel has attracted over 300 multinational R&D centres which provide a ‘built-in exit mechanism’ for Israeli startups to be acquired by American technology companies. Israel has been described in Forbes as the world’s outsourced R&D lab for big companies.

Named as one of the top 10 most influential Americans who have impacted Israel (NY Times Supplement “Israel at 60”) and “one of Israel’s leading high tech venture capitalists” (Washington Post) Jon, through his most recent venture, OurCrowd, has funnelled $120 million in investments into 67 startups since 2013.

An investor himself, serial entrepreneur and experienced director, Jon has been part of the founding teams in several successful Israeli startups which now have valuations in excess of $100 Million. He currently has over 30 companies in his personal angel investor portfolio.

In a report from the Jewish Journal taken from a presentation at Cross Campus, a shared work space in Santa Monica Jon describes OurCrowd as an “equity-based crowdfunding platform that allows accredited investors to put as little as $10,000 into a select number of approved and vetted Israeli startups, all of which need cash to grow and stay afloat, until business operations kick into full gear”. Through OurCrowd he says investors are “able to take the best of venture capital — the professionalism, the diligence, the protection you get — and combine it with the fun, and discretion, and the freedom, and the low entry price of being an ‘angel’ [who invests after falling in love with a company]”.

Jon is a sort after TV commentator on CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg TV and speaks regularly to groups both in Israel and abroad. He has briefed scores of journalists, business leaders and public officials – including New Zealanders – on Israel’s tech miracle, travelling from his home in Jerusalem where he lives with his wife Jane, his four children and three grandchildren to all corners of the globe to do so.

In this video from Kauffman foundation he talks about the special elements of the Israeli ecosystem and suggests looking past macro-economics and support the heart of startup success – the culture that needs to exist to support early-stage growth. A culture that sustains, encourages and allows people to take the entrepreneurial leap and create new value and new companies. Included in this culture, he says, is the requirement for risk tolerance, the importance of access and the intent of all parts of a country to support and structure the ecosystem in which angels and venture capitalists exist.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter and meet him in person, along with a host of angels from New Zealand’s angel investment community and the world by securing your seat now at one the southern hemisphere’s largest exclusive angel investor events Asian Business Angels Forum, Queenstown, New Zealand, October 14-15.

 ABAF2015, NZ

#ABAF15NZ Speaker – Bill Payne

Meet the speakers #ABAF15NZ – Bill Payne

A key feature of the 2015 Asian Business Angel Forum is its international focus. The forum, bought to New Zealand by the AANZ, runs 14-16 October and has attracted leading early-stage investors from over a dozen countries.

Among a stellar group of thought-leaders the AANZ is pleased to welcome Bill Payne. A genuine rock star of angel investment. Bill is internationally recognized as one of the most senior and experienced experts in angel investment. He is an engineer, entrepreneur, angel investor and educator.

Register-now

For over three decades, Bill has successfully founded and invested in over 50 start-up companies, including Solid State Dielectrics, Inc., an electronic materials company he founded in 1971 and sold to E. I. DuPont in 1982.

Bill has delivered over 120 man-years of service on private company and non-profit boards of directors and has served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence to;

  • Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation – 1995-2007
  • McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, University of Arizona 2004
  • BNZ-University of Auckland – 2010
  • i2E – Innovation to Enterprise, Oklahoma City – 2010 to present

He has served on the founding committee of the Angel Capital Association (US), on six university advisory boards and as a founding organizer and member of four angel groups in the US

  • Aztec Venture Network – 1999 San Diego
  • Tech Coast Angels – 2000 San Diego
  • Vegas Valley Angels – 2004 Las Vegas
  • Frontier Angel Fund – 2006 Northwest Montana

In addition to facilitating over 100 workshops and seminars on angel investing in six countries Bill has been recognized by his angel investing peers and honored with the following awards:

  • 2009 Hans Severiens Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Angel Investing
  • 2010 New Zealand Arch Angel Award for his impact on angel investing in New Zealand
  • William H. Payne Active Angel Award – presented annually to the outstanding angel investor in Auckland’s ICE Angels

From 1995 to 2007 in his role with as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the Kauffman Foundation (Kansas City), he worked on educational programs for entrepreneurs and their investors, including eVenturing.com and the Power of Angel Investing seminar series. While with Kauffman, he was also actively engaged in the formation and startup of the Angel Capital Education Foundation (now the Angel Resource Institute) and the Angel Capital Association.

For five months in 2010, Bill served as the BNZ University of Auckland Entrepreneur-in-Residence in New Zealand.  During this service, he delivered 20 seminars, 45 public lectures and mentored 75 entrepreneurs.  The ICEHOUSE chief executive Andy Hamilton said, “We were fortunate to have had Bill here working so closely with businesses and angel groups around New Zealand.  His guidance will have a positive effect on the start-up and investment community for a long time.”

Bill graduated with BS and MS degrees in Ceramic Engineering from the University of Illinois, where he has served on the Dean’s Board of Visitors of the College of Engineering.  His eBook, the Definitive Guide to Raising Money from Angels is available on his website at www.billpayne.com. He and his wife Ann are residents of Henderson, Nevada and Whitefish, Montana.

 

 

You can meet Bill in person, along with a host of angels from New Zealand’s angel investment community and the world by securing your seat now at one the southern hemisphere’s largest international exclusive angel investor events Asian Business Angels Forum, Queenstown, New Zealand, October 14-15.

 ABAF2015, NZ

How to write a good financial forecast for Angel investment

In the first of our Angel insights content series – Dave Allison from Angel HQ shares his knowledge gained from reviewing 100’s of deals on how to write good financial forecast for Angel investment

Financial forecasts are a crucial part of the business plan and can help to attract investment to your startup or product launch, however the balance between reality and ambition is a challenge when building these documents.

Bare in mind that no two angels are alike and what may seem an important point to one may be meaningless to another. Some angels want you to get them excited and others will ask you to tone things down. The best way to present your financial projections to investors is to walk them through different scenarios in order to show potential. But consider pitching what you are most comfortable with.

For every forecast, a list of all your key assumptions is absolutely a requirement as well as the ability to support them with accurate quality information and to explain how they were measured.

Key assumptions are critical to all aspects of the financial forecast and professional support to develop a model can be useful but two words of warning:

  •   Experience is more important than the big name. Ask your expert what they have modelled and who they have done it for.
  •   You can’t hand off responsibility for the forecast – you have to own it and own all the assumptions

Tracking and testing these assumptions on an ongoing basis is the best way to react to them quickly if they don’t show a real chance of success.

It is important to have an intimate knowledge of how your forecast works and what the key levers are. This is a model of your business so what happens if sales or prices slide by a few months (or a few million dollars) is not just important – you HAVE to know.

Your investors will want to know who your customers will be and at what price they will be eager to buy your product.
Bill Payne – The Definitive Guide to Raising Money from Angels

Every angel expects and accepts that the numbers are not correct but you will lose credibility if your assumptions are not defensible. Look for comparisons to other companies. Build your evidence and know your stance. Feel free to highlight the biggest, riskiest assumption but back yourself with what you are doing to manage that risk.

Don’t put all the detail in your pitch. Too many columns just invite people to do maths instead of listening to you. Pull out key figures, key events and timescales to show the impact it will have on your business with reasonable explanations. Have the detail of your model for follow up – PowerPoint and Excel are separate programs for a reason!

ABAF2015, NZ

To meet international angels, 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.

Register now. Limited places available.

 

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.

 

JohnMay_Dinner

 

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.

JohnMay_IceAngels

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

Supporting CEOs in your Portfolio Companies #ACAAngelSummit

Angels Connect NZ Series – Bill Murphy from Enterprise Angels reports from USA Angel Capital Association Conference 2015

Recognising the crucial role angel investors play in a company’s development after the first round of funds have been committed, the ‘Supporting Portfolio CEOs‘ workshop took a deep dive into leveraging board member skills to guide a company through value accretion to exit.

The first point made was how important it is for angels to acquire the skills and knowledge required to properly manage the important issues following investment. It is also clear that it takes a real commitment to be effective.

Ideally an investor-director should be putting in a couple of days a week, with their primary function being ‘chief encouragement officer’.

As most founders don’t have experience running a business the angel director should be constantly asking questions that support the growth of the founder, the team and the company. Complaining and blaming don’t help.

Key questions to be asked and answered on a regular basis include;

  • What’s the cashflow position?
  • What cash is it going to take to get us to the next fundable round of investment?
  • Have we defined our market tightly and distinctly so that we can “own” that market? and
  • How can I help develop strategy?

Calling and talking to the CEO on a random basis (in addition to regular board meetings) was also suggested. These conversations are far more effective than written communications. Discussing progress ‘on the fly’, one on one, is a really effective means of teasing out issues.

Every investor-director should regularly review material which provides an introduction to governance of an angel backed company. Understanding how the functions of an early-stage board differ from boards of established companies is vital. Attending a course or reading up on this is hugely helpful.

Sitting down with the founder and the team at the outset to make sure expectations about the exit and path to exit are agreed and aligned is highly recommended. This should be done even before the first cheque is written.

The ideal size for an early stage, high growth company is five. Three members will be independent of management. It is paramount that management and the board have complete clarity about expectations regarding reports and reporting – how often, how long, covering what etc. Panelists and attendees at the workshop agreed it’s far better to warn entrepreneurs you are going to be a ‘pain in the ass’ at the outset and made the point that there will be less pain for everyone if regular timely reporting is carried out.

Another useful tip was immediately after investment it’s worth taking time to map out with the entrepreneur and the board the first 6 month’s implementation plan with a laser focus. Many founders are overly opportunistic, running after every opportunity or adopting every customer request for product iteration. This is unlikely to add value to the enterprise.

Other useful suggestions included;

  • Doing a SWOT analysis on a regular basis.
  • Setting annual milestones which are informed by the CEO talking to potential acquirers about what the company needs to look like to be bought.
  • Helping the CEO identify non-dilutive sources of capital.

Finally, the audience was reminded that accessing the angel group at regular angel group meetings where investor-directors and founders can talk about what stage the venture is at, is a really effective way to achieve better results. These meetings serve a dual purpose – they keep members informed so they are likely to be positively disposed to the next funding round and they increasing the chances of success by leveraging the intellectual resources of the entire angel group, pulling contacts and experience.

It was encouraging to hear that many of the activities the AANZ is undertaking reflect international best practice outlined in the workshop. The governance course for new angel directors being developed by the AANZ with some help from New Zealand’s Institute of Directors (email [email protected] for more information) and the increasing number of member meetings (outside regular pitch evenings) all bode well for NZ angels and entrepreneurs. A shared focus, regular reporting and leveraging shared networks are key components of multimillion-dollar exits.

Bill Murphy

For more crowd-sourced intel from #ACAAngelSummit 2015 as it happened clik.vc/nzangelaca15

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For more highlights from attendees who attended the conference clik.vc/Angels_connectNZ

To meet and hear from international angels and leaders in New Zealand’s angel investment community 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 14-16 2015.ABAF2015, NZ

New blood a boost for biotech firm

Congrats to Breath Easy in securing a high profile Chairman, demonstrating the power of angel investment to provide critical connections and contacts.
Tech industry veteran Gary Pace appointed to lead board of Breathe Easy Therapeutics.

New Zealand’s Breathe Easy Therapeutics has made a high-profile addition to its board as it advances plans for medical trials of its cystic fibrosis therapy.  The company, which is in the middle of a Snowball Effect equity crowdfunding campaign, has appointed Gary Pace – a more than 40-year veteran of the technology world – as independent chairman.

Pace, a San Diego-based Australian, also sits on the board of ASX-listed medical device maker Resmed and Nasdaq-listed pharmaceutical firm Transition Therapeutics.  Breathe Easy’s Citramel therapy is administered via inhaler for the treatment of cystic fibrosis, a genetic illness that affects the lungs and digestive systems of about 75,000 people worldwide.  The drug is being positioned as a core therapy to improve lung function and potentially enhance the effectiveness of other therapies such as antibiotics.  Citramel’s potential market is estimated at US$1 billion ($1.33 billion).

The Snowball Effect campaign, which had successfully raised $374,818 by yesterday afternoon and closes on Monday, is part of a $2 million funding round.  In addition to the crowdfunding cash, more than $1 million has been raised from local angel investors, investment firm Pacific Channel, and the Government-backed New Zealand Venture Investment Fund.

“With that [$2 million] capital we should be able to demonstrate the clinical feasibility of the product,” Pace said.  “It would take it through the initial clinical trials [in New Zealand].”

Early signs of efficacy have been shown in a patient who has been on Citramel for close to two years.  Pace said it would cost at least $50 million to get Citramel to market.  “We’re designing the [clinical feasibility] study to make it attractive to potential larger groups that could fund it or buy it, such as a venture capital company or a mid to large-sized pharmaceutical company that’s active in the cystic fibrosis area.”

That next stage of investment would probably come from the United States, Pace said.  New Zealand was well placed to run clinical trials of locally developed therapies, but moving into the US market was key to success.  “There’s been a strong resurgence of investment in the biotech industries in the US with last year showing the highest levels of investment in 14 years,” Pace said.  “Kiwi companies are known globally for their ability to innovate and while they seem to understand that US commercialisation in life sciences is key to success, I haven’t seen many make any real impact in this space.”  He said the US biotech industry received US$8.6 billion in investment last year.

“It’s the US’ second biggest sector for investment so this market is key for any New Zealand firm with international aspirations,” Pace said.  “What Kiwis need is a clear US focus from a clinical, regulatory and business perspective, and for that you need people on the ground here with experience. Breathe Easy has that potential.”

Paul Tan, the former chief science and medical officer of ASX-listed Living Cell Technologies, has also joined Breathe Easy as chairman of its scientific advisory board.  Living Cell’s treatments for diseases including Parkinson’s involve transplanting pig cells into humans.

As published in NZ Herald 16 May 2015

Angels flock to networks

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AANZ Media release: 1 May 2015

The number of angel investors who have joined networks and funds has risen dramatically in the past two years, says the Angel Association of New Zealand Executive Director Suse Reynolds.

“While it’s not easy to be definitive about these numbers we estimate the number of eligible angel investors represented by our members has grown from around 370 to 730 in the past two years.  Interest in this asset class is showing growth worldwide and in New Zealand this has coincided with a campaign we have been running to attract new investors.

“We are thrilled with the impact this has had. New activity and networks are emerging from one end of the country to the other – in Northland, Bay of Plenty and Southland, in addition to the major metropolitan centres.

“This growth in investor numbers is helping to fuel the increase in investment activity.  This year angel networks and funds recorded their second consecutive year of more than $50 million of investment. The level of annual investment is almost triple what it was a decade ago.

“Having more angel investors participating in deals is good for the sector. It helps active angels diversify their portfolios reducing the risk associated with angel investment. If there are 10 angel investors contributing to a $250,000 investment in a start-up rather than five, then each investor’s contribution is smaller and they can spread their capital across wider portfolios, thereby increasing the potential for return on investment and giving them more capital to put in other startups.

Last year particularly was a fabulous year in early stage investment in New Zealand with some impressive statistics about the number of deals done and money invested, says Suse. “What’s really exciting is that across the country the dramatic increase in our capability and capacity in the last year means more high-growth, startup companies having a much better chance of accessing much needed capital.

“We are very aware our data does not tell the full story as it is only representative our members’ activity. We also applaud and champion the large number of early stage investors outside this community, such as those launching and investing through crowd funding platforms and others who prefer to operate more independently.

“One of the most inspiring aspects of angel investment is that studies show that the majority of net job growth in the economy comes from new companies. So angels are doing great things for the economic and social development of their communities.”

2015 is shaping up to be even bigger than last year, says Suse. “Canterbury Angels are now formally constituted and have held their first investment evening and. “Angels of the North” held their first event just before Christmas in Whangarei, which included a taste of what the region has to offer in early stage investment.

“Our aim is to grow numbers to more than 1000 angels and we’re well on the way to doing that, making New Zealand a really exciting place to be an entrepreneur or an early stage investor.”

 Media contact:

Angel Association: Suse Reynolds  021 490 974 [email protected]

Download media release pdf

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Angel messages from America

Angel Association members from all over New Zealand have been crossing paths in Air New Zealand Koru lounges on their way to the US this week for the annual ACA Summit in San Diego.

An important event on the calendar of kiwi investors, the ACA Summit is an opportunity to tell great New Zealand stories, connect with international angels, funds, VC’s and meet potential market-entry and acquisition partners from all over the world.

New Zealand’s Angel messengers, carrying kiwi success stories overseas include Marcel van den Assum, Chair and Suse Reynolds, Executive Director of AANZ and Michelle Cole from Angel HQ along with; Bill Murphy and James Beale from Enterprise Angels; Rudi Bublitz from Flying Kiwi Angels; Brent Ogilvy from Pacific Channel; Darryl Lundy, David Russel, Robbie Paul, Cecillia Tarrent from IceAngels; Chris Twiss from NZVIF and Karen Chang from NZTE/LAX to name just a few.

Learning and networking as they go, the Kiwi contingents key collective mission is two fold.

First, entice ‘overseas friends of New Zealands angels’ (affectionately known as OFONZ’s) to ABAF in Queenstown from Wednesday 14 October to Friday 16 October to meet their investee’s in person, experience the energy of New Zealand’s angel community and learn about the benefits of doing business with and in New Zealand. 

Second mission, sharing the skinny! To ensure as many of the learning and insights our Angel-team glean are shared with the early-stage community at large we are expecting to receive posts and tweets from many of the team during the conference.

As they listen to keynote serial-entrepreneur and Lean Startup founder Steve Blank tell you how he changed the course of the startup industry through customer development – we’ll get the highlights as they happen and share reflections.

As serial entrepreneur and profilic angel Gil Penchina, the most active syndicator on AngelList talks about his experience and shares his mental models, we’ll get the benefit of their attendance.

Look out for tweets #ACA15NZ. This hash tag will tell a story about angels from NZ at ACA – who they are, what they think, who they think is worth listening to, words of wisdom they hear, insights they gain, things they find out that those back home should know about the US and the rest of the world… and people they’ve met who are coming to the ABAF2015 in NZ!

Purely positive feedback for Canterbury Angels inaugural event

“Where have you been?” was BreatheEasy CEO Andrea Miller’s question to Christchurch angel investors last week.

Over 50 people turned out to Canterbury Angels’ inaugural investor evening, coming just weeks after the new group was formally launched and after months of planning from the middle of 2014 when the idea was conceived by a group of people involved in the city’s technology sector, with the active encouragement of other members of the Angel Association.

Founding Chair of Canterbury Angels, Ben Reid, introduced seven enterprises to the audience, including local companies Geozone and Linewize (alumni of Canterbury Development Corporation’s 2014 Hi-Growth Launch Programme) as well as Menumate and DebtorDaddy.

The line-up also included companies introduced by other Angel Association New Zealand (AANZ) partners: Skemaz (thank Angel HQ), and headline by LittleLot (IceAngels) and BreathEasy (IceAngels/Pacific Channel).

Feedback about the event, hosted by Duncan Cotterill, has been universally positive from both investors and founders and the organisers are already looking forward to future similar events.

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

We need to focus more on returns!

As angels we want to create value. We get an immediate sense of satisfaction when that value is reflected in the social and economic outcomes of our engagement – developing entrepreneurial skills, creating jobs and supporting innovation.

But in fact if we really want to make a difference and keep making a difference, we must generate financial returns on our angel investment. It’s only then we will truly maximise – and sustain – the social and economic outcomes we seek.

It takes focus and discipline to generate a return on angel investment. As we’ve heard so often, this needs to extend from the founder to the board and shareholders. It’s easy to get excited about where the next sales are coming from, who the next hire going to be, when do we set up offshore and is the next iteration of the product a real game changer. Of course these things are all important but they must be set firmly in the context of their contribution to maximizing the financial returns.

So what does this mean in practice?

As well as the focus from day one, there needs to be an awareness that if you are building a business to generate a return to shareholders, you care less about tactical cash – solvency parameters not withstanding! – and more about the capital strategy.

There are of course different pathways to a return, all of which will give you a different result. Your strategy might entail securing follow-on angel funding, it might entail looking for VC involvement, it might include an exclusive contract arrangement with a potential acquirer or it might be bootstrapping and leveraging grant money. These will all have their own outcomes and impact on the returns you eventually make as an angel investor.

All of these strategies require a laser focus on the sort of business you are building and for who. At every board meeting time should be set aside to revisit the capital strategy to address what it is going to take to secure capital and from who, to ensure that you are building relationships with the right people and that you are doing so well in advance of calling on funds. All these things are vital because they make sure the  company is focusing on generating the value follow-on investors are looking for.

I also can’t help wondering if, as an industry, we need to start thinking about potentially saying “no” to new investments to ensure the deals we’ve already done have the necessary capital and capability applied to succeed. We would be doing this on basis that we are getting more mature as an industry and have a better sense of which companies are going to generate the returns we seek. I think its time to be taking a proactive approach to portfolio rationalization.

How about an investment evening exclusively for these “elite” companies? Such an evening would be all about the “return on investment” proposition and what’s needed to get there. These “elite” companies would be pitching for funding to get to an IPO or a trade sale for example, and would be telling us what it’s going to take to get to these end points within say 1-2 years.

I’d love to see what this might achieve!

Marcel

Why we need more female investors as well as startup founders

A reminder in this article out of Australia which resonates in NZ too, that we need more female investors and founders.  And another reason why we can be so proud of the progress our own Arc Angels is making.

International Women’s Day is this Sunday – a perfect opportunity to recognise the contributions women make to the Australian startup ecosystem.

However, like other industries, gender representation is far from perfect. In 2012, only 4.3% of Australian startup founders were women. There is also evidence to suggest men are more likely to receive venture capital than women – even when the content of their pitches are the same.

Read more on www.startupsmart.com.au

Angels & equity crowdfunding

The oldest equity crowdfunding market in the world is the UK. That market began in 2011, and has grown with an average annual growth rate of 410%.

It took until 2013 for angels and VCs to take much notice of equity crowdfunding in the UK. Now it is commonplace to see co-investment. In the UK 43.3% of angels invested through equity crowdfunding in 2014. 30% of seed investment in the UK was sourced through equity crowdfunding platforms in 2014. That figure is estimated to be 50% in 2015.

We’ve seen the first publicly listed company raise funds through equity crowdfunding. Currently we’re watching the first offer from a company that intends to list immediately after the offer closes.

We’re keen to shortcut the time taken to get angel / VC buy-in to equity crowdfunding in New Zealand.

Here are my thoughts on how angels and equity crowdfunding can benefit from working together in 2015.

Inspiring new angels

The AANZ and angel networks across the country do a good job of shining a spotlight on funding early stage businesses. However general awareness is still low, and angel networks can appear exclusive or inaccessible to many investors eligible to participate.

Equity crowdfunding inspires new angels in a number of ways:

  • Accessibility: Investment opportunities are broadcast widely, reaching many who would otherwise not hear about these opportunities.
  • Small investments: Most equity crowdfunding offers have a small minimum investment amount, such as $500 or $1000. This enables people to start investing in this asset class earlier in their lives. You can easily diversify $10,000 across a range of investments.
  • Learning: One problem with growing the number of angel investors is education. People will be reluctant to invest if they don’t feel that they know enough about the space. Equity crowdfunding gives newbies access to the same offer information, Q&A, and commentary as experienced investors. So everyone is part of the same conversation about an opportunity.

Many future members of angel networks will first invest in unlisted equities through equity crowdfunding. Angel networks should look at this future state identifying ways to use equity crowdfunding platforms as a feeder for their membership.

Referrals

Equity crowdfunding is carving out its space in the funding ecosystem. It will never replace angel investment or the other funding sources. That’s because some businesses are simply better suited to private angel investment or other channels.

At Snowball Effect we’ve had expressions of interest in equity crowdfunding from nearly 600 Kiwi companies. We always ask ourselves what value the company should be trying to capture alongside the cash. If that value is deep domain expertise from experienced individuals, for example, we’ll discuss whether introductions to suitable angel investors is the better path.

Further, we believe that very early stage businesses are generally not suited to public offers. Companies best suited to funding through convertible notes are not right for equity crowdfunding (the regulations don’t permit offers of convertible securities).

Companies should be aware of the range of funding options, and they should pursue the option which provides most value to their business. We’re committed to referring companies elsewhere if appropriate, and hope angels acknowledge and understand the equity crowdfunding option and can provide the same guidance to companies.

Co-investment

Each offer through Snowball Effect has attracted multiple individual investments of $50,000 or more. Private investors are using this channel, and we’ll continue to build that part of the market.

2015 will be the year where we see the first official co-investment between equity crowdfunding investors and an angel group.

The benefits are clear:

  • For angel networks, it provides an efficient way to top up a funding round.
  • For equity crowdfunding investors, it provides comfort that sophisticated investors have assessed the opportunity and have committed.
  • For the company, it’s an opportunity to harness the benefits of wide brand exposure and shareholder advocates that come with a public offer.

We’d love to hear your feedback on these collaboration opportunities.

Please get in touch with any thoughts or comments at [email protected]

This is a guest post by Josh Daniell who blogs regularly here.

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

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

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