Excellent outcome for New Zealand Angels

The successful sale of cloud-computing company GreenButton to Microsoft is a win for everyone involved in the venture’s journey from a one-man startup to a globally competitive, international company. It illustrates just why angels like me find investing in high growth startup companies so rewarding.

This transaction is an excellent outcome for New Zealand. It’s something we can all be proud of. Another team of smart Kiwis have shown they can create a terrific piece of software which will be used by potentially millions of people.

Its worth pointing out almost all the capital required to create the company came from New Zealand’s angel and venture investment community, reflecting the degree to which this community syndicates deals and supports each other.

Over 20 individual angels from three networks contributed – Angel HQ in Wellington, Enterprise Angels in Tauranga and Ice Angels in Auckland – as did early stage venture funds Movac, Sparkbox and Evander. Almost all the investors have indicated they will reinvest the returns straight back into their startup communities.

Its also important to acknowledge the support the company has had from the Government, including the NZ Venture Investment Fund, Callaghan Innovation and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

These entities were all instrumental in the company’s success and I am delighted this transaction represents a significantly positive return on the Government’s investment.

– Marcel van den Assum

 

Software & IT largest investments for New Zealand Angels

Angel investors pumped a record $53.2 million into 116 high-growth businesses last year as confidence returned to the technology sector.

New Zealand Venture Investment Fund chief executive Franceska Banga believed 2014 had started in a similar vein, saying the environment for young technology firms seeking funding was probably the best it had been in 15 years.

A form of hybrid investment that combined equity crowdfunding and angel investment might soon make it possible for non-professional investors to invest in startups alongside experienced “angels” and on the same terms, she said.

The investment by angel investors was up 80 per cent on a lacklustre 2012 and the highest since NZVIF began polling angel groups in 2006. The market had been boosted by the strong performance of companies such as Xero, SLI Systems, Orion Health and Vend, Banga said.

Angel Association executive director Suse Reynolds estimated there were about 500 individuals in New Zealand who could be classed as angels. Networks included a new one especially for female investors, Arc Angels, which has 17 members and has just made its first investment.

Angel investment grew 80 per cent to a record $53.2m last year.

There are believed to be about 500 angel investors in New Zealand. Software and IT services firm attracted almost half of the money invested.

About 80 per cent of angel investment last year was “follow-on” investment and 20 per cent were completely new investments.

The average deal size was just under $500,000.

Read more from Stuff.co.nz Business Day

Tech veteran joins project to help NZ firms access US

First published in New Zealand Herald on Monday January 27, 2014

Craig Elliott says the plan is to make the process simpler for New Zealand entrepreneurs who want to sell to the US.

It’s no surprise, really, that US tech entrepreneur Craig Elliott has been appointed a director of the Kiwi Landing Pad, the San Francisco-based hub for high-growth NZ tech businesses wanting to establish their businesses in the States.

Elliott was there in the beginning when KLP was just a twinkle in the eye of Sam Morgan, who set it up with Wellington entrepreneur John Holt and the support of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in 2011.

Morgan and Elliott met in Wanaka, where they both have property. They agreed that New Zealand businesses needed help to make it past the first hurdle in the complex and competitive US market.

Elliott is a strong believer in the talent New Zealand has to offer the rest of the world.

“The amount of entrepreneurialism and inventiveness in New Zealand is evident.

If we, at KLP, can provide opportunities for Kiwis to have access to markets so they get to compete on the global stage and export their ingenuity in bigger volumes, then we are doing something worthwhile.”

The American is based in Los Gatos in Silicon Valley and visits New Zealand regularly with his family.

He has been on the board of Xero for the past 16 months, is a strategic adviser to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and has invested in some New Zealand tech companies.

Elliott’s network of contacts in the US is extensive.

With over 25 years of experience in networking and communications, he is now running the Silicon Valley tech start-up Pertino, which he co-founded. His aim is to reinvent networking for the cloud era. He was previously chief executive of Packateer, another IT start-up which he took from a three-person company to 200, going public in 1999 and taking it to a market valuation of over $2 billion.

Elliott’s career began at Apple. He caught Steve Jobs’ eye in the mid-80s when, as a science student from Iowa with aspirations to be a vet, he started selling Macs part-time. He became a top seller for Apple and Jobs rewarded him with a visit to San Francisco, dinner and a Porsche.

Elliott spent 10 years with the company, launching online services in 80 countries and taking on a number of senior roles, including international general manager of internet and online services.

His relationship with New Zealand started when he was working for Apple where part of his area of responsibility was the Pacific Rim. Apple would experiment with new products in New Zealand.

“We would try some things out – that’s how I got to know a number of folks in New Zealand.”

Elliott was taking a break here when he was lured back to Silicon Valley for his latest start-up business, Pertino (an abbreviation of Cupertino, the Californian town where the Apple HQ is) by former Packateer colleague Scott Hankins.

Packateer built networking products, but for large companies. Elliott and his team want to help small businesses use cloud technology to stay connected.

“Your typical small businesses need to buy a lot of hardware and deal with lots of complicated configuration to connect employees, provide security and so on.

“We take a lot of that same technology and with no big up-front cost and with a SaaS model, you can use our service to provide that connectivity, with no hardware and no configuration, for a low monthlycost.

“If you are travelling on the road on business, your laptop looks the same as it does in the office, it is a virtual office that is no different when you are in the coffee shop … these days everyone’s always mobile. We do it all in the cloud.”

The Xero board director admits it is something Xero could be involved in at some stage.

“I’ve had a few conversations with Rod Drury,” he says.

Despite Pertino stepping up a notch this year, Elliott has remained committed to New Zealand.

As a director at KLP, Elliott says his contribution will include making local introductions and “simple stuff” such as recommending the best lawyer.

“The plan should be to make KLP as efficient as possible in helping Kiwi entrepreneurs to access the US, to help them to understand the structures here,” he says.

“We want to make the process simpler for New Zealand entrepreneurs who want to make and sell things.”

Elliott is also organising paid Kiwi internships at his business over the New Zealand summer. He has set up a pilot scheme called InterNZ.

With an apartment ready and furnished and social security numbers organised, he has welcomed three computer science majors and computer engineers from the University of Auckland and Victoria University to spend until the end of February at Pertino.

It’s a win-win situation – Elliott has some new talent and the students get to go back to New Zealand with a good idea of how an American tech start-up works.

Elliott has other “Silicon Valley friends” watching to see how this goes and keen to take it on too if it is successful.

“We are going to kick it off, we have got all the visas sorted, and there is interest from Cisco and Apple to tell them how to do this.”

Read the original article

IndieReign – something really clever

Independent film distribution company IndieReign began life as Reel Clever, a basket of online tools designed to help film-makers connect and market their wares within the industry. But after talking to customers, founder and chief executive David White realised the real pain in the industry was distribution.

Enter IndieReign, an online distribution platform that taps festival films and delivers them to your living room.

White and his team, and Phil McCaw of angel investment company Movac, have invested $300,000 of their own money developing the company’s technology, building initial networks and testing the concept.

White has already secured three-quarters of the funding he was seeking after, very unexpectedly, signing up three Silicon Valley investors while he was tying down a San Francisco film festival deal. He met the investors through both McCaw’s connections and the Government-backed Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco.

Full story first published in the New Zealand Herald on Friday November 23 2012

Read more from NZHerald

Gear up for an NZ growth wave, says private business

Tags: investors

First published in New Zealand Herald Tuesday Nov 12, 2013

Kiwi companies need to gear up for a “growth wave”, according to an annual measure of the views of private businesses.

ANZ’s Privately-owned Business Barometerquestioned 3000 businesses across the country and found confidence in the New Zealand economy has risen sharply in the last year and most commercial businesses are expecting earnings growth in the next year.

But it found businesses need to focus on investment, inspiration and planning and scale and collaboration if they want to build sustainable growth.

Graham Turley, ANZ managing director commercial and agri, said the past few years had been tough for Kiwi businesses but there was a wave of growth coming which had the potential to propel New Zealand into an enviable position.

“The question is: are we ready for it and how can we ensure that after rising this wave we’re better placed to ride out future peaks and troughs?”

Turley said businesses had spotted the wave coming and confidence was at a long-term high.

The survey found 78 per cent were slightly to very optimistic about their own business over the next year compared to 65 per cent in 2012.

Confidence in the economy was also up sharply from 44 per cent to 68 per cent and 88 per cent of commercial businesses expected earnings growth in the next year.

Turley said worries over getting paid, tight inventory, cost control and lack of capital for funding were less of a priority.

But businesses now needed to reshape their responses to take advantage of more favourable conditions, he said.

Turley said the most important step was creating scale to provide options. The survey found 16 per cent of commercial respondents were looking at mergers and acquisitions to drive business performance and 11 per cent were looking at partnerships or joint ventures.

“It’s not necessarily about mergers or acquisitions, though these can provide a step-change in scale for some. It could be about achieving the size and earnings capacity to attract skilled people who can help drive further growth.”

Investment was also important, Turley said. “The most important investment may be in the capabilities of the owner or manager so they’re fully equipped to evaluate and seize opportunities.”

The survey also identified inspiration and planning as a key different that could fuel a company’s next leap forward.

“A sound plan will consider a range of possible future scenarios and the best business response. This helps ensure a business will not be unduly shaken by the next peak or trough in economic fortunes,” Turley said.

Read the original article

Angels found, angels wanted

First published in the New Zealand Herald Friday October 11, 2013

Antony Dixon is bubbling with excitement. The chief executive of electronics-technology company Times-7 has just returned from Hong Kong, where the firm was named in the prestigious Red Herring Top 100 Asia awards.

The awards celebrate emerging technology companies from the Asia-Pacific region, so it was a big deal for a small company from New Zealand, says Dixon.

Even bigger, however, was what happened between the pitches and the handshakes. Dixon used the awards as an opportunity to visit his Asian contacts; confirming two new distributors in Hong Kong and Singapore and netting a new client in Japan in the process. “It was all really worthwhile, we got international recognition for our technology and we signed up a couple of new partners,” says an obviously delighted Dixon.

All this is a far cry from a year ago.

Times-7’s business is supplying equipment for the radio-frequency identification (RFID) or “smart tag” market.

Back then Dixon had been knocking on doors for almost a year trying to raise enough capital to develop and market the company’s new robust, slim-line antennas. His invitation to pitch at the 2012 Angel Summit – the annual gathering of the country’s angel investors (individuals who have a bit of spare cash to invest in tomorrow’s Kiwi companies) – was his last attempt to raise the $600,000 he badly needed.

“Before the summit we still didn’t have enough money on the table to make the [investment] round worthwhile. So we had to really put our best foot forward – which we did.”

Times-7 was one of 13 budding Kiwi companies asked to pitch at last year’s summit and one of six profiled by The Business last November.

It was one of the successful ones. Others were equally or even more successful; a couple, far less so. One is still trying to close the capital raising round it embarked on more than 18 months ago, making the Summit showcase a small part of what is now a long and arduous journey.

Even those who were successful, however, still have capital raising firmly on their agendas. That’s a fact of life for early-stage companies that doesn’t surprise Angel Association chairman and investor Ray Thomson.

“One of the problems with early-stage companies in New Zealand is they tend to run on the smell of an oily rag,” he says. “They don’t have enough capital to get themselves to market fast enough. It’s one of the major problems we have around commercialising Kiwi technology.”

Thomson says he encourages companies to raise as much as they can, whenever they can. Too many raise too little, slowing their potential progress and leaving them at risk of being overtaken by competitors or new developments.

Finding enough capital, however, is a problem Thomson shares with the companies. A key function of the association and its annual Summit is to encourage new angels to join the ranks and share their money, and the risks, with other angels in order to grow the total pool of money available to early-stage companies.

“That’s why we have the Summit in a different part of the country each year, to encourage more local interest.”

Last year’s Summit in Wellington, co-hosted by the local angel group Angel HQ, helped swell the capital’s angel numbers by 50 per cent, from 31 to 45. The association’s push to grow numbers also seems to be working across the country, with the official number of angels now at 420 compared with 368 this time last year.

Thomson and his association colleagues are beavering away on other initiatives in an effort to continue the momentum. A women-only angel group called Arc Angels is being launched this month in Auckland and Wellington. The group is the brainchild of Kiwi expat and staunch early-stage company supporter Bridget Liddell, now a senior partner with US investment company 212° Equity. Liddell is earmarked as chairwoman of the new group, and communications consultant Alex Mercer has been signed up as executive director.

Women-only angel investment groups are very successful in the US, says Thomson, especially at finding capital for businesses led by female entrepreneurs.

Golden Seeds, which started as a women-only group focusing primarily on women-run businesses, is now one of the largest and most active angel investment organisations in the States, investing US$58 million in 58 companies since 2005.

Thomson’s aim is to increase New Zealand angel numbers to more than 550 next year and he expects the Arc Angels to provide a significant chunk of that target.

There’s also a push to develop dedicated angel groups in some of the smaller centres, including Whangarei, Hamilton, Oamaru and Invercargill.

The latest Young Company Finance Index, produced by the Government’s NZ Venture Investment Fund, shows that angel investment increased 18 per cent to $36.5 million in the year to June, compared to $30.9 million in the year to June 2012. Cumulatively, $274 million has been invested in early-stage companies by angel investors since data was first recorded in 2006.

But Thomson says the numbers don’t reflect the true health of New Zealand’s angel sector, which is second only to the States, based on the number of angels per head of population.

“Twenty-three New Zealand angels went to the US Angel Summit this year. We were the largest country represented outside America, so there’s a huge amount of interest [in angel investing] here.”

This passion for angel investing is a large part of the reason why New Zealand can attract big international names to its Summit, says Thomson. “[International] angels like coming down here because this is one of the most vibrant angel communities in the world.”

This year the Summit’s line-up includes Canadian technology entrepreneur turned angel guru Basil Peters, a regular speaker on the US angel circuit and a strong advocate of early exits for angel investors. He is speaking for the first time outside North America, says Thomson. Others on the list include well known US angel and Kiwiphile Bill Payne; Singapore-based British angel investor Hugh Mason, who runs the emerging company accelerator JFDI Asia; and Stuart Fox, principal of one of Australia’s larger angel funds.

Driving best practice and angel numbers goes hand in hand, says Thomson. “It’s all about supporting the ecosystem. It’s no use the Government helping to build these little companies, and get the intellectual property out of our research organisations, if there’s no capital around to help them reach their targets.”

So how did our pick of companies from last year’s summit showcase go?

Read the original article

If you would like to find out more about the 2014 Summit, please see AANZ Summit 2014.

BioLumic raises GD1 funding for offshore growth

Plant science company BioLumic has successfully completed a new investment round with backing from the Global from Day One programme (GD1). The investment will finance customer trials and a foray into international markets.

BioLumic is a Palmerston North company which is commercialising ultra violet light technology developed to improve crop growth within large scale horticultural systems. Its proprietary UV and ‘Smart Array’technology is able to control plant size, growth, stress tolerance and a range of consumer quality attributes in a way that has never beforebeen commercially achievable. “BioLumic is a very attractive investment proposition due to the significant potential of its technology to increase returns for high volume vegetable and algae growers internationally,” says GD1 chief executive Greg Sitters.

“The company is still at an early stage of developing technology that has massive worldwide applicability. The technology will revolutionise the way plants are grown. This kind of early stage investment in companies with immediate global potential is precisely the sort of opportunity which GD1 is very interested in backing.”

“BioLumic is fortunate to have the backing of a GD1 investment to follow our initial fundraising through the MIG Angels’ Fund 1 and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund’s SCIF fund,” says Warren Bebb, BioLumic general manager.

“This latest investment enables us to conduct extra customer trials and engage more with potential international partners and markets. As a result of this funding, we will be in a strong position to have our first product in market by the end of 2014.”

The science behind BioLumic was developed by Dr Jason Wargent, an applied plant physiologist at Massey University. The company was founded in November 2012. Palmerston North-based BCC has to date managed the commercialisation process, and the company has also received a Callaghan Innovation Project Grant and a loan from the Central Energy Trust.

“The MIG Angels identified BioLumic as a company with high potential and invested in it through MIG Fund 1,” says Mike Creed, who represents MIG Fund 1 on the BioLumic board. “We are happy with the progress the company has made so far and absolutely welcome the investment by GD1. Increasing the cash on hand will give the company a bit more breathing space as it works towards its milestones.”

Bebb says BioLumic will soon begin customer trials at two sites in the North Island; the company will start small-scale customer trials later this month, and larger scale customer trials are scheduled to begin in November.

BioLumic has recently completed filing its PCT patent in New Zealand and, over the next year, says Bebb, the company will determine in which other countries to file. He expects the first commercial prototype to be available for testing by the end of 2013 and the second prototype, incorporating modifications of the first, is planned for trials in mid-2014. The company expects to be in production towards the end of 2014.

BioLumic (www.BioLumic.com)

BioLumic is a plant science company based on science developed at Massey University. Through manipulating exposure to doses of UV light, BioLumic’s IP has been shown to optimise plant growth for desired effects including yield, disease control, colour and flavour. Current applications of the technology are being developed that include treatments for transplant crop seedling quality; growth and quality regulation of fully indoor produced leafy vegetables and high-value salad herbs; and pathogenic disease treatments for a range of horticultural crops. The company is also investigating other applications of the technology such as manipulation of desired characteristics in the biological material for nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and algae.

Global from Day One (www.globaldayone.com)

GD1 is a seed investment fund which has up to $4.6 million available for investment – having raised $2.3 million from private investors and with access to matching co-investment from the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund. It aims to invest into around 25 start-up companies with international ambitions over the next four years. Nationally-focused early stage investor Sparkbox Ventures is managing the fund.

MIG Fund 1 (www.thebcc.co.nz/cms/page.php?view=mig)

Established in 2007, MIG Fund 1 targets potential investments at the seed and start-up phase of emerging businesses. Potential investments can be in any sector and come from across New Zealand, although MIG Angels are particularly interested in potential investments from the wider Manawatu region. With the fund nearly fully-subscribed, the MIG Angels are planning to launch MIG Fund 2 in 2014.

BCC (www.thebcc.co.nz)

Based in Palmerston North, BCC turns innovative ideas into thriving new businesses. It secures investment funding to grow technology businesses, offers management support and mentoring for start-ups, and facilitates the journey from concept to commercialization.

Media contact
Warren Bebb
General Manager
BioLumic Ltd.
DDI +64 6 352 0102 M +64 21 799 257
[email protected]

For GD1, contact David Lewis 021-976 119

MOVAC Invests In 1Above

MOVAC, the venture capital investment firm, has taken a 13% stake in 1Above, a functional drink that helps people fight jet lag and combat many of the health risks and discomfort related to flying.

1Above raised more than $2.4 million in this latest investment round, which was led by MOVAC and included TradeMe founder Sam Morgan and existing shareholders. Investors were attracted by 1Above’s exponential quarter-on-quarter growth since being launched in December 2010 and the quality of the team.

The funds raised will be used to accelerate the company’s global expansion and build the executive team, says Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Roger Boyd. “Attracting the likes of MOVAC and Sam to our loyal shareholder base is a real endorsement of the company’s abilities to deliver and scale. We are still a small company in the scheme of things, but we have achieved great channel successes. For example in WHSmith, in Australian airports, we are the third or fourth brand in terms of sales out of more than 40 in the fridge. We also have a great repeat purchase rate, terrific unsolicited customer endorsement and a loyal base of flight crew and well-travelled ambassadors who are helping grow the company by sharing their own positive stories. It’s a very exciting time at the moment.”

Work to build the executive team has already begun with the appointment of Tony Kerridge as Chief Executive Officer. Tony was General Manager and a shareholder of Caffe L’affare, a business he helped build from inception. It was sold for a reported sum of $25 million to Cerebos, the Australasian sauce, spice and coffee manufacturer, owned by the Japanese beverage giant Suntory. Tony was also an early investor in Charlie’s, the juice company, which was sold to Asahi in 2011 for $129 million. He has been an investor in 1Above since launch and brings years of FMCG sales and marketing
experience to the business, says Boyd. “He will be a great asset in this high growth period.”

New Zealand business investor and advisor Mark Wynne has also joined the board as Chairman. Mark was President of Kimberly Clark South Asia and has more than 25 years global leadership and brand building experience. He joins MOVAC partner Mark Vivian and investment banker and long-term 1Above investor Toby King on the board.

MOVAC was attracted to 1Above by the company’s targeted focus on a deep narrow distribution channel and 1Above’s creation of a new food and beverage business category, says MOVAC’s Mark Vivian. “Roger has demonstrated the potential of 1Above in a relatively short space of time, and this has been further evidenced by the quality of the team that he has attracted. I’m very excited by the range of opportunities that we have in front of us.”

The investment makes 1Above the third portfolio company in MOVAC’s third fund, and one of several investments MOVAC expects to name shortly as it continues to invest in Kiwi companies which have the ability to rapidly scale revenues.

Boyd, a former Fonterra Brands general manager, says the company is now well placed to reach its ambitious growth targets. 1Above is also advertising for new staff to beef up its international sales and marketing team.

For photos, interviews or further information please contact:

Roger Boyd on +64 201 111 201 or [email protected]

Mark Vivian on +64 272 464 936 or [email protected]

Notes to editors:

1Above® – The Flight Drink – www.fly1above.com

Launched in Dec 2010, 1Above® is a functional beverage targeted at helping people fly well and arrive ready to get more from their travels. The company was founded by Roger Boyd a former Fonterra executive after suffering years of jet lag and on the back of rising health concerns. 1Above contains significant dietary levels of six essential electrolytes; 67-133% of your daily B vitamin needs; grape seed extract; and an active ingredient Pycnogenol®, which has been shown in 58 clinical studies to reduce the length and severity of jet lag and support healthy circulation, amongst other benefits.

MOVAC – Venture capital – www.movac.co.nz

MOVAC is an experienced fund manager that provides venture capital to New Zealand businesses that have potential for rapid and large-scale growth. It has made a number of early stage investments over the past decade and is currently investing Fund 3: a $42m fund that provides $500k to $5m of growth capital to companies who have a plan, the potential and the commitment to grow. MOVAC provides capital, expertise and connections.

Pigment firm’s founder impresses investor

First published in the New Zealand Herald on Thursday August 22, 2013

Angel investor and promoter Brent Ogilvie is tickled pink about his latest investment, colour company D’Arcy Polychrome.

The startup – which has come up with a way to encapsulate and deliver colour through dry pigments to colour paint, concrete and plaster – has a disruptive technology, solid IP position and large and multiple potential markets on its hands.

But ask Brent Ogilvie, angel investor and director of science and technology investment firm Pacific Channel, what attracted him to back the Auckland-based company and he’ll tell you first and foremost it was the person behind the venture, founder Rachel Lacy.

“She has an enormous amount of energy, as well as experience in the paint industry,” Ogilvie explains. “Her mother had a chain of upmarket paint stores in New Zealand and her father is an architect, so she literally grew up in that paint and decorative industry.

“So when she said she had identified a niche you’re more likely to believe that and it’s easier to get the data to validate that.”

Pacific Channel was also impressed by overwhelming expressions of interest in the technology from the paint and concrete industries.

The incumbent technology to tint paint involves dispersing a limited range of liquid colourants through a tinting wheel at your local paint shop. But changing the form in which colour comes – from liquid to dry – opens up a world of new possibilities, including the ability to buy colour separately from a base paint, to distribute it directly online, or develop whole unique colour palettes for high profile designers.

The company now has its first customer, Sto, a billion-euro turnover premium paint company, which is using D’Arcy’s “drikolor” system in Australasia.

The company closed a second round of investment in May, bringing in more than $500,000.

Pacific Channel focuses on companies in the clean-tech and material and life sciences sectors. The firm looks for proprietary technology, a substantial marketplace, and people with deep expertise and passion for their field who they can work with, says Ogilvie says.

As an angel Ogilvie says he tries to focus his efforts on what he can he execute at the micro level; helping to develop the D’Arcy Polychromes of our country, for example.

Produced in association with the Angel Association New Zealand.

Read the original article

Kiwi’s landed in San Fransisco

San Francisco-based Kiwi Landing Pad has become an invaluable staging point for big-thinking Kiwi tech start-ups looking to crack the US market. Jamie Morton caught up with a few of them.

The pelican brief

It might be a run-in with a pelican that Chris Smith has to thank for his booming app company.

Thirteen months ago, Smith and his wife found themselves awe-struck by one of the creatures during a visit to Wellington Zoo.

A sign at its enclosure yielded a few basic facts – one being the bird could hold 13 litres of water in its beak – but the couple wanted to know more.

The StQRy smartphone app is being used by zoos, museums and even Walt Disney.

More than 100 clients include Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Auckland Zoo, and, of course, Wellington Zoo.

“If you walk around any of the venues you’ll see StQRy codes and it says, ‘get the story’. If you scan it with the StQRy app, that story will pop up to full multi-media.”

The company’s staff has grown to nine and this year it started a new production team to write stories.

Many regions around New Zealand are using the technology, which is quickly branching out in the US.

San Francisco and Seattle have signed on with StQRy to promote their public art, and major companies including Walt Disney and the Getty Centre in Los Angeles have also bought in.

Booktrack: Reading revolution

When explaining his company’s point of difference, Paul Cameron likes to jump back to movie theatres in 1928.

The introduction of “talkies” – motion pictures accompanied by sound – would revolutionise the movie business.

The soundtrack software developed by Cameron’s company Booktrack could do the same for e-books, he said.

The company offers synchronised soundtracks for e-books, including sound effects and music, to provide users a movie-like experience while reading.

“When you watch a film and you turn the sound down, all the emotion dies with it – so we are just bringing that experience to reading.”

Cameron described the soundtrack software as dynamic: “It’ll adapt to what you are reading, when you are reading.”

When a character might open a door, the reader will hear a creak. Orchestral music will sound at a sad scene.

The company picked up the Innovative Software Product prize at this year’s NZ High Tech Awards and has raised millions of dollars from investors, among them Facebook billionaire and Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel.

It has also found support from Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall, the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund and Sir Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post Productions, which provided the sound for The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit.

Booktrack bases its research and development out of Auckland and recently moved its US office from New York to San Francisco, positioning itself closer to the tech industry.

Its first free title, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Speckled Band, was downloaded more than 100,000 times in its opening three months.

Mako Networks: Blocking the card sharks

Each time Mako Networks’ communications manager Kevin Ptak emails out a news update to his colleagues, he throws in the latest tale of credit card fraud.

There was the series of attacks in Brisbane. And there were the five hotels in Hawaii where fraudsters managed to mine months’ worth of customers’ credit card details.

“It’s on the rise around the world,” Ptak said.

For Mako Networks, the age of data crime and data security has presented a business opportunity.

The New Zealand-based network management company specialises in security for small site businesses and organisations, such as petrol stations and fast food restaurant chains, ensuring their data and records are secure.

It began in 2000 as YellowTuna Networks, an enterprise created by former Xtra employees Chris Massam and Simon Gamble to provide managed firewalls to small businesses.

Rebranding as Mako Networks a few years later, its technology was taken up by Telecom, the Ministry of Health and other clients.

In the mid-2000s, new rules were brought in to protect credit card users and combat fraud under the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

Large companies with big budgets and staffing expertise found it easy to comply with new rules, Ptak said.

“But the small businesses – the cafes, the florist shops, the corner stores – they’re all having a really hard time and are struggling with this.”

The tighter standards had pushed the fraudsters targeting corporations “further down the food chain” to these small businesses, he said. “And that’s where our system comes in.”

Mako’s research and development is based in Albany, but it’s estimated around three quarters of its new business will be in North America over the next three years.

The company had a turnover last year of $10 million and now has multiple offices in the US.

It was recognised with the Security Innovation of the Year award at the 2012 UK Digital Entrepreneur Awards – and by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment with a multi-million dollar funding commitment to help boost research and development.

“We were a recipient of a $4.2 million grant … and we are using that money to hire talent just as fast as we can find it to support our growth in the US.”

A Virtual Eye on America

Dunedin-based Virtual Eye might be best known for transforming New Zealand sports coverage with 3D animated graphics, from the America’s Cup Challenge to motor racing, golf and cricket.

But as the company has demonstrated in San Francisco, there’s more to it than just fancy things on telly.

It’s been using augmented reality – computed-generated technology that adds a digital dimension to real-world environments – to showcase the best of New Zealand.

Seizing on the America’s Cup, the company is deploying augmented reality displays, viewable by smartphone, to promote Kiwi wine, sailing and culture.

A display was recently set up at San Francisco’s artificial Treasure Island, to tie in with a Maori hangi and music festival staged there.

At the cup base, the technology allowed Emirates Team New Zealand fans to take a virtual tour of the team’s boat, getting up close with all of its components and comparing its size to that of an elephant.

The company – part of Animation Research, a venture co-founded by Ian Taylor in 1989 – is looking to take its technology to nearby Napa Valley wineries.

Meinung said smaller wineries seeking a point of difference had shown an interest – and not just in using it as a display for visitors.

It could also come in handy as a training tool for waiters and bartenders, she said.

While the augmented reality technology was not Virtual Eye’s, the company had developed it in such a way not accessible elsewhere. “We’ve been getting a lot of recognition,” she said.

Jamie Morton travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Air New Zealand.

First published in the New Zealand Herald on Thursday August 15 2013

Read more from NZHerald

Aduro Biopolymers secures investment from Wallace Corporation

Hamilton-based Aduro Biopolymers, a natural resource materials and biopolymer company, today announced it has secured investment from Wallace Corporation, by volume New Zealand’s largest service rendering business, processing a variety of co-products from the meat processing industry. Aduro Biopolymers is a spin-out company formed by WaikatoLink Limited, the technology transfer office of the University of Waikato. The company was formed to develop and market materials and biopolymers for use in the manufacturing sector. The company is currently developing a novel material based on an unconventional idea; turning bloodmeal into bioplastic.

“Aduro Biopolymers has developed an innovative method for the production of bioplastics made from by-products of the red meat and poultry industries,” says Graham Shortland, CEO of Wallace Corporation. “We’re always looking for innovative ways to turn new and existing raw materials into higher value products in order to sustainably deliver superior returns to our meat processing partners.”

“We’ve been very impressed by the team at WaikatoLink and their track record in commercialisation as well as the quality of research from the University of Waikato. This investment is part of a broader strategy and the start of a partnership that will allow us to bring new research from the University into our business.”

Duncan Mackintosh, the Chief Executive of WaikatoLink says, “It’s fantastic to secure investment at such a key point in the company’s development. We’re also delighted to have Sir James Wallace join the Aduro board. Aduro Biopolymers is a great example of an early stage innovative company based on publically funded research. It’s encouraging to see a successful established company like Wallace Corporation value this innovation and its commercial promise as part of its strategy. This partnership will help the success of Aduro and open up new opportunities too.”

Aduro Polymers aim is to develop environmentally conscious materials for the manufacturing and construction sectors. The company’s first product is Novatein, a bioplastic that will be price competitive with petrochemical plastics. The global plastics market is worth over a trillion dollars and currently bioplastics represent 5-10% of that market, with a compounded annual growth rate of almost 20%.

Darren Harpur, Acting CEO of Aduro Biopolymers says, “The manufacturing process for Novatein is quite simple. This means the capital costs required to commence manufacture will be relatively low and should enable the cost effective production of Novatein. There is a growing demand for environmentally friendly plastics but they need to be at the right price point for consumers. We are confident we can achieve this price point with Novatein.”

The science behind Novatein originated and continues to be developed by the University of Waikato’s Dr Johan Verbeek and his team, where bloodmeal produced by the red meat industry is processed into granules which have been modified and optimised to suit a chosen product’s attributes. The granules can then be manufactured into injection moulded or extruded products using industry standard equipment. Novatein has been in development since 2007 and has received investment support from KiwiNet’s PreSeed Accelerator Fund from the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Harpur says, “As consumers, we’re all aware of the effects of plastics on the environment. Novatein will help solve some of those problems by introducing a bioplastic made from naturally occurring materials that on their own quickly degrade in the environment. We think that this aspect combined with a simple manufacturing process will enable our technology to be adopted quite rapidly.”

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford says the work done by Dr Verbeek and his team has garnered much interest as it has developed and it is pleasing to see the investment by Wallace Corporation. “At the University of Waikato we promote the delivery of world-changing and relevant research. In this case we have research that takes low value co-product of the red meat industry and creates a biodegradable plastic. I consider that highly relevant to our world and is an excellent example of research that is making a difference.”

Aduro Biopolymers is working with commercial partners in New Zealand and Australia to develop Novatein for a range of product lines. The company is also looking to work with New Zealand research organisations to develop new and novel materials from other natural resource polymers.

Further information:

Sandra Lukey
Shine Group (PR for WaikatoLink)
Mobile: +64 21 2262 858
Email: [email protected]

About Aduro Biopolymers

Aduro Biopolymers is a natural resource biopolymer company. Their lead product is Novatein, a biopolymer formulation using bloodmeal which is a co-product of the red meat industry. Aduro Biopolymers is a spin-out company formed by WaikatoLink Limited, the technology transfer office of the University of Waikato. For more on Novatein see www.novatein.co.nz

About Wallace Corporation

Wallace Corporation Limited was formed in 1994 to consolidate several unique businesses. One of those businesses had been operating a rendering plant, principally for dead cows, at Waitoa since the early 1930’s, and was purchased by Mr JD Wallace in 1939. The other businesses, established by James H Wallace, were Wallford Meats (NZ) Ltd, Eureka Hides & Skins Ltd and Wallace Industries Ltd. Recently Wallace Meats was acquired by Silver Fern farms. Today Wallace Corporation employs up to 150 staff. The Company is a significant exporter with over 80 percent of sales being to the Europe, Australia, China and Southern Asia. Wallace Corporation has a commitment to building an industry based on the future rather than on the past. www.wallace.co.nz

About WaikatoLink

WaikatoLink Limited is a world class technology development and investment company, with a strong track record in translating research outcomes into commercial applications and technologies. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University of Waikato, it achieves this by identifying, managing and commercialising the University’s intellectual property. WaikatoLink works closely with industry, investors and researchers to identify and develop market opportunities for new technologies, and plays a key role in University knowledge transfer for economic transformation. Since its establishment in 2002, WaikatoLink has completed numerous licensing deals and established more than 12 start-up companies and joint ventures, which have collectively created more than 138 full-time equivalent jobs and achieved market capitalisation nearing NZ$200 million. Three of its start-ups have already been successfully exited. www.waikatolink.co.nz

Forbes praises LanzaTech

New Zealand-founded biotech company LanzaTech has been included in a Forbes Top 100 list of America’s most promising privately held companies.

LanzaTech’s technology converts waste and low-cost resources into sustainable, valuable commodities. It uses a microbe to convert gas from industrial sources like steel mills, processing plants and agricultural waste into fuels and chemicals.

The clean energy and renewable chemicals technology company was ranked 48th and was the only clean energy or bioscience firm in the top 50.

Headquartered in Illinois but with its scientific base in Auckland, LanzaTech was founded in early 2005 and raised funding through grants and New Zealand-based angel investors.

US business magazine Forbes said it compiled the Top 100 most promising listbased on variables including growth, quality of management, team and investors, margins, market size and key partnerships.

Alongside its ranking, LanzaTech was described as having 125 employees and revenue of $4 million in the year ended December 31, 2012.

Forbes said the company raised US$56 million in venture funding from Khosla Ventures, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund and others in January 2012.

Last year, LanzaTech was ranked number three on the list of the “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy” by Biofuels Digest, an industry website in the US.

The firm also made number seven on the list of the “30 Hottest Companies in Renewable Chemicals”.

In October, LanzaTech secured another US$15 million (NZD$18.3m) in funding from a Silicon Valley investment firm, which brought its total capital raised to date to more than US$100 million.

The company has indicated it may list on the NZX at some point.

First published in the New Zealand Herald on Thursday February 7 2013

Read more from NZHerald

Startups plug into Silicon Valley

Tauranga is about to increase it’s profile, and exposure, in the fast-moving world of information and communications technology (ICT) with the launch of Wharf42, established by Pingar chief executive Peter Wren-Hilton.

Wharf42 will help the country’s smart, start-up software businesses set up in the home of technology, California’s Silicon Valley.

Mr Wren-Hilton and his wife, Jacqui, spent six months last year setting up their own operation in the famous valley full of entrepreneurs – and they now want to pass on their experiences and support for other ambitious ICT companies.

“New Zealand has an active technology sector but the start-ups don’t grow because they don’t go out of the country and they are restricted by the size of the market here and access to capital,” said Mr Wren-Hilton.

“Wharf42 will be creating a system and process to fast-track some of New Zealand’s most exciting start-ups and become a connector/conduit to get them into Silicon Valley.”

In the valley, the bright New Zealand companies will become involved with “an ecosystem” of other start-ups from around the world, angel investors and venture capitalists, and potential large technology partners such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Intel and Oracle.

“We want to see more $100 million New Zealand software companies rather than hundreds of $1 million businesses,” said Mr Wren-Hilton. “You cannot grow on to the international scale by keeping your business here.”

Wharf42 will organise the companies to be located in the Plug and Play Tech Centre, already home for 300 start-ups in Redwood City and Sunnyvale, which is in the heart of Silicon Valley.

A number of venture capital and angel investor groups are also based at the centre, aiming to invest in the smart software companies.

Mr Wren-Hilton said 180 venture capital networks had raised US$650 million ($780 million) in four years for the start-ups in the tech centre.

Companies would retain their research and development and intellectual property in New ZealandBut in the valley they could forge ahead with business development and sales and marketing teams to grow their businesses. The owners can catch Air New Zealand NZ7 on Friday to San Francisco and rock up to work in the Plug and Play on Monday.

When they first arrive in Silicon Valley, the Kiwi companies will become part of a 10-week Plug and Play programme, known as start-up camp.

They will be introduced to every aspect of the valley, and will be encouraged to fine tune their technology and their presentations.

At the end of 10 weeks, they will participate in the Plug and Play Expo and present to an audience of 400 Silicon Valley representatives, including 80 venture capital companies.

The Kiwi companies will be given every opportunity to shine.

The Plug and Play centre also organises 120 events a year and the start-ups can attend free of charge.Andy Hamilton, chief executive of Auckland’s Icehouse, said Wharf42 provided a great conduit for Kiwi technology start-ups to get to Silicon Valley in a timely and efficient manner. In the past, this had been a somewhat complex process and Wharf42 would be a great partner for organisations such as Icehouse, which is constantly working to identify and grow the next generation of entrepreneurs in New Zealand.

“Their innovation centre will be a physical building and we can provide the tenants,” he said. “I believe a significant ICT beachhead can be established in the city and the region.”

First published in the New Zealand Herald on Wednesday March 21 2012

Read more on NZHerald

Online fun a money-spinner

Game that teaches children about music can be a major money-spinner, believes entrepreneur Chris White, founder of Big Little Bang, an online 3D virtual world for children aged 7 to 14.

MTV Networks paid US$160 million for Neopets in 2005. Two years later Disney bought Club Penguin in a deal valued at US$700 million (US$350 million upfront, with the remainder dependent on the online game achieving revenue targets). In Britain, Moshi Monsters is estimated to be worth US$200 million ($242 million) after a founding director sold his stake in the company last year.

These are the sort of numbers that White believes will fire investor enthusiasm as he seeks expansion capital to further develop Big Little Bang, particularly in the United States. Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 fund and angel investor Sparkbox Ventures provided initial seed capital, and have committed to the expansion capital round. Other angels provided additional funding to develop the prototype into a commercial game, which launched in July.

It now has more than 31,000 players, more than half of them American children, despite the game only becoming available state-side before Christmas. White is now in the US seeking “accelerators and incubators” to help fast-track Big Little Bang’s growth.

“We’re looking to hit the break-even point in the next 18 months and at that point really accelerate our growth to hundreds of thousands of new users each month,” says White.

White’s game is about socialising and creating music in space, using planets, rocket ships and musical wormholes. As a former music teacher, this website strikes me as an astonishing amalgam of creativity and commercial exploitation. It comes as no surprise to learn that Mike Chunn, music legend and advocate for making music the building block of learning, was involved at an early stage.

The Big Little Bang idea is a great example of the creative fostering that is now embedded in New Zealand corporate culture.

White, who has a master’s degree in creative arts and a bachelor of science, has been through the Spark programme, was adopted by the Icehouse business incubator (“I had access to the executive in residence”) and was assisted in forming relationships with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Santiago.

Revenue is rising and he’s confident a bright future awaits.

First published in the New Zealand Herald on Monday February 6 2012

Read more on NZHerald

Lead Partners

NZTE NZGCP PWC “NZX” Callaghan Innovation

Expert Partner

AVID “Jarden”

AANZ Summit Sponsors

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