Aquafortus wins global award

New Zealand’s Aquafortus Technologies has won the TechXchange Rising Star award for best new technology at Singapore’s International Water Week, this closes out a successful six weeks for the start up, which included an oversubscribed funding round and breaking ground on its first pilot plant in the U.S.

Aquafortus was invited to exhibit under Singapore’s National Water Agency, the Public Utilities Board at Singapore International Water Week. Singapore International Water Week is a global event that brings together world leaders in the wastewater industry, with more than 21,000 participants from 125 different regions.

The tradeshow was a great success for Aquafortus – generating more than a dozen sales leads across eight countries. It also saw new sector applications for Aquafortus’ Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) technology, with significant interest from major players in the semiconductor and textile industries, says Daryl Briggs, CEO of Aquafortus.

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

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

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

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

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Comment: Five steps to stronger capital markets

If the New Zealand economy were a human body, then we can think of capital as the oxygen required to sustain life.

In a functioning capital market, those seeking capital are brought together with those who wish to deploy it. This lowers the cost of equity and debt, boosts the growth of funding and sparks wealth creation.

Is this economic oxygen flowing as it should? Most New Zealand companies listed on the stock exchange (NZX) have unrestricted access to capital, enjoy diverse and internationally-based registers, and are trading at fair to elevated multiples.

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A cow-whispering fitbit

The big farming news of the year so far has been an outbreak of the Mycoplasma bovis disease in cows, which forced the Government to come up with an $886 million eradication plan last month. But as this month’s Fieldays event showed, it’s not all bad news in our farming sector. When it comes to farm technology – or “agritech” as it’s known – New Zealand is a global leader.

A new report by Callaghan Innovation claims that “New Zealand is seen as one of four locations to watch for agritech solutions alongside Silicon Valley, Boston, and Amsterdam.”

I reached out to several agritech experts to find out why New Zealand is so well regarded internationally. Okay, we have a deep history of agriculture in this country. But it requires more than a pair of gumboots and the clichéd “number 8 wire” attitude to create advanced farming technology.

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SwipedOn CEO explains how his Tauranga SaaS startup went global

SwipedOn is a fast-growing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that is used in more than 2000 cities worldwide, and it all started in the Bay of Plenty.

The company provides an iPad-based visitor management system that replaces visitor books, which has proven hugely popular in the UK and US, as well as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

According to CEO and founder Hadleigh Ford, there’s no reason why New Zealand can’t have its own Silicon Valley based right here in the Bay of Plenty.

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Third annual ‘Investor’s Guide to the NZ Technology Sector’

Rising domestic investment in New Zealand’s early-stage technology companies is creating more opportunities for follow-on investment from a growing number of international investors. This is according to the third annual Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector published jointly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and theTechnology Investment Network (TIN).

The guide showcases New Zealand’s diverse range of high growth technology companies, innovation capabilities and supportive business environment, and presents a compelling case for investment in New Zealand’s technology sector.

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Get in quickly – AANZ Summit registrations open!

Diversity … making a difference and delivering outcomes

Last year we celebrated a decade of angel investing in New Zealand. And it was terrific to have that line up with some impressive success for angel backed companies with PowerbyProxi selling to Apple, Publons selling to Clarivate and ImeasureU selling to Oxford Metrics. Last year was also record year for ‘dollars into deals’ with a 26% increase on the previous year’s investment at $86m.

We are genuinely creating value for New Zealand and New Zealanders. At this year’s summit we will focus on amping up that value through the power of diversity. Why and how does a more feminine approach, both as founders and investors, add value? What values do different ethnicities bring to angel backed ventures to increase the prospect of success? Why is it important we include millennials in our ventures?

It’s all about making a difference… diversity and inclusion delivers higher value outcomes.

The 11th Annual NZ Angel Summit, 1/2 November, is being held at Marlborough Vintners, 10 minutes drive from Blenheim and in amongst the vineyards. We deliberately choose smaller intimate venues to ensure we create the right atmosphere for relaxed and rewarding conversations. Our last three summits have sold out as we prioritise places for those ‘doing deals’.

On the first morning we set the context for the two days by reviewing the year and have a session on the values that drive angel investors and how these impact on success. In the afternoon we apply these insights to the more practical aspects of angel investment with sessions on the new industry standard term sheet, how to ensure alignment with follow-on funding sources and dig into the government’s plans to support our endeavours, particularly with respect to tax reform. On Friday morning we focus on our own heroes and hear first-hand from some of our founders and investors who getting real traction offshore. All of this will be shot through with input from successful women and millennials in our community and deep engagement with Maori and our Asian investor migrant community.

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Angel investment rises 26% to reach record level

Startups in New Zealand received an unprecedented level of funding last year, with $86 million flowing into early-stage businesses across the country. That’s according to Startup Investment NZ, published by PwC New Zealand, the Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ) and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF).

“It’s exciting to see such a large number of deals coming through to support early-stage companies. We’re seeing investment levels that are almost three times what we saw just five years ago” said Anand Reddy, Partner at PwC New Zealand.

John O’Hara, AANZ Chair, endorsed this sentiment noting that membership of angel networks continues to grow with a new network established in Marlborough last year and a budding network getting started in the Hawkes Bay.

Established networks like Ice Angels in Auckland, AngelHQ in Wellington and Enterprise Angels in Tauranga are also experiencing growing memberships.

Driving the growth in investment dollars is an increasing number of larger deals in 2017, compared to the year before. The number of deals in 2017 held steady at 111 – one lower than the 12 months previous – the total amount invested has risen by $18 million, a 26% increase.

Offering some insight on the larger number of dollars being invested in a similar number of deals, John O’Hara suggested it reflected a maturing ecosystem.

“A number of the ventures angels have backed are now looking for larger capital injections to fuel their growth. With a thin VC industry, it’s not surprising we are seeing larger deal sizes.

John also offered a word of caution to investors and founders.

“The market’s a little frothy right now. We’re seeing some strong valuations. Entrepreneurs have to be sure they’re not setting the bar too high with their forecast results. If they fail to meet these, it’ll make it make it harder for them to get the next round of funding.

“And investors will be similarly impacted. Flat and down rounds do not impact well on portfolio return prospects.”

Click here to find out more about how the startup sector is evolving, and where it’s heading next.

Click here to dive into the data about this asset class.

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The network effect: NZ angel networks drive funding

Of the $86 million invested into young companies in 2017, over half ($49 million) came from angel investment networks, rather than individual funds or institutional investment.

“The strength of our angel investment networks in New Zealand is growing every day, which helps to explain why they’re responsible for a growing share of overall funding” says AANZ Chair John O’Hara.

“They’re responsible for over double the funding that’s coming through the next most-popular channel of angel funds.”

Raising funds from angel networks can take a little longer than other sources of early stage funding (such as mico-VCs and high networth individuals) given that sometimes over a dozen individual investors are collaborating to complete DD and gather the investment. Angel networks also tend to be run with a large component of voluntary input so founders and lead investors need to be committed project managers.

John notes that not only do networks tend to bring a larger pool of connections and expertise than single source funding options, they bring deeper reserves of connections for follow on funding.

“Angels are inveterate travellers and networkers and have connections in markets across the world which can be tapped for sales channels, in-market insights as well as follow on funding recommendations,” said John.

“Nothing beats getting on a plane with a line-up of carefully targeted meetings. New Zealand founders and investor directors need to spend more time in-market and be preparing for the founder to be based there,” John added.

He concluded by noting that lining up an in-market Board member was also an important component of scaling into offshore markets.

Click here to find out more about how the startup sector is evolving, and where it’s heading next.

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Software the top sector for NZ angel investors

More than half the investment made in early stage companies in New Zealand last year was in the software and services space (53.8%), followed by 17% in technology hardware and equipment.

“Technology is increasingly the engine of growth for all companies, regardless of size” explains PWC’s Anand Reddy.

“It’s no surprise that it’s these areas where the most activity is happening and where angel and early-stage investors are putting their energy. This reflects global trends too. Data generated by Crunchbase notes that the software and services remains the dominant sector for investment.”

Speaking personally, John O’Hara said that his own portfolio leant towards software generated ventures.

“I am particularly proud of Ask Nicely, which produces software for NPS (net promoter score) collection and analysis. This company has already generated tangible returns for a number of the early angel investors. The company is now scaling into the US, with the founder moving to Portland, Oregon in the last couple of months.

“New Zealanders have a knack for practical problem solution and we are increasingly seeing them turn this knack into compelling business opportunities,” said O’Hara.

Click here to find out more about how the startup sector is evolving, and where it’s heading next.

Click here to dive into the data about this asset class.

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Lead Partners

NZTE NZVIF PWC

Expert Partner

AVID “FNZC.jpg”

AANZ Summit Sponsors

Callaghan Innovation “UniServices” Kiwinet “Spark”