Angels Connect NZ Series, Brent Ogilvie from Pacific Channel reports from the International Exchange Workshop at the ACA Conference 2015
I last attended an ACA conference two years ago. This year there was clearly not only far greater interest in doing cross-border deals, but angel investors making it happen.
Panelists at the ACA’s International Exchange workshop were up beat about the quality and quantity of opportunities globally. Those on the panel included Audrey Jacobs from Our Crowd the equity crowd funders based in Israel, and Jeff Lynn from another equity crowd funding platform, Seedrs, based in London.
All of the panelists discussed their activity and structures openly to encourage more interest and engagement from investors around the world, whether in groups, networks or funds. They agreed that as an industry angels need to focus more on the outputs of their investment – creating high value jobs and exits.
Audrey Jacob’s view is that the current VC model is ‘broken’. She estimated there are only 100 VCs in the world investing in more than 3 deals per annum. Most general partners now only receive their annual 2% fees from funded capital (not on committed capital).
OurCrowd invests its fund alongside its equity crowd funding members who are all accredited business angels. The crowd funding investors participate as ‘limited partners’. Audrey Jacobs explained OurCrowd negotiate the deal terms and participate as a ‘general partner’. OurCrowd put in a minimum of $50k per deal and will contribute up to 10% of the round.
To date OurCrowd have invested $US110m in 64 companies. They are agnostic about the company’s stage, sector or country of origin and are currently reviewing deals from Brazil and Spain. (Editors note: OurCrowd have invested in Varigate, a NZ company, commercialising an irrigation technology).
Audrey Jacobs’ insights set the theme for the session with multiple examples of early stage investors pooling capital, allowing smaller investors in the ecosystem to participate in deals and securing similar returns to larger lead investors.
Backing up this increased interest in cross border deals Jeff Lynn sited a recent survey where 22% of British angels said they would invest outside the UK. In a later session on US angel investor preferences, more than half said they had no geographic preference. This compares to just six years ago when two thirds said they would only invest in deals no more than a two hour drive away.
Another example of international capital pooling came from Swiss based angel group, Go Beyond, which syndicates with angel groups in 7 countries and has the ability to “transfer shares” among the groups.
Go Beyond has invested in US ventures and put money into deals sourced in France, Spain and Switzerland. The group hold monthly virtual meetings to discuss deal flow. The lead angel in each deal takes a “free carry” and is responsible for quarterly reporting to shareholders.
Blake Witkin, the Chairman of Ontario’s Network of Angel Organizations outlined the problem pooling capital solves. He had found some local angel groups were missing out on deals because their investment processes were too slow. Establishing a fund offers a neat solution as it provides a pool of capital with a mandate to invest quickly and secure an option for its angel participants to invest in follow-on rounds.
Dreamfunded.com, formed by a San Francisco angel group, has 3,400 accredited investors who want more deal-flow. This group would also like to hear from angel groups internationally who have deals to syndicate.
The session bodes well for New Zealand’s focus on exporting knowledge and spreading kiwi innovation internationally.
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.