Investors have confidence in startup futures

The October issue of Startup Investment New Zealand Magazine is now available here.

In this edition, we shine a spotlight on Kiwi businesses that have earned a place on the world stage. To be successful, Kiwi startups have always had to think and act global from the outset but there’s now a number of factors helping these startups succeed in offshore markets, and often much earlier in their journey. We’re seeing a developing ecosystem of support including government agencies, networks and people with experience at scaling global businesses, as well as investors who have the confidence to support these innovative companies.

The data is supporting this investor confidence. Five times the number of startup organisations successfully raised over $1 million from local investors in the first half of 2018 verse the same period last year, according to the latest Young Company Finance Index. This year almost half of deals are co invested by two or more Angel clubs and funds. Why is the formula to achieve global success so critical? It means little old New Zealand can produce valuable companies winning on the global stage, which attracts investors and ultimately builds prosperity for us as a country.

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To share or not to share: is knowing your co-workers’ salary the key to closing the gender pay gap?

Mish.Guru, a social media content and analytics start-up, has become one of the latest companies in New Zealand to endorse transparent pay systems as a way to tackle gender pay disparity. But are these shared models really as effective as they seem, or are they just another trendy, token gesture?

Founded in 2014, Mish.Guru is a content marketing software that helps business create and manage campaigns on Snapchat and Instagram. After scoring investments from AngelHQ, Sparkbox, ICE Angels and various others the company started to transition their main revenue stream from service to product, as well as expanding to offices in Berlin, Sydney and New York.

Despite solid success with clients like Paramount Pictures, Visa and McDonalds, Mish.Guru’s team knew that succeeding in the tech industry wasn’t easy, especially for the women in their team.

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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.

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

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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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NZ start-ups strong in foreign markets, survey shows

New Zealand start-ups have the highest percentage of overseas customers when measured against their counterparts from 50 other “ecosystems” including New York, Moscow, Beijing and London, according to the Compass Start-up Genome’s Ecosystem Ranking Survey.

The Compass Start-up Genome project team is based in San Francisco and benchmarks so-called start-up ecosystems from around the world. More than 100 Kiwi start-ups took part in the 2016 survey, according to the Angel Association of NZ. In New Zealand, the survey was led by the Angel Association with support from NZX, NZ Trade and Enterprise, the NZ Venture Investment Fund, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Callaghan Innovation.

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New Zealand’s need for growth capital

As early stage investors we need to start getting real about the wisdom of our backing early stage, high growth ventures without far more consideration being given to where we source follow-on growth capital.

Even if we only look at last year’s New Zealand Venture Investment Fund’s seed co-investment data where about $50million was invested in early stage companies, the growth capital required for this cohort of companies is likely to be 10x this figure. So we are talking about finding $500m.

This is not just a problem for the investors in these companies; it’s a problem we need to grapple with in partnership with the government and the institutional investment community. These high growth companies are the engines of our economic growth. We can’t afford to drop the ball.

The development of an innovation led economy is widely accepted to take place over three ten-year horizons. We are coming to the end of ‘horizon one’ where the focus has been on inputs. New Zealand has done well here. The number of startups, early stage investors and dollars being invested has trended upwards over this period.

In the second ten-year horizon we should start to see outcomes from these innovation led companies in the form of jobs, export and tax revenue. But to generate these outcomes and see the true benefit of this investment, we need growth capital. Only then will the third horizon truly deliver in the form of financial returns and recycled capital and ultimately higher standards of living.

As I’ve just mentioned, there is no shortage of deal flow. The quality of that deal flow is improving every year too. This is in large part due to Government support for initiatives such as the Lightning Lab and the investor-led Tech Incubators. It is also a result of work others have done to upskill our entrepreneurs and angel investors.

To date, angels and other early stage investors have been able to fund the early growth of the companies meeting their criteria. We have been investing in startup, high growth ventures in a targeted sense for about 8 years but the really exponential upswing in investment has taken place in the last 3-4 years.

Quite logically, there is therefore an increasing and pressing need for growth capital in New Zealand.

This is illustrated in the recently released NZVIF data showing most investment is into existing deals. Angels are having the stay the course longer and dip back in their pockets for capital it could be argued should be coming from deeper more experienced pockets.

We need to give credit to those venture capital firms raising funds to meet the need for growth capital such as Movac’s Fund 4, the $40m fund GD1 is working hard to raise and the $40m fund raised by Oriens Capital. But it is not enough.

Closing the “growth capital gap” is going to need New Zealand’s pension and other institutional funds to broaden their investment mandates to allocate at least 3-5% to the growth needs of our high growth, early stage companies. We must support work Immigration NZ is doing to inject capital from experienced high network migrants into these companies. We need to tap into our rural and regional wealth more effectively. We have therefore been delighted to see angel networks forming in Taranaki and Marlborough reflecting an increasing awareness that high growth, tech based companies can be the source of future jobs and social and economic wealth in the regions. The banks also need to come to the party.

There is a great deal at stake here. We can’t afford “a hands off, market forces will deliver” approach. If ever a NZ Inc approach was needed, it is now.

Marcel Van Den Assum
Chairman
Angel Association New Zealand

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Canterbury Angels flying with new partnership

The New Zealand Venture Investment Fund is partnering with the newly formed Canterbury Angels to invest into start-up companies.

The Christchurch-based angel investor group was formed in 2015 and now has 35 members, most of whom are experienced investors or have been involved in establishing businesses previously. Its leadership includes chair Ben Reid, who chaired the Canterbury Software Cluster, Shane Wakelin, Joan McSweeney, Ria Chapman, Mark Cathro, Raphael Nolden, Ian Douthwaite, and SLI Systems co-founder Geoff Brash.

Canterbury Angels chair Ben Reid said the partnership will bring more investment into innovative companies in the Canterbury region and around New Zealand.

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Help benchmark the NZ ecosystem globally

Maximising the success of New Zealand’s startup ecosystem, and the worldwide ecosystem on which we rely requires input from startups themselves.

If data isn’t collected then how do we know what’s working and what’s not? Where our ecosystem could do with more support and where its doing quite well under its own steam. This is why the AANZ is supporting distribution and participation in the 2016 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (#GSER).

The GSER will include insights from more than 20k executives across the globe which will deliver leaders of all kinds; investors, government and support service providers; with an in-depth understanding of how to best attract, accelerate, and sustain startups.

Conducted by Startup Genome (formerly Compass Research), the report also gives startups themselves a benchmark to measure how they stack up to others across the globe.

By completing this survey founders will enable NZ’s leaders to:
• Assess and benchmark the NZ startup ecosystem across 50+ key metrics
• Accelerate the pace with which NZ ecosystem leaders reach consensus on key issues and develop action plans for change
• Attract a greater share of global resources to our region
• Empower startups everywhere to use data in decisions around raising funds, locating an office, and recruiting top talent
.

The 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Report helped millions of local leaders globally reach consensus on specific challenges and drive action to improve their ecosystems.

By participating in the 2016 Survey, you will help New Zealand voice to be heard among the voices of entrepreneurs globally and accelerate the global startup ecosystem for hundreds of New Zealand’s entrepreneur’s locally and millions of entrepreneurs worldwide.

*All the information you provide in the survey is confidential. Results are published in aggregate values only.*

To participate in the survey click here and share the link with the founders in your ecosystem.

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Kiwi start-ups invited to pitch to Chinese Angel Investors

It can often be a struggle for New Zealand start-ups to find the right partners and raise finance that can turn a business idea into a reality. However, a unique gateway has now opened for Kiwi businesses to access angel investment, manufacturing and distribution opportunities in China.

New Zealand based company FunderTech.com has forged a relationship with a Chinese investor club with offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Chengdu. The relationship provides the opportunity for 5-8 businesses a month from around the world to pitch in front of a selected group of 500-800 Chinese Angel Investors. Kiwi start-ups also get the opportunity to meet visiting venture capitalists who present at the summit each month.

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Lead Partners

NZTE NZVIF PWC

Expert Partner

AVID “FNZC.jpg”

AANZ Summit Sponsors

Callaghan Innovation “UniServices” Kiwinet “Spark”