New Astrolab funding for tech startups

Tech Incubator and AANZ member, Astrolab recently announced a group of Wellington business people will invest up to $5m in high tech startups being supported by Astrolab.

Four Wellington-based businesspeople have teamed up with specialist business incubator Astrolab to create a $5m fund which will drive a financial runway of up to $20m for startup tech companies across New Zealand.

Astrolab CEO Brett Oliver says having access to this level of capital is hard to come by in New Zealand when turning complex-technologies into export businesses.

“Astrolab’s funding pool will be used to catapult technology startups we establish and grow, enabling us to concentrate on achieving our mission-critical milestones quickly by dealing directly with our fund in the first instance,” says Mr Oliver.

The $20m financial runway over the next two years relies on $5m from Astrolab’s LP fund, underpinned by the newly formed Wellington-based investment group, and Callaghan Innovation’s Tech Incubation program which delivers targeted funding to complex technologies.

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Puawaitanga & Kotahitanga Award Winners 2018

This year the Angel Association New Zealand’s Puawaitanga Award recognises the founder and investor-director who best exemplify what can be achieved when committed people draw on their collective skills and experience. This award celebrates an angel-backed venture achieving world-class success. This venture has excellent governance, a compelling business proposition and a well-defined strategy for exponential returns.

Puawaitanga – ‘best return on integrated goals’.

The Kotahitanga Award recognises those people in the angel community who have made an outstanding contribution to the industry. It acknowledges those who have selflessly given personal time and energy for a sustained period and contributed to the professionalism, profile and reputation of angel investment in New Zealand.

Kotahitanga – ‘unity and a shared sense of working together’.

______________________________

The Puawaitanga Award has been presented to Dexibit’s founder Angie Judge and investor-director, Dana McKenzie.

Dexibit analyzes visitor behavior and venue performance at the world’s visitor attraction institutions such as museums and galleries. Since Angie Judge founded Dexibit in 2015, the company has secured customers like the National Gallery in the UK and The Smithsonian in the USA and, here in New Zealand, the Auckland Art Gallery and Te Papa. Dexibit has won two prestigious High Tech Awards for Innovative Software and Best Technical Solution for the Creative Sector and been a finalist in a number of other categories. Dana McKenzie has Chaired the Board of Dexibit for the last three years and is a true champion for the company and its team, including Angie.

In making the award, Angel Association Chair, John O’Hara said Angie and Dana are great examples of what alignment and mutual support can achieve.

“No one scales value in a high-growth tech company on their own. To get traction both the founder and the investors need to be committed to the same end-point. This has clearly been the case with Dexibit. Dana and Angie have been working together to generate stunning progress in terms of revenue generation, customer acquisition and to secure capital to amplify that growth to support Dexibit to generate exponential returns for the investors and just as importantly, for the New Zealand economy,” he said.

The recipient of the Kotahitanga Award is Matu Managing Partner, Greg Sitters.

Greg has been involved with capital raising for early-stage deep-tech ventures in New Zealand for over a decade. He was an early employee at Sparkbox Ventures and then worked for its successor GD1, before setting up Matu. Matu was founded earlier this year to provide seed and early stage capital for disruptive scientific and IP rich startups. Greg has given countless hours of his time to literally hundreds of budding and early founders, including in his tenure as a long standing member of the Return on Science and Uniservices’ Investment Committees. Greg is a founding member of the Angel Association and served on the Council since its inception in 2008. In this role he has given freely of his time to dozens of professional development initiatives and to represent the early stage industry at events not only all over New Zealand but around the world.

“Greg exemplifies the generosity of spirit that imbues the New Zealand angel community. His depth of knowledge about what it takes to scale a deep tech venture is unsurpassed and has been invaluable to companies like HumbleBee, Lanaco, Objective Acuity and many more,” said John O’Hara.

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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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Ten Companies selected for Zino New Kiwis Startup Challenge

Debra Hall, an experienced angel investor and Chairman of Zino Innovation Hub, which runs the Challenge, says the Zino team was delighted at the level of interest shown, with 42 companies, and entrepreneurs from 16 countries, entering the competition.

“As investors in start-up companies, we regularly see talent being wasted because new migrants simply don’t have the connections, the access to capital and sometimes even the language to navigate the early stage of growing a business. Zino is committed to changing this, to create new value for New Zealand” said Hall.

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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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How do you handle a founders break-up?

Co-founder splits are seldom discussed, but happen more often than you’d think. Flux Accelerator partner Barnaby Marshall shares what he’s learnt from his experiences managing a start-up portfolio and provide some insights into how to prepare for the worst (while still expecting the best).

The fact is, of 100 companies that the Icehouse has funded through our various investment entities since 2012, 35 percent of them have had a founder leave the company.

Most of those have left within the first two years of our investment. Some of these have been very messy, some have been more civil, but in all cases they have cost time and money: the two most precious resources for any startup. Add to that the emotional stress and you have a recipe to rock even the most resilient founders, and in some cases — almost be a lethal blow to the business.

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Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network Launch the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2018

Released at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Istanbul, GSER 2018 features strategic startup, investment and policy insights from over 10,000 founders in 60 ecosysytems – including New Zealand.

With insights ranging from the fast-growing dominance of ICT verticals to the filling of critical gaps in Success Factors both funding and startups, the Global Startup Ecosystems Report (GSER) 2018 continues to present thought-leadership and knowledge building driven by the world’s largest primary ecosystem research, Voice of the Entrepreneur. This is where we find out what it takes to build dynamic startup ecosystems with both local and global resonance and which cities around the world are doing it best.

Produced in partnership between Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) this year’s Global Startup Ecosystems Report launches at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Istanbul – signaling a strong commitment to advancing a greater understanding of startup ecosystems and the global network of capital and connections that drive them.

“We’ve now entered the Third Wave of innovation – where our global startup community is disrupting industries by combining technology with deep industry expertise. This is creating a potentially game-changing opportunity for smaller, less mature startup ecosystems that can now build out competitive advantage at a global level by focusing on their DNA and legacy strengths,” shares Startup Genome CEO and co-founder JF Gauthier.

A fitting occasion for the launch of this collaborative report, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress gathers thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 170 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world.

“Research in the field is vital to shaping the interventions necessary to empower entrepreneurs around the world,” said Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. “As thousands of startup champions gather this week to explore innovative approaches, efforts such as the Global Startup Ecosystem Report help us become better informed about what is needed.”

Incorporating data from Crunchbase and Orb Intelligence, as well as the voices of over 10,000 founders from 24 countries worldwide and counting – including some of New Zealand’s top startups like Flick Electric, Fuel 50 and Nyriad – GSER 2018 presents an incisive look at over 60 ecosystems. Through an analysis of startup output and legacy traits, it identifies the industries where each ecosystem has the most potential to build the vibrant economy for which it is uniquely positioned.

This year, GSER the report takes a close look at key sub-sectors such as Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics, Agtech, A.I., Big Data & Analytics, Life Sciences and Cybersecurity, as well as new technologies in education, health, advertising and finance. The sub-sectors in focus point towards imminent entrepreneurial revolutions. Thanks to SpaceX we may already have a car in space – but will we have greater diversity and value distribution on the ground and in our startup ecosystems? These are among key qualitative issues that GSER 2018 also looks at.

In the New Zealand ecosystem in particular, GSER provides a detailed look at the following subsectors: agtech and new food, health and life sciences and govtech.

Angel Association NZ has been delighted to partner with over a dozen ecosystem participants, including NZ Trade and Enterprise, Callaghan Innovation, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, the tech and founder incubators, NZX and others to bring a wealth of insight to the New Zealand findings.

Commenting on the value of the report, outgoing AANZ Chair Marcel van den Assum said that not only did the report raise New Zealand’s profile with the 60+ other ecosystems also taking part but it provided insights into where we are best placed to focus our resources to enhance the impact of New Zealand startups and technology.

Download the full report here: www.startupgenome.com/report2018.

 

ABOUT US

The Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ)

The Angel Association is an organisation that aims to increase the quantity, quality and success of angel investments in New Zealand and in doing so create a greater pool of capital for innovative start-up companies. It was established in 2008 to bring together New Zealand angels and early-stage funds. AANZ currently has 30 members representing over 700 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds.

Startup Genome
Startup Genome works to increase the success rate of startups and improve the performance of startup ecosystems globally. Fueled by the Voice of the Entrepreneur – the world’s largest primary research conducted with more than 10,000 startups annually – Startup Genome advises leaders of innovation ministries, agencies and organizations supporting startups. It brings data-driven, actionable insights, clarity and focus needed to produce more scale-ups, jobs and economic growth worldwide. Visit www.startupgenome.com for more and stay up to date on Twitter or Medium.

The Global Entrepreneurship Network

The Global Entrepreneurship Network operates a platform of programs in 170 countries aimed at making it easier for anyone, anywhere to start and scale a business. By fostering deeper cross border collaboration and initiatives between entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and entrepreneurial support organizations, GEN works to fuel healthier start and scale ecosystems that create more jobs, educate individuals, accelerate innovation and strengthen economic growth. For more, visit www.genglobal.org and Follow GEN on Twitter.

ENDS

For interviews and further enquiries, please contact us:

Dinika Govender
Communications, Startup Genome
[email protected]

Jessica Wray Bradner

Communications, GEN
[email protected]

Suse Reynolds,

AANZ executive director
mob: 021 490 974 or email: [email protected]

Marcel van den Assum,

AANZ chair and 2015 Arch Angel
mob: 021 963 459 or email: [email protected]  

 

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Get More Value From Your (Startup’s) Board

“Who’s on the board?”

A question I hear at least as often as I see a new startup.

Over the past 3 years I have been fortunate to see five boards working in practice, one as member of the management team and the rest as an observer. Alongside that, every entrepreneur we invest in talks about their board: there is good, there is bad, and every one has some ugly.

I wanted to share some observations on boards that I’ve formed in the hope of helping entrepreneurs and directors better select each other, work together, and create value.

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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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$1.75 million boost to new Kiwi company Thematic

Kiwi company Thematic has received additional $1.75 million in seed funding to add to its already impressive list of clients just six months after launching.

The company, which uses artificial intelligence to take the leg-work out of analysing survey data, was started by husband and wife team Alyona Medelyan and Nathan Holmberg.

They were recently accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive startup accelerator programmes, Y Combinator, where they had the opportunity to pitch their business plan to Silicon Valley’s biggest names.

The company today announced it had received $1.75m in seed funding, led by venture capital firm AirTree Ventures. The fledgling business also received an investment from Y Combinator as well as a number of individuals and San Francisco-based angel investors.

Thematic already has big-name customers in six countries including Vodafone, Air New Zealand, Stripe, Ableton and Manpower Group.

“The aim is to grow the business further globally. The business is investing in new engineering, sales and marketing staff to fuel its growth,” the company said in a statement.

The founders now want to set up an office in the United States and start hiring sales people.
Thematic specialises in analysis of “free text” responses to targeted questions, which are the hardest to analyse.

“Our technology helps businesses to understand what their customers are saying at scale. It’s one thing to collect an NPS [net promoter score], it’s a whole different ball game to deeply understand the specific issues and themes driving that score,” the statement said.

Thematic’s technology enables clients to take into account written customer feedback —
the part of the survey that actually told companies what they were doing right and wrong.

Medelyan has a PHD in natural language processing and machine learning, while her husband and business partner, Holmberg, quit his job as chief architect for leading music software company Serato once the couple realised the technology’s potential.

First published in NZ Herald – 29th November 2017

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Kiwi startup developing prospective musicians through gamification

New Zealand tech startup Melodics has raised US$1.2m in seed capital to take its instrument learning software to more aspiring musicians.

The company, founded by former Serato CEO Sam Gribben, has successfully closed its latest round of investment led by Berlin-based music firm Ableton AG, with support from US accelerator 500 Startups, New Zealand investment funds Tuhua Ventures and K1W1, and Alex Rigopulos, founder of music gaming studio Harmonix.

“Our innovative approach to music learning has already helped over 100,000 finger drummers around the world,” Gribben says.

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2017 Angel Summit focuses on next 10 years

The tenth Annual New Zealand Angel Summit will be held at Cable Bay Winery – Waiheke Island from 1 – 3 November 2017. It’s theme; “Doubling down on success… the next ten years!”

New Zealand is now decade in to formal angel investing in New Zealand and has amassed some impressive statistics for a nation of our size. Over $500m into nearly 1000 deals in the more formal part of our market. Ten years ago there were 4 clubs and 100 or so angels. Today there are 10 clubs and over 650 angels. All this activity has delivered hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of revenue. It’s this value creation we want to continue to accelerate.

Ten years ago there were 4 clubs and 100 or so angels. Today there are 10 clubs and over 650 angels. All this activity has delivered hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of revenue. It’s this value creation we want to continue to accelerate.

The 10th Annual NZ Angel Summit is being held back where it all started at Cable Bay Winery on Waiheke Island. The choice of the small intimate venue continues the deliberate approach by the Angel Association to ensure it creates the right atmosphere for relaxed and informal conversations between active angel investors. The last two summits have sold out and it unapologetically prioritises attendance for those who are ‘doing deals’.

On the first morning the Summit will celebrate our community of investors and founders and their achievements in the past decade. There is so much to be proud of. The rest of the event will be spent digging into what we need to do to double down on our successes based on stories and insights from New Zealand’s heroes. International speakers, carefully vetted for their ability to both understand New Zealand’s unique circumstances and our aspiration for outcomes and success are flying in to present.

Showcasing Angel Investor Backed Ventures

The Showcase event which kicks off the event will include up to 10 venture in three tiers; seed, first formal round, last raise with a clear exit path. Each group of ventures will be introduced by an experienced angel investor who will talk about the investment opportunity, the return profile, valuations and potential acquirers.

New Zealand Investor Keynotes

Key Note sessions will include deep insight into what we can be proud of and what’s next. Stalwart investors will share memories of getting started – what was their vision and what inspired them, their challenges and what we need to do in the next decade to ensure value is delivered. These sessions will explore why our environment looked as it did 10 years ago, how far we’ve come and how we build on what we’ve created and set the vision for the next 10 years.

International Angel Investors

International special guests include Justin Milano (Good Startups, San Francisco, USA) who will explore the role of fear in the early-stage space. A veteran of Silicon Valley, Mr Milano has worked with angels and entrepreneurs to use cutting edge psychology and neuroscience, including emotional intelligence skills to help entrepreneurs and angels create break-throughs and unlock potential. Ron Wiessman (Band of Angels, San Francisco, US) will deliver a dose of reality exploring the critical the role of capital strategy and how tough it can be to source and entice an acquirers.

Actionable Insights

The extensive programme includes gritty content which covers; building strategic value, actively managing your portfolio for returns, Government’s role – identifying the right policy levers, the role of NZ corporate venture, and deep dives into term sheets – how have they have evolved and what role do they play in venture success lead by AANZ Expert Partner, Avid Legal’s Bruno Bordignon. Insight into which industries and technologies are going to irrevocably disrupt markets in the coming decades and make the best investment opportunities round out the valuable programme.

Finally, the event will also include the presentation of Arch Angel Award and two inaugural awards “Contribution to the industry” and “Lead angel and best venture award” – celebrating a great angel/founder collaboration.

To book your seat (preference is given to active angel investors) click here.

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Kiwi startup Hydroxsys technologies could help clean up NZ’s waterways

Hydroxsys is a clean-tech company founded on unique water extraction technologies aimed at mining, dairy and other industries requiring water extraction or remediation.

The company has acquired an experienced management team focused on developing the company’s IP and bringing revolutionary products to market.

NZ food network has thrown in their lot with Hydroxsys and is helping the company develop their revolutionary technologies.

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Kiwi startup Hydroxsys could help clean up NZ’s waterways

Hydroxsys is a clean-tech company founded on unique water extraction technologies aimed at mining, dairy and other industries requiring water extraction or remediation.

The company has acquired an experienced management team focused on developing the company’s IP and bringing revolutionary products to market.

NZ food network has thrown in their lot with Hydroxsys and is helping the company develop their revolutionary technologies.

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Angel funds invest record $69m in 2016

Angel networks and funds invested a record $69 million into young New Zealand companies in 2016 – a 13 percent increase on the previous record set in 2015 – New Zealand Venture Investment Fund investment director Bridget Unsworth said today.

Releasing the latest Young Company Finance Index, Bridget Unsworth said the second half of 2016 was an especially strong period with investment of $46.1 million, following the trend in recent years which has seen surges of investment activity in the second half of the year.

“This is an excellent result.  The continued strong growth of angel fund investing was notable for the fact that while the transaction volume dropped by 15 percent, the amount invested by angel groups and funds increased by 13 percent.

“This indicates angel funds are continuing to back the winners for follow-on rounds. While it means fewer portfolio companies get funded, the high performing ones are able to close larger sized capital rounds. We see this as healthy development.”

The new companies funded by angels were at a very similar levels in 2015 (40) and 2016 (41), meaning the pipeline is steady.

Eight start-up companies raised investment rounds of more than $1.5 million which together totalled $20.4 million.  This accounted for 44 percent of total investment amount in the second half of 2016. Five companies out of this eight are software technology companies.

Chair of the Angel Association of New Zealand Marcel van den Assum said it is great to see the early stage investment community continuing to sustain a solid level of investment.

“Annual investment has exceeded $50 million for the last four years and grown by an average of $5 million per annum to reach nearly $70 million last year.

“This is a highly credible performance for a country where our startup ecosystem is still only a decade old and our early stage capital markets are still maturing. A concerted NZ Inc approach is required if we are to leverage the outcomes we aspire to see generated from our investment, and to sustain the performance of our startup ecosystem.

“In this respect it is good to see more money going into fewer deals and businesses attracting significant follow-on investment. This suggests a tighter focus by investors on those companies which are performing.  It will give the deepening growth capital providers in New Zealand – venture capitalists, corporate venture and strategic investors – more confidence to invest in angel-backed companies.”

The $69 million was invested across 112 deals compared with $61.2 million across 132 deals in 2015.  Cumulatively, $483.7 million has now been invested into young companies by angel groups since the Young Company Finance Index began measuring activity in 2006.

2016 saw $37.8 million investment into the software and services sector, which continued to be very attractive to investors.  Pharmaceuticals was the next most attractive investment sector in 2016, receiving $8.9 million of investment, up from $3.6 million in the previous year.

Click here to download the latest issue of StartUp.

Media contacts
NZVIF: David Lewis, m: 021 976 119, [email protected]

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

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Wellington company Eight Wire wins contract to build government data-sharing platform

A Wellington start-up company has won a major contract to roll out a system that will share personal details of New Zealanders on a large scale.
Eight Wire secured a five-year contract to build a data exchange platform that will allow government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to exchange information.
The firm will work with the social investment unit, which was set up to provide evidence-based information to agencies to help inform their investment plans. Prime Minister Bill English was instrumental in the establishment of the unit when he was Finance Minister.
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NZ Angel Values and Expectations

People do business with people. This is a universal truth, but in angel and early stage investment, the people side is writ large.

Angels and founders share a hunger for success and making a difference. It is this trait that aligns us so tightly.

There are a number of other values that underpin an angel investor’s effectiveness. A year or two back it seemed a good idea to explicitly set out these values and how we expect each other to behave, so the Angel Association agreed a Code of Conduct.

It sets out the following values as being important to us:

  • To be passionately ambitious for our ventures,
  • To be collaborative and collegial, and
  • To act with integrity and honesty.

Growing a successful business is hard work. Without passion and ambition, the knock-backs and grind of growing a business would quickly overwhelm most us. Angels share other traits with founders that are critical to success; unremitting optimism and creativity. The ability to positively and constructively address problems is powerful stuff.

Growing a successful business is never done alone. Generosity of spirit is one of the most inspirational aspects of working in angel investment. Angels bring value which goes way beyond their ability to write a cheque. Our experience, networks and expertise are the real rocket fuel. And what’s more, when a founder receives money from an investor in the formal NZ angel community, that investor is bringing over 600 people who share a generosity of spirit and values of collaboration and collegiality.

Another key component of success in the angel world is honesty and integrity. We have made it clear that communicating quickly and clearly is vital. We put great store on ‘doing what you say you are going to do’. When we commit to invest or offer to make an introduction, you should expect we will do it. If we are required to sign a document, you should expect it to be done quickly. Of course this isn’t always possible. We all know “life” happens, but you should expect that if something does get in the way of our doing what we said we would, we will communicate.

We also expect professionalism. Dealing professionally with each other sets the standard we expect of ourselves and our ventures as they grow into world-beating enterprises. Time and energy can be scarce resources in this setting. Sometimes this makes it challenging to operate at the levels of professionalism we are used to in other parts of our lives, but we strive for it nevertheless. Angel investors are also by definition actively involved in the business and with the founder. This level of familiarity also requires us to be sensitive to the need for professionalism.

These principles serve as the foundation for our dealings with each other and are the standards others working with us, such as founders and professional service providers, should expect.

What does this look like in practice?

If you are seeking angel investment should know that our members are looking for a credible entrepreneur with aspirations to grow an internationally competitive business with a well-defined product, customer and market. You should expect professional, prompt, objective and constructive guidance from our members, whether or not you ultimately secure capital.

Ends

Suze Reynolds

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A leading VC partner explains what’s missing from Australia’s tech startup scene

It’s been just over 100 days since I relocated back to Australia to join the incredible gang at Airtree Ventures.

I had previously worked with the London-based Summly until our acquisition by Yahoo (California based), and then as a venture investor at White Star Capital (New York and London based). As a result of these experiences, I was privileged to have an insider view on the growth of the London and New York tech communities.

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The pitfalls of asking an investor to sign an NDA

There’s one way to lose a potential investor before you even start: demand that they sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
It happens all the time. Someone thinks they have a great idea but won’t send the pitch deck without an NDA first. They’re terrified that the “billion dollar blueprint” will be stolen by some unscrupulous VC guy.
It’s a classic amateur mistake. It means you probably have no knowledge of how the startup ecosystem works. Worse, it means my first impression of you is that you’re an idiot.

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CropLogic latest Canterbury tech startup to seek ASX listing

Christchurch-based CropLogic​ aims to list on the Australian stock exchange early next year.

CropLogic​ is commercialising technology developed over decades by Crown research institute Plant & Food Research.

It provides farmers with a computer modelling system to determine best times to apply nutrients and water for maximum crop yield.

Initial trials in the United States, New Zealand, China, and Australia indicated crop yield improvements of more than 6 per cent, delivering higher profits.

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Success focused vs. Founder friendly or investor friendly

It’s a universal truth that we achieve much more working with each other, than against each other. What’s more, very few of us achieve as much on our own, as we do together.

This is certainly true in early stage investment. In this endeavour, no one ever achieves success on his or her own. No one!

That’s why I struggle – to the point of getting pretty vexed – with the whole “founder friendly vs. investor friendly” thing. I can’t see how it helps either side to the deal; especially founders.

Pitting ourselves against each other is not a great way start to a relationship.

As angel investors we are backing founders because we think you and your business are unbelievably awesome. We want to be part of the inspirational story you are telling. We believe we can add value. We want to help.

We know investors become members of our networks for the following reasons:

  • To lift New Zealand higher – economically and socially;
  • To be actually involved in doing this – by contributing money, expertise and connections;
  • For the cool company – to be involved with like-minded, optimistic, creative people; and
  • For the rich rewards – of course we hope for a financial return but the “psychic return” of doing good and contributing to lifting NZ higher is a key reason why people become angels.

When angel investors are negotiating the terms of a deal they are not looking to ankle-tap the founder or give themselves an unduly, unfair advantage over the founder. Negotiating a term sheet is about aligning the founder and investor to give the business the best chance of success.

Ideally negotiating a term sheet is front footing discussions around economic and control rights to establish three key things:

  • What expectations do we have about the venture’s future?
  • What expectations do we have about each other’s involvement? This should be based on an honest appreciation of each others strengths and weaknesses and how the terms of the deal and our involvement with each other address these; and
  • What happens when things go wrong?

Both investors and founders must fully understand the implications of all the terms of any deal. They need to be realistic about the needs of the business at that particular point in time, with an eye to positioning the business to be in the best position for securing more investment in the future. High growth businesses invariably need more capital.

There is no such thing as a stupid question in early stage investment. So whether you are an investor or a founder be sure you understand the implications of all the terms, understand the impact they will have on future funding rounds, understand the implications they have when things go wrong and when things go well.

To be success focused we need to be founder friendly AND investor friendly. It’s all about alignment.

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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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Fintech Innovation Challenge is open for entries

If you’re a fintech startup with the potential to transform the financial services industry, then Payments NZ wants to help you.

They want to help you raise your profile in the industry. They’re running a Fintech Innovation Challenge as part of their conference, The Point 2016, in November and the challenge is now open for entries.

It is widely known that fintech is redefining the financial services sector, with startups  gaining momentum and disrupting the traditional value chain. So in the new world of challenger brands and disruption, in order to progress and keep challenging the norm, fintech needs support.

The Fintech Innovation Challenge, sponsored by Paymark, is designed to foster innovation and support Kiwi startups. The challenge gives emerging fintechs the opportunity to present their concepts in front of the entire conference delegation, of around 250 payments and financial services professionals.

Five finalists will compete in a round of quick-fire presentations to win a cash prize of $5,000 as well as mentoring support and associated networking opportunities.

The finalists and runners-up will also have the opportunity to exhibit on the fintech stand at the conference, enabling one-on-one time with key influencers, decision-makers, and potential business partners.

The finalists and runners-up can also attend conference sessions to access global insights and the latest market intelligence from local and international speakers.

How to enter

The Fintech Innovation Challenge is open to new or recently established innovative, technology-enabled startups and entry is free.

So if you’re an innovative fintech startup working in any area of financial services or supporting sector such as cyber-security, digital identity and data analytics, don’t miss the opportunity to expand your network and gain visibility – get your entry in today.

Applications close at 5pm on Monday 12 September 2016.

You will find the application form on the Payments NZ conference website along with further details about the competition.

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NZ: the Upstart Nation vs Israel: the Startup Nation

“New Zealanders are very good at believing in themselves but not so good at believing in each other” – Ken Douglas                                            

It’s been terrific to see and be part of conversations Simon Moutter’s recent delegation to Israel have fired up. At the heart of all these conversations is the need to get better at believing in each other.

There are some very familiar themes set out in the post mission report urging us to “unleash New Zealand’s potential faster” – common purpose, culture, collaboration, capability, capital and commercialization.

The Angel Association focuses on three of these already – collaboration, capability and capital. We know raising capital is pointless without the first two, but it’s the first that holds the real key to success!

Without doubt New Zealand has the power to cut it with other innovative eco-systems. We are renowned for our inventiveness and ability to make stuff work. However – whether it’s Ireland, Finland, Israel or Silicon Valley we are looking to for inspiration – the stark fact is that New Zealand doesn’t have the same levels of wealth and capital as these places do. We can’t fund as many businesses as they can.

So as Marcel van den Assum (AANZ Chair) puts it, we have to be – and are in many contexts already – the Upstart Nation. While our resources are limited, we are very resourceful. We do more with less. We are unrelentingly tenacious when it comes to cracking a market. We make calls and open doors, which others think are impossible to open, to get to the decision makers in multinational partners and strategic investors.

None of us can create success on our own. It’s always easier when we do it together. At the Angel Association we engage with everyone in the ecosystem, facilitating conversations and connections to get our angel backed ventures out to the world to generate the returns we need to create success over and over again.

The Israeli learnings are valuable but actions speak louder than words. Focus is the number one principle of success. So let’s make collaboration the top priority of all the work the mission to Israel has identified.

What does that look like?

  • Generously make connections and share information.
  • Join a group of investors in a start up company – as the mission report so powerfully suggests.
  • Show up at events where people and organizations are fostering collaboration.
  • Actively promote and introduce those startups getting traction to international colleagues and persuade them to invest so those companies have the capital and connections to give them the best shot at global success.

To read the report in full click here.

Suze Reynolds

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Startups: How to survive the Gartner Hype Cycle

Off the back of our Exits Strategy workshops, in this article the writer provides some useful advice about how to manage the Gartner Hype Cycle to your best advantage.

If you work for or with startups, you’ve likely been a part of the Gartner Hype Cycle and the sky-high expectations that can come with it. It goes like this: the potential of a new concept gets over-hyped, and then companies in that area get panned when they don’t meet expectations quickly.

Current examples include the Internet of Things (IoT), which is currently on the mean side of the hype cycle for not evolving fast enough. Bots, the new “it-thing,” seemed to have its golden future locked down when Facebook officially got on the bot bandwagon, only to reach what Gartner calls the “Trough of Disillusionment” in record time. Immediately after Facebook’s announcement, images of broken bots cluttered Twitter. And Microsoft recently had a high profile bot-backfire, when it released a Twitter bot that started tweeting racist content within 24 hours of launch.

Read more

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University Startup Challenge gives chance for student founders to pitch for funding

The University Startup Challenge is back for its second year to give student startups the chance to get funding from investors.

Student-led investment group First Cut Ventures started the University Startup Challenge last year to give university students who have their own startups the chance to pitch in front of investors at the Ice Angels annual showcase.

Read more

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NZ Startup secures Investment ex Japan

Expectations of consumer electronics development are nowhere higher than in Japan. Tokyo-based Start Today owns ZOZOTOWN, the largest online retailer of apparel and accessories, and WEAR, the largest fashion coordination app. So no wonder that Start Today has made a strategic investment in StretchSense, a leading enabler of wearable technology. StretchSense makes soft stretchy sensors and generators for wearables. The products are ultra-soft and precise, making them ideal for sporting, AR/VR, animation, and healthcare applications.

Read more

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R9 Accelerator Demo Day – 2 June

It would be great if NZ angels could get along to the R9 Demo Day to show our support for the large swathe of public servants in our community who are also aspiring to innovate and create ventures which are disruptive and scaleable….

We’re excited to announce that R9 Accelerator is having its second Demo Day on Thursday 2 June from 2:30pm – If you’re interested in attending please email Edd Brooksbank.

You’ll have the opportunity to invest in teams who are pitching their innovative solutions to improve public service for business customers, meet the teams and find out how they could help you. You will also hear what our panel of experts have to say and know why the R9 Accelerator is important to businesses across New Zealand.

Event details

  • Thursday, 2 June 2016, doors open at 2:30pm for a 3pm start
  • The Embassy Theatre, Kent Terrace, Wellington
  • Presentations will finish by 5:30pm with light refreshments and an opportunity to meet the teams from 5:30pm onwards

Any questions, please email Edd Brooksbank.

More information on R9 Accelerator

R9 Accelerator is a real life example of making it Better for Business when interacting with government. The teams are each working on an opportunity to make it better for businesses to interact with government.

The R9 Accelerator is led by the Result 9 Better for Business programme and delivered by Creative HQ to power better public services to business customers.

The R9 Accelerator brings together teams of entrepreneurs, developers, private sector specialists and government experts to work on projects to help solve major pain points for New Zealand businesses and reduce their effort in dealing with government.

The process takes just 14 weeks to generate a customer-validated prototype – ready for further investment. It takes a learn-as-you-go, fail fast approach to develop and test new products and services.
One of the teams – CoHelix. Dan, Nicole, and Alex are helping businesses be compliant by improving the fieldstaff services from regulatory agencies. Find out about the other teams and what they’re working on.

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90% of angel-backed startups use employee share plans – survey

New Zealand startups are enthusiastic about implementing Employee Stock Ownership Plans – or ESOPs – according to a survey undertaken by the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund and the Angel Association.

The survey was sent to the chief executives of 98 angel-backed companies in NZVIF’s portfolio to gauge their interest in and uptake of ESOPs.  Fifty companies responded, two-thirds of which have been operating for between two to five years and a quarter between six and ten years.

Of the 50 responses, almost 90 percent of the companies had an ESOP in place for their employees, among which 58 percent are software companies and 12 percent are technology hardware companies

NZVIF Investment Director Chris Twiss said the reason that many startups offer employee share ownership plans is that it gives them a greater ability to employ key employees and directors whom they might not otherwise be able to afford or attract.

In addition, share ownership plans can provide a financial incentive to employees to reach predetermined goals and in time, if the company is successful, enjoy the upside monetary benefits of an ownership stake, Mr Twiss said.

“ESOPs are useful in the way they align the interests of employees and owners in the success of a startup.  Early stage companies are high risk investments and many fail.  In order to attract employees, startups need to be able to offer something different, such as the prospect of a share in the upside should the company go on to be successful.

“Clearly New Zealand startups see the benefits of ESOPs with 88 percent of companies in this survey currently using an ESOP plan of some form.  And 96 percent of the CEOs who responded said that they would implement ESOP plans in future organisations, which suggest the plans are working well and seen as a really important part of a start up’s armoury.”

NZ Angel Association chair Marcel van den Assum said that the major benefits of an ESOP to a company, as cited by the CEOs, were around staff loyalty, an increased ability to hire high quality people into the business, and increased alignment between the employees and the business.

“The survey also found that ESOPs are also commonly used to attract and incentivise directors in addition to senior executives and other staff.  Over 30 percent of companies also made ESOP provisions available for external advisers and consultants.

“The value of this survey is that it will be a useful guide for many current and prospective ventures.  It also encourages us – NZVIF and the Angel Association – to take this to the next level by looking at some specific ‘best practice’ parameters such as ESOP percentages for directors, and vesting milestones.”

Other key results from the survey included:

  • Nearly half of the companies created an ESOP after the first 12 months of operation.
  • About two-thirds of the companies with ESOPs adopted a basic share option plan, rather than other ESOP types such as ‘borrow to buy’ plans or the use of special classes of shares.
  • ESOP allocation is mostly in the range representing 6%-10% of a company’s total share register, followed by the 11%-15% range.
  • 45% of companies received a positive reception from employees to their ESOP plan while 14% indicated further information was required to better explain the nature of the proposed plan.
  • At least one eligible person at one-third of the companies had exercised their ESOP rights.  For 51% of the companies, no eligible staff (or other eligible people) had yet to do so.

For here for the full ESOP survey report.

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Lead Partners

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Expert Partner

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AANZ Summit Sponsors

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