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’.

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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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Key metrics for assessing an angel deal

This is a terrific article setting out key metrics to ask about when assessing an angel deal from David Jackson, a Committee Member of Sydney Angels Inc. Some great tips on how to be an effective angel investor are also embedded.

“Let’s say you have a brilliant idea for a startup.

You know your Hats-for-Cats app is going to take the world by storm. And while you may be half-starved, you have a whiteboard and a T-shirt with your logo on it, and the energy, guts, and grim determination to make it happen.

But the funds scraped together from friends, family, and savings for market research and a demo are now completely exhausted. The credit cards are completely maxed out. You’ve realised it may be time to find an angel investor who can lay enough runway for a developer and the go-live phase. The good news is: angels want to give you money. That’s our job.”

Read more

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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.

Read more

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Why you SHOULD be an angel investor… it’s all about portfolio management

Australian early stage angel investors often treat start-up investing like horse racing. They punt with money they’re willing to lose, but this approach has led to a lack of discipline and very poor returns.

They place a few bets based on a good jockey (founder), their form (prior success), the stable (team and advisers), horse (business), equipment (technology), running line (strategy) and weather conditions (market), but start-ups should not be treated as an adrenaline-shot gamble where the majority of investors lose their money and a few “lucky” punters make a killing.

Read more

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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.

Read more

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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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Kiwi tech company raises millions for expansion

Kiwi technology company Feijipiao is expanding across New Zealand and eyeing other markets after closing a multi-million dollar angel investment round.

The company, founded in 2016 by Peter Li, is a Chinese language online travel business, offering flight bookings across multiple airlines in Chinese.

The website offers competitive fares and multiple payment solutions, in either Chinese yuan or New Zealand dollars, through automated search, booking, and ticketing processes.

The investment was headed by The Icehouse and Chinese-led angel fund Eden Ventures – its first investment.

Led by Chinese venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, Eden Ventures focuses on high performing start-ups, with specific interest in serving Chinese in New Zealand or enabling New Zealand founders to launch into the Chinese market.

The funding values Feijipiao at between $5 million and $10m, and would be used to hire staff, open its first New Zealand office in Auckland and fund further growth, as well as prepare the business for expansion into Australia and other markets.

The company was already bringing in revenue of about $900,000 per month, with Li saying he expected this to hit $1m in the coming few months.

Icehouse fund manager Jason Wang said both groups had invested based on Feijipiao’s growth in the five months since it launched, as well as the potential they saw for it.

“In three months, feijipiao.co.nz have transacted millions of dollars without a physical office, it’s all in the cloud.

“The results speak for themselves – this is a group of the right people doing the right thing in the right market.”

The company’s success had been helped by millennials influencing the purchasing behaviours of their parents, who tended to use more traditional travel agents Li said.

The investment would enable the company to continue its expansion as well as providing strategic value for the firm.

“Our team has built a strong foundation in New Zealand to prepare ourselves for expansion into global markets with established Chinese communities, and international students from China.

“By partnering with Eden Ventures and The Icehouse, we can tap into their expertise of forming long-term growth strategies for global expansion, and supporting technology driven companies.”

First published on nzherald.co.nz on 15 Sept 2017

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