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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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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Christchurch agritech company CropLogic launches prospectus

Christchurch agritech company CropLogic’s​ long-awaited plans are coming to fruition with the launch of a prospectus to raise A$8 million (NZ$8.45m)

Chief executive Jamie Cairns will lead a roadshow presentation in New Zealand and Australia over the next fortnight.

CropLogic helps improve crop yields by combining research and technology with field support teams to provide
accurate advice to growers.

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NZ tech sector attracts record offshore investment

New Zealand’s technology sector saw record growth in funding, driven by overseas investors in the year to March, according to the second annual Investors’ Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector.
“The tech sector is New Zealand’s third largest exporting sector, contributing $16 billion to GDP (gross domestic product) and it is growing fast,” Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges said in a statement. “It presents multiple opportunities for New Zealand and international investors.”

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Investor Activity in NZ Tech Sector Continues to Intensify

Auckland, May 9, 2017 – Investment in New Zealand’s technology companies continues to rise, with record amounts of funding coming from offshore investors, according to the second annual Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector published jointly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Technology Investment Network (TIN).

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Robots to rescue booming kiwifruit crop volumes

With SunGold kiwifruit volumes set to double by 2021, chances are that by then growers struggling to find pickers for a timely harvest will be reaching for a robotic solution.

Dr Alistair Scarfe and his colleagues at Robotics Plus based at Te Puna’s Newnham Park Innovation Centre are well down the track developing a robotic kiwifruit picker that should arrive on the market as kiwifruit volumes start to ramp up strongly.

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Investor Activity in NZ Tech Sector Continues to Intensify

TIN100 and MBIE launch second annual “Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector”
Auckland, May 9, 2017 – Investment in New Zealand’s technology companies continues to rise, with record amounts of funding coming from offshore investors, according to the second annual Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector published jointly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Technology Investment Network (TIN).

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Kristen Lunman: Taking a chance on financial technology

In a little under three weeks, Kristen Lunman will know if her hard work supporting seven technology start-ups has paid off.
All seven are financial technology ventures – “fintechs” in the jargon – and the immediate challenge is to get them to the point where they are ready to seek investment.
As the programme director for New Zealand’s first fintech-focused business accelerator programme, the pressure is on in the countdown to demo day. That’s when the teams will pitch their business plans and – they hope – attract the crucial dollars that will enable them to forge ahead.
Lunman is no stranger to taking big chances.
The 39-year-old expat Canadian moved to Wellington six years ago with her husband and two pre-school children after falling in love with the country when the couple honeymooned here.
So when the kids were two and three we packed our suitcases up and moved,” she says.
They chose Wellington because it suited both her and her husband’s career ambitions.
“Ironically, my husband is in banking and I am in fintech.
“I have always been entrepreneurial-spirited and my husband is risk-averse.”
But together they make a good team, she says.
With a background in marketing, Lunman initially worked for property data company CoreLogic before shifting to online video review start-up Wipster.
Lunman says it was the time she spent there that enabled her to understand this country’s start-up sector.
“I got really got entrenched in the New Zealand start-up ecosystem,” she says.
Then the role with business incubator Creative HQ came up, to co-ordinate Kiwibank’s Fintech Accelerator programme ,and she jumped at the chance.
She says it’s about “being part of the movement … taking an entire sector looking at financial problems and looking at ways to solve it.
“It is not just about the three-month journey – the vision for the programme is actually as a catalyst to bring the financial ecosystem together.”
Lunman moved into the role in December, before the programme’s launch, and helped whittle down the more than 70 teams which auditioned for a place.
Nine teams made the final cut but already two have dropped out – one early on because of a family bereavement, and the other just last week after it became clear their idea was not going to be viable to take to market.
She says losing teams along the way is a normal part of the process, and “it’s better to do so before they get funding.”
Out of the seven teams, two are corporate – working on ideas put forward by Kiwibank and Xero – while the other five are what she calls organic.
The 12- to15-week programme is based on an American system which has been tailored to New Zealand and provides intensive mentoring.
The teams have to live in Wellington and commit fully to the experience during the three months.
I got really entrenched in the New Zealand start-up ecosystem.
Kristen Lunman, programme director for Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator
The ideas range from a team who want to make it easier and cheaper to transfer money to the Pacific Islands, to a wealth management team called Sharesies who want to make it simpler for anyone to invest with as little as $50.
Another team wants to work with property managers to improve their rental experience, while a fourth is proposing to offer businesses “robo-advice” on insurance.
Another hopes to take real accounting data from businesses and present it to students to help them get real-life experience of managing businesses, before they head out to get a job.
Lunman’s job is to focus on what the teams need in order to accelerate their good ideas into the market. That typically involves a pilot test which allows them to work on gaps and problems.
She says one of the unique challenges for fintechs is that the sector is highly regulated, so not only do their business concepts have to work, they also have to meet the regulations.
“We have been working very closely with the FMA (Financial Markets Authority) and MBIE (Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment).”
Lunman hopes that at the minimum, half of the teams will be at an investable stage by May 19, but ideally they would all be there.
Initial investments for start-ups are typically in the $500,000-$700,000 range and will come from a variety of sources including angel investors – individuals who are sufficiently well-off to take a punt on a start-up venture.
Lunman says the key ingredients for a promising start-up include having a passionate team that wants to solve a problem, and a market to take the solution to. But even then it can be hard to get a new venture over the line.
“It is not an easy road. Timing, ownership – all sorts of things have to come together.”
She doesn’t believe that having a financial background is necessary for start-up fintechs, and says some people have been successful without it.
“It’s just everyday Kiwis and businesses that have access to technology. I’m not convinced it has to come from the banking environment.”
She points to Apple Pay as an example, where technology has provided a money solution.
So far there hasn’t been a lot of disruption in New Zealand’s fintech sector.
Online crowd-funding platforms have opened up alternatives for both businesses and individuals to raise money, but they remain tiny in comparison with the major banks. And robo-advice – low-cost online financial advice based on algorithms – will be allowable here next year, after a law change that is now in the pipeline.
But Lunman says disruption is near-impossible in New Zealand.
“Banks have all the money and the customers,” she points out.
Instead, she believes there will be more of a move towards collaboration.
“Banks certainly recognise the need to innovate,” she says, but their silo approach and size make it hard for them to move quickly and introduce innovations.
“I think banks are looking to fintechs and recognising they do need to work with them.”
In Australia, Lunman says three major banks have already set up fintech hubs to work with and there are 15 fintech accelorator programmes.
Here, Kiwibank has been the first to back a fintech programme, but Lunman says others are talking about it.
This isn’t a 9 to 5 commitment. We live and breathe what we are doing.
Kristen Lunman
“I think we have got some work to do in terms of engaging some of the major players – other banks/insurance players.
“They are starting to discuss it but it will take some time.”
Despite the slow start, she believes collaboration will take off over the next five years. Regardless of the challenges, Lunman believes New Zealand has the opportunity to become a fintech hub.
New Zealanders are much more open than many people to using technology to help with their finances, she says, and points to our past as early adopters of eftpos technology.
“In North America they were still using cheques when I left.”
She says being in New Zealand presents no greater challenge for fintech start-ups than being in any other part of the world.
“I don’t think there is a greater challenge – it’s just different. A start-up is hard in any ecosystem.”
She points to Finland and Denmark – smaller countries which have thriving tech start-up sectors.
“They are small so they had to go global first.”
While those countries have Europe at their door, New Zealand has Asia, Australia and the US. “They are just different challenges really.”
As for what will happen to her after the programme, she doesn’t know yet but is confident she wants to keep working with start-ups.
“For myself personally that is to be determined. I know I want to stay in the start-up space. I would love it to be fintech.”
And while the programme is the first to focus on fintechs she doesn’t believe it will be the last.
“I don’t believe this is a one off.”
Kristen Lunman
• Job: Programme director for the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator
• Age: 39
• Originally from: Canada
• Education: Bachelor of Commerce degree majoring in marketing and international business from the University of Northern British Columbia
• Family: Married to Kyle and has two children: Adelyn 10, Grayson 9
• Last movie watched: The Lego Batman Movie
• Last book read: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
• Last overseas trip: To Vietnam in 2016 as part of a New Zealand tech delegation to explore the tech scene in South East Asia.
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CropLogic prepares for ASX listing

CropLogic, a Christchurch-based developer of technology, allows farmers to more accurately control inputs such as fertiliser and water by modelling plant growth by gathering field data and making crop prescriptions and management recommendations. The company has already raised just over $1 million including $512,000 via crowdfunding platform Equitise, plans to raise AUD$3 million in an initial public offering and list on the ASX.

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Apple robot up for angel investment

A Tauranga company is ready to take its apple packing robotics offshore and help remove the headache of finding staff to do mundane work.
The automated apple packing machines place apples in trays ‘‘colour up’’ with the stems aligned, using sensors, software and electromechanical technology, and are expected to remove some of the monotonous work that apple packhouses find difficult to staff.

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