Snowball Effect 2018 Annual Update

2018 has been a record year for Snowball Effect. We have raised more capital than any previous year and continue to grow steadily. Some of the metrics below are disclosed to the FMA as part of our compulsory reporting as a regulated online investment platform. We believe that the private capital markets in NZ can benefit from being as transparent as possible. We’ve recently been collaborating with researchers from the University of Auckland and University of Minnesota to uncover insights into investor behaviour and the growth in online capital raising around the world. Below are some of the highlights from the past year:

Larger offers
We have now raised $41.8 million in capital across 54 offers. The private capital part of the business continues to grow with $12.7 million raised privately in 23 offers. The average size of offers that we work with has been increasing and 13 offers have been over $1 million in size. We have completed 22 offers that attracted more than 100 investors.

Growing investor base
Our investor audience now includes 17,700 people, of whom 7,300 have actively indicated interest in investing in a particular offer. We’ve found that each indication of interest averages out to about $1,000 in investment in the final offer per indication of interest. One of the most important metrics for a two-sided marketplace business is “transacted users”. In our case, 3,100 people have made a completed investment on the platform.

Larger investors
We are now working frequently with large family offices, institutional, and sophisticated investors. 810 people have invested more than $10,000 through the platform and 67 people have invested more than $100K through the platform. There are now 1,400 wholesale investors on Snowball Effect who are eligible to receive private offers. $27.7 million in transaction volume has come from people investing more than $10K.

Increasing diversification
A key difference between Snowball Effect and other players in the online investing space is that we want investors to take the private company asset class seriously as part of their overall investment portfolio. To that end, we’re pleased to see that 33% of our investors have now invested in more than one offer and 14% have invested in three or more offers. 30 people have invested in 10 or more offers (which research from the Kaufman Foundation shows is the base level of diversification needed to approach the underlying asset class returns for angel and venture capital investing). The most active investor on Snowball Effect has now invested in 27 offers.

Ongoing services
Our ancillary services have continued to grow with 14 companies now tracking their legal share ownership records in the Snowball Effect share registry. These companies represent 2,059 shareholding records. We also now have 163 director profiles from investors that are available as independent directors for companies that raise capital through Snowball Effect.

For more information from Snowball click here.

 

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The number of deals is shrinking but venture capital still hit a record in Australia

Venture capital in Australia hit a record $US630 million ($AU849 million) in the 2017-18 financial year, up 12% on the previous 12 months, despite a drop in the number of deals, according to Venture Pulse Q2 2018, a quarterly report by KPMG.

Over the three months to June, $US209.09 million of startup investment was recorded in Australia, up from the $US169.8 million the previous quarter.

However, the number of deals was 27, down from 31, continuing a trend for bigger raises to more mature startups.

“Venture financing continues to rise in Australia, keeping pace with worldwide trends,” says Amanda Price, Head of KPMG Australia High Growth Ventures.

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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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Nyriad raises $8.5 million for GPU-based resilient storage arrays

Nyriad has raised $8.5 million in venture capital for its resilient storage systems that are accelerated using graphics processing units (GPUs). Those storage systems are built to handle problems such as the simultaneous removal or failure of 20 hard disks at the same time.

The Cambridge, New Zealand-based company has now raised more than $11 million to date for its Nsulate software for managing large-scale storage arrays in data centers. The company is targeting the release of its first product in the first quarter of 2018.

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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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Capital Markets Report: Making it a bigger deal

There’s still a big gap in the market for traditional venture capital, with long lead-ins, writes James Penn.
The average transaction value in New Zealand’s venture and early stage capital sectors more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, according to a recently released report. However, concerns about the fragility of the sector remain.
The New Zealand Private Equity and Venture Capital Monitor, published by EY and NZVCA, paints a rosy picture for the venture and early stage sector, with growth of 47.7 per cent in the value of deals — which don’t include angel investments — compared with 2015.
Interestingly, despite this growth in total investment value, the number of transactions has declined. This has resulted in the average transaction value growing from $906,000 in 2015 to $1.85 million in 2016, suggesting a maturing of the sector.
A similar, albeit more moderate, story can be observed for angel investments.
A recent report by the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF) stated that while the number of investments by angel groups and funds decreased 15 per cent, the total value of investment increased by 13 per cent, reaching $69m in 2016.
Willingness to invest larger sums in each individual company is indicative of investors having more confidence that those companies have strong, often international, growth potential.
However, this means that the sector is highly focused on growth capital — for companies that have already generated a significant level of revenue.
“A big gap remains in the market for more traditional venture capital targeted at businesses that have long lead times and deep intellectual property,” says Colin McKinnon, Executive Director of NZVCA. “We don’t have a New Zealand fund in the market at the moment that would be likely to invest in (say) Rocket Lab or 8i while they remain pre-revenue.”
Managing Partner of Movac, Phil McCaw, sees fragility in the early stage capital sector, arguing that New Zealand needs at least a couple more significant funds around the $150 million mark. Movac for its part recently raised $110 million for its Fund 4, and has already made a significant investment from that fund in retail software developer Vend.
“My vision for the venture industry is to see that we’ve got three or four long term sustainable funds that are $150 million type funds,” says McCaw. “We’ve got to find a way to lift this industry to get to that position.”
Engender Technologies, a Kiwi company that has developed laser technology to sort livestock sperm by sex, is illustrative of the benefits that come from these growth-focused capital sources.
After closing a $4.5 million capital raise — led by Kiwi venture investment firm Pacific Capital — in June last year, Engender has started growing its footprint globally. To date in 2017, Engender has announced a $1 million deal with Asia’s largest animal genetics company and has been named one of the five most innovative Agtech start-ups at Agfunder Global Innovation Awards.
The positive headline figures are also reflected in a flurry of activity among old and new specialised funds. In March this year, for example, NZVIF announced its 17th partnership for its seed co-investment fund with ArcAngels, a group of private individuals focused on investing in female-led start-ups.
Meanwhile, the NZ Super Fund broadened its scope of investments over the past year, with investment in funds that target a spectrum of companies, from early to late growth.
“New capital commitments for funds including Movac and Global from Day One were complemented by on-going fundraising by Punakaiki Fund,” says McKinnon, “Crowdfunding platforms Snowball Effect and Equitise, and the public listing of Powerhouse Ventures also raised capital.”
KiwiSaver is nowhere to be seen in venture or private equity which is disappointing.
Colin McKinnon
McCaw says “I’m more confident than I’ve ever been. There’s more cash in the market and there’s more opportunity, and I don’t see those things changing in the next few years.”
Despite this dynamism, there remains work to be done to foster a deep early stage and venture capital market that can
satisfy the needs of rapidly scalable ventures.
Public funds and institutional investors need to play a greater role. While the Super Fund has taken a step in this direction, it has taken some time and the industry would welcome other funds following suit.
“KiwiSaver is nowhere to be seen in venture or private equity which is disappointing. International investors prioritise larger markets,” explains McKinnon.
“Creating a framework that incentivises the early-stage growth market until a long-term track-record is developed should be considered. The industry is close, but not quite there yet.”
McCaw also sees a need for policy change in this regard, noting the success of recent Australian policy changes and the subsequent growth in their sector.
“If we want a growth economy that grows from entrepreneurship, you’ve actually got to put in place a policy framework that supports it across the spectrum,” says McCaw. “And I think there’s an absence of policy at the moment in the venture and growth capital class that is not enabling the scaling of funds.”
And the age-old question of returns still remains. Yet again, there was an absence of divestment within the venture and early stage capital sector in 2016.
According to the Capital Monitor, just one of the past six years has seen any divestment, and that was a mere $400,000. However, McCaw says this is the nature of the beast and the early stage capital sector is always expected to have long pay-off timelines.
“It is still a developing story. Around the world, that’s a story that takes 20 years to create, across a couple of fund iterations,” says McCaw. “But it’s coming.”
“You can kind of justify the growth that’s incurring inside of these companies, because there really is some really fast revenue growth occurring — so there’s definite signs that the industry is investing in things that are creating long term value.”
“The rate of return at the moment in terms of cash back is not fast enough,” accepts McCaw. “But it’s getting faster.”
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Opinion: The state of play for New Zealand’s venture capital industry

The question of the future of the NZ Venture Investment Fund is the trigger for one of the most important questions right now in New Zealand – how early stage venture capital in R&D, innovation and technology is funded and managed.
It goes beyond the question of NZVIF, which is a legacy institution and served a different purpose in the past. NZVIF is, in effect two institutions – an investor of the $50 million Seed Coinvestment Fund co-investing alongside angel investors to date in over 230 seed and VC stage companies and manager of 11 secondary stakes in established funds. It has a team of just five investment managers, which is small relative to the number of investments. Profit maximisation of these holdings for the government by the existing team is possible with many different options.

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I Slept With 65 VCs and Learned These Things

Our first suitor called us in the spring. They offered to pay for coffee. It was our first date. I had butterflies in my stomach. They promised they’d done this before and that I shouldn’t be nervous.

I could tell they were experienced. Their smile was soothing.

They looked me in the eyes. They wanted our pitch deck. “Do you use protection?” I asked. “No.” I knew it was dangerous doing it without protection. But it was so tempting. I was excited. I wanted to get in their portfolio. I couldn’t resist. So I took a deep breath and slipped the deck in. “Is it in yet?” I felt naked. I didn’t care. Maybe this was the one, I thought. Maybe they’ll actually call me back after this meeting. Maybe they’ll invest.

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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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Lead Partners

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