Congratulations to the University of Auckland for being named Entrepreneurial University of the Year at the Asia-Pacific Triple E Entrepreneurship and Engagement Excellence Awards in Higher Education! Read more here: https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/news/2020/01/16/university-named-entrepreneurial-university-of-the-year-at-inter.html
Jackie from AirTree has written some insightful analysis around some of the key trends that are appearing in Healthcare, and how start-ups in Australia (and hopefully New Zealand!) are well placed to target these trends – read more here: https://medium.com/airtree-venture/the-wave-of-change-in-healthcare-ed58eff74354
Benjamin Chong at Right Click Capital has penned a piece introducing Venture Debt. As far as we know, there haven’t been any venture debt deals in New Zealand yet, but one of the new Technology Incubators is a major supporter of this funding instrument, so this may change. Sometimes pitched as an alternative to venture capital/equity funding, we view it as being more complementary, especially for start-ups that might find it difficult to raise a bridging round.
The Angels Association of New Zealand held its annual summit last week. Matū was well represented with Greg Sitters, Ken Erskine, and Andrew Chen from the staff team attending, as well as Dana McKenzie and Suse Reynolds from our Investment Committee, and Bridget Unsworth from the Commercial Advisory Board.
A big congratulations to our good friend Katherine Sandford for winning the Puawaitanga Award for her leadership and support as the investor-director chair of UBCO, a Tauranga-based company developing and selling electric motor bikes.
Scott Gilmour was recognised as Arch Angel for 2019, having been a critical and foundational part of the ICE Angels and broader NZ angel community. Suse Reynolds was surprised with the Kotahitanga Award for building unity and developing a shared sense of working together, building and strengthening the angel community into something much bigger. She has been a leader in the early-stage angel investment and start-up ecosystem for over a decade, and we are very happy that her efforts have been recognised.
Read more here: https://www.angelassociation.co.nz/angel-awards-announced-suse-reynolds-katherine-sandford-and-tim-allan-recognised/ and https://www.angelassociation.co.nz/scott-gilmour-named-new-zealand-arch-angel-2019/
The Spinoff has covered Nate Davis’s laboratory and the solar concentrators they are developing, which may revolutionise solar electricity generation by diffusing light sideways efficiently. This would allow for photovoltaic panels to be embedded in all sorts of places, like in the sides of windows with the light being distributed to the sides of the pane of glass. By significantly reducing the land cost of solar electricity generation, and also supporting distributed generation, this technology could significantly disrupt the way renewable energy is generated in the future.
Congratulations to the five winning teams from the Velocity $100k challenge – Greenshell Spat Co, SpinPoi, Pacific Med Tech, Luxor Astronautics, and RAVE. Matū staff have seen most of these projects through Return On Science and Momentum, so we know first-hand just how passionate and capable these young founders are. We wish them all the best as they enter the VentureLab incubator at the University of Auckland in 2020!
Read more here: https://www.cie.auckland.ac.nz/newsroom/2019challenge/
Blackbird Ventures, a venture capital fund based primarily in Australia, has just opened their Auckland offices last week. This was alongside a successful Sunrise event that attracted hundreds of founders, investors, and other stakeholders in the early-stage investment space.
With their founder-focused investment strategy and community approach, Blackbird brings a new voice and style to the NZ market. Their strong values statements make it clear that they put people first, think in the long-term, and comfortable with high-risk: all values that we at Matū support as well. We think it will be really helpful to add a strong voice in the ecosystem around actively guiding, mentoring, and supporting founders.
The Sunrise summit itself on Oct 25th was a clear representation of those values. The team from Blackbird didn’t spend much time talking about their fund or making big announcements – they mostly got out of the way and let a group of founders tell their stories and share their lessons. The program was very well structured, showcasing a variety of founders and experiences.
The morning started with Melanie Perkins from $3.2 billion unicorn Canva, talking about the rollercoaster journey from working out of her mum’s lounge to a company with 700 employees. She conveyed two key messages – fight through the rejection that will inevitably come along the way, and dream big and far so that you have something to strive towards.
Other speakers included Brianne West from environmentally-conscious and socially sustainable personal care company Ethique, Shama Lee from alternative meat company Sunfed Foods, and Tama Toki from Great Barrier Island-based cosmetics company Aotea Made.
The formal part of the program closed with a gripping story from Jodie Fox, co-founder of personalised/customised fashion company Shoes of Prey, which went into liquidation last year after nine years of operation and at one point reaching a valuation >$100mil. For an industry that suffers from strong survivor bias (i.e. we only hear the good stories about entrepreneurship), it was a tough story to share but incredibly valuable for everyone to hear that these things happen and how it happens. Huge kudos to Jodie for bravely sharing her journey publicly – she has written a book to tell the story. My main takeaway was that there is a right way to close down a company, which starts from building a really strong culture of respect years beforehand. Without that sense of community and loyalty, the process of closing down a big company would have been much, much harder.
Apart from the speakers, the other really valuable part of the day was structured networking. People were able to make bookings beforehand based on short bios that attendees provided online, which meant that we didn’t have to just go up to someone and try to strike up a conversation. We met a bunch of founders throughout the day who were interested in Matū’s offering, and we will be keeping track of these various projects and giving our support where we can.
We often think of the New Zealand early-stage investment community as being “small”, but events like Sunrise remind me that “tightknit” and “connected” are perhaps better descriptors. There are thousands of people involves in this space, which may be small in comparison to some places overseas, but it affords us a sense of collegiality that helps us work together and build towards collective success. We at Matū are always happy to help wherever we can within our means, so get in touch!
Simon Yarrow has written an opinion article at the New Zealand Herald highlighting the opportunity to target the UK and Ireland with our unique agritech capabilities. Read more here: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12278350
An interesting article on Entrepreneur magazine about the rise of revenue-based VCs, who are making a larger number of smaller bets based on the current revenue of the companies. They’re mostly targeting SaaS or similar industries with well-understood business models, where gaining a decent amount of revenue derisks most of the business and the rest is about having lots of capital to fund marketing as the company enters the growth phase. We’re starting to see a little bit of this thinking appear in New Zealand, which will mean more companies getting funding once they have shown that their business model is viable at a small scale.
Read more here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/340384
Congratulations to the winners of the University of Canterbury Entré challenge, with $85k worth of prizes awarded to a range of students and companies. Really interestingly, there are three joint grand prize winners, with some very cool ideas in the mix.