Coherent Solutions Rebrands to Quantifi Photonics

Coherent Solutions, a early-stage high-tech start-up focusing on optical communication and photonics test and measurement equipment has rebranded to reflect the company’s broadening portfolio of products. Applications include the test of fibre-optic cables, data centres, LIDAR-enabled autonomous vehicles, and more. The company was founded in 2012, and is soon considering a Series B raise, demonstrating how long deep tech companies can take to get to success, but that success can be very large when they get there!

Read more here: https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU2009/S00311/coherent-solutions-rebrands-to-quantifi-photonics-and-sets-sights-on-us24-trillion-global-market.htm

Building Momentum into the Future

Andy Shenk from UniServices has written a piece celebrating the launch of the fifth Momentum Investment Committee in the Manawatū.

The team at Matū are proud to support Momentum, both through our sponsorship of the Momentum Student Entrepreneur of the Year award, and through our participation on most of the Momentum committees. Through our engagement with Momentum, we can share our experience and expertise with both student entrepreneurs and student investment committee members, and help build capability within the next generation of the investment ecosystem.

Read more here: https://www.uniservices.co.nz/why-our-momentum-committees-are-investment-future

Bioactives initiative launched today

Our portfolio company Ligar Polymers, in conjunction with our partners at Te Whāi Ao Limited, have today announced the launch of The Refinery, a joint venture that will use Ligar’s MIP technology to extract high-value bioactive compounds from Aotearoa plant-based foods and horticulture. The team at Matū are pleased to be involved and providing advice to both Ligar and Te Whāi Ao, and are excited to see the potential for The Refinery grow.

Read more here: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503343&objectid=12356158

Avoiding Negotiation Mistakes

Laura Faulconer from WNT Ventures has written a great blog post detailing some key lessons around negotiating terms for seed-stage deals. It’s natural for founders to be wary of investors and their terms, but it’s important to develop trust and to find investors that you know are looking out for the collective interest of the company and its future. Trust is pretty critical, because once it’s gone it can be very difficult to rebuild – and investors talk to each other.

Read more here: https://wntventures.co.nz/common-seed-investment-negotiation-missteps/

Aroa Biosurgery lists on the ASX

Congratulations to the team at Aroa Biosurgery, which is listing today on the ASX with a valuation of AUD$225mil. Originally known as Mesynthes, Aroa has been developing wound dressings and soft tissue regeneration products since 2008. Getting the company all the way through to exit is a huge milestone for everyone involved, with congratulations in particular to Movac for putting a lot of time and effort into guiding and shepherding the company through to this stage.

Read more here: https://www.afr.com/companies/healthcare-and-fitness/fundies-flock-to-aroa-biosurgery-float-20200721-p55e0r

and the Aroa Biosurgery press release here: https://aroabio.com/blog/news_article/aroa-biosurgery-to-list-on-the-asx-in-225m-ipo

A VC that funds ‘Technical Risk’

TechCrunch has an interesting interview with Ashmeet Sidana, founder of Engineering Capital, a VC fund in the US that focuses on interesting engineering and technology. There are a lot of similarities with our approach, working closely with research institutions to find interesting science and technology. We do also look at markets and customers though, because sometimes cool technology doesn’t just “sell itself”.

Read more here: https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/08/this-vc-just-closed-on-60-million-to-fund-technical-risk-saying-other-vcs-rarely-do-the-same/

Matū Planning through COVID-19

What a difference a week or two makes, to NZ and to the world around us! As we are writing this, the Matū team are in lockdown working from home, but we remain in close contact, supporting each other and our portfolio companies via the use of various online tools and the internet. Business is continuing as normal; this week we have completed a Lean Canvas workshop on a microfluidics project at Massey University, the Return on Science and Momentum Investment Committees are meeting, and we continue with due diligence on a couple of early-stage opportunities.

We are also participating in several industry groups that are advising the government on potential programs and projects to try and keep the research and innovation sector moving in these trying times. The COVID-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund from MBIE has already been announced in the last week to research organisations. We are also in the final steps of completing an investment into portfolio company #5, Ligar Polymers.

While we are now in little doubt that we are in for some pretty challenging times in the coming months and perhaps years ahead, we are confident that the underlying broad strength of the New Zealand economy will see us through. This will definitely create new and disruptive investment opportunities for Matū as NZ and the world has to learn to innovate and use technology on a completely different level. In January, we completed some strategy planning looking at the next couple of years, but we will clearly need to iterate this over the next couple of quarters once things settle somewhat.

In the last two weeks, we have conducted reviews with each of our portfolio companies, with a particular focus on impacts and contingency planning related to COVID-19. Naturally, they are all very busy looking at burn rates, identifying cost reductions where possible, and modelling cashflow scenarios in consultation with financial advisors. Spreadsheets are definitely working overtime! Not unexpectedly, with portfolio staff there are a wide range of emotions and genuine concerns about what the future might hold for them and their families. We are encouraging each team to focus on the things they can control, and continue to move the business forward whilst being very careful to protect cash.

Going forward, we are remaining positive. We remember that we have been through many tough challenges as a country in recent times, including the Christchurch earthquakes and the Mosque shootings.

After the Global Financial Crisis, recovery was in part led by disruption and innovation: Uber, AirBnB, Lyft, and Amazon’s pivot are just some examples of start-ups emerging from the ashes of the chaos. This time won’t be any different. Technology will play a major part in getting business back on its feet, in new ways.

We know that when the pandemic is over, things won’t be the same again. However, when the grief and shock makes way for a positive can do attitude, human insight will come to the fore. We recognise that we will have to approach the same things different to move forward in the “new world”.

Matū is ready and we will play our part in this new wave. Our pipeline is solid and continues to expand. We are well positioned to ride out this economic “correction” and we continue to interact on a daily basis with innovators and entrepreneurs in this new era.

We will clearly need new capital to execute the opportunities, and we continue to engage positively with potential investors. We are also expecting market corrections to take shape in a softening of valuations and general investment terms.

Sectors rife for disruption could include fintech, digital health, wellness and medical devices, industrial processing, digital security, remote collaboration tools, and AI. We could see a mad scramble of a lot of venture money globally into these sectors, and we will continue our careful and scientific approach to early-stage investing.

We hope that you and your families are safe and well during the lockdown, and please do reach out if we can lend an ear or help in any way.

Could Tend be the future of telemedicine in NZ?

The Sunday Star Times features Tend, a telemedicine start-up founded by serial entrepreneurs James and Cecilia Robertson. Having also founded My Food Bag, they have worked for a year to build the technology and ensure regulatory compliance, and will soon have it available in Auckland.

Read more here: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120772250/kiwi-power-couple-turn-heartbreak-into-healthcare-app-that-could-aid-coronavirus-fight

The Art of the Board

Mike Volpi writes on TechCrunch about the value of having a Board of Directors in an early-stage start-up, and what sort of relationship the Board should have with Management. A number of key messages in this article are the same ones we espouse in our Governance for Early-Stage Companies workshops. The role of the Board isn’t to be the boss of the CEO (unless it is really necessary), but rather to provide day-to-day support and guidance in a way that adds value.

Read more here: https://techcrunch.com/2020/02/12/effective-board-members-create-value-for-startups/