News

Zenno Astronautics on the first part of their journey

University of Auckland student start-up Zenno Astronautics hopes to use electromagnetic propulsion to help keep satellites in space, rather than having them fall back down to Earth too quickly. An interesting and wide-reaching interview, Managing Director Max Arshavsky tells the story of their early plans, how they manage their company and seek investment, and why they’re trying to do it from New Zealand.

Read more here:
https://m2magazine.co.nz/m2-success-summit-local-vs-space/

CORE sold for $45mil

A company that provides cargo tracking services to the US Postal Service and global airlines has been sold for $45 million to Canadian company Descartes. The best part of the story is that CORE Transport Technologies is a company based in Nelson! Largely staffed by local graduates from NMIT, it’s a great story of how local companies in the regions can achieve big outcomes.

Read more here:
https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/112798574/nelson-tech-company-sold-for-45m

Bio-compatible 3D Printing

Professor Olaf Diegel at the University of Auckland talks about recent breakthroughs in additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing). His team can already print aesthetically pleasing artificial limbs – the technology will soon be there to print organs, including complex organs like livers and kidneys. This would allow medical professionals to print organs to design, suitable for individual patients, rather than relying on organ transplants.

Read more here:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/SC1905/S00030/the-potential-of-3d-printing.htm

Both Sides of the Table – Governance for Early Stage Companies

Mark Suster from Upfront Ventures, an early-stage investment fund based in Los Angeles, has written an excellent series on how to run a governance board for an early-stage company. It’s great because it’s written for both management teams (i.e. founders and CEOs) as well as board members, and has a lot of honesty. It also serves to highlight why early-stage governance is so different to governance for later-stage established companies.

Read more here:
https://bothsidesofthetable.com/startup-boards-ee3ad0389040

Invert Robotics closes NZD$13mil round

Christchurch-based Invert Robotics has closed a USD$8.8mil (NZD$13mil) funding round, with the support of Finistere Ventures (from Silicon Valley) and Yamaha Motor Ventures. This is particularly interesting as it is showing the interest from these two sources in New Zealand, and they are looking around for other early-stage investment opportunities. The company builds robots that can climb vertically up walls, using vacuum technology to ensure that they adhere to non-magnetic surfaces.

Read more here:
https://venturebeat.com/2019/05/02/invert-robotics-raises-8-8-million-for-inspection-robots-that-cling-to-non-metallic-surfaces/

First dual-core biocomputers developed

Researchers at ETH Zurich have used CRISPR methods to develop the first dual-core cell-based biological computer. While biocomputers are relatively slow, the alphabet is much larger and they can use a much larger base system than binary or decimal, at a fraction of the energy cost. While there is still a long way to go before biocomputers can catch up to traditional silicon-based computers, this is exciting progress in this space.

Read more here:
https://sciencebusiness.net/network-news/eth-researchers-use-crispr-technology-develop-biosynthetic-dual-core-cell-computer

Biomatters Acquired!

A leading provider of DNA data analysis solutions, Auckland-based Biomatters has been acquired by GraphPad, a US publisher of scientific software (particularly around biostatistics). With significant numbers of customers overseas (particularly in the US), the acquisition will help Biomatters take their software to the rest of the world, with a connection through to Insight Partners as well, a leading VC/PE firm investing in high-growth technology and software companies. The sale is great news for Ice Angels and NZVIF, who both held significant stakes in the company.

Read more here: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12225362

11 Lessons from Angel Investing

VentureHacks and Spearhead have published a list of 11 important lessons to keep in mind for angel investing, and many of the same principles apply for anyone in the early-stage investment space. While not all the lessons apply directly for our fund, the first couple are particularly important – we have to make some difficult calls sometimes and say no to investment opportunities that look pretty good, but aren’t quite good enough. We don’t have as much luxury here in New Zealand to just sit around and wait for founders to contact us – we have to work hard on improving deal origination so that we can help create more opportunities for everyone.

Read more here:
https://venturehacks.com/articles/11-lessons

KiwiSaver and Private Equity

As we have highlighted in our summaries before, there is huge potential for KiwiSaver funds to provide a kickstart to the early-stage private equity markets in New Zealand. Symplicity, Milford Asset Management, and Booster have already made moves in this direction, making commitments of millions of dollars towards this asset class, although actual investments are still relatively few at this point in time. An article on Stuff interviews Sam Stubbs from Symplicity, who says that KiwiSaver and Superannuation funds could have the same type of impact that sovereign wealth funds had in Singapore. However, there are some changes in incentives and process that need to happen first.

Read more here:
https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/112047216/kiwisaver-could-turn-new-zealand-into-a-pacific-tiger-economy

The Art of the M&A Exit

Over at Forbes, Alejandro Cremades interviews Duke Rohlen – you may not have heard of him, but it turns out he has successfully grown and exited four medtech companies for a total of over US$1 billion. Thinking about potential exit strategies from the very beginning is key, alongside building integrity and trust with all parties. The trick is that Rohlen puts the business model first, then the team, and the technology last – often the opposite of what a lot of entrepreneurs do.

Read more here:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/alejandrocremades/2019/04/09/this-entrepreneur-sold-4-companies-for-over-1-billion-following-these-3-steps