Angels help skincare pioneer fly

By Jo Allum

Early investment allowing Zeosoft to prove product claims has helped secure backing for international leap.

Zeosoft's key product, soft zeolites, are mined at a site near Tokoroa.
Zeosoft's key product, soft zeolites, are mined at a site near Tokoroa.

Patience and a lot of persistence have paid off for natural skin cleaning company Zeosoft after it gained significant backing from the Bay of Plenty's Enterprise Angels and early stage investment group Movac.

Soft zeolites, formed from volcanic activity and mined near Tokoroa are the key ingredient of Zeosoft's products.

"It's a very unique ingredient. And we're the first to patent its use on skin," said Zeosoft chief executive Phil Connolly. "Thanks to our initial investment from Movac we've now got independent proof of the power of soft zeolites to remove contaminants, including heavy metals and toxins, and help repair skin, while still being soft and dermatologically safe."

Movac first invested in Zeosoft in 2010 to help the company's founders prove the power of their innovative skin-cleaning ingredient. It was this research that helped seal the deal for the Bay of Plenty angel investors, says Movac's Mark Vivian.

"Zeosoft has achieved initial sales to validate the market opportunity and the founding team now has a good mix of commercialisation expertise, scientific knowledge and sales execution, so it was a relatively easy sell in the end," Vivian said.

Zeosoft raised $8 million in this latest funding round and plans to use the capital to fast-track its way into international markets.

It currently manufactures heavy-duty hand soap, everyday handwash and household cleaners, with personal care, cosmetics and derma product on the cards. Its initial targets are the automotive and engineering industries in Britain, Europe and the Middle East.

To try to speed its way it has joined forces with global leaders Unilever and Stevenson's Group for product formulation and development.

"Nutting out these relationships is key for us. Everything's on a completely different scale in the UK, so any mistake is accentuated," Connolly said.

Vivian said he had high hopes for Zeosoft.

"They're making excellent progress in the UK market where there's growing consideration among industrial organisations about the impact products have on their employees, customers and the environment."

Strong relationships between New Zealand's angels and early-stage investment companies like Movac were crucial for ensuring Kiwi companies got enough funding to grow, Vivian said. "There are always going to be natural ups, downs, surprises and successes that go with being invested in any early-stage company, but the more experienced people the business is able to surround itself with, the better."

Enterprise Angels executive director Bill Murphy agreed: "What Zeosoft highlights is there is an increasingly strong early-stage investment network in New Zealand where deals, due diligence and investing are often shared.

"This leads to more capital and more opportunities for promising young companies."

Produced in conjunction with the Angel Association of New Zealand.

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