The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Kiwi angels see US meet as heaven sent

Chris White. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Chris White. Photo / Mark Mitchell

More than 20 Kiwi start-up investors are hoping to forge links with their counterparts from around the world at a major angel investment meeting in the United States next week.

The group heading to Angel Capital Association summit in San Francisco includes Ken Erskine and Robbie Paul of Auckland business incubator The Icehouse, Angel Association New Zealand chairman Ray Thomson and Brian Casey, chairman of the Ice Angels investment group.

Erskine, The Icehouse's director of start-ups, said it was the world's largest angel investment conference, with up to 400 attendees, and it was important for local investors to make an appearance as it provided the opportunity to "upskill" and network.

"What you get is a great feel for the scale of investments that are being done around the globe," he said. "What you soon recognise is that angel investing is popular around the world but the real focus in leadership tends to come out of the US."

Erskine believed New Zealand would have the largest contingent of investors, apart from the US, at the summit.

Angels are wealthy individuals, often with personal entrepreneurial experience, who band together in groups to invest in early-stage firms.

Four local start-ups are also travelling to San Francisco next week to attend an event at the Kiwi Landing Pad - an organisation which helps New Zealand tech companies establish and grow their businesses in the US.

Erskine said the event would give companies a chance to pitch their business plans to a panel of US-based New Zealand entrepreneurs, including Claudia Batten - one of the founders of video game advertising firm Massive, sold to Microsoft in 2006 - and Victoria Ransom, who sold her social media marketing firm Wildfire to Google for US$250 million ($292 million) last year.

The start-ups are intellectual property solutions provider Parrot Analytics, BigLittleBang, which has developed an online 3D virtual world for children, agri-tech business CropLogic and biotech developer PolyBatics.

BigLittleBang founder Chris White, who will be travelling to California, said the trip would also provide the opportunity to pitch to US angel investors.

"We're looking for advisers and potential board members in the US," he said. "We're looking for expertise [from people who] also want to have skin in the game."

White said the US was BigLittleBang's biggest market and the company was looking to establish a presence there.

- NZ Herald

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