The Aussies are coming for our startups and that's okay.

If you have a good idea, are prepared to work hard to realise it, you're very much in demand - and there's money to go round to get you going.

That's the message from venture capitalists who toured New Zealand, inviting Kiwi businesses and entrepreneurs to pitch to them for funding.

A large group of over 40 VCs visited Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown last week, mostly from Australian funds, but also some locals and Singaporean investors. They were left impressed by the quality of our startups, both new and existing ones.

Advertisement

Unlike on the sports field and in Parliament, the traditional transtasman rivalry and trolling is pretty much absent between local and Aussie investors.

Rowan Simpson, one of the original Trade Me geek meisters, thinks it's great to have more Aussie dollars shoring up the local start-up scene. "I'd love to see more Australian funds investing here. Many already have," Simpson told me.

The caveat here, according to Simpson, is rules that many of the Aussies are constrained by, rules that limit them to a maximum of a fifth of their funds for international investments, and that Kiwi startups vie with other overseas business for a slice of that money. Even so, now's the time to seek capital if that's what you're after.

"There is no shortage of venture capital in NZ or anywhere. There is a shortage of great companies to invest in. This is true whether you are an NZ or Australian VC," Simpson explained.

Entrepreneurs with a bull's eye on their backs for VCs are the smart ones that build scalable, high-growth companies, the investment director from Adelaide-based Bluesky Private Equity, Atlanta Daniel, said.

Daniel is looking for fresh blood in several areas, including enterprise software-as-a-service providers, as well as agriculture and food tech, data wranglers and rocket scientists in the NewSpace business (yes, that's what they call it now).

"We saw 18 pitches while in Auckland and Queenstown. The standard overall was pretty impressive. NZ seems to have a particular expertise in areas of financial and creative technologies," Daniel added.

Closer to giant Asian markets, Singaporean co-founder of venture capitalists Qualgro, Peter Huynh is no stranger to New Zealand, and is keen to make the firm's first Kiwi investment. Like Daniel, Huynh looks for startups that are dedicated and have a deep connection with the problem they're trying to solve.

What's more, that dedication and connection should extend to global market spaces, Huynh said.

It's quite a different situation from just five or six years ago when worries were that the lack of venture capital would stymie fledgling industries, especially in the booming tech sector.

Now, investors are here and they're hungry - but the bar's been raised and startups need to be ready to take on the world from the word go. That could mean starting with a soft landing in Australia, a much larger yet familiar market compared to NZ, to get ready for Asia and the United States soon after.

Much more work in other words, but also far larger rewards. Startups would be wise to pick a VC for the longer term to see them through the process.