Small Business: Angel investors - Danushka Abeysuriya

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Danushka Abeysuriya, founder of Rush Digital Interactive which has its own small stable of angel investors but he has relied mainly on cashflow in recent years

Danushka Abeysuriya, CEO of Rush Digital Interactive Ltd. Photo / Dean Purcell
Danushka Abeysuriya, CEO of Rush Digital Interactive Ltd. Photo / Dean Purcell

Please tell me about your business, its growth and your aspirations.

Rush Digital Interactive (RDI) is a mobile games and app development specialist which has been around for about five years. We started off as a product-focused business providing a framework for creating video games on smartphones easily. The majority of our revenues come about from services work, where we utilize our technology where applicable. In the first few years growth was constricted, but we've made it through those times and growth has been strong for the past year and a half. This is mostly thanks to key partnerships and diversification of technology to include tools like Unity3D.

Next year, 2014, is looking to be a great year for us. We have handled some of the world's best known intellectual property in games and apps and once you start to service brands and products at that tier you start to hit a bit of a stride. We have one of the best engineering teams this side of the equator, I have no qualms about saying that.

There aren't many technical hurdles this team can't solve. Our aspiration is to continue to build a world class engineering company, and develop IP that will shape our fortunes in the longer term.

What sort of angel investment has your company had so far?

We've only ever had a single round of investment, in 2010, when I was a one man band with an idea. The round was lead by Dr. Ray Thomson with participation from NZVIF. We've been operating on cashflow since 2011.

What sort of ideas and advice have you had from them?

When I started this company I was pretty young - 21 at the time. Ray has been a mentor and his advice over the years has been immeasurable. We also have a great board of directors with Darryl Singh, CEO at PureDepth and Mitch Olson, co-founder, Smallworlds, who have also added a great amount of depth to the advice and guidance I am able to get. The main sorts of ideas would have to be identifying and validating opportunities. Regarding advice, you name it - day-to-day operations through to deal negotiation and staff management.

What do investors like about your business?

I would have to say it's always been the team, at first myself as strong engineering talent and I think today and looking ahead, a continuation of that in the people that make up team RDI. Being in mobile and games, two huge sectors of growth, especially in Asia, doesn't hurt either.

When you go to look for external finance, what sort of information are you preparing to give to investors?

The key bit would have to be evidence that you can actually sell N number of product X. Part of that is also showing serious growth or expansion potential. Angel investment isn't quite like venture capital, there's an element of philanthropy there as well so telling a good story that resonates with your investor's past experiences or interests should be considered.

What would you do with any angel investment you received in the next year?

We have a few internal technology projects, they're a little immature but I guess I would spin off one of those projects that we felt has legs.

How would you describe the funding environment at the moment? Would you go to international angel investors at any stage?

To be honest, I haven't looked at funding outside of our current investors for some time now. My feeling is that the environment is good though, several partner companies have done well to receive grants and investment. In addition to that we have been approached by interested parties looking to invest. I'd say that's a sign of maturity but that says to me generally conditions must be good.

I would certainly look at international investment. I think RDI is past angel investment so the US is still a pretty appealing place to look for capital. I think you would struggle to get angel investment from internationals unless they were part of a fund or you were willing to relocate to their locality, as angels tend to want to be close physically to their investments.

- NZ Herald

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