Tauranga's Enterprise Angels group has experienced an upsurge in activity this year, with investments in December almost doubling the total for 2014, says executive director Bill Murphy.
Up until December, Enterprise Angels had invested $2.7 million in 13 companies, he said. However, this month the group invested a further $2.4 million in eight deals, taking the annual amount to $5.1 million invested in 20 companies, and also more than doubling last year's total.
"It's been full on this month," said Mr Murphy. "It's a huge end to the year."
This month's investments covered a range of companies both inside and outside the Bay of Plenty, with a key feature being the co-investment, alongside individual members, of Enterprise Angels new sidecar fund EA1. The fund, which closed earlier this year on $2.42 million, has invested a total of $450,000 in five of the deals closed this month. In addition, EA1 has committed $300,000 as a key shareholder in WNT Ventures, the Tauranga-based partnership that was awarded one of only three government-backed technology incubator slots earlier this year.
Mr Murphy said it was also encouraging to see Rotorua Energy Charitable Trusts, an Enterprise Angels corporate member, investing $40,000 in the series one round for Tauranga startup Balex Marine.
Balex, which is setting up manufacturing for its award-winning automated boat loader, raised $700,000, made up of $350,000 from angel members, $100,000 from EA1 and $250,000 from the government's Seed-Capital Investment Fund (SCIF), which provided matching funding into a number of the December round of investments.
Tauranga-based Vocado, which manufactures avocado purees, raised $600,000 in its follow-on fund-raising round, made up of $375,000 from angel members, $75,000 from EA1 and $150,000 from SCIF.
Enterprise Angels led on the follow-up round of funding for Dunedin-based agri-tech startup Techion, which raised a total of $495,000, made up of $245,000 from angel members, $75,000 from EA1 and $175,000 from SCIF.
The Tauranga group also led a new funding round of $525,000 for Wellington-based online software services startup Social Code, made up of $150,000 from angel members, $125,000 from EA1 and $250,000 from SCIF.
EA members also invested $285,000 in Auckland-based Parrott Analytics and up to $150,000 in Wellington-based Times 7 and Hunter Safety Lab.
Vocado founder Collin Elder said support from the angel group had been a crucial factor in helping grow the company. It initially received a total of $585,000 from Enterprise Angels and SCIF to help it relocate from the eastern Bay of Plenty to Judea.
"I started the company five years ago with zip," said Mr Elder. "If you want to grow in the way we're growing, unless you can keep throwing money at it yourself, you need somebody to support you."