Zino Ventures, New Zealand's first Chinese-led angel group, aims to invest in up to 20 Kiwi start-up companies over the next four years, helping them make the most of opportunities in China.
The venture capital company, a collaboration between local Chinese in New Zealand and The Icehouse, has established Zino Ventures Fund 1 with cornerstone investment by two leading Chinese angels and The Icehouse.
Zino, which has a partnership with ICE Angels, is focused on three specific challenges:
• Building a "bridge" between New Zealand and China for China market entry, particularly for smaller innovative startups.
• Improving the understanding from Government level, where help could better prepare the start-ups to understand the China market and operating conditions.
• Increasing the level of engagement between Chinese investors and the start-ups.
Zino Ventures Fund 1 is led by David Wang and George Gong, who graduated from Tsinghua University and was co-founder of Beyondsoft (a Chinese IT company listed in Shenzhen).
David Wang has spent more than 10 years in the Semiconductor IT industry and was overseas director of Songz Automobile Air conditioning for India, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand market (publicly listed in Shenzhen since 2010).
The partnership with The Icehouse and ICE Angels enables Zino Fund 1 to take advantage of the structure and scale already established, with currently $60m under management for investing in Kiwi start-ups.
Zino is also supported by a highly experienced advisory group.
Debra Hall is a past board member of the Angel Association of New Zealand, a professional director and mentor, and has been a business owner in the marketing sector. Tim Williams is the first New Zealander to list a company on the main board of the Japanese stock exchange. He is a board member of The Icehouse, an investing partner of Tuhua Ventures, and a lead investor in 90 Seconds, PicsOS, Spoke, and ShuttleRock.
Chris Twiss is a former Investment Director of New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, and has more than 20 years experience in venture capital, private equity, angel investment, and merchant banking in London, Europe and New Zealand.
Andy Hamilton is the Founding CEO of The Icehouse, a board member of ICE Angels and Arch Angel of the New Zealand Angel Investment industry. He is the former Investor Director of eBus (acquired by IMDB), and an investor in PowerbyProxi, Parrot Analytics, TranscribeMe, the GD1 Seed Fund and Tuhua Ventures.
Zino Ventures Fund 1 started fundraising in September 2016, and has hit its target of $2m in investment. The fund has made two investments -- Parrot Analytics (November 2016) and Latipay (January 2017).
David Wang joined Parrot's advisory board to help the team better understand the China market.
Latipay has secured the largest pre-A capital raising for start-ups in New Zealand at US$3 million. Zino was able to co-invest alongside a Singaporean venture capital fund The Jubilee Fund, and Jason Wang has an an observer seat on Latipay's board.
This investment enables Latipay to scale fast and secure further funding in later rounds. Zino Ventures Fund 1 is closing its fund at the end of May 2017, with a formal launch party to be held at the Icehouse early in June.
One area of potential that has seen very little growth is investment from Chinese migrants in Kiwi start-ups.
Zino is built on the premise that "together we can make a difference ... we can bring investment and open up a massive market in China."
Angel investment has been a popular investment activity long before the phrase was even created in the early 1990s, and there are renowned angel networks predominantly in the United States and Europe.
New Zealand's angel investment activity started in the early 2000s and flourished after the establishment of New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF).
We are starting to see some real momentum and growth in this market. The investment made by ICE Angels after 2012 has been more than all the previous years combined since its inception in 2003.
One area of potential that has seen very little growth is investment from Chinese migrants in Kiwi start-ups. ICE Angels didn't have its first Chinese investor, George Gong, until 2014, and the first Chinese investment analyst, Jason Wang, until 2015. With their effort and partnership, ICE Angels has grown to more than 10 Chinese investors by the end of 2016.
This later became the foundation of Zino Ventures, led solely by Chinese investors,
In recognition of George Gong's contribution to angel investing, he was awarded the WH Payne Angel of the Year 2016, the most highly recognised award at the ICE Angels.
?Jason Wang is Managing Partner of Zino Ventures in Auckland