Joint venture looking to invest in technology start-ups targeting overseas markets

Almost $5 million has become available for cash-hungry, globally focused New Zealand start-ups through the establishment of a new investment fund.

The Global from Day One Fund - a joint venture between Auckland business incubator The Icehouse and angel investment group Sparkbox Ventures - has completed fundraising and is now looking to invest in early-stage technology ventures targeting overseas markets.

Private investors have committed $2.3 million to the fund, which can be matched by an additional $2.3 million from the Government-backed New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF).

Global from Day One, managed by Sparkbox Ventures, aims to invest in 20 start-ups over the next four years.


Sparkbox chairman Andrew Duff said New Zealand had many creative businesspeople, but a big challenge was gaining access to export markets.

"Many ideas have traditionally struggled due to lack of initial investment, cash flow, experience and connections," Duff said. "Global from Day One will look to bridge this gap for companies which have an immediate international perspective and need support to achieve that."

He said the fund would focus on cloud-based technology, disruptive technologies, mobile and modern media, and IP-driven niche market products.

"These are all sectors where businesses can scale up quickly."

Sparkbox's Greg Sitters said the fund would primarily focus on helping entrepreneurs conduct market validation on their products, which could involve international travel to hot spots of the technology world like the Silicon Valley.

"In a lot of instances you can't get the right answers just through Google searches," Sitters said.

Ray Thomson, a veteran of the local innovation scene and chairman of the Angel Association, will head the fund's investment committee.

He said the fund would consider proposals from all over New Zealand.

"There is a pipeline of interesting investments and we are currently considering two which are highly likely to be funded shortly," Thomson said.

"Global from Day One will not make follow-on investments so opportunities will gravitate back to angel groups, VCs [venture capital] and other funders for follow-on investment rounds."

NZVIF chief executive Franceska Banga said the fund would introduce fresh capital into the sector following a "soft period" over the past year - especially in terms of new investments.

"Global from Day One will bring in capital specifically for initial investments, which will be welcome," she said.

"In a small economy like New Zealand it is important that we see angels collaborating to bring deals together and to increase the capital available for investment."