A group of 18 New Zealand start-ups had the opportunity to pitch to some of Australia's leading venture capitalists last week.

The party of 32 venture capitalists from Australia and Shanghai were one of the largest group's of investors to come to New Zealand, representing more than $2 billion in funds under management.

The event was run by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE).

AWS head of start up ecosystem in New Zealand and Australia Ian Gardiner, who organised the event, said there had been a lot of interest in Kiwi start-ups in recent years.


"There is a lot of activity here and historically a lot of investment; [previously] AirTree invested in 90 seconds, Reinventure in Auror, Bailador in Straker Translations," Gardiner said.

"There's half a dozen Australian VCs that have invested in Kiwi companies already plus the overseas ones, the likes of Sequoia and people like Peter Thiel, there is a lot of interest from overseas with what's going on here."

Companies such as Xero, which has received international funding from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and 8i, which attracted support from actor and tech investor Ashton Kutcher, had also helped boost the international exposure of New Zealand, he said.

More than 100 start-ups applied to join the pitching session with AWS and NZTE choosing 18 that it considered were at a good stage for investment.

The Kiwi companies pitching included an online payment company, crime prevention software business and a hair and beauty services app.

"The bar to be accepted was incredibly high," Gardiner said. "These guys are beyond good. So the start-ups we did pick were hands down the best we've seen."

Each company had five minutes to share their pitch followed by five minutes for questions.

A survey of the VC group following the presentations in Auckland and Wellington showed 80 per cent said they were likely to invest in one or more of the companies as a result of the trip.


Gardiner said in the last three or four years, Australia's VC sector had exploded, going from two or three funds managing $300m to $400m, to about 20 to 25 managing more than $2.5b - a lot of whom were on the trip.

"It's really the first time a group like that has been brought together and I thought New Zealand was the perfect opportunity for this because our venture system is growing the way Australia's did a few years ago so it's pretty exciting to see that and it's a great opportunity," Gardiner said.

"I think we're going to see more activity in the venture space as a result of this," he said.

"More deals, more activity and we'll see the ecosystem be more successful as a result of the group coming here."