New Zealand's angel investment community has banded together for the first time in a bid to boost its collective efforts and get more entrepreneurs investing in and mentoring start-up Kiwi businesses.
Yesterday the representatives of 15 angel investment groups from around the country met in Auckland to officially launch the Angel Association New Zealand.
Andrew Hamilton, the chief executive of Auckland University's business incubator group Icehouse and chairman of the new association, said the decision to form a national association had been driven by strong growth in the industry over the past few years and the desire to follow in the footsteps of America and Europe, where successful angel investment networks had already been established.
"Over the last five years in the US and Europe we have seen the formation of angel networks. In New Zealand university incubators led the way in helping start up companies in 2004 and 2005 - and we have got to a point where we now have a bit of scale. We have realised we can help each other more if we have a central vehicle."
The association's first step will be to focus on creating a strategy for the industry to help train local angel investors and increase the number of viable investment opportunities.
Last year around 50 start-up businesses received support from angel investors.
Hamilton said the association was hoping to increase the number to 250 per year within five years.
But to do so it needs to help more businesses become investment ready.
"At the moment there is an issue in that in the Auckland region there is a very low conversion rate of people who are looking for funding who are also investment ready. We have got to see that doubling."
Hamilton is also hoping the association will be able to assist New Zealand start-up businesses trying to break into off-shore markets by creating partnerships with other angel associations.
The association is also keen to promote the concept of being an angel investor.
Hamilton said angel investors needed to have time to help the business they wanted to invest in as well as expertise in a specialised area.
They also have to be prepared to put some of their investment portfolio at risk. The association has the backing of the Auckland regional development agency AucklandPlus as well as the New Zealand Venture Capital Association.
It plans to meet quarterly and will hold its first national conference on November 5 in Auckland.