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New Zealand’s evolving venture ecosystem

Icehouse Ventures started investing in New Zealand startups in 2003 and recently completed their 250th investment. Robbie Paul, CEO of Icehouse Venture shares with us their five key observations from their portfolio about New Zealand’s evolving venture ecosystem.

1. Talent is being recycled en masse – and this is a really good thing. From junior developer roles to board chairs, Kiwi startups can increasingly find individuals who have relevant and recent start-up experience. First AML is a great example: many of their team have worked at other startups like Xero or Pushpay and they are fortunate to have Chris Heaslip (the Pushpay founder) as a Director and investor.

2. Young Founders are delivering

When we looked at our portfolio, companies led by founders under 30 had delivered 100-300% higher multiples than any other decade. While Crimson Education is an exceptional example (80x), the overperformance is visible by many others including Spalk, Halter, Sharesies, Dawn Aerospace, and Ethique.

3. Many more of the companies we are funding today have missions beyond simply making money.

Examples include Mint Innovation (using micro-organisms to extra precious metals from e-waste) or Nilo (converting waste plastic into a water-based resin). Our attraction to companies like these is that they can often attract superior talent and investors to their business as a result of having a mission that has more depth and offers more meaning.

4. The playing field is being levelled in favour of Kiwi startups.

Kiwis no longer need to get on a plane to raise capital from overseas investors. We have seen several significant rounds take place over Zoom including Narrative, an AI photography startup we funded alongside Founders Fund. The same can be said about securing large customers overseas. It used to be taboo to not show up in person. This cultural shift disproportionately benefits Kiwi startups.

5. There are more ways than ever for investors to access venture capital.

Prior to 2020, you could count on two hands the number of fund options investors had access to in the previous two decades. Choices were limited and the funds were largely undifferentiated. Today, investors can invest in impact funds, early-stage funds, deep tech funds, and funds focussed on female leadership and founders under 30. This variety is creating more data, comparables, and insights – and this is developing venture capital into an asset class that investors are increasingly inclined to participate in.

About Icehouse Ventures

Icehouse Ventures is New Zealand’s most active venture fund. We have invested >$200m into 260 companies including Dawn Aerospace, Halter, Sharesies, PowerbyProxi, Crimson Education, Ethique, and First AML. Most recently, Icehouse Ventures launched a growth fund, “IVX”, which leverages our unique insights, relationships, and pre-emptive rights to access the most sought after emerging tech companies.

Read more here or feel free to review this recorded presentation

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