The 3rd Angel Investor Summit was held in Nelson two weeks ago. The key themes for this years summit – apart from sampling the outstanding local cuisine – were:

  • Building global businesses from NZ; and
  • Exit – getting out of the business of being stuckholders

We had an excellent range of domestic and international speakers with representatives from China, India, Australia and the United States. The local crew in the form of Rod Drury (Xero) and Derek Handley (Hyperfactory) provided excellent insights into their globalisation and exit experiences; and Scott Gilmour (I have a dream) and Sam Morgan provided the evenings inspiration by sharing their experiences with philanthropy.
For me, the key takeaways from the conference were:

  • The upbeat feeling and camaraderie developing between Angel investors not just up and down the county but also with our international colleagues. There is a huge opportunity to build on this and leverage these deepening networks to help take New Zealand businesses to the next level on the global stage.
  • The tight collaboration occurring between Angel groups up and down New Zealand.  The level of cooperation is partly in response to the lack of venture funding in New Zealand, but enables us to more effectively leverage the small pockets of experience we have in NZ.
  • Our unique global position. I describe this as “we’re a village but on a global stage we’re highly respected and get country credibility”. Practically this means we have extraordinary access to global influencers and when we work closely with the NZ government on the international stage – stuff happens. In NZ we’re all only 2 or 3 degrees separated from the Prime Minister or the NZ Ambassador in the US or the NZ Ambassador in China…in what other country in the world could you build a global business with this level of access?
  • The gradual shift in the risk / return profile Angels are seeking.  Historically Angels, largely lead by thinking from the US, have been following a 30 times return, 1 in 10 investment profile.  Basically we’ve sought to build a portfolio of investments where one would “shoot the lights out”, a couple would “do OK” and we’d “lose on the rest”.  With the massive contracting occurring in Venture Capital world-wide Angels / Private investors are being required to invest deeper and longer.  The response we’re seeing to this is a shift to the centre – a focus on smaller returns but lower risk.  This thinking is being lead by Basil Peters and supported by his experience and research published in his book called Early Exits.  I encourage all of you to read this book.

Interestingly, I think that this conference is starting to get so good now that the international networking achieved at the NZ conference is just as powerful as what I managed to achieve in the US and Singapore conferences earlier in the year.  On a further note i’m aware of at least two deals that were struck between investors at the conference and the seeds sewn for a new angel group.

Arch Angel Award

We also announced this years recipient of the NZ Arch Angel award – Bill Payne. Oddly for this award Bill is an American, so what were doing given this award to Bill? Simply put Bill has been helping the development of the NZ Angel scene extensively over that last 3 or more years. His contribution culminated in this years extended stay where he had a dramatic impact on raising the profile of angel investment, assisting angels groups and providing one on one mentoring to a huge number of NZ entrepreneurs. Thanks to Bill and we look forward to seeing him out again next year.