$4.6m fund to help NZ firms 'conquer the world'

19:00, Sep 18 2012

A new $4.6 million investment fund is aiming to take Kiwi mobile, media and technology start-up companies to the world.

The likes of Groupon and Facebook have become global success stories thanks to technology-based business models that know no geographical bounds.

Theoretically there should be no impediment to growing a similarly world-beating technology company from New Zealand, apart from money.

The ambitious new mission to provide that much-needed seed capital for about 20 Kiwi companies over the next four years is all there in the name - the Global from Day One Fund.

Backed by $2.3m of private angel investment and a matching $2.3m contribution from the government's New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, the fund will be managed by venture investment adviser SparkBox.

Nicknamed GD1, the fund's investment committee will include recently appointed Angel Association chairman and ICE Angels investor Ray Thomson, Angel HQ investor Marcel Van Den Assum, M-Com software company co-founder Adam Clark, Sparkbox's Greg Sitters and ICE Angels' Ken Erskine.

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Sitters said the fund would not be interested in investing in “anything that's less than an opportunity to conquer the world”.

The company could plan to achieve that through its own means or through building a regional niche and selling out to a global company, but it would need to be thinking big from the start, he said.

While all the money going into the fund, including $2.3m of taxpayer cash, was invested according to strong criteria and with step-by-step oversight, the portfolio would be risky.

“The particular area of the ecosystem that GD1 is going to invest in, it couldn't be any more risky - it's an idea that a young person has and talks about it around the kitchen table.

“But it's not handout money, it's not a grant. It's investing taxpayer money for a return profile.”

The Global from Day One Fund had already had about 50 inquiries about investment and a few deals were close to being inked, Sitters said.

The details were still confidential but one was in the “social media mobile space”, one was in clean technology with a strong market in dairy and petrochemical industries, and another was a device for the logistics marketplace, he said.

The fund expected to focus on areas of cloud-based technology, “disruptive” technologies, mobile and modern media, intellectual property-driven niche market products and business models.

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