From Small Seeds…

New Zealand Growth Capital Partners analysts Maria Jose (MJ) Alvarez and Byron van Vugt dropped by ThincLab during a flying visit to Christchurch. The pair have been out and about meeting early stage founders and talking about their role within the innovation ecosystem as seed co-investors.

They are part of the young and talented team that form the new face of the government backed fund that was previously known as NZVIF. Growth Capital Partners operates the Elevate venture fund and the Aspire seed co-investment fund. Elevate is a $300M funder of funds that reinvests into other venture capital funds across the New Zealand market. Aspire is a seed fund that invests directly into early stage companies along with other investors. The government has recently lifted the capital available to $20M annually.

Previously under NZVIF, investments were only made into the angel groups’ pipeline. MJ explained how under their new model the fund sits alongside other investors of all kinds. A typical seed round was around $1.5M to $2.0M, she said. The venture fund isn’t just about investing cash. The organisation was also driven by developing regional investment ecosystems, educating founders and giving out lots of advice, said Byron van Vugt. They liked to meet founders early and get across what was happening in the startup community. Software and deep tech were a big focus, but agritech was rapidly heating up, he said.

The pair had some sage advice for founders. Get your data room in order before hitting up investors and engage with industry partners early to get validation, they outlined. Having a solid product roadmap and intellectual property strategy was also essential to getting a favourable hearing from investors.

ThincLab at the University of Canterbury Business School offers the Pace Programme and Growth Programme to assist early stage founders prepare for capital raising. Enquire here: