Trade Me founder invests $1 million into Christchurch search company

Sam Morgan has put $1 million behind Christchurch technology company SLI Systems, which provides cloud-based search tools for large online retailers. 

The vast majority of SLI's clients are overseas, and include Harrods, Interflora, and Hard Rock Cafe. In New Zealand, Mitre 10 and The Warehouse use SLI's platform to power searches on their websites. 

“Online sales are such an important segment for all retailers now and SLI simply helps customers find things and buy them more easily,” says Morgan.  

“I’m excited to be involved with SLI and see a bright future for them.” 

According to SLI, Morgan signed off on the deal late in December after discussing the investment with CEO and co-founder Shaun Ryan, earlier in the year. But this wasn't the first time Morgan was approached by SLI for investment, says Ryan.

"We approached Sam for investment five or six years ago, but he passed up on the offer," he says.

Morgan's change of mind might have something to do with SLI's rapid growth in the last few years. SLI says its revenue has increased on average by 30 percent year on year since 2005. In 2010, the company reported revenues of $10 million, and Ryan says SLI raked in $17 million last year. The business now employs 100 staff.

The new capital will be used to accelerate the company's growth faster than what it's currently achieving organically, says Ryan. Up to this point, SLI was mostly bootstrapped by Ryan and his co-founders Wayne Munro, and Geoff Brash. 

"The $1 million investment announced today is almost the same amount invested into the company in the last 10 years," says Ryan.

The future for SLI is in expansion into Asia and South America, and Ryan says Brazil is a particular focus.