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25 things with Ben Kepes: Five ways to improve New Zealand's investment ecosystem

Ben Kepes is a technology analyst, commentator and consultant. His commentary has been widely published in such outlets as Forbes, Wired and The Guardian, while he has also been an investor in a large number of early-stage technology start-ups across three continents and has had successful exits to listed and privately held companies in Canada, the US, and the UK. He currently sits on the boards of a number of non-profit, privately held and listed companies in New Zealand and the UK and has won a number of accolades, including being a recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award in 2016. Here, he shares five ways to improve New Zealand's investment ecosystem. 

 Five ways to improve New Zealand’s investment ecosystem
 

  1. Sort out the power balance so entrepreneurs ­– those people who risk everything and put their lives on hold for their dream ­– don't feel their investors' time is more precious than theirs. Founders, you shouldn't need to wine and dine the people with money, if you do then something is wrong.
  2. Get realistic about what exit multiples (and start-up failure rates) look like. Nine out of ten start-ups fail and given the maturity of our ecosystem, investors should be happy with modest returns (four* is still a gazillion times better than the bank).
  3. Give up expecting Xero level returns from every start-up we see. See above, you make maybe one percent with your money on term deposit, sure investments in start-ups are risky but expecting 10* return across your portfolio is insane.
  4. Understand that start-ups take time, like years and years to an eventual conclusion. I know that buying your new Audi is important to you, but if you expect your investments to slot nicely into your car plans, think again.
  5. Ban wine and cheese from demo days – they should be about investors getting to know founders, not about who has the best contra deal with a wine company. Yeah, this one gets me hot under the collar.

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