Texas-based investor, author, consultant, and former tech executive Dr Rob Adams reckons the seed stage investment environment in New Zealand is well and truly alive and kicking, and believes that maturity is gradually extending further down the line.
"I'm really impressed with the seed stage investment environment there. There is a lot of money available from investors, a lot of government matching money available. It actually is extremely strong," he says.
"What I'm seeing is the next round – Series A, Series B – that kind of investment is available and getting more available over time."
But he says one thing New Zealand companies can and should be doing to boost their odds is market validation.
"My personal mission is to get every startup in New Zealand to do market validation. I think that would dramatically increase their likelihood of success."
Adams says this would likely produce greater return on initial investment and attract more capital in later funding rounds.
"That would have a dramatic impact on the country."
He says market validation is basically the process that's going to occur once a company launches a product, and it makes sense to put in the hard preparatory yards "before all the money's invested".
"What I have found over time is that market validation really helps prove whether you've got a good idea or not. It's been used very effectively here, and I've used it really effectively in my investment strategy. Market validation is the way to figure out if an opportunity is really worth pursuing – it increases the probable success of a company," he says.
"It's not easy, it's not glamorous – people always want to go hire more engineers and more products … and that's kind of the wrong way to think about it."
Adams touches down in New Zealand first thing next month as part of the Icehouse's International Entrepreneur in Residence Programme, and will be hosting both a market validation workshop and startup bootcamp in Auckland.
This marks his third visit to our shores, and he says he now has some established networks and contacts down under.
"It's like going back to a place you know," he says.
"I was there about six years ago when entrepreneurship was really getting started ... Last year things were well underway and I spent a lot of time on market validation and working with a lot of companies at different incubators around the country."
He'll be doing more of the same this time around – "propagating entrepreneurship" in New Zealand.
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