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Flying Kiwis Angels crank up lean investment machine

The Flying Kiwis Angels partnership numbers just 12 investors and won’t get bigger than 40, but it hopes to have a big impact on early stage funding.

The group wants to work actively with entrepreneurs from an early stage and speed up the due diligence process, says angel Rudi Bublitz.

“We formed to do things a little bit differently from other angel groups. We’re trying to be a lot more focused and active. The fund’s investment is fixed at $100,000 for each deal, with individual angels co-investing further funds at their discretion. Deals will normally qualify for New Zealand Venture Investment Fund money under its SCIF programme up to $250,000 per deal, it says. Flying Kiwis Angels hopes to become an accredited co-investment partner. 

“Even after the deals and before [entrepreneurs] pitch we work with them and do due diligence. We can go faster than a big [angel] group. It’s about sharing the work and not getting pushed into metrics the larger groups would with dollars and how many they’ve invested in. It doesn’t have to be a big number or a big amount. It’s about the connection with the entrepreneur. The closer we work with them, the better the relationship is.”

The group has held two pitch nights and shared the videos with members to decide whether to do due diligence. It doesn’t have a specific brief or objective, but might do five deals per year, Bublitz says.

He adds most will be ICT companies in their early stages. It also runs an ‘angelic drop in’ at the Biz Dojo each week for entrepreneurs to get strategic advice.

“What’s really important is startups don’t spend a lot of time going around all the groups and trying to get to due diligence level. If that can be done quickly they can then go around the other groups for syndication rather than competing at the early stages.”

He describes the partnership as ‘lone wolf angels’ coming together and has noticed a trend away from investment among formal angel groups. “In the last year a lot of stuff is individuals working together and outside the formal angel groups because the structures and processes sometimes don’t suit people,” he says.

The angels include all but a few who have previously worked with the Ice Angels network. Flying Kiwis Angels includes Claudia Wyss, CEO at Healthvision New Zealand, Cactuslab co-founder Karl von Randow, ShipNow CEO Health Milligan, Potentia managing director Josh Comrie and neuroscientist Enke Bashllari.

Ice Angels director Ken Erskine says activity outside formal investment group has always existed but is hard to measure. He adds Ice Angels has seen more investment year on year and “lots of investment activity that is in the sweet spot for our club”.

“The two groups (Flying Kiwis Angels and Ice Angels) are different in structure and approach. There’s a place for all. It’s down to the best fit with the entrepreneur and the opportunities as to which group offers the best value for the organisations.”

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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