Why We Love New Zealand Investors

Investors are vital to startups. They provide the capital startups need to fund company growth. In the GAN, 79% of the companies our accelerators have supported are still in business today mainly because of the funding from local investors with the average investment being around $790K.

As I travel around the world to visit our accelerator members, it’s interesting to see the dynamic between startups and investors. For good or bad, most of the time there is a clear delineation between startups and investors. The investor is in a sports coat, the entrepreneur in jeans, and neither are speaking to one another – unless the investor makes the first move. While this seems to be the norm, this past week I visited the Lightning Lab accelerator in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand and was blown away by how their investors support startups in three ways in particular:

1) All local investors are not just present but committed.

At the Lightning Lab demo day in Auckland, NZ the room was filled with almost every angel investor on the North Island and many from the South Island. It was impressive how many investors “flew up for the day” from Wellington to Auckland to see the demo day. They weren’t there solely for the companies – they were there because they realize that in order for an ecosystem to work (even a fairly small one), all investors within the community need to show their support of these events. To grow an entrepreneurial environment the local community needs to not only accept but also support its entrepreneurs. The first step of showcasing viability of startup growth in an area is proving the investment interest is there. And that’s exactly what is happening in New Zealand.

2) Investors are actually investing and in creative ways.

This was one of the first demo days I’ve seen with an “investor card” where investors can commit to which companies they want to invest and select how much to invest while at the event. I heard that every company had interest from investors in the room. Also at the demo day the angel community launched a syndicate solely for demo day – which was driven by the investors in the community (not the accelerator).

3) Entrepreneurs and investors really do like each other.

I was thrilled to see that during the demo day after party, a third of the room were startups, a third were community members and a third were investors. Yes, investors stayed (some until 2am) to spend time with all of the companies because they not only liked the startup’s business plan but also enjoyed building personal relationships with the entrepreneurs. On top of it, the investors and startups did not sit in opposite corners – they were mingling with everyone and the investors were helping the entrepreneurs make connections.

I want to wrap up by saying congrats to the Lightning Lab management team and their startups for an all-out amazing demo day. And at the same time, congrats to the Lightning Lab investors for being some of the most humble, smart and giving investors in the global startup scene.