Investing In Southland 101

A good turnout of Southland emerging businesses and potential investors assembled on Thursday to take part in a Funding for Growth Investment workshop, jointly hosted by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Invest South.

The event at Transport World included a panel of investors and founders including Scott Mason (Findex), Prue Halstead (Invest South), Bridget Unsworth (NZVIF), Chris Chapman (NZ Export Credit Office), Neil McAra (Findex) and Greg Fahey (Bison Group).

More than 40 Southlanders gathered to learn how an injection of capital can help achieve their growth aspirations. Invest South Chief Executive Prue Halstead was impressed with the turnout.

“This workshop was the beginning of an important conversation Southland needs to be having about investment,” she said.

“We’re asking our small businesses to take an active role in creating jobs for the 10,000 new people we’re aiming to attract to Southland by 2025, but they can’t do it without support.”

Halstead said the region was awash with capital, and now with the establishment of COIN South, Southland’s new angel investment network, there was an opportunity for founders to get the growth injection they need to succeed.

COIN South aims to match Southland investors with Southland businesses with high-growth potential. Aligning investor values with those of the founder was a hot discussion.

Scott Mason urged founders in Southland to look beyond the chequebook and ask how else potential angels could help the business. What do they stand for? Who can they introduce you to? What skills do they have? He suggested the people you want buying into your company are the ones already connecting you with people they know who can help you succeed.

“Not all angel investors are created equal,” he said. “Money is money, but you want smart money.”

Communication was the underlying theme of the evening. “There should be no surprises,” said NZVIF Investment Director, Bridget Unsworth. The panel shared war stories of what can go wrong with a lack of communication.

Unsworth encouraged businesses to be transparent and keep investors in the loop, explaining how the adage “no news is good news” doesn’t apply with investors.

“You don’t know how your board can help,” she said.

Neil McAra of Findex Invercargill, recommended Southlanders consider putting an advisory board framework in place early and getting into the habit of communicating with shareholders.

Greg Fahey, founder of Bison Group Limited did this. He said from day one, it was important for his company to “behave like the company they wanted to be.”

Potential investors will have the opportunity to learn more about the mechanics of angel investment in an upcoming Angel 101 workshop run by COIN South and Angel Association New Zealand. Register for the event at coinsouth.nz

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