Village News – June & July 2023
Welcome to the June & July 2023 recap of the Hillfarrance Village News!
We've been extra busy these last two months so we condensed our Village News together to give you all the updates! In this edition, we announce our soon-to-be General Partner, Andrew, our Future Play Mixer that we will be hosting in Wellington and our many portfolio updates.
Keep reading for more👇
What we've been up to
We're excited to announce that Andrew Leahy will be joining Hillfarrance Venture Capital as our soon-to-be General Partner! Andrew brings a ton of experience to the table, having co-founded Hawke Ventures and led two funds that raised $5 million and $25 million, respectively. We're stoked to have coming on board to lead the charge as we expand our portfolio of start-up technology culture investments around the world.
Andrew has an extensive network in the West Coast start-up, VC, and corporate community, and he will be sharing his expertise in sales and marketing with Kiwi companies. At Hawke Ventures, Andrew had deep experience investing in Marketing Tech, AdvertisementTech, e-Commerce enablement and B2B SaaS.
Prior to Hawke, Andrew was originally a serial entrepreneur. Having worked in several young startups in his youth, Andrew then went on to co-found a startup with his brother called SnapSuits (he even pitched Rob back in the day in LA!). This venture raised capital and hit $2m USD revenue before Andrew ultimately wanted to pursue other ventures. Andrew then worked for an entertainment and music-focused family office with more than 130 investments before he moved to Hawke.
With his experience in managing relatively large portfolios of companies, Andrew will be instrumental in building up our community vibe and promoting sales, case studies, and the exchange of supportive expertise between portfolio companies.
We're thrilled to have Andrew joining us and can't wait to see what we can accomplish together.
You can read the full interview between Andrew & National Business Review (NBR) below:Read more about Andrew Here
The Hillfarrance team is hosting our inaugural event for the Media, Content & Video Games Industry. We're calling it the "Future Play Mixer" and will be hosting it from 6 pm on the 31st of August, 2023, at Prefab Hall in Wellington. Since launching Hillfarrance in 2020, we have been huge supporters of the creative sector here in Aotearoa. From inception, we've invested in two game studios (more to be announced soon), one VFX and Animation Studio & one Game Technology Startup. The future will be no different as we double down on this conviction.
Future Play Mixer is an event for all to come and celebrate the industry we love so much, connect with new and old faces, and tell stories about what we've built and will continue to build here in Aotearoa, New Zealand. We'll also be hosting a kickass Fireside Chat with Charles Cecil of Revolution Software, a gaming industry legend!
NOTE: We are tentatively at capacity right now; however, we have spun up a waitlist to notify you when tickets become free.
Join the waitlist here.
Mid-June, we hosted our first networking event in awhile. This was an event to not only get our network together, but to also introduce Andrew to the world.
With over 150+ in attendance, our Huddle & Hustle event was a great success! Thank you to all of you who could make it and connect with new friends, old friends & meet Andrew.
Portfolio company updates
Octana's UI kit = your inbuilt design team. Enterprises building their Contentful sites can immediately grab-and-go building blocks that can be fully customized to “feel” like their brand in a snap.
Know any enterprise that want to revolutionise their content authoring experience on Headless Content Management Systems? Get in touch here.
A huge congratulations to Naut on securing $500,000 in funding from the EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) to support the development of our electric marine propulsion systems. Great work, Fiona Bycroft, Lindsay Faithfull and the rest of the awesome Naut team!
You can read the full press release here.
"So...... what exactly does Partly do?" Understandably, they get this question a lot, especially from people who don't have experience in the automotive industry. In this video, Partly take it back to basics and explain how our products contribute to our goal of making it easy for buyers to find the right parts.
Great explaining, Matt!
Partly Hosts Women In Tech!
In July, also hosted Women In Tech at their HQ in Christchurch. It's fair to say that it was a great event!
Scannable has just released Scannable Pro, an efficient PPE management platform for Teams. This is a premium, several-user-based product allowing teams to manage locations, kit bags, vehicles and themselves.
Scannable assembled their team in #Wanaka for their winter team days last week. A day on the mountain and an offsite day, looking at the Scannable vision and roadmap, and a session with Rob Vickery 'zoomed in' from Auckland. Building a startup in Wanaka/Queenstown comes with amazing benefits & some challenges.
We are absolutely in love with In Game Collectables' new website! Do you know a game studio or game title that you would like custom collectables for? Say, your own character from World of Warcraft or your favourite skin from League Of Legends? Send them to IGC to unlock new revenue sources they could not have before. See IGC's new website here: https://www.igc.studio/
Floating Rock's animator and resident Dinosaur nerd, Benjamin Mulot, created this video of their sleepy dinosaurs, which has garnered almost 4 million TikTok views!
Floating Rock has now moved into a way bigger office to accommodate all the massive headcount (and revenue) growth they are seeing. Check out the video above and some of the work that they are doing to the office.
See their shenanigans here.
Hashbane has also released their 2nd trailer and Early Access Teaser of their game, Instinction.
Hashbane has also done an awesome showcase of their amazing team from all over the world!
You can learn more about their team here.
Portfolio company career opportunities
Hollywood is on strike, and they are partially blaming it on artificial intelligence and its usage in the content creation process. We explore some of the current challenges and opportunities for actors, studios, audiences and AI platforms in this rapidly evolving space.
Read more here.
Read of the month
McKinsey recently published their "State of AI" report on Generative AI. Here are the headlines:
One-third of McKinsey Global Survey respondents reported utilizing generative AI tools in at least one business function.
Nearly 25% of C-suite executives admit they use gen AI products for work.
Over 25% of AI businesses' boards have put AI on their agendas.
Because of gen AI, 40% of respondents said their companies will invest more in AI.
Three-quarters of respondents expect gen AI will disrupt their industry's competition within three years.
Generative AI tools are mostly used in marketing, sales, product and service development, and service operations.
21% of AI adopters claim their companies have gen AI policies.
Gen AI's main risks include accuracy, cybersecurity, and IP infringement.
AI top achievers employ AI in product and service development, risk modeling, and HR more than others.
Some AI high performers suffer from strategic AI adoption, while others struggle with AI maturity.
The newest poll shows that AI-focused firms are hiring new employees.
In the last year, AI-using companies hired data engineers, machine learning engineers, and AI data scientists, but few hired AI-related software developers.
The 2023 McKinsey Global Survey on AI reported that hiring for AI-related professions has gotten easier over the past year.
Listen of the month
This Village News, we wanted to give a shoutout to the locally-bred Podcast, "We F*ckin Love Startups", Podcast hosted by Troy Hammond.
This podcast is all about interviewing and talking to people from the NZ startup ecosystem to hear their stories and how they have gotten to where they are.
Give them a listen here :)
Startup News & Trends
As part of our gaming thesis, we are proactively consuming as part knowledge on the gaming sector as possible. This report by Konvoy sums up what we are also seeing in the market. In summary:
The gaming market continues to increase in size
Gaming VC deal volume is down from last quarter
Gaming performance from Public players has increased
Trends we collectively see in the gaming industry are
An increased curiosity and use of Generative AI in game development
User-generated content being both a business model and a go-to-market strategy
The article discusses a potential breakthrough in the field of superconductors, specifically a new compound called LK-99, which could enable the fabrication of room-temperature, ambient-pressure superconductors. Superconductors are compounds that can conduct electricity without any losses, making them highly efficient for various applications, including computing, consumer electronics, quantum computing, and magnets.
The article highlights that LK-99 has been published by a Korean research team, and there are ongoing efforts by researchers around the world to validate its claims. Two separate sources have provided preliminary confirmations, including Chinese researchers who posted a video demonstrating the Meissner effect, which is a definitive sign of the material's superconducting capabilities.
However, there are some challenges in the replication and validation process due to complex descriptions in the original paper and the need for further refinements to increase the quantity of the superconducting material produced. Despite the uncertainties and drama surrounding this scientific discovery, if proven successful, LK-99 could have significant implications for various technologies and environmental sustainability. Nevertheless, further research and validations are required before definitive conclusions can be made about room-temperature, ambient-pressure superconductors.
Carta just released the Q2 2023 startup valuations they are seeing on their platform. The median Q2 2023 valuations for the Seed stage is $13.3m USD compared with a median of $15m USD in Q1 2022. Although startup valuations at the Seed stage are high, it's important to note that these are only the deals that are getting investment. All startups that are conducting down rounds or flat rounds are not necessarily counted in this data. What we could infer from this instead is that the very best companies raising capital are still trading lower than they were 2.5 years ago.
The AI hype cycle was a big hope that money would flow back into the system into venture-backed startups; however, according to research from Crunchbase, global venture funding for Q2 2023 is down 49% compared with the same quarter of the previous year.
Notable start-up exits
San Francisco, California
Infrastructure to train LLms
Bristol, United Kingdom
Processing platform for banks and financial services
Ísafjörður, Vestur-Isafjardarsysla, Iceland
Cellular Therapy Using Fish Skin
Global Seed Funding
Generative AI models
Led by Lightspeed Venture Partners
Palo Alto, California
Safety-focused Large Language Models
Led by General Catalyst
All-in-one security platform
Led by Prosus Ventures
FinTech platform for food procurement
Led by Spade Ventures
Insurance Premium Payments Software
$2.8 million Seed round
Co-led by GD1 & Icehouse Ventures
Better Packaging Co
$5 million Series A round
Led by Even Capital
Sustainable leather made from Fungi
$1 million Pre-seed round
Led by Sprout
Building something awesome? Let's get in touch.