Village News – September 2021
Welcome to the September edition of our Village News. Aside from our usual news, we have some exciting announcements to make...
In this month's newsletter, we are excited to announce the newest addition to Hillfarrance Fund I and chat about some interesting VC/Startup news, trends, notable exits, funding, and some helpful resources that we think might be useful to you.
Portfolio Company Updates
We are incredibly excited to announce the newest addition to our portfolio - Mobli! Mobli provides the underpinning cloud infrastructure for any transport or mobility solution out there. Our Managing Partner, Rob first heard of Martin McMullan (Founder & CEO) two years ago back in the states, when Mobli's product was still in its infancy. Fast forward two years and we are proud to be part of Martin and Mobli's journey of making transport accessible to anyone and everyone.
Fresh off their oversubscribed $3.2 million capital raise, Yabble is looking to expand their team and grow into the largest research market in the world, The United States. In doing so, they are pleased to announce that they have appointed their first U.S. Manager, David Barad!
Most recently, Co-founder and CEO, Kathryn Topp was featured in the University of Canterbury's "Notable Alumni" series!
Compostic is staying true to their goal of reducing harmful single-use. Materials. We are excited to announce that they were featured as one of the best new products for 2021 in the Progressive Grocer List!
Portfolio Company Job Openings
We are pleased to announce the newest addition to our Hillfarrance Scout's, Diana Sharma!
Diana is an inspirational leader, Director and co-founder of Mission Ready, an innovative for-purpose enterprise. That is bridging the skills to employment gap in the technology sector through its unique tech career accelerators. She is the founder and director of Mission Impact Foundation and Mega Impact. As a relentless professional focused on ethical technology and the future of work aimed at making a positive impact in developing future kiwis as successful contributors here in Aotearoa and globally. Diana is a board representative of the Māori and Pasifika Training consortia. She was previously a board member of the Ako Hiko Education Trust, the COO of Launchspace Academy and prior, the General Manager of Partnerships and Alliances at Unitec Institute of Technology. Her experience ranges from operationalising start-ups and joint venture partnerships to establishing and creating new technology products and industry-led career transforming education services.
We are thrilled to have her on board!
Leading up to the end of the year, we will be hosting a few virtual fireside chats with some of our networks.
Andrew Pease - Senior Director of Growth at PayPal
Andrew has had a myriad of experiences in several organisations and startups.Most recently, he was the CFO for Happy returns, an e-commerce returns platform where he was an executive all the way up until their recent exit to Paypal.
Andrew was also a former CFO at Brighter (acquired by CIGNA) and Telescope as well as a former VP of Finance and Planning at Disney Interactive.
Matt Kozlov - Managing Director at Techstars LA
Matt is the Managing Director of Techstars LA, one of the top venture accelerators in the country. Previously, he was the founding Managing Director of the Techstars Space Accelerator in partnership with the US Air Force, JPL NASA, Lockheed Martin, SAIC, Maxar Technologies and Israel Aerospace Industries North America.
Prior to that, he was the founding Managing Director of The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator in Partnership with Techstars which to date has helped 28 rapidly growing healthcare tech companies commercialize and raise capital. Graduates include Tasso Inc., AppliedVR, Deep6 AI, Well Health, NarrativeDX (acquired by Press Ganey), Silversheet (acquired by AMN Healthcare), and Enso (acquired by Hinge). RSVP Here
Martin McMullan - Founder & CEO of Mobli
Martin is the Founder and CEO of Mobli, a cloud solution that serves as the underpinning infrastructure for all forms of mobility and transport, rewards, and payments. Mobli is also the newest addition to our portfolio!
Prior to starting Mobli, Martin was previously the Director of Connected Journeys at Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency) and has built an extensive knowledge of both forms of private and public transport. RSVP Here
Brian Rowe - Senior Director of Games & NFTs at Brave Software
Brian is the Senior Director of Games & NFT at Brave Software where he oversees Brave's Global Gaming & NFT initiatives, working closely with blockchain and traditional Gaming / NFT studios in LA, SF and APAC.
Prior to his work at Brave, he was a former Business development executive at Gameloft, one of the largest video developers and publishers in the world, Youtube and Lionsgate. Brian contributed to global marketing launches including The Hunger Games, FIFA, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Paranormal Activity, American Horror Story, Asphalt 9 and the Saw franchise. RSVP Here
Supporting the ecosystem
This is a new little section of our newsletters where we will sometimes highlight and support some cool stuff happening in our wider ecosystem!
Our good friend, Hazel Heal from Global Health NZ (GHNZ) is trying to cure a country. Viral Hepatitis is an ongoing issue in the world and the elimination of it is one of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. Cure-a-country is a Non-profit organisation aiming to tackle and eliminate Viral Hepatitis in the Pacific.
After a massive positive response via our socials, we are currently in the midst of creating a Fantasy Venture Capital template for anyone who is interested to learn more about what we do as a venture fund, but also how to assess start-ups and build your own "portfolio".
This will include a blog article containing:
An Airtable database template that comes with instructions on the blog
An investment memo template for you to draft up your own research and thoughts into start-ups from an objective lens
We will be posting this blog & resource on our new Discord Server so be sure to join in!
Podcast of the month
Venture Unlocked is both a newsletter and podcast playbook, assisting aspiring investors with the information and tools necessary to drive smart, diverse, and informed capital to entrepreneurs.
Book of the month
Behind every success is an unfair advantage. This book is a good reflection on what we look for as a Venture Fund - an unfair advantage against competitors.
Startup/VC news & trends
In 2021 alone, investment into the quantum computing space has grown significantly with investment tripling that of past years. A report by Pitchbook outlines why investors are so excited for this space and what trends are likely to appear in the future. We, of course, are also looking for these breakthroughs in our investment thesis as well.
Rising from the creator economy, having a software stack that one can personally manage their life and career with is incredibly important for productivity and efficiency. We’ve seen many software stacks that people use to manage their life (our favourite right now is Airtable). A16z predicts that much of your traditional organisational departments will be replaced with these so-called software stacks. It will be interesting to see how the future of work will be affected by this trend.
The gamification and engagement that games bring us have always been compelling and entertaining. As games excel to becoming mainstream in society, we hold a conviction that social games will be at the forefront of much of what we do on a day-to-day basis. This article by BVP shows just that.
"As consumer-oriented companies come to realize the power of game mechanisms to drive engagement in a world of constant stimulation, we are seeing the acceleration in the number of online experiences that look and feel like games."
As a fund, we have been primarily investors in machine learning and big data-driven startups. One thing that we see that lacks from many AI-centric pitches that we come across is security. Adversarial attacks is a key threat in machine learning models with the most common being attacks to machine learning image classification. Moreso than this, are some of the more precarious attacks to sectors such as healthcare and finance that use machine learning - adversarial attacks on these could lead to detrimental effects to the model creator, and ultimately, the user. This article gives you a guide on how to understand and mitigate these ML-specific security issues.
So, you’re a SaaS Cloud-based startup looking to grow operationally and efficiently all the way up to $100m revenue? How do you do this? What are the metrics that you will need to hone in on? This Benchmark report should give you the answers that you seek.
For those that want a quick rundown, here are the key takeaways:
Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) should be your north star metric
Widen your gross margins by optimising your operating expenses e.g. R&D, Sales and marketing and admin.
Back to ARR, this dictates how much you are worth. The more predictable revenue you have, the higher the round sizes and less dilution for you.
Have a plan or roadmap drafted out to plot your key milestones and progress.
As Netflix founder has said previously, Netflix's competition is not other film studios, but Fortnite...
Netflix is now making that expansion into the gaming market with a push to Europe to release its mobile games IP. As gaming becomes more mainstream, large companies will also begin to innovate in this space. That brings us to another point,
If you are a company developing next-generation, innovative games, we'd love to speak with you at firstname.lastname@example.org.