Village News – August 2022

Alex Dam

As promised, we have some exciting news to share in this issue! We’re hiring for a new Investment Associate, we’ve funded some pretty awesome companies, and we’ve got some awesome news to share from our portfolio! Read more below.

Portfolio company updates

Welcome Floating Rock Studio!

At Hillfarrance, we have a considerable conviction in the talent coming from the New Zealand visual effects & animation industry, which is regarded as one of the finest in the world.

We have been searching long and hard for over two years to identify a team with a vision that exceeds our wildest dreams. Our efforts paid off when Zsombor Pirok, Co-founder & CEO of Space Rock Games (Hillfarrance portfolio company), referred us to the founders of Floating Rock Studio. 

The founders represent the highest echelon of talent at Weta Digital (recently acquired by Unity for US$1.625bn), where they created some of the most memorable scenes in modern cinema. This team is truly world-class, from creating Thanos’ entrance in Avengers: Infinity War to crafting Caesar’s remarkably life-like facial expressions in the Planet of the Apes trilogy. 

We dove in head first when we heard that they had left their former roles to build a next-generation VFX studio, focusing on a cloud-based model and working extensively in the gaming sector first. The cherry on top was that they have already achieved a seven-figure revenue run rate without raising a cent of capital. Rare attributes indeed that led to us leading a $1.5m pre-seed round with a bunch of co-investment from our awesome LPs.

To close out this little ode to the next wave of VFX excellence, please join us in welcoming LukasStephanieGarrickLaurent and the rest of the team at Floating Rock to the Hillfarrance Village!

Thank you to Phil Taylor and Joseph Bracewell at Tompkins Wake for executing the investment for us.

Hashbane Interactive πŸ¦–

We are excited to announce that we are increasing our investment into Hashbane Interactive by an additional $1.5m, bringing our total investment to $2m. We believe this is the largest ever investment from an NZ-domiciled early-stage venture fund into an NZ gaming studio.

The round is being used to continue our Titanosaur-size growth metrics and bring some absolute gaming rockstars to Aotearoa, New Zealand:

πŸ‰ Sanjay Singh has recently joined us as our Lead Artist. He previously worked on Apple’s Prehistoric Planet and designed everyone’s favourite dragons from HBO’s Game of Thrones/House of the Dragon. You can check out his reel here:

🏰 Cameron Suey joins our newly expanding Narrative Team. He was formerly a narrative designer and writer for several of the recent Tomb Raider games, Marvel’s Avengers and the awesome Star Wars: Force Unleashed.

πŸ‘‹πŸΌ We will have another bunch of other roles that we will start actively hiring for in the coming weeks…

Mobli 🚎

The platform that mobility is built on


Safe Rides and Mobli are two innovative New Zealand companies partnering in a new venture to create fare equality and more transport options for people with different physical requirements.

Safe Rides aims to create an app to ensure rideshare services are available for people with disabilities, but the development cost is steep, and they have been searching for some technical support. A chance conversation earlier this year with Mieszko Iwaskow, Chief Strategy Officer of tech enabler Mobli, has led to a partnership between the two companies.

As a refresher, Mobli provides the underpinning cloud infrastructure for anyone to build a mobility & transport function or business. Their current products are:

  1. Mobli Command – The all-in-one portal to set up and manage business operations, fleet, staff and riders.
  2. Mobli Pay – Everything you need to manage mobility payments, tickets, and rider rewards.
  3. Mobli Go – engage your staff, drivers and riders through customisable mobile apps.
  4. Mobli Insight – Visualisations and data to help you make informed business decisions.

Scannable πŸ§—β€β™‚οΈ

The world’s first safety data supply chain

NFC Tags: What tags should I choose, and how do I apply them?
NFC Tags: What tags should I choose, and how do I apply them?

Along with creating the first global safety equipment dataset in the world and making it easier for equipment owners to scan, search and save equipment to their devices, Scannable also have a growing range of NFC tags.

Near Field Communication (NFC) tags are a fairly new global standard in safety equipment ownership. NFC technology reads tags at a close range. You need to be able to get your phone’s NFC reader pretty close to the tag, so think about that placement-wise.

Nick Creech, Scannable’s resident Business Development Manager, takes the mystery out of our NFC tag range in our new blog, showing you which tags are best for different types of equipment, where to put them, and how to attach them.

Bolster β›“

Bolster is the Shopify for Enterprise data and allows operators to find the data they want, when they want, on any device they want.

Bolster Trailer

With a fresh suite of ready-to-integrate products, Bolster has made huge leaps since their pre-seed round. They’ve focused their core SMAQstack technology on creating three core products:


SMAQdash is your first port of call for keeping up to date on how your shipments are tracking. Their overarching dashboards make it easy for anyone across a business to see what’s on track & what might need a deeper look.

Their Ships & Ports SMAQdashes will go live when you do! Working Capital & ESG won’t be too far behind. Reach out to them for a sneak peek.


We know different roles in a business have varying contexts & granularity needs. With SMAQlens, you can look at what’s important to you without scrolling through pages of graphs & tables. You can also dive deeper into various sources of data that power SMAQdash. You can even set up alerts to have real-time updates where you need them.


SMAQlibrary is Bolster’s growing source of open data integrations of publicly accessible data that they have “SMAQified” so you can make the most of them. You can browse the data that’s available & find out more about its source, meaning & applications. Everything in the SMAQlibrary is available through SMAQlens. Apply filters that make sense to your unique situation. A decision is just a click (or notification) away.

Yabble πŸ€–

Revolutionizing the world of insights with game-changing AI products

Yabble Showcase

Big thanks to Icehouse Ventures for having our Co-Founder Rachel O’Shea as a presenter at their 12th Annual Investment Showcase! They’re proud to be amongst the incredible caliber of entrepreneurs coming out of New Zealand and to be able to chat about Yabble with such a passionate audience.

Yabble can now multi-file upload! You can now upload multiple files in one project within the Yabble platform. This makes it even simpler to leverage more of your valuable data with Hey Yabble Count and Query, and it also helps customers:

πŸš€ easily observe and analyze studies over time.
πŸš€ make great use of our trended data feature to see how responses change from month to month, quarter to quarter, or year to year.
πŸš€ feed their businesses with rich, accurate insights.

If you’re not a Yabble customer and would like to learn more about our revolutionary AI-powered insights tools, book a personalized demo at the link below.

Space Rock Games πŸͺ¨

From left to right: James Monk, Simone Giovanardi, Kieran Dunn, Ilia Tan, Vanessa Pirok & Zsombi Pirok

As a remote-first team, the Space Rock team finally managed to snag a group photo (6 out of 11) of themselves at the NZ Game Developer’s Conference, which Alex from Hillfarrance also attended. It was a great conference, with many productive conversations.

In-game WIP of one of the swamp levels within their game, “Criminals Within”

New team member alert!

The Space Rock team have also welcomed Caroline Jeffries to their stellar team as a Senior Technical Artist! Caroline has over 20 years of experience in game development, having worked for many world-class game studios, such as Lionhead, EA Games and Supermassive Games. Her gaming portfolio includes titles such as Fable 1&2 (which Criminals Within was inspired by), Black & White 2, Harry Potter: Order of Phoenix, The Movies and many other games.

Compostic 🌱

Compostic Compostin’

It’s great to see the great relationship between Compostic and @wecompost bins by @greengorillanz! Compostic can decompose in any of these bins in months instead of years like other alternatives.

New Packaging Alert

Compostic made the decision to switch up their compostable bag packaging and have a larger front so that Compostic really πŸ’₯popsπŸ’₯ on the supermarket shelf – hopefully drawing more people to see them before pesky plastic bags πŸ™ˆ & make the switch to plastic-free!

Upcoming portfolio updates…


Aside from all these updates this month from our portfolio, we are also leading a number of up-rounds in the coming months. More information on this will be revealed in our next Village News, so stay tuned.

We’re hiring an Investment Associate

Would you like to kickstart a career in venture capital? We are looking for an Associate to join our team with an immediate start. We are delighted to work with Greg Denton at to complete this search. A bit of backstory, but this was also how I came to be at Hillfarrance!

Here are a few things we can promise you:

😴 You will not be stuck just doing spreadsheets. We want to grow you into the GP of the future and that means getting involved in everything!

πŸ” You will be intellectually challenged every day – we hope you like a challenge.

πŸ¦„ We do things a little differently from most of NZ VC. We like to innovate and challenge the status quo.

❀️ We look after our team and support your need to go on exciting trips and to spend time with your family.

If you are interested, please apply below. Out of fairness to those who do follow the Matchstiq process, we won’t be responding to DMs from candidates.

Portfolio company job openings

Yabble is on the hunt for:

Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Mobli is on the hunt for:

Auckland, New Zealand

Partly is on the hunt for:

Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand

United Kingdom

Hashbane Interactive is on the hunt for:

Auckland-based or Remote-based

Segna is on the hunt for:

Auckland-based or Remote-based

Upcoming Events

Founder Funder Journey ft. Scannable & Hillfarrance

Join a casual evening with founders Rob Stirling & Gene Dower from Scannable and our very own Rob Vickery.

Hear Rob & Gene’s experience with the growth of Scannable, raising capital from their lead investor, Hillfarrance, and general lessons from both the founder and funder perspective. 


The role of a Fiduciary in startupville

We hear the term “fiduciary” used a lot in more traditional forms of finance but rarely in startup venture capital. Preferring to call it Guardianship, we believe we have a great deal of responsibility to all of our stakeholders:

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘¦β€πŸ‘¦ Our investors and our portfolio company founders
πŸ“ˆ The overall startup market
🌏 Our planet.

Here is a bit of a distillation of a personal piece I recently published in our Q2 investor update on the topic.

How VCs get measured

Understanding what ultimately matters and how VCs think of success is helpful. Below is a great resource on how VCs get measured, the metrics that we’re beholden to and expectations of us as a business from our investors (LPs).

Read of the month

The power of now

Being completely and utterly present is sometimes incredibly difficult, especially as a founder. This book is a great self-help guide for those wanting to get out of their own heads. The book has three core tips:

  1. Free yourself from your mind.
  2. Focus on the now.
  3. Tap into your inner body & self-healing.

Pic of the month

Sir Ian Taylor’s cool mug

I thought to change it up a bit this month since the podcasts are running a bit dry. So, here’s a unique month where we did a picture instead.

This is Sir Ian Taylor, Founder of Animation Research and his “Total F*cking Legend” mug, which he didn’t even realise he was using on zoom!

Startup News & Trends

200% Net Dollar Retention and how to get there

Tomasz Tunguz is the Managing Director of Redpoint Ventures, an incredibly well-known VC. In this recent blog of his, he chats about net dollar retention (NDR).

NDR is a metric that measures how much your annual recurring revenue or monthly recurring revenue (MRR) has grown or shrunk over time by factoring in customer expansion as well as negative churn and downgrades.

In this blog, Tomasz delves into what it takes to achieve 200% NDR.

Pre-seed valuation trends

Hustle Fund, a widely recognised VC fund based in The US, received over 4k pre-seed pitches in the past year. They decided to extract some data out of these pitches and identified a few trends:

  1. Valuations have trended lower in Q2.
  2. Valuation ranges narrowed, especially for those in the higher valuation ranges.
  3. Valuations for low MRR startups decreased.

Framework for navigating down markets

The Future is the content arm of Andreessen Horowitz. They recently published an article to give founders a framework for navigating this downmarket. The advice seems to be universal across all VCs and their portfolio right now:

  1. Reevaluate your valuation
  2. Lower your burn multiple (Burn to revenue ratio)
  3. Scenario planning. Plan for Base, worst & Best case scenarios.

Crunchbase’s Q2 Funding report

Crunchbase has released a Q2 2022 report on the state of the Global funding landscape. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Seed funding and seed-stage startups remain strong.
  • Late-stage was most impacted by the downmarket as it’s much closer to public market fluctuations.
  • Overall, funding for early-stage and above saw slowdowns.

Notable start-up exits


Global seed funding

Aotearoa funding

Want to get in touch about your startup? Reach out to us at