Village News – March 2022

Alex Dam

Hillfarrance is two! In this edition of our Village News, we announce the second addition of gaming studios to be a part of our Hillfarrance Fund I, share a recap of what our portfolio has been up to in March and offer resources from what our team has been reading/watching/listening.



A thank you from Rob Vickery – Hillfarrance turns 2

Hillfarrance Venture Capital officially turned two this March! Two years have passed since Rob, our Founder and Managing Partner, signed Hillfarrance into existence and it has been a great journey so far with many more years to come. Having the privilege to have invested in fifteen amazing companies so far, we are humbled that our founders have taken us along the ride with them.


Portfolio company updates

Welcoming our second gaming studio – Hashbane Interactive 🕹

Hashbane Interactive is on a mission to bring back the Dinosaur genre in video gaming with their first major title, Instinction, a first/third-person, action-adventure game where you play the lead protagonist, April Summers, as she explores a riveting world lost in time. Filled to the brim with dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, April must rediscover herself to survive and protect this world and its creatures from those who want to harm and pillage it.

Additionally, to whet your appetite, the Hashbane team have been experimenting heavily with Unreal Engine 5 and recently released a little teaser on what their game looks like:


Scannable 🧗‍♂️

Scannable removes paperwork and data entry from compliance and safety inspections for your safety equipment.

Recently, Scannable has had a full rebrand of their brand, harnessing the power of what all safety gear has, Neon green (Check out their new website here)! A fitting colour for an organisation looking to connect and digitise the world’s safety equipment data. What is also fascinating to us is that everyone on the Scannable team is an avid outdoors person. Incredibly complementary to Rob (who regularly partakes in endurance rock climbing) and Gene (who jumps off cliffs with a paraglide back to the shores of Queenstown):


Bolster ⛓

Bolster is the event-driven knowledge management platform of the future, bridging the gap between operators, analysts, and decision-makers.

The Bolster team have made some awesome headwind after their $1m Pre-seed capital raise. Having just hired their first Senior Platform Engineer, Bolster is working on their first product, “Quartermaster”, which exposes breakthrough opportunities in Procurement and market sizing data. You can read more about their new product here.

Additionally, Bolster is taking a big leap forward in the Aotearoa startup market by open-sourcing their ESOP template for the world to see.


Yabble’s case study with Mad Mex 🌮

Revolutionizing the world of insights with game-changing AI products

Recently, Yabble released a case study on how Mad Mex, one of its customers, is using Yabble’s revolutionary platform to gauge market opportunities and validate existing and future market strategies.

“Yabble’s speed was really impressive. The platform’s real-time results feature isn’t something I’ve experienced before doing market research, and it was incredibly useful in allowing us to understand where the data was heading throughout the project.” – Nick Cook, General Manager of Marketing at Mad Mex


Mobli

The underpinning cloud infrastructure for Transport and Mobility

Recently, Mobli’s CRO and UK/EU leader, James Datson presented at the TCF Smartex conference to a packed room of interested suppliers and transport operators in London recently.  He showcased the Mobli product set to great interest – particularly how Mobli can generate passenger rewards and a new revenue stream for transport operators who are under commercial pressure due to falling patronage.  The event proved useful to validate the market appetite for Mobli and has opened up commercial opportunities with several key players on the back of the recent £7Bn of funding announced from the UK Government to support the bus sector.

The team at Mobli is evergrowing! Now thirteen people strong, Mobli has built a strong culture that adheres to these values:

  1. Go now;
  2. Share the ride; and
  3. Own the experience.

Recently, they were also listed in the Matchstiq top 100 for their amazing culture and team! If you could like to join the Mobli team, you can see the open roles down below.


Partly

Partly is the gold standard of auto parts and fitment data – connecting the world’s parts

Congratulations to the Partly team on becoming one of the 2022 finalists for the “Most Innovative Hi-Tech Software Solution” at the NZ Hi-Tech Awards! A great achievement for the team and attest to the revolutionary product and company that they are building.

Additionally, Partly has just brought on new Chief Strategy Officer, Tony Austin into the fold! Tony was formerly General Manager and Country Manager of Amazon in Australia as well as Head of Motors for eBay and has deep experience in online vehicle sales and shaping the e-commerce landscape in Australasia.


Compostic

Reducing single-use plastic

Recently, Compostic Founder & CEO, Jon Reed, had the opportunity to talk to the people of San Francisco about the importance of eliminating plastic from our lives, and how we can improve the way in which we manage our waste as individuals and society.

Compostic’s mission is to provide functional, convenient and most importantly, sustainable substitutes for plastic so that everyone has the opportunity to make small changes that can have a big impact on our planet, so it was awesome to have had the opportunity to spread their message in San Francisco.


Space Rock Games

The deep cooperative gaming studio

Space Rock Games are putting their heads down and working on the development of their breakthrough video game title, “Criminals Within”. Off the back of their recent capital raise led by us, they have brought on Senior Game Programmer, Josh Savage, who has had extensive experience in the gaming industry here in Aotearoa. Josh spent multiple years honing his craft at Grinding Gear Games, the successful Auckland-based game studio that got acquired by Tencent a few years ago and the creator of the hit game, “Path of Exile”.


Portfolio company job openings

Bolster is on the hunt for:

Wellington, New Zealand (Remote options available)


Yabble is on the hunt for:

Auckland, New Zealand

  • A marketing manager (please email rachel@yabble.com)
  • Expression of interest for machine-leaning engineers (please email ben@yabble.com)

Partly is on the hunt for:

Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand


Mobli is on the hunt for:

Auckland, New Zealand


Space Rock Games is on the hunt for:

Remote-based


Hashbane Interactive is on the hunt for:

Remote-based


Resources

Telling better stories

A significant part of the startup journey is storytelling. Storytelling is immensely powerful because:

  • It narratively explains the problem you have trying to solve and how you identified it and are going to solve it.
  • It attracts the right people who want to be a part of your story and build together with you.
  • It attracts investment/investors who love your story and believe that you are the right person to take this story to new heights.

However, a lot of founders are not naturally good storytellers and fall within the above diagram – either they make people’s eyes light up, or they make people’s eyes glaze. Wes Kao, Co-founder of Maven proposes a few useful tips for keeping your audience in the “Eyes light up” category:

  • The best stories are the ones you have told hundreds of times
  • The audience looks dead? Change it and get back on track. Do not continue down that rabbit hole just to finish a part of a story.
  • Conflict -> Narrative arc -> Stakes that make the audience care -> Show, not tell -> Etc etc etc
  • Practice practice practice telling your stories!

Read of the month

The Dip – Seth Godin

The Dip is a book about quitting and sticking with tasks and the common struggle we all face when we undertake an ambitious project or embark on a new career. In summary:

  1. Winners quit the right stuff at the right time.
  2. People settle for good enough instead of the best in the world.
  3. Being well rounded is not the secret to success.

Podcast of the month

The Way Forward – Anuj Singh – Sahni

This podcast was created by a local kiwi, Anuj, who interviews inspirational people that have had success and failure around the startup space, publicly listed space, and unique industries. In this particular episode, our very own Rob Vickery was a guest and talked about how to succeed as a Venture Capital Investor.


Startup News & Trends

Questions to ask a VC during a pitch

We’ve been reading quite a lot of Twitter threads recently. Some are goldmines from individuals who have been there and done that. In this particular thread, Nicole DeTommaso, an investor at Harlem capital details the key questions that you should ask a VC to understand if they’re the right fit for you. The questions are:

  1. Average cheque size?
  2. What are the VC’s ownership targets in their portfolio companies?
  3. Do they prefer to lead rounds or participate?
  4. Do they prefer Priced rounds of Convertible notes and SAFEs?
  5. Do they often provide follow-on capital or want to?
  6. Do they take board seats?
  7. How do they support their portfolio companies in addition to the capital they provide?

Metaverse replacing the physical office?

Lately, we have seen massive headlines about the Metaverse and how this move to virtual experiences will fundamentally change the way we work and live. However, there are multiple perspectives to this and multiple reasons why people think it is and isn’t the future. This article by The Future details 6 different viewpoints on this. To summarise all 6 viewpoints:

  1. The metaverse won’t replace the physical office, but it will transform it for the better, and the distinction between virtual and physical offices will soon melt away.
  2. Yes, the metaverse will replace the physical office, but it won’t happen any time soon. And it’s not only because the technology isn’t there yet (it’s not).

Long-anticipated – Unreal Engine 5

Finally, after years of betas and trials, Unreal Engine 5, the successor to Unreal Engine 4 (which several gaming studios built multi-million dollar games on) is finally out and available to the public. This is a huge step for not only gaming, but several films, architecture, broadcasting and much more, use Unreal Engine to create stunning 3D creations. As we usher in this game-changing engine, we are going to see video games as we have never seen before, which is why we are incredibly excited that our two gaming studios, Space Rock Games and Hashbane Interactive and using it to create their own games!


A guide to SaaS pricing

It is easy to mess up your pricing when you are a fairly new startup. Finding out and discovering how much your potential customers would pay for your product is a journey, but one that is necessary. This guide gives you a definitive look at different SaaS pricing models and how you can apply each to your respective businesses.


New Zealand’s tech sector is taking off and capital is less constrained here

With the increase in startup activity post-covid and the addition of new entrants on the funding side (both local and offshore), we are seeing an ever-growing sector of technology here in Aotearoa. This article outlines some of the key examples of this and how Aotearoa can be a hub of technological innovation in the years to come.


Notable start-up exits


Funding

Global seed funding

Aotearoa funding

Want to get in touch about your startup? Reach out to us at pitches@hillfarrance.com