Village News – October 2022

Alex Dam

Welcome to the October 2022 issue of the Hillfarrance Village News! In this month’s recap, we lobby the NZ Govt, we share some exciting updates from our portfolio, and give you your monthly dose of startup/VC news.



What we’ve been up to

We’ve lobbied the NZ Govt

This is our first attempt at lobbying the NZ Government for positive change in our burgeoning gaming industry. 🎮🇳🇿

We are not sure if it will work, but we had to give it a go in the only way we know how – by telling a story using lots of pictures. If you like the cut of its jib, please feel to share it amongst others in the industry. 

We get it. We are going into an election cycle, and giving new rebates to private companies may not be the most attractive thing on the dance card, but please give it some thought.

The gaming industry in New Zealand is facing some turbulent waters ahead as more of our game studios choose to relocate to other countries due to heavily attractive tax incentive programmes. Click here to read the National Business Review (NBR) article.

To encourage our government to match and even beat these subsidies, we decided to paint a picture of what the Aotearoa New Zealand gaming industry could look like in 2030 if we did decide to compete.

To be crystal clear, this is an entirely fabricated “report”. But as Albert Camus once said, “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” 

Thanks to Midjourney for creating the artwork for us 🙌🏼😊

It isn’t too late to make a change…


Hillfarrance In-market US Immersion Tour

Recently, General Partner Aisha from our team had the privilege to be part of a select few VCs from the Aotearoa community in a delegation to the US hosted by the NZ Trade & Enterprise (NZTE).

The immersion provided the opportunity to build a global perspective together with on-the-ground experiences and building whanaungatanga connections and relationships. It also provided macro insights and learnings on US investment, expectations of growth, sector opportunities, and unique access opportunities to organisations that the door isn’t always open to.

The immersion focused on the east coast and the central US, with locations including New York, Denver and Boulder, and Austin. All of these have unique opportunities for our companies to expand into the US. There is a range of incentives plus an attractive mix of lifestyle and talent. The local culture and ecosystem in Denver and Boulder seemed to really resonate with real similarities to Aotearoa.

There is also a thriving community of Aotearoa startup and growth companies in these locations that are well-connected and provide sound local insights and knowledge for those new arrivals, a landing pad as such. Some of the connections and hui included – Insight Partners, Blackrock, GoldenSeeds, and First Close Partners.


Portfolio company updates

Floating Rock Studio 🛟

Next-generation VFX & Animation

Recently, some of the Floaties (Founders) and Rockies (Contractors) attended the latest WIFT event, “In conversation with Rachel Lang”, where we learned from kiwi legend Rachel Lang, who’s worked on many of our kiwi classics such as Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street, Go Girls and more.

It was a fun interactive experience, where they were able to come up with their own little story idea in 10 mins and get immediate feedback.

They left with some nuggets of wisdom from Rachel herself:

  • “The villain is just as important as the hero.”
  • “Television is better because good characters are hard to let go of.”
  • “You must be a detective of the human mind.”

Stay tuned because big news is coming very soon…


Hashbane Interactive 🦖

Pre-historic action-adventure game

The Hashbane team welcomes Lis Wonder to the team! Lis is a prolific cosplayer, voice actor and content creator. As Hashbane’s game, “Instinction” is set in South America with a female lead protagonist, they couldn’t think of any better than Lis to fill this role!

Not every day do you see a studio from small Aotearoa take the #1 spot on Steam’s (the most widely used video game marketplace) “Popular Upcoming Releases” list.

So, it’s pretty surreal to see that Hashbane Interactive‘s breakout title, “Instinction”, is now listed up there with some of the most famous games globally.

Huge props to Courtney ONeill, Jade Saunders & the rest of the super-talented team on achieving this 🎉


Mobli 🚎

The platform that mobility is built on

Welcome Mark!

Based in Auckland, NZ, Mark is fluent in English and Afrikaans. He brings to Mobil his broad experience at Xero, where he was a group Product Manager who helped to design, launch and grow a new practice management suite of tools for accountants.

Mobli takes out the Dexion Award

Left: Simon (Software Engineer); Right: Mieszko (Chief Strategy officer)

The Mobli team are delighted to have picked up the Dexion award for new innovation in a New Zealand business for their work with Super Shuttle, NZ’s largest airport shuttle company. Moving onto the Mobli platform will provide the end-to-end modules to transform the operation of their business through optimising Super Shuttles’ core business, automating manual processes and deploying a future-proof solution that lifts overall business efficiency and outcomes.

Mobli x South Auckland Taxi Association

From Left to Right: Mark (Head of Product) & Vishnu (Customer Success Manager)

Mobli has recently signed on with the South Auckland Taxi Association (SATA) as one of their customers!

SATA provides 24-hour taxi and mobility services in suburban Auckland. Their fleet includes vans and special-purpose mobility vehicles equipped with wheelchair hoists.

SATA has recently partnered with Mobli to develop an advanced booking service app for customers, and both companies are excited about the opportunities ahead.

“The flexibility and customisation of the Mobli platform opens up many possibilities and new choices for SATA’s customers. Mobli’s technology makes it very easy for passengers to book their ride and meet any particular requirements,” says Mieszko Iwaskow, Mobli’s Chief Strategy Officer.


Scannable 🧗‍♂️

The world’s first safety data supply chain

Scannable Inspection feature demo

Scannable has just released their long-anticipated v1 version of Equipment inspection on their app! This feature allows you to:

  • Log equipment inspections anywhere you have phone service.
  • Easily attach inspection notes.
  • Have everything you need for equipment inspections in one place.
  • Never keep another paper manual.
  • Forget about spreadsheets!
  • Have manufacturer’s compliance data and documents at your fingertips. 

This is, of course, with the support and help of a competent and trained person who examines the equipment before giving the final nod.

The differences between industry standards and government regulations can be confusing. 

Industry expert Brian Cruikshank and our very own Jess Garland collaborate in this blog,  delving into what Standards and Regulations actually are and explaining the differences between them. 


Bolster ⛓

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 has just released the first edition of their “Bolster Bulletin”, a summary of:

  1. What they have been up to;
  2. What their customers care about; and
  3. Where they are going next.

The team have also written a blog about how they have built Bolster. Bolster is changing the way software is built and how organisations interact with their data to be more integrated with their organisation and people rather than kept in siloes.


Yabble 🤖

Revolutionizing the world of insights with game-changing AI products

This month is a Spotlight on Query, one of our key AI-powered insights tools 🔦 With Query, Yabble customers can generate accurate, richly detailed natural-language insights summaries from their unstructured data — in minutes flat.

Here’s how it has helped several of Yabble’s customers:

  • Save hours of manual analysis time. Query is fully automated, turning thousands of pieces of feedback into actionable insights with the click of a button. Together with Hey Yabble Count, it’s saved Yabble customers more than 51,000 hours (!) of manual work.
  • Get more (and better) insights from customer data. Query allows customers to ask their data any open-ended question (like “What are the biggest challenges customers experience in-store?”). To explore their data from every possible angle, simply ask different questions of the same dataset, and boom: multiple opportunities to drive growth and improvement.
  • Dive into the “why” behind a customer’s insights. Pair Query with Hey Yabble Count, which analyzes their data for themes, sub-themes, and sentiment. This allows customers to identify areas worth further exploration, meaning they can get hyper-targeted with their Queries and get maximum value from the Yabble platform.
  • Validate business strategy. Armed with the accurate insights Query and Count generate for them, customers can make smart, confident business decisions — and can make them quickly.

Space Rock Games 🪨

Deep cooperative gaming

Criminals Within Comic (Work-in-progress)

The Space Rock games team is underway with the final stretch of their vertical slice! A vertical slice is a short, playable demo of one of the levels inside their game. It is supposed to showcase the mechanics, visuals, audio and narrative of the game before large-scale production.

In the coming months, do expect some very exciting updates from the team and the progress of their game 🎮


Compostic 🌱

Guilt & plastic-free kitchen products

It has been an exciting few months for Compostic as they see more and more Compostic products land on shelves in the USA!

As a Kiwi brand, their vision has always been to rid the world of non-compostable plastic waste, and it has been so inspiring to see more and more retailers share this vision with us. Compostic is now proud to reside in over 550+ stores across America!

Compostic x Wholefoods

Compostic is now also stocked in Wholefoods retailers in all their stores across the Pacific Northwest Region! A huge milestone for the team, and we’re excited to see what’s next for Jon & the team.


Portfolio company job openings

Yabble is on the hunt for:

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


Floating Rock is on the hunt for:

Wellington-based or Remote-based


Resources

Why the iPod crossed the MP3 chasm

The most important book in our startup library is Geoffrey Moore’s seminal work – Crossing the Chasm. If you haven’t had the chance to read the book, it focuses on the phenomenon of discontinuity in the tech adoption lifecycle curve between the hedonists/early adopters and the early majority, called the “chasm”. 

As the iPod reached the grand age of twenty-one this weekend, we thought we’d share a few personal thoughts on why and how Apple leapfrogged Diamond’s Rio and Microsoft’s Zune (albeit five years later) and completely revolutionised the music industry simultaneously. 


Read of the month

The Art of War

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise dating from the Late Spring and Autumn Period. The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, is composed of 13 chapters. This piece of work is still referenced in today’s day, and age as Tzu’s learnings are applicable in many facets of life.


Podcast of the month

Lenny’s Podcast: Product

Lenny Rachitsky is the former product manager at Airbnb, now turned Angel investor. In his podcast, he interviews world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.


Startup News & Trends

The future & trends of software development

Quoting Marc Andreessen, Co-founder and General Partner of the Venture Capital firm a16z, “Software is eating the world”. We see a huge opportunity for the next wave of software startups that have more automation, multi-tenancy at the heart of their architecture and the ability to solve vertical-specific problems.

This Twitter thread by the Founder & CEO of Vercel goes through four different trends for software development. These are:

  1. Edge-first framework: Platform pairing that automates infrastructure provisioning.
  2. The serverless operational model: Serverless computing offers a number of advantages over traditional cloud-based or server-centric infrastructure. For many developers, serverless architectures offer greater scalability, more flexibility, and quicker time to release, all at a reduced cost.
  3. AI-assisted coding: The future of software development will be supported by smart algorithms that help fill in the blanks. Beyond the obvious productivity gains in smarter and more accurate IDE completions, there are other use cases around test authoring, code migrations, and UI generation.
  4. Net new-work is default reusable: With the rise of headless architecture, API-first development and reusable UI (e.g: @reactjs components), work that developers didn’t yet know they had is already being automated away.

Tech layoffs starting to pile up

Over the last few months, we’ve seen a significant wave of layoffs occurring in the tech sector globally.

Now, we are seeing this trend follow suit as Stripe, Twitter, Lyft & Chime are the newest tech companies to announce huge layoffs, while companies like Meta & Apple are instructing hiring freezes.

It’s devastating to see the sheer amount of jobs lost during this period as companies make decisions to reduce costs abruptly to prioritise survival. However, with these layoffs, we anticipate a surfacing of innovation and reallocation of talent throughout the tech ecosystem.


H1 2022 NZ Startup Investment report

Image

PwC has just released its Spring 2022 NZ startup report. Here is a distillation of some of the highlights:

  • Over the course of 2022 so far, 66 companies have received investment for a total record investment of $74.4 million NZD.
  • Although deal volume was much larger in the hot and frothy 2021 funding market, the total capital invested was less than that of this year.
  • DeepTech remains the most popular investment space in Aotearoa, NZ making up 44% of the investments made in 2022 so far. This was closely followed by SaaS at 40%.

VC is ripe for disruption?

Venture Capital has a relatively short history compared with other asset classes. However, the structure of VC as an asset has not seen much innovation since it proliferated. This essay dives in-depth about:

  1. VC as an asset class;
  2. How returns have been cemented by The Power Law;
  3. VC is all about investing in breakthrough technology, not necessarily “successful technology”;
  4. New ways to operate the VC model and ideas on where some disruptions could be made.

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