Punakaiki Fund news: New Funding and Vibe Communications

We re-invested in Vibe Communications

I’m delighted to report that Punakaiki Fund this week reinvested in Vibe Communications, bringing the fund’s shareholding to 24%. The remainder of the shares are owned by the executive-founders, CEO and key staff.

Vibe had a fantastic year in 2014, growing their network, launching new products and delivering for customers. It’s the company that’s taken the largest amount of my time as the sheer pace of change is a lot to keep up with.

Great companies are growing

 

Vibe was not alone in their growth: Mindscape, Timely and InfluxHQ also had fabulous years, delivering record month after record month. It’s easy to be a smart investor when you have lead founders like Ryan, Andrew, Jeremy, John-Daniel, Scott, Dania, Davey and Barry to invest your money with.

November Options Round 

We were able to make this second investment in Vibe as we just successfully closed out an options round. Our original private investors from April had the right to buy more shares, and we were very pleased when they collectively invested another $1.5 million, or 98.4% of their options. And we also have an offer out now with selected Exempt investors that is giving us more capital on top of that.

More funding for more companies

We now have money in the bank to invest in another round of companies.* At this stage in our life are generally looking to invest between $100,000 and $750,000 per company per round.

We are always on the lookout for new companies to look at. Our requirements are simple:

1: Well defined end users in a global niche, and a great product that delivers to their needs.

2: Growing revenue from paying customers that shows you know how to grow and keep growing.

3: Smart driven yet balanced founders and team who understand their niche and are in it for the long haul and the right reasons, and who we can trust.

4: Good numbers for investors. Frankly if the first three are in order then this part is easy, and we are pretty easy on valuations and terms when it comes down to it.

We continue to invest with a very long term horizon, a luxury we have as our fund has no defined lifetime. We like simple term sheets, founder-centric arrangements and being able to give help when asked, and stay back when not. So get in touch if you are a founder and are thinking of fund-raising, but maybe after Christmas – and have a good break.

*Of course we do have a wish-list of great companies whose requirements already dwarf our capacity, and who we are talking to. We will keep on our own path to growth so we can increasingly be there when companies need us. 

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Males only?

Like Vaughan Rowsell, I get asked to facilitate or be on panels and speak at events a fair bit. Actually not quite like Vaughan — he’s incredibly popular, and for good reason.

Vaughan’s publicly announced that he will not accept being on panels with no women. Between us it’s actually a policy that he has privately had for a while.

So have I, although not as strictly as I would have liked.

As a facilitator I, if required, I’ve actively managed panel membership to ensure we have a diverse set of views, thinking about topic, gender and cultural background. Several times I’ve taken the liberty of finding one or two more people to add the the existing panel, with conference organisers always happy to oblige. Sometimes this has even happened on the day, and once, when the sole women panelist was called away 15 minutes before the panel, we found someone just seconds before the event. Step up Alyona Medelyan, who easily proved she was the smartest person in the room (or at least on the panel) at ITx.

It’s harder when you are a just a panelist to influence the membership of the whole panel, but most organisers are happy once you suggest some other people to add. In the web, IT and early stage company sectors this is particularly easy, and Webstock, NetHui, Gather, FooCamp, ITx and pretty much every other conference in our space deserve credit for working hard on diversity. Other industries, such as the finance industry, can be quite a way behind, and this can make for boring conferences. However they are generally very receptive as well.

So I’m delighted that Vaughan has gone public, and am happy to support him with the same policy. Let’s make the diverse panels happen. And like Vaughan, I know plenty of speakers who are not forty-something white males whom I can recommend.

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Killer Whales in Auckland Harbour

(All photos can used for non-commercial purposes, but if you have ads on your site, are media, otherwise commercial or want to use more than a couple then please contact me.)

It was wonderful to get out on the water today on a friend’s boat, and within seconds of leaving the boatyard we encountered killer whales.

I almost bought my real camera – but these were taken from a small boat with an iPhone.

Folks out on the water were treated to a feast.

These guys were zipping along, and probably saw more than anyone else.

The Vodafone trimaran got pretty close as well. The killer whales went right through the starting line for the Wednesday afternoon race.

We’d stopped pretending to go fishing by this stage.

We should call them Killer Whales not Orca – as “Orca” was a term invented by Sea World to stop people thinking that it was not ok to hold these magnificent mammals in tiny pools in captivity.

They can roam up to 160 km in a day.

We generally waited for them to approach us, then went ahead.

The power and size were impressive.

But this one was a baby I think.

Here, leaving, on the right hand side is a bigger one.

And just after that photo we chatted to one of the guys on the foiling skiffs, and I yelled out “don’t fall in”. So of course he did, but was remarkably composed considering the predators (none have been recorded to kill humans) nearby.

We didn’t catch any fish.

(All photos can used for non-commercial purposes, but if you have ads on your site, are media, otherwise commercial or want to use more than a couple then please contact me. This includes photos posted on Twitter.)

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Vibe appoints Rudi Hefer as CEO

Rudi ever started at Vibe Communications as Chief Commercial Officer back in August, and he has been leading strong growth in the business. I’m delighted that he’s now the CEO –  press release below:

Vibe appoints Rudi Hefer as CEO

Vibe is pleased to announce the apointment of Rudi Hefer as CEO at Vibe Communications.

“Rudi joined as Chief Commercial Officer in August, and since then he has shown that he is the right person for the job” said founder and CTO Davey Goode. Hefer fills a vacant role, working with founders Barry Murphy (COO) and Davey Goode (CTO).

As part of his appointment Hefer will be investing into the company.

Lance Wiggs from investor Punakaiki Fund said he was delighted for Vibe and for Rudi Hefer, with the evidence of Rudi’s presence already showing in strong revenue growth and innovative new products, saying “The new Intellipath product, for example, will let clients connect data centers to other data centers within minutes, and that really changes the game for the industry in New Zealand and Australia.”

Rudi commenced his role on November 1, 2014.

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Define Instruments Expands into South Africa

It’s always great to see companies grow – and Define Instruments recently took their first big leap. The team has followed existing international sales by setting up a South African office. It’s the first of many new overseas offices we hope to see over the next few years, as we seek to expand distribution and direct sales. As the press release below says, a local presence means fast shipping to customers, as well as a much more effective sales process.

I’m an external director and shareholder, and  I’ve been very impressed at how Define Instruments has steadily professionalised their team and operation over the last few years, and the top line results are showing.

NZ Industrial Instrumentation Company to Launch in South Africa

New Zealand industrial instrumentation company, Define Instruments is pleased to announce it’s expansion into South Africa beginning next month.

The Auckland-based business which builds process measurement and control technology officially opens its new branch in Johannesburg on 3 Nov.

Define Instruments spent a year planning it’s entry into the new territory. Preparations included the appointment of South African technical advisor and a full-time marketing manager.

Selling to South Africa for over 5 years, the addition of a bricks and mortar office is a natural progression for Define and solidifies it’s commitment to growth in the country.

“We’ll be employing and training South African staff so we can deliver a great customer experience from end to end,” comments Sales Manager Rolla Afrogheh.

A lack of native manufacturing in South Africa means customers often wait 2-3 weeks for industrial instruments to be shipped from overseas. A wait Define Instruments is confident it can drastically reduce to standard next day delivery.

“Having people on the ground will make a huge difference to our capabilities”, says Define Instruments CEO Anthony Glucina. “We can now hold stock onshore and ensure South African customers enjoy shorter lead times than typically experienced”.

Define’s innovative products have already gained a reputation in South Africa as some of the easiest and fastest to setup. A simplicity which has proven popular with industrial technicians worldwide.

Earlier this year Define Instruments was awarded the ISO9001 international quality standard and is current working towards UL certification of its key products before entering the US market in 2015.

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Portfolio Disclosure Oct 2014

A prompt from Rowan Simpson (16 investments, $4m) and Ben Kepes (14 investments, $500k) led me to update my own investment Portfolio page.

I’ve personally invested $780,000 into 10 companies, and have equity received as a founder in several others, totalling over 15.

Overall I’m really happy with the private investments. They are relatively small amounts of money for the companies though, as I’ve only been able to invest as I earn. The mistakes have been expensive, but the amounts were small versus more successful investments. I’ve also reinvested two or more times in some of the larger investments, where it is clear that the value is there. These reinvestments have, so far, all paid off.

It’s really hard to talk publicly about how I value my investments, as each company may have different perspectives to my own. But my own take is that I’ve seen an aggregate of over 50% IRR on the investments I’ve made, and perhaps well north of that.

With Punakaiki Fund we raised and placed about $1.5 million into four great companies, and are anticipating raising more money to invest in the next few weeks.

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Set a high bar and never compromise

Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP People Operations, shares three secrets for how Google recruits.

He does this at the end of a presentation he gave at a Linked-In conference for recruiters.

Action starts at 2m:40s.

Laszlo doesn’t mention it, but these are exactly the same (with a bit more science these days) “secrets” that McKinsey and many other great companies use.

Maintaining the high standards is very hard – they tend to drop over time as companies get bigger. What Google do is to keep every hiring decision (but not the interviewing work)  with a small group of very high standard setters – much like Steve Jobs set the insanely high benchmark for every Apple product. Even today Larry Page reviews every hire.

They use structured interviews, a combination of behavioural (Tell us about a time…) and situational (Case studies), and they test for general cognitive ability, leadership, Googleyness and role-related knowledge. They de-prioritise the last, liking people with more diverse role experiences, as role-related knowledge can be learned while those other experiences can bring different ways of approaching problems.

The most important issue from the video is not ever compromising on standards. This is particularly important for the first few people hired at growing companies, but it can never change as companies grow. Your new co-workers will dictate how well you perform in the future, and how fun it’s going to be. So take your time, make sure there is a alignment of values and fire fast if things don’t work out. Companies like Xero, Vend, Timely and Define Instruments* are incredibly selective and difficult to get recruited into (and they are  hiring). That’s by design, and that’s why they can stay ahead.

(I’m a direct or indirect investor in all of these)

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