We’re excited to announce that we are bringing Blackbird’s community-driven approach to venture capital to New Zealand. We are raising a seed fund dedicated to Kiwi founders, opening an Auckland office that I will head up along with Tip Piumsomboon, and bringing our flagship conference, The Sunrise, to the North Island on October 25th.
Blackbird was formed in 2012 at a time when there was almost no venture capital in the Australian market. And what a perfect time that turned out to be: we were fortunate to invest in the first rounds of Canva, Zoox, Safety Culture, Culture Amp, Skedulo, Propeller and many other great companies.
7 years on, Aussie startups have created more than AU$30 billion of enterprise value and 10,000 jobs.
But while Australia was producing Atlassian and Canva, New Zealand was creating Xero and Rocket Lab.
Now, a new generation of global Kiwi technology companies has emerged, including companies like Ask Nicely, Soul Machines, Sunfed, Predict HQ and Halter.
Despite our focus on supercharging Australia’s most ambitious founders, sometimes the temptation has been too great! In the past 2 years, we’ve invested $10M into New Zealand companies and are on track to invest another $10 million in the next 12 months.
The New Zealand Opportunity
Many of the same ingredients that existed in Australia seven years ago, at the launch of Blackbird’s first fund, exist today in New Zealand.
History is repeating itself.
There is a group of successful lighthouse companies like Rocket Lab, Xero and Vend incubating talent and inspiring the next generation of startups. There is a strong cohort of rising stars who are raising Series A funding rounds from respected international firms like Sequoia, Horizons, Data Collective, Founders Fund, Lightspeed and Aspect Venture Partners.
However, at the $1–5M round, there is a gap in New Zealand between local angels and accelerators and global growth investors.
We are pleased to announce that we are raising a seed fund to supercharge New Zealand’s most ambitious founders and then bring our Follow on Fund to invest as those companies scale.
SYD > MEL > AKL
Although we travel to New Zealand often and we meet many Kiwi companies remotely from Australia, we believe that to see the best companies at the earliest stages, perhaps even when they are pre-formation, you need a more permanent presence.
In addition to our offices in Sydney and Melbourne, Blackbird will open an office in Auckland to be led by me, and I’ll be joined by our rising star analyst, Tip Piumsomboon. Tip is originally from Christchurch and was at NZ Super prior to moving to Australia and joining our team last year.
Founders Helping Founders
Blackbird was built on the foundational belief that the human growth hormone of great startups is founders who have done it before helping the founders a few steps behind them.
We will replicate in New Zealand the same founder community that has proven so impactful in Australia, starting with our flagship event, The Sunrise, this year to be held in Auckland on the 25th October.
The Sunrise will be a one-day representation of what Blackbird believes in: that the circle of life of successful founders and companies inspires and helps the next generation to succeed.
We hope through initiatives like The Sunrise and our investment in a local presence that we’ll bring together the founder communities of Australia and New Zealand into a single group, helping both become stronger, together.
To the next chapter!