Australian venture capital firm Blackbird looking for New Zealand investment opportunities

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The local arm of an Australian venture capital firm is on the hunt for start-ups with “wild ideas” to invest in.

Blackbird Ventures established a $60 million fund to invest locally in 2019, half of which had already been deployed into a range of technology firms.

It recently led the $30m funding round for the regulatory technology firm First AML, which produces software that is designed to simplify compliance with anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing rules.

Blackbird’s local principal, Phoebe Harrop said it was looking out for fledgling firms, which had both bold ideas and passionate founders.

“[We have a] willingness to back founders who see the world unfolding in a particular way, [who] want to create a vivid technicolour future that others might not be able to see.

“These are people who want to solve a problem that’s global, not just focused on New Zealand, who really obsess about the product side of things.”

They do not just have an idea, but can see in their mind what the customer experience will be multiple years down the track, Harrop said.

One of Blackbird’s most notable investments had been in the agri-tech firm Halter, which produces electronic collars for cattle that use sound and vibration to guide them without the need for fences.

Some of the venture capital firm’s recent investments include motor vehicle inventory management software firm Partly, the respiratory face mask company Aō Air, human resources software firm Multitudes, and the precious metal recovery business Mint Innovation.

Harrop said Blackbird’s aim when investing was to be most start-up’s first capital partner.

“What we believe is that, as really early-stage investors who, hopefully, are there from day one … we are in a better position than anyone else to make follow-on decisions and continue to invest in those companies.

“For our best companies, we hope to be generational owners.”

This includes investing in each funding round and holding onto their stake for as long as possible, Harrop said.