/ Kōrerorero blog / 23 Dec 2021 / Shelley Johnston
While Dave humbly describes himself as a professional geek, this literally just scratches the surface of this multi-talented individual.
He's a successful software developer, tech entrepreneur, director and start-up investor. As if that wasn't enough Dave has been investing in Kiwi startups since he exited his start-up in the early 2000’s.
Summarising his achievements is quite a task. To name a few, Dave is Chair of the Global Entrepreneur Network NZ, serves on several boards and was key in kicking off the Startup Weekend movement in NZ. He was the AANZ “Archangel” in 2018 and was a founding member of the AngelHQ. We chat to Dave today about his views on the NZ startup ecosystem
As an Angel investor, what do you look for before investing?
The key thing is for both the founder and the company to be purpose-driven, with a purpose that resonates with me eg overcoming the challenges that face our society and the planet. These days I'm mainly focused on education technology (EdTech), as I see education (and more generally science) as a key to improving ourselves and our society, and education is one of the last big fields to be fully digitally disrupted.
The founders need to have significant domain experience, global aspirations (that they've validated and started to execute on), the beginnings of a strong team, charisma, the ability to sell, and indications that they are or could become great leaders.
They need to show they are committed to the long term, and are working hard to achieve their dreams. The market they're operating in needs to be big and interesting. The tech that the company has developed needs to be differentiated from other players in the global market and scalable..
What are your top tips for Kiwi companies with high-growth potential?
What or who inspires you in the tech startup world?
Purpose-driven entrepreneurs who are changing the way the world operates with their startups. I really love it when my first reaction to a startup is "they can't do that, it's too hard" but they've figured out a way to make the impossible easy.
What did you learn from your early investments?
What is the most memorable thing you have learnt working with founders?
The more you know, the more you know you don't know. Hence, the best strategy for influencing success as an investor or director is asking the right questions. And the ability to do that depends on building an excellent relationship based on empathy where founder and investor can fully trust each other. We're all learning together.
What are your top tips around governance?
What differences do you predict for Kiwi startups and our ecosystem, in the next 5 years?
We're on the cusp of massive change, with the pandemic as a forcing function. The market is awash in opportunity, and there's never been more investment capital available.
If we can evolve our entrepreneurial culture and remove some constraints (global connectivity, shortage of talent, our own aggregate lack of ambition) we can 10x our entrepreneurial ecosystem. And we can create the world we want to live in where the main constraint on success will be our imagination for how to create products and services that delight the global market in a sustainable way.
As an entrepreneurial ecosystem, we'll be more diverse, better reflect te ao Māori, be more relevant, more valuable, and more ingrained in the way "normal" people think about who they are and what they do. Will that massive change be a change for the better? That's up to us.
This is our 14th Kōrerorero of the series.
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