Chairman's Address - 2013

2013 was another successful year for Capital Angels. We spent a significant part of the end of 2012 and early 2013 completing the ‘Entrepreneurship in the ACT’ report – this helped to identify and recognise the success of our home-grown entrepreneurs and tell their stories. We launched this report in March 2013 at TechConnect and were fortunate to have many of the featured entrepreneurs in attendance.

It would have been impossible to complete this report without the significant help and contribution of the sub-committee: Anna Pino, Anne-Marie Perret and Peter Dawson (I was the other co-author). On behalf of all the members of Capital Angels thanks for your commitment to this important project.

During the year we held a number of events which were strongly supported by our sponsors. These included the ANU Connect Ventures, Kazar Slaven, the Family Business Association, Commercialisation Australia, Entry 29, EY, CSIRO & Epicorp. As a not-for-profit organisation we could not operate without our sponsors and we very much appreciate their support. I have included some highlights for the year:

Event

Date

Sponsor

Attending

Presenting

Cocktails

4/4/2013

ANU CV

45

ScreenACT, QHopper, Cut Orange

Cocktails

27/6/2013

Kazar Slaven

38

Tactify, EcoSpectral, SimplyShowMe

Breakfast

25/7/2013

Family Business Association

10

FBA, Uwe Boettcher

Cocktails

24/3/2013

Commercialisation Australia

55

Perimeter Security, SmartWard

Cocktails

29/8/2013

Entry 29

27

Blue World Order

Dinner

23/10/2012

EY

36

Nexus eWater, Fame & Partners

EOY

6/11/2013

CSIRO / Lighthouse / Epicorp / CA

114

Ignite 12 speakers

During the year we saw a number of changes to the committee. Firstly we should say farewell to the members who departed during the year.

Dominic Kelly has been a stalwart of the organisation for many years. He has dedicated significant time and effort to the group and is a significant and active investor in the region. We all appreciate Dominic’s contribution and his positive and can-do attitude. He approached all meetings with a workmanlike but fun attitude. We will miss his presence at our committee meetings. Dominic has assured me he will still be an active angel and attend as many of our events as his busy schedule allows.

Lachlan Blackhall has made the transition from academic to entrepreneur with style. Now fully committed with two active start-ups he has realised he needs to dedicate time to getting them to a point of self-sufficiency. Lachlan was our bridge between CA and Innovation ACT and that event which he started has gone from strength to strength. We wish Lachlan well in his future endeavours.

Dejan Andrewski has also made the leap from Lighthouse to start-up land. He has joined Lachlan @ SimplyShowMe and we wish them both well with their success. Dejan as Capital Angels co-ordinater took over the reins from Cindy Reese-Mitchell and did a fantastic job for us. We will miss his wise words and strong contributions.

We continued to evolve the exec committee and will welcome Murray Rankin to the committee in 2014. Murray is an experienced and successful entrepreneur (via ‘The Distillery Software’) and he joined Commercialisation Australia as the first Canberra based case manager. Murray will focus on ITC and will transition the role currently covered by Pat Mooney. Pat will continue on the committee during this transition. Welcome Murray!

George Bell who has had significant global experience in the ITC world has also joined Capital Angels and the committee. George played a global leadership role at CSC for many years and was instrumental in the acquisition of eDIME (Marcus Dawe).

Dr. Craig Davis will also join the committee in 2014. Craig co-founded ‘TakeABreak’ and successfully sold the business to Fairfax in 2011. Craig has been extremely active all year and embodies all of the attributes we would hope for from an Angel – smart, pragmatic, committed, deep domain expertise and generous with his time and advice. Welcome Craig!

Ashley Grimmer is the nominated replacement for Dejan Andrewski at Lighthouse. Ashley has a very calm manner and has quickly got up to speed on the operations of the group. We thank Ashley for his work in 2013 and look forward to working closely with him in 2014.

This is my last report as Chairman after my two year term and I reflect with some satisfaction over the achievements of the group over the last couple of years.

  • The ‘Entrepreneurship in the ACT’ report has been a catalyst for a much broader discussion around a ‘Clever City’ initiative.
  • Our partnership and support of Entry 29 has been a positive experience. The Entry 29 Founders Series (effectively created and run by Capital Angels & Lighthouse) has been a great success. We have been able to build closer, more enduring relationships with the founders we identified and profiled in the ‘Entrepreneurship in the ACT’ report and we have shared their stories with a very wide audience (each session has had at least 35+ attendees). In total 10 of these talks are taking place in 2013.
  • We expanded our sponsors this year and ran our first events with Kazar Slaven, Commercialisation Australia, the Family Business Association
  • We increased membership and had strong support and attendance at all of our events

If I was to reflect on some of the initiatives which did not make as much progress as I would have liked I would highlight our efforts to create a side-car fund for the Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra Angel Groups (the ‘ABC Fund’). After numerous meetings and discussions the final nail in the coffin for this idea was the failure of Parliament to pass the legislation to lower the ESVCLP threshold from $10M to $5M. Once the election was called the committee decided to shelve this initiative until the change is implemented.

I would also like to reflect on the paralysis with the IIF program – this Government VC incentive program has failed to deliver two out of the three IIF short-listed funds with GBS Ventures giving back their license and Innovation Capital (at time of writing) still looking to close their like-for-like funding. Applications for this round opened in Feb 2012 and closed on the 2nd July 2012. The three short-listed funds were announced in October 2012. We are now just short of two years on from the announcement of this round and it is clear the current way IIF is being promoted and the short-list process considered is failing. It is my hope that this program has a serious review by the new Government with this money to be allocated to smaller, early-stage funds potentially managed and administered by Angel Groups. The current model is not working.

With thanks…

Michele Troni has had a busy year with the safe arrival of twins! Michele has been Deputy Chairman throughout the year and I have appreciated his support and wise counsel during the year.

Thanks to the team at Lighthouse! Many of you will know we have a formal alliance with Lighthouse. Anna and her team are a critical part of the success of Capital Angels including hosting meetings, organising events, member communication, marketing, deal screening etc. One of the reasons for the success of Capital Angels is the enthusiasm of the team @ Lighthouse. As such I would like to send a huge 'Thank You' to Anna, Lyn, Lauren, Ashley and Su.

Thanks Steve! - As a small, not for profit organisation we rely on the contributions of many people. In particular I would like to thank Steve Bennett and Clearcorp for producing the accounts for Capital Angels each year - this is a significant task and is done in a professional and positive way.

Thanks Committee members! - We have a diverse and strong executive committee who volunteer their time each month to participate in the screening meetings and the organisation meetings. We could not run CA with their help! Thanks to Michele, Anna, Uwe, Steve, Mick, Pat, Anne-Marie, Phil.

We also need to thank the ACT Government for their support of the early stage space in the ACT – we have grants and programmes that many other states and territories do not have. We look forward to continuing discussions with the Territory Government around the early-stage eco-system in 2014.

Thanks to all of you for your support during 2013 and I look forward to working with the new leadership team of Capital Angels in the New Year and beyond.

Nick McNaughton
Chairman Capital Angels
14th November 2013