IT veterans start up investment firm with a difference — and global focus

AintoG takes equity stake in companies it advises - but only from future earnings

Filling a market niche not served by traditional venture capital firms is the goal of AintoG.

The company was set up last month by a group of IT industry veterans, including New Zealand Software Association president Chip Dawson and consultant, entrepreneur and author John O’Hara.

AintoG (which stands for Able into Great) aims to give advice and guidance to local IT exporters looking to break into international markets, says its chief executive, John McLean.

“We’ve seen technology people build a business and get some sales and get products that work, but … [they] have struggled to take the technology global,” he says.

“We all have a lot of experience and contacts in that area.”

The other members of AintoG are Peter Dickinson, executive director of business software-maker Greentree, IT marketing consultant Owen Scott and technology lawyer Wayne Hudson.

The company is a part-time venture for the founders, who all have other interests in the IT industry, but McLean says they have the time to give their expertise and advice to technology exporters wanting to take the next step.

AintoG differs from a venture capital firm in that will take an equity stake in the companies it advises — but only from the client firm’s future earnings.

“We look at taking a stake based on the active growth of the business; based on growing it beyond where it already is.”

Two AintoG members will join the board of those companies AintoG invests in. They will stay out of operational matters, advising only on strategic issues, McLean says.

“We bring together the ability to do deals and our experience in that area.”

Negotiating a distribution or licensing deal with a big multinational company can be daunting for a small, inexperienced player, he says. “Many people don’t have a lot of experience dealing with multinationals.”

While AintoG is focused on companies that are “up and running”, with turnover and products, it isn’t ruling out startups if the circumstances are right.

McLean says AintoG has received 20 proposals in the three weeks since its launch and is in discussions with a number of prospects.

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