Kiwi firms go for Yankee dollars and contacts

A group of Kiwi IT firms are on their way to America in search of 'smart money'.

A group of Kiwi IT firms are on their way to America in search of “smart money”.

It’s not just cash the five firms want, but venture partners, strategic alliances and exposure to the US market. They are being sponsored by Trade New Zealand with the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The five, who travel next week, comprise CyberElves, Bookrite, Tranzgroup, R&D Solutions and e-IN. From May 13 to 23 their trade mission will visit Silicon Valley, Austin, Texas and the Dulles Corridor in Northern Virginia, attending conferences, investment forums and meeting potential partners.

Trade NZ software sector manager Dianne Hart says while New Zealand has enough money available for investment, “the firms need smart money — money with contacts so they are able to get to the right markets and distributor channels. This mission aims to get access to that smart money,” she says.

CyberElves chief executive Phil Henderson says his Wellington-based internet technology consultancy is seeking $US250,000 to $US500,000 ($625,000 to $1.25m), but says developing overseas contacts is more important.

“Since this is a trade mission, we are hoping to attract work. We want to get outside investors in US dollars but, more important, we get their clients and contacts to improve projects,” says Henderson.

The two-year-old firm serves clients primarily in New York and London, receiving 80% of its revenues from overseas, despite having 80% of its staff based in Wellington and Auckland. “We already have a substantial New Zealand shareholding to add to US and UK shareholders, but we would like some investment from the [US] West Coast,” he says. This would fund the opening of a West Coast office and also targeting Europe and Asia.

Andrew Rushworth, chief executive of Palmerston North-based R&D Solutions, says his “speculative development” business, which has a Vancouver office, is a global company so has to seek global investment.

“It’s not just investment. We do little business in New Zealand. We are more interested in strategic alliances than just capital. We have growth ambitions that need finance. We believe that will come from relations than venture capital,” he says.

The amount of funding must be enough to “commercialise” four products — a contact-less smart card system, a smart surveillance system for machine vision, a Bluetooth-based vehicle telemetry system and a more efficient use of the internet using legacy systems.

E-IN wants to bring its e-GEN software automation tool on to the global marketplace, Bookrite wants more overseas sales of its online travel booking systems and Tranzsoft Group wants funding for global sales of its internet deployable and mobile message translation service.

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