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How did you get into venture capital?
I previously worked in investment banking for Japan’s Nomura Securities. I really enjoyed working with technology businesses and advised Nomura’s Asian-based venture capital arm on their first few investments in Australia.
What was your best investment?
I was lucky enough to be involved with sleep disorder therapeutics company ResMed as one of my first investments. The company was led by Peter Farrell who had built a great team around him.
What was your worst investment? What did you learn?
Our business is about backing people. Typically, the failure of a company is not so much about the technology nor a missed market opportunity but more to do with the inability of the company to build an A-class management team, or the team’s inability to execute on the agreed strategy.
What makes a great pitch?
The pitch is important but I am much more interested in getting to know the entrepreneur, the management team, and determining whether we can work together for the next three to five years. We’re interested in backing entrepreneurs who are willing to listen. We want to share our experiences.
What are some common mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching?
Death by PowerPoint! Sitting through 60 slides in 60 minutes isn’t engaging. I prefer to have a relaxed meeting where I can learn about the entrepreneur, the market they’re targeting and the opportunity.
How do I get you to invest in my venture?
We’re approached by more than 400 new opportunities every year, so we’re careful about how many meetings we take. An opportunity that has been referred to us by a trusted intermediary would typically get a better hearing. I prefer a short summary, presentation or introductory email over a long email with a presentation attached.
What kind of companies or sectors are you keen on?
We’re looking at mobile applications, payments, wireless,
e-commerce, software as a service, cloud applications and medical devices. Our average investment size is about $7.5 million over the life of the investment. We typically invest $2 million to $4 million upfront, with the rest invested as milestones are met.