23 Mar 2018

Investamatch features in the ODT

It has been described as the Tinder of investing.

Just like the online dating tool, newly launched Dunedin-based start-up InvestaMatch matches people.

It is a novel approach for business owners to connect with the right investors, whether that is investing money or time in a business.

"We aren't a transactional platform and in no way do we broker deals or even have any knowledge whether an opportunity listing has been successful.

"We're a membership database - it's up to our members to make contact with each other and to then do their due diligence and negotiations offline," chief executive Tim Oliver said.

Born and raised in Dunedin, where he attended Kavanagh College and the University of Otago, Mr Oliver has 15 years' experience in the financial services and insurance industries across New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

For the past five years, before launching InvestaMatch, he ran his own financial advisory businesses Oliver Financial Planning and First Mortgages NZ.

He was excited about his latest challenge. The plan was to establish InvestaMatch in New Zealand and then expand into Australia, the United Kingdom and hopefully the United States over the next few years.

"Because we are international and not purely focused on start-ups like other platforms, we believe we will offer the widest range of business investment opportunities in Australasia, and eventually globally," he said.

Sarah Ramsay, who has been helping with InvestaMatch said they noticed early on that there were a lot of people playing in the start-up space, and angel investors and venture capitalists.

But there were a "whole lot of other businesses" that tended to get left out of that equation.

It was about connecting people - investors could be investing money or their time - and making it more accessible and opening up other opportunities, she said.

"We have no transparency as far as deals being made or money exchanged. Often, it's people having a coffee and taking it offline. Powerfully simple, I like to think of it," she said.

Among the baby-boomer generation, which was hitting retirement age, there was a wealth of knowledge, including skills, connections and relationships, and that social and knowledge capital could otherwise be lost, Mr Oliver said.

To date, InvestaMatch has tested the concept with a local focus group of about 30 Dunedin investors, business owners and accountants, as well as exhibiting at a Start-up Dunedin event.

The response had been "fantastic" and feedback was incorporated into the development of an adviser module, enhanced filters, sign-up processes and revised pricing, he said.

There had been a very enthusiastic response from both the accounting sector and from lawyers, the pair said.

InvestaMatch already had more than 20 South Island investors registered, an Australian shareholder and investor network in the pipeline, and several listings.

Finding investors was not an issue - as there was a real appetite for new opportunities - so Mr Oliver's immediate focus was on getting a wide array of listings.

Two such listings were local start-ups Wheel Houses NZ and Urbn Vino Dunedin.

Wheel Houses NZ was a Southland start-up that created small, compact homes on a light trailer.

Urbn Vino's Central Otago winemaker Brendan Seal was also releasing the concept of his urban winery on InvestaMatch.

Having trialled the idea of a pop-up winery at the former Gresham Hotel site in 2016, Mr Seal had now taken a permanent lease on the same building, part of the historic Vogel St warehouse precinct.

The winery would produce Central Otago pinot noir and offer retail and trade sales, tastings, tours and functions. It would be expanding to full production and a seven-day operation by 2019.

Mrs Ramsay, who is also chairwoman of Start-up Dunedin, said there were "tonnes" of investors who did not fit the typical mould, with a wealth of knowledge they could share, but who were not tapped into networks.

Mr Oliver said the market was also there for succession planning. For a business owner wanting to retire, it could allow for a staged buy-out process, for someone to come in and "learn the ropes" and have a transfer of relationships, knowledge and skills.

Dunedin had lots of people with ideas they wanted to explore, existing businesses, and a supportive network of advisers.

"Opportunities are everywhere, absolutely everywhere. We want to be a place where people can find them ... helping as many businesses as possible," he said.

*This is an extract from the Otago Daily Times. You can view the original article here: Matching business and investors*