Angel investment guru drops in for lunch

MIG_RGBManawatu Investor Group (MIG) is off to a rollicking good start in 2015. It got down to the business of investment at its first meeting (26 February) when it received a pitch from Innovate 2014 co-winner Paul Linklater for his Strip Tillage start-up and heard from American angel investor John May.

This was May’s second trip to New Zealand but first time in Manawatu. He says that while he hasn’t had the luxury of watching MIG since they launched, he’s suitably impressed by its progress and metrics of success since it began.

He had been warned that there would be a different approach from what he was accustomed to on the East Coast of the US. After all, aren’t agritech and agrifood different industries to the software and the high tech deals in which he’s typically involved?

Not really.

“I could have been in Washington DC; I could have been in Georgia; I could have been in Seattle,” says May. “The investors were sophisticated and understood investment deals versus lifestyle deals.”

Investment needs to be in deals that provide a return that can be recycled and was impressed at the pipeline in Manawatu. But he reminds that this is not a quick turn-around game. “The main thing to recognise,” he says, “is that one has to be patient. We need to be very cognizant that we are building long-term mentor capital”.

Earlier in the day, Manawatu investors and companies had the opportunity to join May at a lunchtime workshop and Q&A session.

Chair-emeritus of the American Angel Capital Association, May is a lead instructor for the Power of Angel Investing seminars put on by the Angel Resource Institute.

A guest of the Angel Association of New Zealand, May really did write the book on angel investing. Two, actually: Every Business Needs an Angel and State of the Art: An Executive Briefing on Cutting-Edge Practices in American Angel Investing.

The managing partner of Washington DC-based New Vantage Group, May has organised five angel investment groups and has placed funds into more than 50 companies.

Previously, the Angel Association has hosted investors Bill Payne, Nelson Gray and John Huston.


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