Australian Venture Capital: Super Shake Up

BusinessWeek has a great profile piece on prolific early stage venture capitalist, Josh Kopelman of US firm First Round CapitalSuper Angels Shake Up Venture Capital. The article’s take is to delve into the world of investors who are running counter to the cycle. While everyone else is running away from risk, these guys are running into the fire and making investments.

A core premise behind the piece is that in an IPO and acquisition-starved market, the math of billion dollar VC funds doesn’t add up. Enter the traditional, venture capital as cottage industry style fund – smaller, leaner, more agile and definitely more entrepreneurial, similar in nature to the people it invests in and both able to identify with and nuture successful entrpreneurs.

It’s a good article and well worth the read.

I am witnessing somewhat of a shake up in the VC industry in Australia at the moment as well. Together with two partners, I’ve been running Innovation Bay since November 2003. At the time I was an early stage VC and there were a number of other players in the market. Over the next 5 and a half years though, the VC industry has gone through some major contractions. The number of active VCs has totally shrunk, yet the demand for capital and savvy advice has continued to rocket.

Fast forward to mid 2009. Innovation Bay is hosting a new format event on the 9th June. We are putting on an Angel Dinner for a select subset of our members, many of whom easily fall within the BusinessWeek rubric of ‘super angels’.

We are inviting along two technology entrepreneurs to pitch their ventures. I’ve been truly amazed at the number and talent of the entrepreneurs who have approached us with a view to being chosen. The hardest part for me is that I’d love to have them all along, but alas we have to limit the numbers for this event.

The demand, though, does point to a real need in Australia and I am hopeful that the newly announced Commonwealth Commercialisation Institute will play a major role in satisfying this demand.

I am also going to be a judge in a pitching competition for creative projects called Back My Project. It is part of the Creative Sydney festival of ideas and has a pool of cash behind it. Come along to the MCA on the 4th June if you are in Sydney – it will be loads of fun. It is all part of Vivid Sydney, the “biggest international music and light festival in the Southern Hemisphere”!