The Power of Storytelling and Capital Diversity: Key Learnings from ANZ’s Sunrise Conference

By Andy Hudson, Investment Manager at PFG Australia

With another fantastic Sunrise Conference firmly in the review, we decided to share a handful of our takeaways from one of ANZ’s marquee, founder-focused conferences. 

We are reminded of the powerful “number 8 wire” mentality: founders tend to be humble and resourceful (or scrappy, as our US colleagues say), with clear plans for turning a dollar into five. The ingrained culture of New Zealanders is a powerful resource and advantage for founders. One benefit of a global investment mandate is that we have the opportunity to become familiar with the many permutations of the venture and start-up sectors in markets worldwide. What’s notable is how NZ remains a place where founders are genuine and often understated versus what we hear elsewhere. This can be a tremendous asset as it keeps teams grounded and focused, attracting talent tied to the company’s mission.  However, it may also present challenges depending on how this culture/mentality adapts as the business moves into new and foreign markets. 

When considering lending opportunities in NZ, we are regularly impressed by the founders’ thoughtful presentation of their company’s history and objectives. #Storytelling was a key theme of Sunrise, with Canva’s Cameron Adams using the conference’s concluding remarks to highlight the importance of storytelling in aligning people and culture in organizations. This theme certainly extends to the capital raising process and how the story is communicated to investors across the capital structure, with different investors focused on different parts of the same story. At PFG, we focus on getting into the details quickly, understanding the revenue model, go-to-market, unit economics, and path to profitability to provide swift feedback to founders during our initial due diligence on where and when debt capital may be a useful tool. 

Sunrise workshop.

Finally, we are excited to see the continued growth and maturation of capital options, including increased awareness of debt and alternative capital. Our friends at Tractor Ventures (shout out to Jodie Imam and Gary Williams) hosted a session exploring the use cases for alternative debt capital, telling the stories of several of their portfolio companies and how debt capital was used to drive top-line growth while reducing dilution for founders and existing equity investors. Ultimately, a greater depth of capital options in the market across both equity and debt means the pie grows for everyone’s benefit. Seeing Blackbird collaborating with Tractor to host this session and help build awareness of the many alternatives to raising equity for start-ups and scale-ups in New Zealand was fantastic. 

As the Sunrise Conference concludes, we are energized by the opportunities on the horizon. The emphasis on New Zealand’s unique founder culture and the importance of effective storytelling stands out. The discussions on evolving capital avenues further highlight the continued maturation of capital markets and capital availability for early-stage and scale-ups in the country. At PFG, we aim to deeply understand these narratives, collaborate with founders, and contribute to NZ’s innovation ecosystem’s ongoing growth and development. We look forward to further engagements and learnings in the coming years. 

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30+ Year Global Strategic Partner

SVB is a leading American bank providing products, services and strategic advice for businesses at every stage. They operate as a go-to commercial bank for start-ups and established corporations, offering venture funding, private banking & wealth advising. SVB is the largest lender to technology companies globally.

SVB has built its reputation as the financial partner of the innovation economy – helping individuals, investors and the world’s most innovative companies achieve extraordinary outcomes.
PFG and SVB have maintained an official strategic partnership since the late 1980’s. We have collaborated together as co-lenders and extended each other's ability to reach new markets and provide deeper capital to high-growth companies.

PFG and SVB have provided growth debt across the U.S. & Canada, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, where we co-manage a Venture Debt Latin America Growth Lending Fund.

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IFC — a member of the World Bank Group — is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. IFC works in more than 100 countries, using its capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.

PFG and IFC are strategic partners where we extend IFC’s direct venture and VC funding, collaborating on fintech and tech lending across global growth markets.

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Aims to be the partner of choice for the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean. They finance projects to advance clean energy, modernize agriculture, strengthen transportation systems and expand access to financing.

IDB Invest, a member of the IDB Group, is a multilateral development bank committed to promoting the economic development of its member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean through the private sector. IDB Invest finances sustainable companies and projects to achieve financial results and maximize economic, social, and environmental development in the region. With a portfolio of $16.3 billion in asset management and 347 clients in 25 countries, IDB Invest provides innovative financial solutions and advisory services that meet the needs of its clients in a variety of industries.

PFG leads a joint venture with IDB Invest that provides debt capital to emerging innovative tech companies across the region via our Latin America Growth Lending Fund. The initiative brings investment expertise into LAC from top notch global players in this field.