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Global from Day One: New Zealand-based Sparkbox Ventures makes two investments from seed fund

The Global from Day One Fund – the new seed investment fund established by Sparkbox Ventures and the ICEHOUSE – has made its first two investment commitments into two technology companies, Mohio and Stay Today. Andrew Duff, Sparkbox’s chairman, saidGlobal from Day One’s key criteriais to invest in new technology companies with an international focus.

“The New Zealand market is too small to sustain most new technologies, so young companies with high growth potential must have global ambitions at an early stage.The first two companies with which we have invested are already heading into offshore markets. “Stay Today has launched its last-minute accommodation booking application into the New Zealand and Australian markets, and has set its wider target on the wider Asia-Pacific region. “Mohio, which has developed an innovative tool to help large organisations manage and utilise data and information by making it far more accessible, has already attracted its first industry clients in New Zealand and considerable interest from some major corporations in Australia and the United States.

“We hope to make further investments prior to Christmas. We are seeing very strong interest from entrepreneurs, including demand for investment from commercial opportunities emerging from the science and research sector. There is a strong pipeline of investment proposals for consideration in the first six months of 2013.”

The Global from Day One Fund has up to $4.6 million available for investment – having raised $2.3 million from private investors and with access to matching co-investment from the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund. It aims to invest into around 25start-up companies with international ambitions over the next four years.

Its investors include some of New Zealand’s most experienced and active early stage investors, as well as a number of international investors who are interested in deal flow coming from New Zealand. Nationally-focused early stage investor Sparkbox Ventures is managing the fund. The investment committee involves top start-up investors from across the country. 

Background information Stay Today Stay Todayis a mobile application-based service offering ultra-last minute special deals on booking high quality hotel rooms in major cities for same day business people. The rates offered to customers are consistently better than other online booking options and continue to be further discounted as the day progresses. The application service has been built from the ground up for mobile so the experience is fast and painless.

Problem:Travellers arriving in a city without pre-booked accommodation, particularly late in the day, have few choices to check and book accommodation in a fast and easy way,or to take advantage of particular specials that may be being offered to fill room vacancies, a particular challenge faced by the hotel industry.

Solution: Stay Today’s service uses a fast, user-friendly iPhone and (in the future) Android smartphone application to link unsold hotel rooms with mobile travellers. Users can book a same-day hotel in less than ten seconds, and for a better price than traditional online travel agents due to a unique real-time pricing engineand contract relationships between the Company and the hotels. The Stay Today application is readily available and can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store.

The service has commenced operating in Australia through hotels in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, with hotels in Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart launching before the end of the year. Stay Today has also launched in NZ with hotels in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Rotorua available to book at short notice. In addition, an exclusive marketing agreement has been signed with one of the largest media companies in Australia. Similar models have been launched in the US and Europe, but to date no player has targeted the Asia Pacific region.

The market opportunity is enormous across Asia Pacific when considering that the same-day hotel booking market comprises 15% of all hotel bookings. In New Zealand alone, this represents a NZ$240mmarket, and in Australia, is estimated as a AU$900mmarket.

Mohio Mohio is a computer solution comprising very intuitive and cost effective tool for visualising, navigating, and understanding complex information spaces. It provides web-based tools which assist organisations to visualise and navigate their information and knowledge spaces in an easy-to-use interface – similar to a mind map. Mohio came out of research at the University of Auckland. It has received pre-seed funding from Auckland UniServices Limited, and has already attracted its first industry clients in New Zealand and considerable interest from a variety of marketsboth in New Zealand and overseas.

Problem: Businesses are swamped with information from both inside and outside their organisations. They face the challenge of discovering what information they hold is relevant to a problem, efficiently accessing it, making sense out of it, and remembering how it was achieved for others to re-use.

Solution: 
Mohio tools allow users to interact with complex information with an intuitive interface that integrates visual and textual presentations. By leveraging off human visual processing capabilities, it enables organisations to more efficiently explore, learn and remember important information and their relationships. Being a visualisation framework, Mohio can potentially be applied to a wide variety of markets. Information repositories with some form of structured content are especially suitable for the application.

Source: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1211/S01146/new-seed-fund-makes-first-two-investments.htm

 
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