In the angel industry, post angel funding is limited in New Zealand and when we see angel investments graduate to this space and secure private equity funding, we’re very heartened. The Rockit Global story is a great example of this.
Members of Enterprise Angels, Waikato/Bay of Plenty angel investment organisation, have, as a result of Pioneer Capital and Oriens Capital’s recent purchase of a significant stake in Rockit Global Limited, booked a large increase in the value of their investment.
“This result, while not ‘cash in the pocket’ is a great outcome for the angel investors in these companies, the early stage investment community and the agtech sector in New Zealand” said Enterprise Angel’s Executive Director Bill Murphy. “Not only does it demonstrate that it is possible to get close to that mythical 10x return but that it’s possible to achieve that in a New Zealand food /agtech company. That’s something we’ve been working on for years now.”
Enterprise Angel investors first invested in Rockit Global Limited (then called Havelock North Fruit Company) in 2011 and in the Rockit Orchard Limited Partnerships, becoming the first large scale growers of Rockit™ apples in 2012 and 2014. Along with the founder, the Enterprise Angels investors formed the board of Havelock North Fruit Company Limited (now Rockit Global Limited) and drove the growth of the company and development of the Rockit Orchard LPs which grow Rockit™ apples on over 100 ha of orchards in the Hawkes Bay.
“It’s a great demonstration of ‘smart’ money” said Director Steve Saunders one of the earliest angel investors. “Given our experience in nearly every aspect of the horticulture industry including intellectual property protection, growing, packaging, marketing and export we investors were able to bring much more value to the company than just the dollars we were investing”.
Rockit apples are a beautiful red, crisp miniature apple. Leveraging their uniqueness, Rockit apples are sold as apple snacks in attractive packaging. In 2016, the company exported 77 containers of fruit and earned its maiden profit.
“Securing private equity funding as Rockit has from New Zealand investors is very significant and something I hope we see a lot more of in future” says Murphy. “It sends a signal to the early stage investors and entrepreneurs that it is possible to achieve post angel round funding to better position young New Zealand companies to provide substantial investment returns.”
As is the case with the angel investors the new investors also bring ‘smart money.’ “It is very positive that private equity investors of this calibre, are recognising the tremendous potential in Rockit Global Limited and the industry,” said John Loughlin. “The new shareholders have experience in growing New Zealand export businesses. They will contribute governance expertise and additional capital to help the company deliver on its ambitious growth plans.”
”We’ve worked very hard to get this business to where it is today, starting from very modest beginnings in 2011,” said Murray Denyer, also a director and one of the original angel investors. “It’s a major milestone to have gained the attention of and attracted private equity funding, and we’re all excited about the very strong future potential for this business.”
Rockit Global Limited’s Chief Executive Austin Mortimer will lead the local team focusing on growing a premium product and developing international markets. “Rockit Global Limited is a significant New Zealand success story. It clearly demonstrates how high-quality fruit can be positioned as a premium, value-added product through a robust brand strategy. It is well positioned to continue its rapid growth and capitalise on the substantial grab and go, healthy snack market.”