Runway is one of the signature events on the Angel Association NZ calendar and provides founders with the opportunity to network and meet with other investors and founders from around the country.

BNZ Founder Scholarship recipients Leila Deljkovic and Ali Alomari, attended the AANZ Runway event in Auckland on 27 July 2022.

Leila is a computer systems engineer and a cofounder of Cropsy Technologies. Cropsy is bridging the gap in AgTech by providing radically new solutions that are accessible and valuable to every grower today, and that pave a path for innovations of tomorrow. Their mission is to empower growers with ground-breaking technology to transform fruit growing for people and planet.

Here, Leila shares her key learnings for other founders, from the Runway event.

Leila Deljkovic
Leila Deljkovic

At Cropsy Technologies, Ali and I were thrilled to received the BNZ scholarship to attend the AANZ Runway this July in Wellington. 

The AANZ Runway is one of those rare events where founders like us are in the same room as investors and angels without the pressure of having to pitch, sell, and impress.

From my own experience, and I’m sure many other founders would agree, it often feels like there’s a semi-permeable membrane between us and investors when we’re pitching, and probed on the details of our businesses; we might not always interpret things the same way or feel comfortable to challenge the other side. At AANZ Runway, that invisible barrier is stripped away and everyone is on the same page.

I was pleased to see a diverse group of people, both investors and founders, together in the same room. As the discussions progressed, it was clear to me that the thoughts and opinions in the room were balanced; people could speak up freely and contribute to the conversation what they felt was important to them. The highlight of the day for me was the very light-hearted investor speed dating; after three years I think I’ve finally nailed my elevator pitch.

The three central topics of this Runway were very relevant given the recent slump in international capital markets; Valuation Rationale & Methodologies, Capital Strategy Planning, and Investor Relations & Portfolio Management.

Here are my top takeaways:

  • Valuing early stage high-growth ventures is a timeless question, but as hard as we wish for a magic fool-proof answer, there will never be one. In fact, it’s better that way. Behind a valuation is the story of your company – it’s past, present, future, and the risk landscape of the road ahead. As the storyteller, your goal is to create a champion for your company within the investment entity you’re talking to, so make sure you know who you’re talking to and who could become your champion.
  • Capital raising is part of startup “business as usual”, and a good capital strategy plan is not one that’s perfectly accurate (let’s be real, it will always be wrong); it’s one that has scenarios and is kept up-to-date. The factors that influence which scenario path you’ll head down all depends on whether you’re hitting your markers of value. Some questions to ask yourself are how do you measure your company’s success? What’s your position in the market and how can you test that position? Is your value driven by ARR (Annual Run Rate) or IP (Intellectual Property)? Do your customers all fit your ideal customer profile? If more capital came in tomorrow, do you have repeatable processes to keep the growth engine going? As we all know, things don’t always go to plan, so your measures of success can change over time. Just make sure you and your investors are aligned with what success looks like for your company.
  • “Open and honest,” is the golden rule when it comes to investor communications, and good communications mean everything when building up solid relationships with your investors. We all love to share good news and big successes with our shareholders, but it’s also important to be transparent when things aren’t going so well. Good investors will understand that the startup journey doesn’t always follow the beaten path, so the sooner you inform them when something’s gone awry, the sooner you can get help and figure out your next steps.

I feel we’ve walked away from the AANZ Runway a little bit wiser. As a founder, it’s tough looking out to the rest of the world seeing startup giants falling from the sky, and though our island nation isn’t unyielding to the shockwaves coming from abroad, we’re certainly sheltered from its full impact.

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