2023 Top Three...

Robbie Paul

Losses, Lowlights, Wins, and Highlights


I noted there was a potential “backlog” of losses to come at our Singapore Limited Partner dinner in July. We had averaged more than five per year between 2017 and 2021. Despite a growing and maturing portfolio (215 new companies since 2017), “only” three companies had failed in the 18 months from the start of 2022.

The LPs were unfazed. They understood that many startups fail. I also laid out the factors leading to the relative dearth in recent losses: strong capital raises in 2021, round extensions and burn reductions in 2022, and convertible notes and down rounds in early 2023.

The LPs knew that venture capital was defined by backing winners, not avoiding losses. They were buoyed by the strong growth of many Kiwi companies. The aggregate revenue of the companies in Growth Fund I has scaled from $153m in 2021 to $254 in 2022 to $384m today. This includes remarkable execution by the likes of Halter, Hnry, Crimson, and Tracksuit.

Then Supie happened, prompting more than 50 articles by the press and ample negatively directed at startups (a lowlight). This was followed by an outpouring of support from seasoned entrepreneurs and investors for the Supie team and mission (a highlight).

Below are a few more highlights and lowlights and check out our 2023 NZ Startup Year in Review here.

Also, a final reminder of our year-end deadline for Growth Fund II.

This is our flagship Series A-D stage fund that will invest in 20 Kiwi tech companies over the next three years. It builds upon our first fund which invested in greats like those named above as well as Mint Innovation, Open Star, Sharesies, LawVu, Dawn Aerospace, and others.

We have >$75m committed including Generate Kiwisaver, Sir Stephen Tindall, an Iwi, and nearly 400 Kiwis and family offices. Interested? Learn more and review the Application here.

Here’s to an amazing year for NZ venture in 2024.



2023 Top Three…


  • Generate KiwiSaver supporting Icehouse Ventures Growth Fund II and Movac Fund VI. They join Simplicity and Fisher Funds who are increasingly participating in the space. Even if their investment grew proportionate to their FUM growth this could result in hundreds of millions being invested in Kiwi startups in the coming decade.
  • Founders becoming shareholders in Icehouse Ventures. The best part of our $10m equity raise was having dozens of founders buying into our company and our long-term mission. A huge thanks to Anne Fulton, Jamie Beaton, Milot Zeqiri and Brittany Gribben, Shaun Quincey, Guy Horrocks, Scott McPhee, Mike Carden, Sean Molloy, Brooke Roberts, and many others.
  • The rise and rise of second-time founders. A sign of a vibrant ecosystem is the recycling of talent, experience, and capital. We were excited to invest in more second-time founders in the past 12 months than in our first 12 years. This includes Shaun Quincey (Simfuni), Mark Hurley (Caruso), Greg O'Grady (Alimetry), Lisa King (AF), and Derek Handley (Aera).


  • Theresa Gattung’s spotlight on the $32b gender investment gap. The report served as yet another reminder of the very small portion of venture capital that is being invested in women entrepreneurs.
  • Toxic responses to our use of Aotearoa in ads. Promotions of our Growth Fund and “companies revolutionizing the world from Aotearoa New Zealand” on Facebook were consistently peppered with offensive comments.
  • Showcase company allocations scaled back. Though this is a sign of a healthy ecosystem.


  • Supie’s failureSee my Op-Ed here.
  • Two other software startups failed but were not announced/ picked up by the media.
  • Significant down rounds by three others. The good news is they are funded to continue to pursue their mission.


  • Halter’s $85m capital raise defying the venture capital drought. Read more.
  • The rise and rise of Hnry and their $35m capital raise. Read more.
  • Jamie Beaton’s recognition as EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Read more.


Check out the 2023 NZ Startup Year in Review



Tags: Startups, CEO, Growth, Community

Robbie Paul

Written by Robbie Paul

CEO of Icehouse Ventures.