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“Craziest and Wackiest” Ideas Wanted

Blackbird is looking for the craziest ideas.

On Friday, two members of the Auckland venture capital fund were in Dunedin on the final leg of its annual trip to the South Island.

The fund was set up 10 years ago in Sydney with the aim of being founder-focused for the “craziest and wackiest” ideas.

Startups needed a lot of money to bring their ideas to life and Blackbird aimed to be there from the start, said director Phoebe Harrop.

Blackbird has raised over $2 billion in its lifetime and has had a dedicated New Zealand fund since 2019.

Ms Harrop and community manager David Long have spent the past week traveling the South Island, which included stops in Dunedin, Christchurch and Queenstown, meeting and ‘hunting’ potential founders and arranging pitch coaching .

Ms Harrop and Mr Long also attended the Electrify Aotearoa Women Founders Conference in Christchurch on Thursday.

The fund has attempted to make an annual trip to the South Island, but Covid-19 restrictions have prevented this from happening in the past.

There were some “really interesting” businesses being built in the South Island, particularly Dunedin and Invercargill, Ms Harrop said.

The South Island was full of “wild hearts” working on “random issues” with a global perspective, Mr Long said.

“You can find amazing founders here, which has been really interesting to see.”

The fund aimed to find founders who were doing their “life’s work” and had “discovered a secret about the world” that they wanted to fix.

Otago’s founders “were building businesses for important issues,” Ms Harrop said.

“They’re trying to bring together the resources they have and the creativity they have to solve them in their own way.”

Blackbird’s only investment in the lower South Island so far has been Dunedin-based start-up Sahha, which hoped to find more.

The fund invested $600,000 in the venture which aimed to improve mental health outcomes on a mobile app.

“We want to find more Sahhas here to help them get off the ground,” Ms Harrop said.

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