Angel investor Basil Peters spent the first half of his
career as an entrepreneurial chief executive. He tells
business editor Dene Mackenzie his focus is now on how
entrepreneurs and angel investors exit transactions.
Angel investor Basil Peters. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Angel investor Basil Peters is unashamedly enthusiastic
about the state of affairs of New Zealand's angel investing
The country had an international reputation as a strong,
well-funded investing community and the reason was the high
level of angel investors from this country investing around
As an example, Mr Peters, from Vancouver, said at a angel
investing conference in Silicon Valley last year, 23 New
Zealand angel investors were there, more than from any other
country other than America.
''New Zealand has a very activit angel community. They really
get it here.''
Mr Peters was in Dunedin to attend the 2013 Angel Summit
which finished yesterday. Angel investing involves investors
with available money pairing up with entrepreneurs who have a
small company, sometimes struggling for cash to expand.
Mr Peters said having being an angel investor and a fund
manager, he realised that when he had made an exceptional
return on investment, it was always because the exit went
His mission in Dunedin was to increase the percentage of
entrepreneurs and angels who sold their companies at the
peak, then using the funds from the sale to move on to other
Only about 25% of companies were sold in an exit strategy,
giving the angel investors and the entrepreneurs a profit, Mr
That left 75% of companies that grew in value, but the
investors and entrepreneurs would not exit.
''If they fail to exit, it is a lost opportunity and the most
likely thing that will happen is the company will fail. It is
a fatal mistake to not sell at the right time and it's hard
for entrepreneurs to understand.''
He had seen valuable companies flourish and grow for several
years before the slide started, usually ending with the
At its peak, the company could have been worth $50 million to
$100 million but the investors and entrepreneurs failed to
see the opportunity to sell.
Selling to another investor usually saw a fresh investment of
capital and ideas, he said.
When Mr Peters set up his first company, Nexus Engineering,
he did not understand about having an exit strategy. One was
never mentioned at the board table in 10 years. If he had
known about the strategy, he would have likened it to selling
one of his children. There was a sentimental attachment to
something an entrepreneur started which made it hard to give
up, he said.
However, eventually, he did sell Nexus to Cisco. The company
was still operating and some of the people he hired straight
out of college were still working for it.
''I'm glad not to have to run the enterprise I created. I am
glad to be doing other things. Since then, I have worked with
50 other companies.''
Mr Peters said if he could raise the percentage of exit
strategies for New Zealand companies from 25% to 50%, it
would significantly increase the amount of money available
''You will see economic growth and more companies started,
giving better jobs for our children and grandchildren.''
Angel investor and entrepreneur.
• Vancouver born and raised, still lives in the city.
• Aged 61, Married with two daughters.
• Founded Nexus Engineering while still in graduate school.
The attention generated by the company led to several awards
including Entrepreneur of the Year, Entrepreneurship Silver
Award, British Columbia Science and Engineering Gold Medal
and Business Leader of the Year. Nexus was sold in the
mid-1990s and is now part of Cisco.
• This is his first visit to New Zealand