MyApiary is a Hamilton tech company that provides SaaS data and management services to beekeepers.
Working with Simmonds Stewart, MyApiary recently completed its first external funding round. A round that was led by NZ agri-powerhouse Gallagher Group. Darren Bainbridge, the founder of MyApiary, talked to us about his experience.
MyApiary began life four years ago as a hive monitoring system that provided beekeepers with real-time data on colony health and the local hive environment. After speaking to potential customers, the company added a management layer that can be used to identify and rank outstanding tasks, and to identify the tools required for each site visit in advance.
With a more refined product/market fit in place Co-Founders Darren Bainbridge and Carl Vink began looking for external funding, primarily for the roll out of the software and the execution of MyApiary’s market entry strategy.
Darren and Carl secured Gallagher Group as the lead investor after spending a significant amount of time learning about the investor market in New Zealand. A key focus for the early stage company was to not take investment from the target customer group. Maintaining independence and building credibility were key focuses for the MyApiary team.
As part of the journey to finding the right support to help the business grow, MyApiary joined the SODA incubator in April 2015 and subsequently moved the business office to the Waikato.
While Gallagher took an interest early on, the serious investment conversations didn’t begin until the team had developed an in depth understanding of the commercial beekeeping sector and the critical need for operations and performance management software.
Having a New Zealand agri-tech heavy weight as a cornerstone investor has provided MyApiary with a vast network of talent and experience to support the company along with a valuable profile lift in the market. Gallagher Group is exceptionally well connected in terms of access to potential end users and channel partners.
Time was a critical factor for MyApiary in closing the round so that it could roll out the software as soon as possible. Gallagher (understandably for a large organisation) also had a tight window in which they could dedicate their time and energy to the deal. The team was therefore looking for legal advisors that were specialists in venture funding and could assist with the negotiation, documentation and closing of the round on a tight schedule. Simmonds Stewart were recommended to Darren and Carl by Graham Gaylard of NetValue.
Chris Wilson and Sarah Yen were MyApiary’s key contacts at Simmonds Stewart. Darren notes that they were responsive, quick and just got on with the job. Darren was extremely impressed with how efficiently Chris handled feedback and implemented amendments as well as offering helpful advice throughout the process. They were also cheaper than other firms I talked to – a nice bonus!
Overall, from receipt of the first term sheet to receiving the initial cheque, the process took a total of around two weeks. An outstanding result for everyone involved.
Looking forward, Darren and Carl are focussing on growth, with MyApiary likely crossing the ditch next year. Ultimately, we want to be a global business, says Darren. We’re already receiving international enquiries, which is a great start.
From beehives to business, and everything in between, we wish MyApiary all the best and will certainly be keeping a close eye on their progress.
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