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CEO and Founder of Zetaris offers tips for capital raising

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CEO and Founder of Zetaris offers tips for capital raising

With the pandemic, the Russia/Ukraine conflict and weakened supply chains tightening the market and making funding even more competitive for Australian startups to secure, many founders covet international funding and are chasing the holy grail of large international investments. 

After decades of senior executive roles as an enterprise-level technology executive and CEO, I spotted a gap. I injected my own personal capital, assembled a small team of software engineers in my garage and created the disruptive decentralised data platform and data mesh for enterprise reporting and analytics. Early on, I couldn’t secure any funding in Australia or overseas, so I had to bootstrap.

Six years later, we closed a $30 million round, securing backing from CIA-backed In-Q-Tel, Exto Partners, Vulpes Ventures Singapore, 72 Capital and others. Zetaris is now valued at $150 million. 

Here are my 5 top tips that I wish someone had told me before I embarked on the journey:

Understand your target VCs

Start with clear criteria for the VCs you want to attract. The right VCs are active and aligned in your sector and understand your industry. They should have the capacity to meet your current funding needs and, if this is the start of your finding journey, ensure they can participate in future rounds if that’s a requirement. 

Great VCs do more than provide funds. They can be a source of strategic thinking, networking and future funding either directly or by attracting other investors. Importantly, they should feel like good business partners that don’t try to “over-manage” you. It’s a fine balance that you are looking for. An investor is your most important business partner and should be far more valuable to you than just their money.

Do your homework so you understand how your target VCs view the world, what they invest in and their vision of the future. Then highlight how your product or solution supports and enhances their vision. Pitch to them in a way that shows that you are a perfect fit for their objectives and show them a view of how the market will evolve towards your vision in the future. It’s not a one size fits all approach. You need to do your homework and tailor your message and positioning. 

Your pitch deck must highlight your vision and road map, the expertise of your team and the financial model. It’s very important to understand that VCs see thousands of pitch decks yearly. Yours needs to stand out from the pile sitting on their desk. Here is an example of some of the pitch decks that were used by many great brands in the technology sector. Another little trick I learned with the pitch deck was to develop a one-page quick summary of the document and put that into your introductory email.

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Open an office near your target VCs

You can’t hope to secure the attention of international investors from the other side of the world. You need to go and open an office near them and be present on the ground in their local market. Too many Aussie founders don’t make the sacrifice to go and rattle the tin personally. They think that hiring a Country Manager will be the magic that makes it happen. It isn’t. Nobody but you as the founder understands the vision and the mission and has the passion and commitment to drive it as you do. 

Remember, as an Aussie company; you’re already walking 10 feet behind the startups that are pitching to them in their own country. You have to show them how you’re addressing the white space and have a serious point of difference. This does come at a high personal cost; I am the father of four children, and it isn’t the easy path to tread, but it is the only one that is most effective and can short circuit conversion. 

Get involved with Austrade 

Austrade is an amazing resource; you need to engage with them and be proactive. They will help you get connected in Aussie networking groups overseas and help you understand the groups that will influence key investors, help you penetrate their networks and meet people that the VCs listen to. You have to immerse yourself in the local ecosystem and influence many people – buzz spreads faster when you’re on the ground. 

Invest in Gartner and Forrester early 

One of my best decisions was to partner early on with Gartner and Forrester. They helped immensely to put us on the radar of the right investors that could help fuel our growth. Analysts can help target investors who have not heard about what you’re doing and get them comfortable with your proposition. Buy that membership and leverage their networks. 

Choose the right advisors 

It is crucial to do due diligence on potential advisors. There are some great ones out there, but inexperienced founders can fall prey to advisors that are charlatans, who will take your money and provide poor advice. Examine their track record with similar startups and assess if they really have the market knowledge to advise you correctly.

Your board members, advisory board and current shareholder community, are critically valuable advisors who can provide you with connections to overseas investors. Don’t take them for granted; have a plan to cultivate relationships that translate to trust-based advice and recommendations.

Securing foreign investment isn’t a short-term activity. It might take more than a year from when you start having the initial conversations. VCs are savvy and wait to get to know you. They want to understand your long-term vision or if you’re burning capital and are desperate and about to go broke in six months. Once you get their attention, you must be very purposeful in building the right optics over time. They’re building a database on you following every discussion, so you have to constantly excite them and build on the momentum by continuing to demonstrate customer acquisition, potential and growth. 

Australian startups can revolutionise the world. The innovation we are creating in this country is groundbreaking. We are creating new ways to analyse data, cybersecurity advancements, and green technologies that can help us and the world reduce carbon emissions and forge new frontiers through medical breakthroughs. There has never been a more exciting time to be an Aussie founder and to push our ideas onto the global stage. 

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

BALTIMORE (AP) — Teams of engineers worked Saturday on the intricate process of cutting and lifting the first section of twisted steel from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, which crumpled into the Patapsco River this week after a massive cargo ship crashed into one of its supports.

Sparks could be seen flying from a section of bent and crumpled steel in the afternoon, and video released by officials in the evening showed demolition crews using a cutting torch to slice through the thick beams. The joint incident command said in a statement that the work was being done on the top of the north side of the collapsed structure.

Crews were carefully measuring and cutting the steel from the broken bridge before attaching straps so it can be lifted onto a barge and floated away, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said.

Seven floating cranes — including a massive one capable of lifting 1,000 tons — 10 tugboats, nine barges, eight salvage vessels and five Coast Guard boats were on site in the water southeast of Baltimore.

Each movement affects what happens next and ultimately how long it will take to remove all the debris and reopen the ship channel and the blocked Port of Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

“I cannot stress enough how important today and the first movement of this bridge and of the wreckage is. This is going to be a remarkably complicated process,” Moore said.

Undeterred by the chilly morning weather, longtime Baltimore resident Randy Lichtenberg and others took cellphone photos or just quietly looked at the broken pieces of the bridge, which including its steel trusses weigh as much as 4,000 tons.

“I wouldn’t want to be in that water. It’s got to be cold. It’s a tough job,” Lichtenberg said from a spot on the river called Sparrows Point.

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The shock of waking up Tuesday morning to video of what he called an iconic part of the Baltimore skyline falling into the water has given way to sadness.

“It never hits you that quickly. It’s just unbelievable,” Lichtenberg said.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

One of the first goals for crews on the water is to get a smaller auxiliary ship channel open so tugboats and other small barges can move freely. Crews also want to stabilize the site so divers can resume searching for four missing workers who are presumed dead.

Two other workers were rescued from the water in the hours following the bridge collapse, and the bodies of two more were recovered from a pickup truck that fell and was submerged in the river. They had been filling potholes on the bridge and while police were able to stop vehicle traffic after the ship called in a mayday, they could not get to the construction workers, who were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The crew of the cargo ship Dali, which is managed by Synergy Marine Group, remained on board with the debris from the bridge around it, and were safe and were being interviewed. They are keeping the ship running as they will be needed to get it out of the channel once more debris has been removed.

The vessel is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd. and was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk.

The collision and collapse appeared to be an accident that came after the ship lost power. Federal and state investigators are still trying to determine why.

Assuaging concern about possible pollution from the crash, Adam Ortiz, the Environmental Protection Agency’s mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, said there was no indication in the water of active releases from the ship or materials hazardous to human health.

REBUILDING

Officials are also trying to figure out how to handle the economic impact of a closed port and the severing of a major highway link. The bridge was completed in 1977 and carried Interstate 695 around southeast Baltimore.

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Maryland transportation officials are planning to rebuild the bridge, promising to consider innovative designs or building materials to hopefully shorten a project that could take years.

President Joe Biden’s administration has approved $60 million in immediate aid and promised the federal government will pay the full cost to rebuild.

Ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore remains suspended, but the Maryland Port Administration said trucks were still being processed at marine terminals.

The loss of a road that carried 30,000 vehicles a day and the port disruption will affect not only thousands of dockworkers and commuters, but also U.S. consumers, who are likely to feel the impact of shipping delays. The port handles more cars and more farm equipment than any other U.S. facility.

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Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Washington, D.C.; Kristin M. Hall in Nashville, Tennessee; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed.

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

DALLAS (AP) — The Texas attorney general has opened an investigation into a key Boeing supplier that is already facing scrutiny from federal regulators over quality of parts that it provides to the aircraft maker.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said it began looking into Spirit AeroSystems because of “apparent manufacturing defects” in parts that “have led to numerous concerning or dangerous incidents.”

In a statement Friday, a Spirit spokesman said, “While we do not comment on investigations, Spirit is wholly focused on providing the highest quality products to all our customers, to include the Boeing Company.”

Paxton asked the Wichita, Kansas-based supplier to turn over documents produced since the start of 2022 about communication with investors and Boeing about flaws in parts and corrective steps the company took.

The request goes into detail in seeking internal discussions around Spirit’s efforts to create a diverse workforce “and whether those commitments are unlawful or are compromising the company’s manufacturing processes.” Paxton asked for a breakdown of Spirit’s workforce by race, sexual orientation and other factors, and whether the makeup has changed over time.

Since a Spirit-made door-plug panel blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max in January, some conservatives have tried to link aviation safety to diversity at manufacturers.

Paxton is a conservative Republican who this week agreed to pay $271,000 in restitution to victims and take 15 hours of training in legal ethics to settle felony charges of securities fraud. Paxton did not admit wrongdoing in the 9-year-old case.

The Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into Boeing Spirit after the Alaska Airlines incident. An FAA audit of manufacturing procedures in Spirit’s factory gave the company failing grades in seven of 13 areas.

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Boeing is in talks to buy back Spirit, which it spun off nearly 20 years ago, as part of a plan to tighten oversight of manufacturing in its supply chain.

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Boeing plane found to have missing panel after flight from California to southern Oregon

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Boeing plane found to have missing panel after flight from California to southern Oregon

By CLAIRE RUSH and LISA BAUMANN

 

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A post-flight inspection revealed a missing panel on an older Boeing 737-800 that had just arrived at its destination in southern Oregon on Friday after flying from San Francisco, officials said, the latest in a series of recent incidents involving aircraft manufactured by the company.

United Flight 433 left San Francisco at 10:20 a.m. and landed at Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Medford shortly before noon, according to FlightAware. The airport’s director, Amber Judd, said the plane landed safely without incident and the external panel was discovered missing during a post-flight inspection. No injuries were reported.

The airport paused operations to check the runway and airfield for debris, Judd said, and none was found.

Judd said she believed the United ground crew or pilots doing a routine inspection before the next flight were the ones who noticed the missing panel.

A United Airlines spokesperson said via email that the flight was carrying 139 passengers and six crew members, and no emergency was declared because there was no indication of the damage during the flight.

 

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The Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center is pictured in Medford, Ore., on Jan. 4, 2024. The first lawsuit filed Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, brought amid reports that a nurse at the southern Oregon hospital replaced intravenous fentanyl drips with tap water seeks up to $11.5 million on behalf of the estate of a 65-year-old man who died. (Janet Eastman/The Oregonian/The Oregonian via AP)

 

“After the aircraft was parked at the gate, it was discovered to be missing an external panel,” the United spokesperson said. “We’ll conduct a thorough examination of the plane and perform all the needed repairs before it returns to service. We’ll also conduct an investigation to better understand how this damage occurred.”

The Federal Aviation Administration also said it would investigate.

The missing panel was on the underside of the aircraft where the wing meets the body and just next to the landing gear, United said.

The plane made its first flight in April 1998 and was delivered to Continental Airlines in December of that year, according to the FAA. United Airlines has operated it since Nov. 30, 2011. It is a 737-824, part of the 737-800 series that was a precursor to the Max.

Boeing said, also via email, that it would defer comment to United about the carrier’s fleet and operations.

In January a panel that plugged a space left for an extra emergency door blew off a Boeing Max 9 jet in midair just minutes after an Alaska Airlines flight took off from Portland, leaving a gaping hole and forcing pilots to make an emergency landing. There were no serious injuries.

The door plug was eventually found in the backyard of a high school physics teacher in southwest Portland, along with other debris from the flight scattered nearby. The Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation.

On March 6, fumes detected in the cabin of a Boeing 737-800 Alaska Airlines flight destined for Phoenix caused pilots to head back to the Portland airport.

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The Port of Portland said passengers and crew noticed the fumes and the flight landed safely. Seven people including passengers and crew requested medical evaluations, but no one was hospitalized, officials said.

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Baumann reported from Bellingham, Washington.

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