Investors need to do their own due diligence

We’ve been based at The Icehouse in Auckland for the best part of two and a half years – since before we launched, and it’s a location that’s served us well. When we moved in back in 2013 The Icehouse was located on the second floor of the Textile Centre. It was a fairly jumbled affair with meeting rooms in the middle of the office, and desks scattered around the walls meaning that it kind of felt like an indoor version of the Daytona International Speedway. Things improved when The Icehouse moved up to Level 4. The space doubled, there was more natural light, and teams were no longer stacked one on the other.

It’s been a fun two and half years, but it’s time for us to move on. As a young growing business, at some point you need to make the call and get into your own space, and we’ve decided that we’re at that point in our life. In November we’re moving just down the road to a building which is being developed to set up digs with a number of other businesses, but we’ll have our own Snowball Effect space and that's important for us.

If you look at what will in 6 months or so be our new home, it’s currently undergoing major changes with workers crawling all over it to turn it from a warehouse into an office space. Part of the move has of course seen us sign the lease and depart with a deposit, but before all this took place we needed to do our due diligence, particularly as the new office is far from a complete. We did all the things you’d expect like checking over the contract, visiting other projects that the developer had recently completed, checking what their reputation was like and how existing tenants found them to deal with, and had a lawyer run over the curly stuff. It won’t be until we move in and spend some time in our new home that we’ll know if it’s going to work, but we figure it’s worth the risk and are going to give it a shot.

The concept of giving it a shot is of course not just confined to moving offices, and is often the attitude adopted for investing in young companies. The equity crowdfunding regulations that allowed Kiwis the opportunity to invest in a private growth companies have been around for almost 2 years, and as you’d expect there has been a reasonable spread of company performance since their capital raises.

We try to emphasise that Snowball Effect is a marketplace. We don't provide financial or investment advice. We provide deal flow so that investors have a simple way to discover and invest in a range of interesting growth companies. We encourage investors to carry out due diligence, ask tough questions, and think hard before investing.

Each company is of course very different, and each will undoubtedly face head winds at some point in its future. Some will come through afloat, others won’t. Investors need to assess each deal on its own merits.

Before an offer hits our marketplace, the regulations require that as a licensed operator we do some background checks, as well as ensure that companies disclose certain information that would be useful to help inform investors. However, the information required by law is significantly less than that required for other more regulated financial products, and as a result may not be sufficiently complete or balanced. Our background checks are outlined in more detail in our Disclosure Statement.

At Snowball Effect our focus is on vetting for offers that we think will be interesting for investors to assess in our marketplace. We support companies in preparing their story in a concise and coherent way. We hope that by working with companies as they prepare, we help to flush out many that aren’t yet ready for public investment, or would detract from Snowball Effect’s reputation.

This is valuable for both us and the companies. There is no point in a company spending time and money preparing an offer with little chance of success.

We launched Snowball Effect because we wanted to play a part in reigniting the capital markets in New Zealand. We saw this as an important element in making New Zealand a better, more productive country. Young, growing companies are exciting because they’re doing new things, employing more people, and often trying to build a future that improves the lives of others. We wanted to give more Kiwis the chance to be part of these stories, and share in the ups and downs of those trying to do something new and different.

Picking the ones that will do well is hard and also subjective, which means investors need to do their own due diligence, and make their own assessment of the quality of the opportunity on offer. Like moving to a new office it’s often only after the investment is made and the future unfolds that you can figure out if things are really going to work.