About Us

Arowana Capital is an early stage venture capital firm established by the investment group Arowana & Co.

We create, invest in and grow new enterprises. We search for businesses with the potential to change markets, leveraging our expertise, resources, and experience to grow enterprises, people and value.

We systemically help startups increase their odds of success in ways beyond simply providing more capital by adopting a portfolio operator approach that is active and hands on.

The members of our team are company builders with entrepreneurial expertise in building and scaling businesses.

We are not a traditional venture capital firm and believe that most funds in our space address problems with money, not knowledge or time. In our view incubators can be too rigid in criteria and programme to suit many startups and angels can be slow and lack focus.

We bring processes and solutions for each stage of the startup lifecycle, a fast execution mantra that permeates every thing we do and knowledge and experience in growing businesses at every level.

Arowana & Co. is an investment group with five arms:

  • Arowana International is an ASX listed company headquartered in Australia with operating subsidiaries in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.
  • Arowana Australasian Value Opportunities Fund is an ASX listed investment company with a long only focus employing the investment philosophy of Arowana & Co.
  • Arowana Inc. is a NASDAQ listed special purpose acquisition company headquartered in San Francisco.
  • Arowana Partners Group operates a number of unlisted investment funds. It also arranges and manages acquisitions and syndicated investments in unlisted companies.
  • Arowana Capital currently manages an ESVCLP early stage venture capital fund having formerly managed a VCLP private equity fund.

Our Approach

Seed Stage

We generally invest in seed stage startups with strong transactional business models.

We are committed to leveraging our expertise, experience and network of relationships.

We strongly believe a lean approach leads to greater innovation and focus on team building, operational improvement, perspective and strategic guidance, skill building, customer development and analytics.

Parallel Entrepreneurship

We have created an ecosystem where highly talented entrepreneurs can come together and share their knowledge and experiences.

This provides a flexible platform for innovation and a strong focus on operation and execution.

With our in house resources, entrepreneurs are able to successfully scale their businesses while focusing on strategy and product.

Creation & Incubation

At Arowana Capital, we believe ideas are a commodity and the skill lies in execution.

We are company builders who seize opportunities and are not afraid to start our own businesses if we posses sufficient domain knowledge or can partner with an entrepreneur that does.

We are all about rapid experimentation which allows us to test the limits and reach the next level.

Industries of Interest

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Education

Globally, education is a multi-hundred billion dollar industry that is ripe for disruption.

There is a collective belief that the education system is broken so tremendous amounts of money are spent in trying to fix it. Blame is placed on budget cuts, poor quality teachers, inadequate technology and ideologically driven curriculum.

We believe that the education system has become obsolete and no longer meets the needs of present and future generations.

The modern education system was developed for an industrial society where certain skills taught to our children could be productively used for the rest of their lives. Today’s society is fast-paced and technology driven. Existing jobs are becoming obsolete and new categories of jobs are being created thanks to rapid advances in technology.

Today’s education system treats its students in much the same as mass production manufacturing. They are placed on an assembly line with a fixed, serial curriculum that uses standardised materials and testing.

The potential for disruption lies in areas such as individuality, pacing, delivery, democratisation and creativity.

Market: Employee Carrying Tomato Box Through Store

Food

We believe that heightened awareness surrounding the dangers of commercially processed food is driving worldwide growth in healthy eating and living.

Consumers are now exhibiting greater focus on nutrition when selecting foods. Consumers also increasingly are tracking calories and nutrients using smartphone apps, which can help them choose healthier foods at restaurants and when shopping.

The global market for “natural ingredients” in food and drink grew by US$3.6 billion in the five years to 2013 to reach US$12.9 billion, and natural ingredients now account for almost a third of the total US$39 billion global food and drink ingredients market.

Coupled with the rise in healthy eating has been a trend towards premiumisation and authenticity with artisanal brands launched across nearly every food and beverage category.

Startups are disrupting established companies by using technology such as proximity beacons, mobile payments, dynamic shopping lists and social shopping, loyalty and gamification, augmented reality and interactive displays, and inventory auditing and optimisation.

The ability to use technology driven networks is also allowing startups to develop food and grocery delivery platforms that were previously prohibitively expensive.

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Financial Technology

The fintech sector encompasses every tech startup that is active within the financial services industry. This goes beyond companies that deal directly with money, such as startups that specialise in online payments or money transfers, and can include tech businesses that focus on areas as diverse as customer service, project management and logistics within this space.

We believe that nearly every sub-sector within the financial services industry has the potential to be revolutionised by an innovative tech product. Unlike other tech segments such as e-commerce or advertising technology, which have seen innovation for many years, there has been a dearth of startups in the financial sector and many legacy problems still remain to be solved by technology.

The financial services industry is relatively virgin territory for tech, largely due to the reluctance or inability of legacy financial institutions to drive innovation within their sector.

As with disruptive start-ups in industries ranging from air travel to retail, fintech entrepreneurs use their lower costs to unbundle product offerings and undercut established players. The sea change promised by fintech start-ups, however, promises more than just lower prices. The proliferation of smartphones has made consumers demand more convenient and intuitive ways of purchasing financial services products, while the data they generate could reveal valuable insights about how to improve products.

Young businessman looking with red telescope in front of blue sky.

Opportunities

We will still invest in opportunities that are outside our areas of interest if they fit within our broader investment thesis.

We have strong domain knowledge or access to experts with strong domain knowledge in a number of areas and while we may not actively seek out investments outside our areas of interest, we will still consider investment in businesses with excellent founders and strong tailwind drivers.

Our Team

Michael Hui

Venture Capital Director
Michael leads Arowana Capital and is a lawyer by training with over 11 years of experience in commercial law and in particular mergers and acquisitions, technology and internet law, startups, and intellectual property.

He has over 8 years in private practice including founding his own firm and 2 years as Senior Counsel and Vice President of Corporate Development at a payments technology company.

Michael co-founded and lead an online payments startup that raised $4M from angel investors and generated $1M+ revenue in its first year of operations.

   

Christopher Drake

Venture Analyst
Christopher is a Venture Analyst at Arowana Capital and sources potential investments and takes a hands-on role in assisting investee companies with their respective operations. He is currently seconded to FX2School where he serves in the position of General Manager.

Christopher holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from the University of Queensland and a Bachelor of Business (Management) from the Queensland University of Technology.

   

Kevin Chin

Advisory Board
Kevin is the founder of Arowana & Co. which comprises Arowana Partners Group, Arowana Capital and Arowana International Limited. He orchestrated the formation and listing of Arowana International Limited.

Kevin has extensive experience in “hands on” strategic and operational management having served as CEO, CFO and COO of various companies across a range of industries. He also has significant international experience in private equity, buyouts of public companies, mergers and acquisitions and capital raisings as well as funds management, accounting, litigation support and valuations.

Kevin has been primarily responsible for delivering annualised returns in excess of 30% to investors across Arowana & Co.s’ investments since its formation in 2007. This has been achieved through driving strategic and operational excellence with minimal leverage.

Over his 20 year career, Kevin has held a number of strategic and operational leadership roles and was also previously with Lowy Family Group, J.P. Morgan in Sydney and New York, Ord Minnett, PWC and Deloitte.

Chris Rolls

Advisory Board
Having started and sold multiple businesses since the age of 19, Chris has a remarkable track record as an entrepreneur. Chris co-founded SCODY Performance Wear, a manufacturer of triathlon, swimwear and cycling apparel, whose products have been worn by athletes at multiple Olympic, Commonwealth Games and World Championships.

In 1999 Chris started First Class Accounts and grew it to become the largest bookkeeping and accounting franchise business in Australia with over 150 franchised businesses.

While running First Class Accounts Chris started another business this time in the real estate industry in 2001. Chris has grown the business to be one of Queensland’s largest real estate businesses.

In 2006 Chris sold the real estate sales business to concentrate solely on property management and renamed it Rental Express. Rental Express is now the largest privately owned residential property management business in Queensland with over $1.5 billion worth of real estate under management.

Anthony Painter

Advisory Board
Anthony is an energetic, committed and successful construction industry professional and angel investor with considerable project management experience. He has a strong background in the establishment and management of project systems and operational procedures and in the building of formal and effective partnerships with sub-contract and supply organisations to achieve project outcomes.

With an enviable network in both Australia and Silicon Valley, Anthony is an investor or advisor to numerous startups including TrueKred, Liveweaver, Appointuit and Couperate, and has served as Investor in Residence at The Angels’ Forum in Mountain View, California & as a member of Brisbane Angels.

Our Portfolio

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The Luz Almond Company Pty Ltd is a producer of 100% natural almond milk, almond-based frozen dessert and almond yoghurt

Luz use only the highest quality pesticide free Australian almond and pure filtered water to handcraft their fresh, nutrient dense milk. What’s more, the almonds are activated before they press them, ridding them of enzyme inhibitors to ensure maximum absorption of the vitamins and minerals contained within each nut.

Rich in minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids and fibre, Luz is loaded with all the right stuff to assist you in the pursuit of optimal health. Made fresh, Luz’s milk is free from synthetic ingredients and processes that diminish quality in order to extend shelf life. Silky smooth, wholesome and contained only natural ingredients, Luz is filled to the brim with a positive passion for living well.

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FX2School is a fast, secure and inexpensive way for international students to pay their Australian tuition fees

As a payment solutions provider, FX2School helps educational institutions receive, track and reconcile payments from international students and student agents. FX2School’s payment platform and banking infrastructure not only helps educational institutions save money and time, but students and student agents also.

FX2School does this by offering highly competitive FX rates passed directly onto students, while providing speedy processing and transactions times. All payments are held in segregated accounts with licensed banking institutions, and payments can be tracked at each stage in an open and transparent manner to alleviate both student and institution concerns.

Pitch Us

We love hearing about innovative ways to do business and we’re lucky in that we get to see a lot of fantastic opportunities. However, not every startup is for us. We’re not a normal venture capital firm and we value our culture above all else. We also have industries that we have particular interest and domain knowledge in so not every area is for us.

If after reading this website you think your startup might be a good fit for us, then the best way to approach us is to be referred to us by someone we know. Failing that, send us an email and we’ll endeavour to reply to you within 1 to 2 weeks.