Living in the Future Tense

By Linda Smith, ACA Chair

Auckland’s ICE Angels are awesome!  As soon as you step into their innovation center (called the ICE House) which was previously a textile mill, the vibe is palpable.  Young entrepreneurs are collaborating in one corner, an  executive MBA program is housed within the facility, planning is proceeding for the next Innovation Showcase, an in-house Accelerator is over-subscribed, and one wall is completely covered with the logos of the more than 126 companies in the ICE Angels portfolio.

 This Auckland group of over 160 members has invested more than $80 million since its founding in 2003.  A lot of the dynamism behind ICE Angels is due to to Robbie Paul, the Chief Operating Officer for ICE Angels.  Robbie brims with enthusiasm as he talks about young companies like Crimson Consulting (helping secure admissions to the best universities in the world, now valued at $200 million), and Sunfed  Meats (a product that tastes just like chicken but made with pea protein ).

Robbie Paul, Linda Smith, and Paul Smith

 As a regular participant in the ACA Summits, ICE Angels are noted for bringing one of the largest international delegations to ACA events.  They are experts at networking. My own angel group, Sierra Angels in northern Nevada, has partnered with ICE Angels on two promising start-ups, Flirthy (a drone delivery system) and TranscribeMe (transcription services for group conversations that can sort out overlapping voices).

 ICE Angels has also strategically partnered with Chinese nationals interested in relocating to New Zealand and investing the government-required $10 million to gain permanent residency.

But what really stood out was the Innovation Showcase ICE Angels sponsors each year.  In 2017 they attracted nearly 800 people to this one day event (remember the entire country has a population of only 4.7 million) and raised over $2 million in investments to 10 promising start-ups.  To see highlights of this annual event go to

Since we North Americans have to cross to date line to get to New Zealand, a trip to ICE Angels in Auckland is literally, as well as figuratively, an opportunity to live in the future tense.