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New Zealand VC firm could set up shop in Colorado


A New Zealand company that bills itself as a “digital product agency, venture studio and (venture capital) firm that invests in promising tech companies” is eyeing the Denver metro area for a potential stateside expansion.

The Colorado Economic Development Commission extended a tax-incentive offer Thursday in an effort to lure the company, which was only identified as Project Soap.

It is the commission’s practice not to identify companies the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade is recruiting until incentives are accepted.

Project Soap, which specializes in providing funding for financial technology companies, was approved for $455,184 in performance-based job-growth incentive tax credits and $26,000 in incentives under a program that encourages tech companies to hire remote workers in rural communities.

“The company is expanding its workforce outside of Australia and New Zealand to the United States, to have closer proximity to its clients and to invest in a new market,” according to an OEDIT memo. “In addition to Colorado, the company is considering San Francisco and Vancouver.”

In Colorado, Project Soap is targeting the Denver metropolitan area, which includes Broomfield and Boulder counties.

“Access to talent is the most important driving factor but proximity to a major airport, cost of living, and quality of life for its employees are also considerations,” according to OEDIT. “The company plans to operate out of a coworking space in whichever market it chooses.”

In exchange for the incentives, Project Soap would commit to creating 42 new jobs at an average annual wage of $112,238. Those jobs would be in roles such as software engineers, product managers and salespeople.

While Colorado EDC members and state staffers did not identify the company behind Project Soap during Thursday’s meeting, there’s reason to believe that the company is Dovetail, an outfit with operations in Australia and New Zealand.

“Dovetail is a digital product agency, venture studio and VC firm dedicated to co-creating and investing in the world’s most promising companies,” according to the company’s website. This language closely resembles the description OEDIT provided for Project Soap.

Additionally, a Project Soap representative was present virtually at Thursday’s EDC meeting. Her Zoom account identified her as Erin Cook. Dovetail’s website lists an Erin Cook as the company’s head of people. Cook’s photo on the Dovetail website matches the photo used as a Zoom avatar by the participant in the EDC meeting.

“It’s been quite a journey, and your team has been an amazing help,” Cook said of OEDIT staff.

After raising about $7.5 million in a 2021 fundraising round, Dovetail leaders told TechCrunch last year that it had “plans to expand into North America in the future.”

Colorado economic development officials have spent considerable effort in recent years luring companies from Australia and New Zealand.

In 2019, Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera joined OEDIT leaders on an investment mission Down Under.

“Colorado’s strengths have great appeal to Australian and New Zealand markets, and our message continues to advance diplomatic and business relations,” Primavera said at the time.

This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.

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