‘The next Xero’: Whip Around, headed by ex-All White Noah Hickey, raises US$14m

Whip Around, a fleet-management startup headed by ex-All White Noah Hickey, has raised US$14m ($21m) in a Series B funding round led by New Zealand-based Punakaiki Fund and US venture capital firm Amplo.

The Texas-based Amplo features two ex-prime ministers from downunder on its advisory board – Sir John Key and Julia Gillard, plus Whitney Wolfe Herd – who became America’s youngest self-made billionaire through founding dating app Bumble.

Hickey, 43, was a right-winger for our national football team, earning 33 caps between 1997 and 2007 (a period that saw him cross over with another All White-turned-entrepreneur, Allbirds co-founder Tim Brown).

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The Auckland-based Whip Around was founded in July 2016 by James Colley (ex DHL and Toll Group) and Tim Boyle (who was working in real estate). The pair wanted to develop software to replace existing software for fleet compliance (their company’s name comes from the slang for a driver walking around their truck for a pre-haul inspection). Today, Colley looks after partnerships while Boyle runs comms.

Hickey came on board a few months later as CEO and an investor. Going into the Series B round, he was the largest single shareholder with an 11 per cent stake.

Colley relocated to the US to open an office in Charlotte, North Carolina and helped the firm land a series of North American customers including waste-removal company 1-800 Got Junk?

The privately-held firm has not revealed a post-money valuation or financials, but Punakaiki Fund principal Lance Wiggs says it’s on track for big things.

“Whip Around has the potential to be the next Vend, Pushpay or even Xero,” Wiggs told the Herald.

“It is relentlessly focused on delivering that future. We are simply delighted to be shareholders and stunned to be the only local fund.”

Whip Around has twice won company of the year for their category at the Hi-Tech Awards, “and their progress seems inevitable,” Wiggs says.

Amplo is also an investor in two share trading platforms that have soared in profile this year, Robin Hood in the US and Sharesies in NZ and Australia.

Key’s “board partner” role with Amplo is part of an expanding pool of work for the ex-Prime Minister in the US.

He also sits on the board of Nasdaq-listed security firm Palo Alto Networks (market cap: US$53 billion), works as a consultant to Calera and acts as an adviser to Impossible Foods(best-known for its plant-based Impossible Burger) and media and telecommunications conglomerate Comcast.

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