H2Ocean: VC role for Wyatt Roy

James Riley
Editorial Director

Former Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy has bounced back after the bruising experience of the July federal election, taking an independent directors role at H2Oean, the proposed listed vehicle of fintech investors H2 Ventures.

H2Ocean was due to lodge a prospectus with the ASX yesterday, seeking to raise between $27.5 million and $55 million to invest in a diversified global portfolio of early- and growth-stage fintech companies.

The company’s two co-founders and executive directors at the brothers Ben and Toby Heap, well-known to the industry as the founders of H2 Ventures, the resident VC firm inside the Stone & Chalk fintech hub.

The prospectus lists three independent directors, including 26-year-old Wyatt Roy, television presenter and businessman David Koch, and Beyond Bank chairperson Anne O’Donnell.

The financial adviser for the listing is H2 Ventures investor Investec, and is being jointly-managed by Ord Minnett and Shaw and Partners.

As an investor, H2Ocean aims to deliver capital growth over the medium and long term, and to give potential shareholders an investment alternative to traditional equities through a diversified portfolio of typically privately-held fintech companies.

The Heap brothers are positioning H2Ocean as a vehicle that can give potential investors exposure to fintech startups that would otherwise be difficult to access, while also creating a portfolio of fintech investments that can also act as a hedge against traditional bank and insurance investments that are at risk of digital disruption.

“We are passionate about the opportunities that are presented by founders and entrepreneurs and we believe that H2Ocean will be a valuable partner for these individuals’ as they build the businesses that will shape the financial services sector of tomorrow,” Ben and Toby Heap say in the H2Ocean prospectus.

Wyatt Roy’s resurfacing in a role tightly connected to startup and fintech sectors will surprise no-one, given his prodigious talent, ability to get things done, and high-level associations across the industry.

It is understood he has been fielding a number of job offers since the election, both here and overseas.
Mr Roy told InnovationAus.com two weeks ago that he was looking at a range of different possible roles, but would not discuss the specifics of any.

It is understood he intends taking some time off to travel, including plans to spent time in Israel and to do a motorcycle tour of South America with some mates, before making any decisions about work.

What Wyatt does next has been the subject of some speculation since July 2.

Newly-appointed Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Greg Hunt let the cat out of the bag a couple of weeks ago in an interview with InnovationAus.com.

“With Wyatt, he is a really close friend and I was deeply saddened at his loss [at the election],” Mr Hunt said.

“But he has bounced back. He will work in the venture capital and innovation space, based on the conversations that I have had with him.”

Mr Roy told InnovationAus.com this morning that the fintech sector represented a huge opportunity for the broader Australian economy.

The developments in fintech could deliver better experiences for consumers, better outcomes for business, and held the promise of productivity improvements that would deliver benefits far beyond the finance sector.

H2Ocean was an exciting new venture to be involved in personally, Mr Roy said. There would be other opportunities, but he won’t be jumping into others immediately.

“I’m taking a bit of a sabbatical first and won’t be making big decisions until I get back. I’m going travelling with some mates and I’m really looking forward to experiencing that,” he said.

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