We signalled in our March 2023 Product Disclosure Statement that one company was close to liquidation, and that there was no material impact on our portfolio valuation.
We can now reveal that company was Melon Health, who have since sold their operating assets to Christchurch-based primary health organisation, Pegasus Health, and appointed liquidators. There is no return to shareholders.
Melon’s platform helps people self manage chronic conditions, including mental wellness. The platform has changed thousands of people’s lives. It is frustrating to see such a wonderful product, backed by strong results and research, fail to deliver as a business.
The company did not succeed with their USA entry. While it initially performed very well during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company subsequently—and frustratingly given the gaps in New Zealand’s mental wellness care—lost out when the District Health Boards were centralised.
We are happy that the staff, including founder Siobhan Bulfin, will be retained by Pegasus, and that the Melon platform will continue to provide support and help to clients. Our hearts go out to Siobhan and the team for the considerable work they’ve put into the company over the years.
Punakaiki Fund first invested in Melon Health in late 2015. We committed to substantial investments in 2017 and 2018, each paid over time as we raised funds. While we made a very small investment in 2022, to support a round led by other investors, our last major investment decision was in 2018.
We had written the company’s value down and it was held on the books at an immaterial value of $125,000 for the September 2022 accounts, which were used for the March 2023 Product Disclosure Statement.
As venture capital investors, we accept that failure of investments is a risk we take. Our 2018 investment was deliberately made with a higher return and risk profile than usual, which we then deemed acceptable in the context of the portfolio.
While the investment did not work out, the wider portfolio has continued to deliver results. Meanwhile, we have taken considerable learnings and incorporated them into our approach to managing Punakaiki Fund.