Kara Technologies has received the prestigious Puawaitanga Award from the Angel Association of New Zealand, an organisation that represents over 900 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. The accolade recognises the success of founders and investor directors who embody a world-class approach, illustrating the remarkable achievements that dedicated individuals can attain when pooling their collective skills and experience.

The Puawaitanga Award was bestowed upon Kara Technologies’ CEO Arash Tayebi and his co-founders, alongside angel investor Ken Erskine, a former chair and lead investor in the venture-backed start-up. At the core of Kara Technologies’ groundbreaking work is the development of a globally accessible and equitable communications system for the deaf community, achieved through the innovative integration of motion capture, artificial intelligence, and neural network algorithms. Arash Tayebi, Sahar Izadi, and Farmehr Farhour, the co-founders of Kara Technologies, initially crossed paths with Ken Erskine during their participation in the Velocity entrepreneurship development programme delivered by the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The trio’s vision for a more inclusive world for the deaf community caught Ken’s attention during their time in CIE’s VentureLab incubator, where he served as a mentor. Ken’s interest in Kara Technologies eventually led him to become an investor and a crucial partner in realising their ambitious goals.

Drawing on his extensive investment and business experience, Ken supported Kara Technologies to secure investments from prominent entities such as Sydney-based Investible, Te Pae ki te Rangi, Flying Kiwi Angels, Quidnet Ventures, Icehouse Ventures, and numerous individual angels across the country.

Criteria for recipients of the Puawaitanga Award includes outstanding governance, a compelling business proposition, and a well-defined strategy for exponential growth. CIE Director Darsel Keane says “Our team at CIE were thrilled to learn that Kara Technologies received the Puawaitanga Award. Ken Erskine has been a long-standing supporter of our community of University innovators and entrepreneurs who have benefited from his knowledge, wisdom and generosity of spirit. Kara Technologies’ co-founders have such an inspirational vision for using technology to make life more inclusive and joyful for an underserved community. It’s wonderful to see this investor-founder relationship given an angel halo.”

Other past Puawaitanga Award recipients have included CIE alumni Matty Bloomfield and Fady Mishriki