How do you handle a founders break-up?

Co-founder splits are seldom discussed, but happen more often than you’d think. Flux Accelerator partner Barnaby Marshall shares what he’s learnt from his experiences managing a start-up portfolio and provide some insights into how to prepare for the worst (while still expecting the best).

The fact is, of 100 companies that the Icehouse has funded through our various investment entities since 2012, 35 percent of them have had a founder leave the company.

Most of those have left within the first two years of our investment. Some of these have been very messy, some have been more civil, but in all cases they have cost time and money: the two most precious resources for any startup. Add to that the emotional stress and you have a recipe to rock even the most resilient founders, and in some cases — almost be a lethal blow to the business.

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Kiwi tech company raises millions for expansion

Kiwi technology company Feijipiao is expanding across New Zealand and eyeing other markets after closing a multi-million dollar angel investment round.

The company, founded in 2016 by Peter Li, is a Chinese language online travel business, offering flight bookings across multiple airlines in Chinese.

The website offers competitive fares and multiple payment solutions, in either Chinese yuan or New Zealand dollars, through automated search, booking, and ticketing processes.

The investment was headed by The Icehouse and Chinese-led angel fund Eden Ventures – its first investment.

Led by Chinese venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, Eden Ventures focuses on high performing start-ups, with specific interest in serving Chinese in New Zealand or enabling New Zealand founders to launch into the Chinese market.

The funding values Feijipiao at between $5 million and $10m, and would be used to hire staff, open its first New Zealand office in Auckland and fund further growth, as well as prepare the business for expansion into Australia and other markets.

The company was already bringing in revenue of about $900,000 per month, with Li saying he expected this to hit $1m in the coming few months.

Icehouse fund manager Jason Wang said both groups had invested based on Feijipiao’s growth in the five months since it launched, as well as the potential they saw for it.

“In three months, feijipiao.co.nz have transacted millions of dollars without a physical office, it’s all in the cloud.

“The results speak for themselves – this is a group of the right people doing the right thing in the right market.”

The company’s success had been helped by millennials influencing the purchasing behaviours of their parents, who tended to use more traditional travel agents Li said.

The investment would enable the company to continue its expansion as well as providing strategic value for the firm.

“Our team has built a strong foundation in New Zealand to prepare ourselves for expansion into global markets with established Chinese communities, and international students from China.

“By partnering with Eden Ventures and The Icehouse, we can tap into their expertise of forming long-term growth strategies for global expansion, and supporting technology driven companies.”

First published on nzherald.co.nz on 15 Sept 2017

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Fintech Innovation Challenge is open for entries

If you’re a fintech startup with the potential to transform the financial services industry, then Payments NZ wants to help you.

They want to help you raise your profile in the industry. They’re running a Fintech Innovation Challenge as part of their conference, The Point 2016, in November and the challenge is now open for entries.

It is widely known that fintech is redefining the financial services sector, with startups  gaining momentum and disrupting the traditional value chain. So in the new world of challenger brands and disruption, in order to progress and keep challenging the norm, fintech needs support.

The Fintech Innovation Challenge, sponsored by Paymark, is designed to foster innovation and support Kiwi startups. The challenge gives emerging fintechs the opportunity to present their concepts in front of the entire conference delegation, of around 250 payments and financial services professionals.

Five finalists will compete in a round of quick-fire presentations to win a cash prize of $5,000 as well as mentoring support and associated networking opportunities.

The finalists and runners-up will also have the opportunity to exhibit on the fintech stand at the conference, enabling one-on-one time with key influencers, decision-makers, and potential business partners.

The finalists and runners-up can also attend conference sessions to access global insights and the latest market intelligence from local and international speakers.

How to enter

The Fintech Innovation Challenge is open to new or recently established innovative, technology-enabled startups and entry is free.

So if you’re an innovative fintech startup working in any area of financial services or supporting sector such as cyber-security, digital identity and data analytics, don’t miss the opportunity to expand your network and gain visibility – get your entry in today.

Applications close at 5pm on Monday 12 September 2016.

You will find the application form on the Payments NZ conference website along with further details about the competition.

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University Startup Challenge gives chance for student founders to pitch for funding

The University Startup Challenge is back for its second year to give student startups the chance to get funding from investors.

Student-led investment group First Cut Ventures started the University Startup Challenge last year to give university students who have their own startups the chance to pitch in front of investors at the Ice Angels annual showcase.

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The Icehouse welcomes new leaders with diverse expertise to its governance

The Icehouse announced the appointment of new directors to its board, in addition to welcoming new trustees to its owner, the International Centre for Entrepreneurship Trust which is a charitable foundation. Greg Tomlinson, Jonathan Reid and Kerry McIntosh are the three new directors to join The Icehouse board, with Simon Bennett, Craig Carr and Franceska Banga joining as trustees of the Foundation.

Their appointments come at a time when The Icehouse is undertaking a review and refresh of its goal to 2020 of enabling a 10% lift in the country’s GDP while the Foundation starts to broaden its charitable reach within New Zealand.

With backgrounds ranging from construction to agribusiness, investment banking to mussel farming, and technology to recruitment; Chairman of The Icehouse Board, Chris Quin, says these entrepreneurs and experts bring a diversity of approach and thinking to The Icehouse which will be critical for its ongoing performance and contribution to New Zealand.

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Still focused after all those years

In 15 years The Icehouse Business Growth Hub has morphed from one owner manager programme and an incubator to a full suite of services for businesses, including an investment arm. CEO Andy Hamilton reflects on a satisfying journey.

After a career spanning law, marketing and corporate investment, one winter’s day in June 2001 Andy Hamilton found himself standing in leased premises in Parnell’s landmark Textile Centre, with two months to organise a programme for owner managers. The BNZ would help source the 20 business owners, but meantime the programme had to be sorted, premises fitted out and start-ups found for the incubator. Working out of Auckland University, Andy was grateful for the support of the University’s Business School, and Geoff Whitcher and David Irving in particular.

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Angels head to TechweekAKL

New Zealand’s angel investors, a community which actively supports the development of new technologies, will be out in force at TechweekAKL.

Angel Association of New Zealand member’s are involved in two key events, positioned right in the centre of the week-long celebration of all things new and innovative.

[email protected]: 18th May, from 6pm, The Grid – book your seat here.
Tech Innovation Showcase: 18th May, 3.30–5.50pm, Astrolab – apply for an invitation here.

[email protected]

An important event revealing personal accounts of angel-entrepreneur relationships. It is a must-attend evening for founders, and would-be angels.

In relaxed and informal format investors from Flying Kiwi Angels, AngelHQ, Ice Angels and Enterprise Angels will share their personal stories, including their individual entrepreneurial experiences, investment thesis, what they expect from entrepreneurs and how they help grow successful companies – alongside investing their money.

As well as bringing together angels, entrepreneurs and angel groups [email protected] event also brings together key organisations in our New Zealand innovation ecosystem. The event is being held at The Grid, organised by Venture Centre, and is only made possible with the sponsorship of AANZ, alongside New Zealand Software Association and AngelEquity.

To book your ticket and make the most of the opportunity to share a drink, nibbles and some rare ‘get to know you time’ up close and personal with Angel investors click here

The Tech Innovation Showcase

An opportunity for current angel group members to register for a private event focusing on some of the IP rich organisations emerging from government-funded Tech Incubators, Astrolab, Powerhouse Ventures and WNT Ventures. Set up by Callaghan Innovation the incubators are mandated to draw complex IP from Crown Research Institutes and NZ University R&D departments for commercialisation. The event is being held at Astrolab for an invitation click here.

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Kiwi company turning waste into wealth

Mountains of slag all over the world are a Kiwi company’s idea of great riches.

The waste from mines is dumped into mounds so big that they can generate their own weather patterns — but New Zealand company Avertana says they can each be worth half a billion dollars.

Avertana is a start-up company that has received a kickstart from a new fund set up by The Icehouse innovation hub and its investors ICE Angels.

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Spark: How to change an entire industry

‘There must be a better way’ is a phrase that’s ignited countless entrepreneurs – including Gene Turner, who has given up his day job as a partner in a law firm to found a tech start-up.

Turner is the man behind LawHawk, a cloud-based tool providing legal document templates to generate customised legal documents in just a few minutes. It’s a disruptive concept in the legal industry, where documents are traditionally ‘handcrafted’ through a manual and time-intensive process of drafting and reviewing, which also involves multiple lawyers.

While some legal document automation does exist, says Turner, it is basic and allows only limited customisation.

LawHawk was born out of Turner’s own experience and frustrations as a partner at a major law firm. He saw much of the effort and cost in producing documents was spent on the first 80 per cent of pulling together a draft, leaving not enough time to work on the final 20 per cent – where the real legal expertise is applied to the situation involved.
So he turned to technology, creating the cloud-based LawHawk software to forge his ‘better way’: “LawHawk’s essentially the tools I wish I had when I was in practice, and how I think most lawyers will want and need to work. In many ways, it’s similar to what Xero has done for accountants, freeing them up to become valuable business advisors, do higher margin work and enjoy their work more.”

LawHawk launches in May, and Turner has high hopes for the company’s growth.

“Because it’s entirely based in the cloud, LawHawk doesn’t have the same constraints to growth applying to a traditional legal business selling time. It can be as big as LawHawk’s customers want it to be.”

While Kiwi inventors in the past may have turned to No. 8 wire, today’s entrepreneurs are increasingly taking advantage of digital tools and online connectedness to create new businesses and business models disrupting traditional ways of doing things.

The ‘evolve or die’ message isn’t new but it’s perhaps more pertinent now than ever, according to Richard Sandford, head of business marketing at Spark home, mobile and business. Sandford points out that, while technology is helping usher in big change, it’s the customer who’s leading it.

“Businesses need to keep pace with the customer because they’re the ones that are setting these trends, not the technology. The technology becomes the enabler,” he explains. “Customers are becoming more demanding and they expect products and services now to be delivered in a certain way. That means businesses need to be one step ahead.”

Despite this, almost half of small businesses in New Zealand have no online presence, according to Spark research, with only 53 per cent having websites and only 28 per cent of those are mobile-optimised.

They are missing out, says Sandford, as last year New Zealand businesses lost $1 billion of online spend to overseas competitors.

Andy Hamilton, CEO of business growth centre The Icehouse, points to a number of sectors – such as finance, logistics, tourism and media – where digital innovation is driving new types of companies and ways of doing business.

For example, innovation globally in the financial sector in recent years has triggered the rise of the likes of peer-to-peer lending, equity crowdfunding, blockchain and bitcoin, and is leading to “a fractionalisation of finance into really small units that are not just the domain of the uber-rich”, he says.

“What we forget is how quickly this transformation is happening. We all take for granted having smartphones now but, when you actually look at what you do with your smartphone these days, you see how the innovation happening in some sectors has become quite pervasive.”

However the fundamentals of business don’t change, says Hamilton: “In New Zealand our challenge is how we get our businesses to scale, to get good margins and returns when the market is inherently small. Digital helps take out some cost for businesses but then the question really is ‘how can it be used to disrupt?’ That’s the exciting thing – unless you’re being disrupted yourself.”

Sandford acknowledges business owners are often time- and cash-poor, particularly in smaller operations, so a crucial initial step for many is understanding technology can add real value – internally through increased efficiency and productivity and by opening new revenue streams.

Businesses need to start simply; the first point for many is to get their businesses online. Creating a mobile-optimised website is imperative, given half of all traffic to some websites is now coming from mobile devices and 45 per cent of Kiwis have purchased a product or service via mobile.

Spark’s web builder product, powered by Putti, for example, is free to Spark business mobile customers and allows them to create a mobile-optimised website in 20 minutes.

“That’s at the heart of growing your business footprint, and optimising your cost to serve too. For example, if you’re a bricks and mortar retailer, using online as a sales channel is like having another store; simply put, it’s another way to reach more customers and sell more things.”

First published on nzherald.co.nz 8 March 2016

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KPMG: Make migrants take a risk

The AANZ backs calls for more wealthy migrant money to be directed into early stage ventures. Some of our most active and effective angels are migrants. We need more!

Growth-focused investments should be required over passive ones such as government bonds, says report.

High-profile business organisations are calling for investor migrants to be required to channel more cash into productive, growth-focused New Zealand investments rather than safer options such as bonds.

Almost 80 per cent of investor visa recipients’ funds currently ends up in government and corporate bonds, according a paper published by professional services firm KPMG.

“Whilst these [bond investments] are still beneficial to New Zealand, some simple changes to our immigration policies can bring diversity and may help better leverage these migrants’ funds and valuable networks to help New Zealand business grow and expand,” KPMG said.

Business incubator The Icehouse, which is also calling for a policy overhaul, describes passive investments such as bonds as “lazy money” that does nothing to address capital constraints facing companies.

“Changing the rules on entry and for allocation could better align investment with the need to grow New Zealand’s economy and to increase its productivity, while aligning a stream of investment from the private sector, rather than relying on the Government to step in.”
KPMG said Kiwi businesses would require more than $420 billion in capital by 2025 to support the export growth required to achieve the Government’s Growth Agenda.

Its analysis suggested a $115 billion shortfall that would need to be funded by foreign investment.

“KPMG believes the best way to grow the economy is for investor migrants’ capital to be deployed in funding New Zealand businesses, particularly start-ups and early-stage businesses.”

Canada and Australia already require a portion of investor migrants’ funds to go into “at risk” investments.

New Zealand’s current investor immigration policy, which came into force in 2009, has attracted over 1600 applicants with over $3.7 billion to be invested into this country, according to KPMG.

There are two visa categories – Investor Plus and Investor – for migrants who want to use their capital to gain residence in New Zealand.

The latter requires a minimum of $1.5 million to be invested for four years, but applicants must be 65 or younger, meet English language requirements and spend at least 146 days in New Zealand in each of the last three years of the four-year investment period. They must also provide $1 million in settlement funds.

Investor Plus migrants must invest at least $10 million for three years but face no language or age requirements and have to spend only 44 days in New Zealand in each of the final two years of the investment period.

The Icehouse suggests some policy changes that could help channel migrant funds into more productive investments, including:

• Introducing a third investor visa category requiring $5 million to be invested, 10 to 20 per cent of which would have to go into growth investments such as angel, venture capital or small cap private equity funds. In return, other requirements would be reduced or eliminated.

• Amending the Investor Plus category to require a 10 per cent (or higher) investment in growth capital funds or direct investments.

Icehouse chief executive Andy Hamilton said migrant capital could also be deployed in other areas, such as creating new residential housing stock or regional economic development. KPMG said a portion of migrant investor funds – possibly 20 per cent – should be invested into angel or venture capital.

“This could be through a designated fund which has the same investment profile as the [government-backed] New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (VIF).

“This would offer some comfort to migrant investors that the portion of their investment capital at risk is being invested in early-stage companies that the New Zealand Government is happy to support through VIF.”

Yue Wang, KPMG’s director of immigration services, said most investor migrants would welcome such changes if they came with benefits such as faster visa processing or reduced requirements. “I don’t think it’s going to necessarily put them off.”

Angel Association executive director Suse Reynolds said changing investor migrant rules to direct a portion into growth investments would provide a “terrific boost” for early-stage companies.

“If wealthy migrants were required to invest into the growth areas of our economy, it will bring the New Zealand rules into line with what is happening in other developed countries.”

She said early stage investment would also help migrants integrate into New Zealand society as it was “a very collaborative affair”.

“It’s not just the capital but the networks and skills the providers of that capital bring to the table.”

See KPMG paper here

First published on nzherald.co.nz 14 Sept 2015

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App aims to ease pain of building projects

“Over time” and “over budget” are two phrases well known to anyone working in construction, so a couple of industry veterans have seized on these perennial pain points to create a high-tech solution they believe has global potential.

Antonia and David Speight are the entrepreneurs behind Acuite, a cloud-based web application that provides real-time visibility into the performance of construction projects.

It’s designed for those managing large-scale commercial jobs, helping them assess critical metrics as they are happening, such as time, cost, quality, health and safety, and relationships with subcontractors.

The Speights know first-hand about the risks involved in managing commercial construction projects, with David’s experience on the building contractor’s side and Antonia’s on the client side.

“If you look into industry statistics you’ll find about 75 per cent of projects go over budget and 90 per cent are delayed,” Antonia said.

David said current solutions did not allow users to access information with the kind of timelines needed in the fast-moving environment.

Early last year the couple decided to test their idea, joining business growth centre The Icehouse’s business incubation and market validation programme.

The process gave them confidence there was a market for their concept and in October last year they came up with a visual concept for Acuite.

They presented it to three major construction companies, convincing them to come on board as trial customers and have since been developing the software with those industry partners.

The pair have been working full time on Acuite since October.

The company also recently gained $500,000 of seed investment from the Auckland early stage investment group the Ice Angels and the national female investor-led group the ArcAngels, allowing them to grow their team and push ahead the development of the product, which is due for official launch this year.

First published on Nzherald.co.nz 20th August 2015

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Icehouse Lightning Lab start-ups pitch to 300 investors

More wonderful ‘angel food’ being delivered by Lightning Lab. Congratulations to all those involved and best of luck to the companies for successful first rounds.

More than 300 investors are being offered the opportunity to invest in their choice of nine Auckland technology start-ups.

Auckland’s first Lightning Lab programme comes to a head at Spark’s headquarters on Thursday night as start-ups in a Dragon’s Den-style pitch their businesses to investors in the hope attracting funding.

The start-ups in the programme are Wearit, BrokerBetter.com, Justly, Roll, Designer Wardrobe, Logicore, Preno, Future Insight and Estimeet.

All up they were looking to raise a combined total of about $2 million, MacLeod- Smith said.

Lightning Lab gives selected start-ups $18,000 equity in exchange for an 8 per cent stake in the business.

The Lightening Lab is a digital accelerator programme run in partnership with incubation hub The Icehouse.

Founded by Wellington incubator Creative HQ, Lightning Lab mentors digital start-ups over 12 weeks, providing them with the skills and support to launch their businesses.

Auckland Lightning Lab programme organiser Mark MacLeod- Smith said each start-up was given eight minutes to stand up and sell their company, during which time investors were not able to ask questions.

After all the pitches had been presented the start-up owners networked with investors who then carry out due diligence over several weeks before deciding to invest in any of the companies, MacLeod- Smith said.

Read more on www.stuff.co.nz

 

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The idea: Ken Erskine of The Icehouse

The wind beneath the wings of New Zealand’s angel community, Ken Erskine talks about what makes a compelling, investable business.

You’ve seen lots of ideas for startup businesses come and go over the years. What factors have you observed make for a good business idea?

A good business idea can often be one that initially you’re not really sure if it’s a great idea or a really bad one – it’s usually one that is something in between. What I mean by that is if something’s a really great idea then the obvious question is ‘why hasn’t someone done that before?’.

The opposite scenario is also true – if it’s a really dumb idea, then there’s a good reason why no one has done it. So it’s that area in the middle where I generally see the best ideas coming from.

Often those ideas are also inspired by people’s insights gained from working in or around a particular industry or market. The mad inventor-style ideas – the random ones that just pop into someone’s head in the middle of the night – are generally the ones that are really hard to commercialise without that previous understanding of how the existing market behaves and operates.

When asking people to adopt any new idea you’re asking them to change their current behaviour, and getting them to do that comes down to how compelling a proposition you have to meet their unmet need or want.

The other thing about ideas is you have to understand the time and money it takes to get a new idea to market.

Therefore having an innate knowledge of what the latest trends and developments are in the marketplace, and trying to move ahead of the curve to where the market is going to be – not necessarily where the market is today – is really important.

What are the key factors for taking an idea and turning it into a viable business?

The key thing first of all is to validate the idea and establish if there is true a market need. One of the typical things that people who haven’t started a business before will say is ‘first I need to patent my idea’ and they can spend a fortune doing so.

My suggestion for non-research intensive ideas is, before you invest money on patenting your idea, first of all establish if there is a real market opportunity for it. You don’t need to say what your invention is – you can go out and ask open questions about the market or the need – but there’s no better time to establish if there’s a real opportunity than before you actually build or develop the thing.

Also, an idea on its own is never enough. Very rarely does anyone have a unique idea that no one has had before, so part of the challenge is doing something with it in an appropriate manner. As an entrepreneur it’s really about keeping that balance between dogged determination and resilience, and knowing when to say ‘I’m not getting enough traction, let’s move on to the next idea’.

What I really like to see is a business that’s trying to move towards break-even or commerciality as quickly as it can. You may be commercially sustainable on day one, but it’s important to always have a keen eye on how you get to a point of being cashflow positive. Because without customers and money what you can have is a really expensive hobby. And there’s nothing wrong with having a hobby as long as you realise that’s what it is.

Some entrepreneurs have really interesting back stories to their ideas. What role do you think having a great ‘story’ behind an idea makes?

Every startup needs to have its own story and that story has to resonate. So I think it’s fundamentally important as a way to communicate between the founder and potential partners or customers. People love stories, but a key thing to understand is you have one mouth and two ears; you want to use your story to engage in a dialogue, so you can bring others along on the journey.

What’s a key piece of advice you’d have for anyone looking to turn their idea into a real business?

While the idea is key and a catalyst to get you started, it’s what you do with the idea that makes the difference. Thousands of people have a millions of ideas every day; it’s what you do with that idea and how you bring it to life that’s most important. In business, that involves relating your idea to potential customers and markets and allowing others to join in your idea and share it and help you develop it to meet their needs.

Coming up in Your Business: Etsy is a massive global marketplace to buy and sell all things homemade. So what are some of the great Kiwi businesses making a living out of selling on this platform? If you’ve got a story to tell on growing a small business through Etsy, drop me a note: [email protected]

As published NZ Herald 6 May 2015

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Andy Hamilton: Kiwi companies need to think bigger

In this article Ice House CEO and former AANZ Chair, Andy Hamilton challenges us all to think bigger and be more focused in our aspirations for economic growth and specifically the ventures angels are supporting.

Everything is fine in New Zealand is it not? The country has experienced a great few years. We have ridden the commodity boom and other countries’ misfortunes.

Things have changed for the better, while many things have not. What could be wrong?

My view is the current Government has a definitive optimistic plan for our economy and it should be complimented for its focus, clarity and execution.

At the same time, I wonder whether it has an indefinite optimistic approach to the hidden challenge that exists, and that is dangerous for our long-term prospects.

To me, the Government lacks a plan to enable our economy to be truly competitive longer-term.

Just riding out the macro factors will not be enough to win.

We have always, it seems, produced great people and some teams which are world beaters, but we have not and are not creating great companies on a global scale fast enough.

A key metric: How many companies in New Zealand employ more than 100 people? The answer is 2318, with an average employee number of 430, representing 48 per cent of all employed persons in our country. Do you think this is a small or big number?

Actually, the relative result is very similar to comparable countries, but the hidden metric, the big and scary difference, is the quantum size of our big companies vis-a-vis these other countries.

Our big are way, way smaller.

This has implications for our long-term prospects and I believe this needs to change for us to improve the nature of our economy and ultimately GDP per capita for our people.
We lack a supply of entrepreneurs who can turn ideas into global companies like the Israelis or Americans or a supply of talented executives in fast-growing industries such as technology that can do the coding, do the tech work.
Without this wealth we will not be able to look after our people and the increased stratification that is occurring between the rich and poor all over the world will also be in NZ. That leads to discontent and worse.

We know we produce good talent, whether that is as sportspeople or executives in large organisations. We know we can make stuff, like milk and more recently technology.

But can we build big companies that ultimately benefit and help us create a better future for New Zealand? Big question.

Our Government knows this is the problem. Even though it may be harsh to say its position is as an indefinite optimist, I contend that it lacks a plan and the confidence to attack this issue, and maybe even it has not prioritised this as far up the job list as it should.

One company the size of Fonterra is not going to cut it, it is like what we call “key person risk”.

My solution: Only one thing matters and that is talent, but talent specifically in building big and bigger companies.

Let’s take the pulse for that.

We have a great bunch of expats and Kiwiphiles, and arguably an over-supply in the demand for their skills, experience and networks.

We are seeing emerging technology and new age leaders, aspirational millennials who don’t want to work for the “person”. An emerging group of early stage investors, angels and venture capitalists who are learning fast how to support and enable our companies to succeed. And an emerging global group of believers, Peter Thiel of Founders Fund and Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures to name just two.

On the other hand, we don’t have senior executives in our big companies who are built to succeed in the world, nor board members of our big companies with diverse perspectives and experience from key markets such as Asia and America.

We lack a supply of entrepreneurs who can turn ideas into global companies like the Israelis or Americans or a supply of talented executives in fast-growing industries such as technology that can do the coding, do the tech work. And finally, we lack a set of investment bankers who can help build global capital pools to support our companies’ global aspirations.

There is much work to do, and the only thing to do when faced with a big challenge is to start biting it off one chunk at a time.

We must do something, we must engage. If you live overseas then nominate yourself to go on the boards of Kiwi companies to give them an outside-in perspective. Do like Bridget Coates, Derek Handley, Phil Veal and Claudia Batten and find a way on to the boards.
The director pool in New Zealand is a blue-rinse club, both men and women, and it was very challenging for these people to break through, but they did, and so should you because it does and will make a difference.
The director pool in New Zealand is a blue-rinse club, both men and women, and it was very challenging for these people to break through, but they did, and so should you because it does and will make a difference.

If you are from the tech industry, and you know how to hire and train more people to get into the tech industry, we need you in New Zealand, because our fast-growing tech companies are sucking up all the available talent and not investing enough to fill the gap of what is likely 10,000 jobs right now.

Maybe instead of going from 500 to 700 focus firms for the Government’s NZTE, they should have gone to 300 firms and really enabled their scaling, or were they worried about the value they create for these firms?

Now, despite the challenges and hurdles, there are some signs that are good. There is a shift happening in NZ, it is just that you need to look for it.

Look at the number of listings over the past few years alongside the performance of the NZX itself, which has ranged from 15-28 per cent year on year for the past three.

There have been exits too, Greenbutton’s sale to Microsoft generated a significant return for the founders and investors, Sutton Group and Gardians were sold to Danone showing it is not just tech where value can be created.

There is also an emerging pack that includes Lanaztech, Rocket Lab, PowerbyProxi, Nexus6, Vend and Shuttle Rock and others regularly coming out like STQRY, Puteko, Parrot Analytics, Drikolor, 1-Above, Harmoney, Varigate, Texus Fibre and iMeasureu.

All of this activity is healthy, it fuels and stokes the pipe, but we need to remember that we must see scale being achieved from this. How many companies sit alongside Fonterra and are actually delivering year-on-year sustainable returns? Wouldn’t it be great to have the top 10, top 50 globally relevant and scaled businesses owned out of New Zealand?

Things are good in New Zealand, but we should not be fooled. In my view we must address our lack of ability to build scaled and relevant global corporations from New Zealand and we must get on to it now.

I encourage others to positively address this challenge by finding ways to make a difference to create globally scaled and relevant firms from New Zealand.

Andy Hamilton is chief executive of business incubator The Icehouse.

First published in NZ Herald 12 March 2015

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Icehouse targets startups in more focused programme

Tags: Icehouse, Startup

The Auckland-based global business incubator will focus each year on a maximum of 25 small to medium sized enterprises, down from an annual average of 75.

“In the context of what we are trying to achieve, which is ultimately to create more jobs and create more wealth, it is an expansion. It is not really a contraction,” Icehouse chief executive Andrew Hamilton told BusinessDesk. “What we’re trying to do is dial up the startups that have great international potential that we can support with great expertise, networks and funding.”

Tech-based start-ups which can be developed and brought to market quickly will be the main focus for incubator programme, and there will be no requirement for the businesses supported to remain based in New Zealand, although part of Icehouse’s new focus is to create 25,000 New Zealand jobs by 2020.

Read more from Scoop.co.nz

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