Angels support “Growing the Pie” report

Angel Association New Zealand (AANZ) whole heartedly supports the findings in Callaghan Innovation’s “Growing the Pie” report released today.

Overseas investment in high growth kiwi start-ups is a critical component of their success and our success as country that grows innovative, globally competitive businesses according to AANZ.

“We need to be aware that it’s not just the capital that is important to ventures looking for fuel for their growth but it’s the connections and experience that comes with that capital that our ambitious start-ups need to be able to scale successfully,” said John O’Hara.

Addressing other points in favour of overseas trade sales and investment John O’Hara noted allegations of so called “selling too early” miss the point. Early trade sales are an important part of our maturing and growing ecosystem and these ventures are part of the pipeline needed to generate unicorns.

“We need these deals to grow our founder experience and expertise. It’s a powerful and legitimate strategy for smaller businesses to grow their market presence via investment and sometimes sale of the business to larger multinationals. These businesses and their founders are part of the pipeline we need to grow the future Xero’s and RocketLabs. The expertise Rod Drury gained in growing and selling AfterMail was absolutely deployed in the creation of Xero,” said John O’Hara.

The recycling of capital and experience feeds more growth and innovation.

“It’s been my experience that not only do exited founders go on to start another business or invest in other founders but most investors in those exited businesses reinvest in other start-ups. We know that 80% of any returns generated when angels are part of a trade sale are channelled back into more start-up investments,” concluded John O’Hara.

To read the report click here.

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Third annual ‘Investor’s Guide to the NZ Technology Sector’

Rising domestic investment in New Zealand’s early-stage technology companies is creating more opportunities for follow-on investment from a growing number of international investors. This is according to the third annual Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector published jointly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and theTechnology Investment Network (TIN).

The guide showcases New Zealand’s diverse range of high growth technology companies, innovation capabilities and supportive business environment, and presents a compelling case for investment in New Zealand’s technology sector.

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Software the top sector for NZ angel investors

More than half the investment made in early stage companies in New Zealand last year was in the software and services space (53.8%), followed by 17% in technology hardware and equipment.

“Technology is increasingly the engine of growth for all companies, regardless of size” explains PWC’s Anand Reddy.

“It’s no surprise that it’s these areas where the most activity is happening and where angel and early-stage investors are putting their energy. This reflects global trends too. Data generated by Crunchbase notes that the software and services remains the dominant sector for investment.”

Speaking personally, John O’Hara said that his own portfolio leant towards software generated ventures.

“I am particularly proud of Ask Nicely, which produces software for NPS (net promoter score) collection and analysis. This company has already generated tangible returns for a number of the early angel investors. The company is now scaling into the US, with the founder moving to Portland, Oregon in the last couple of months.

“New Zealanders have a knack for practical problem solution and we are increasingly seeing them turn this knack into compelling business opportunities,” said O’Hara.

Click here to find out more about how the startup sector is evolving, and where it’s heading next.

Click here to dive into the data about this asset class.

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2018 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards – Finalists Announced

A record number of people gathered across Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington today to hear the finalists in the 2018 NZ Hi-Tech Awards announced.

Entries this year have come in from right across the country and this is reflected in the line up of finalists this year, according to Jen Rutherford, Chair of the Hi-Tech Trust, who says the standard of entries is the highest ever seen in the history of the Awards.

“This year’s finalists span the full spectrum of the hi-tech sector and the country. For 2018 we have made a really big push to ensure even greater diversity across the board and it’s great to see so many areas of the country represented, as well as a huge increase in the number of finalists led by women. The number of finalists with female CEO’s has almost doubled year-on-year. Whilst we are not there yet, we are moving in the right direction. Our industry is truly in great shape,” says Rutherford

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Little Yellow Bird’s Samantha Jones on the garment industry and sustainability (listen)

Little Yellow Bird founder Samantha Jones phones in from Thailand to chat about her business, the impact of the garment industry on the environment and humans, sustainability, and more.

“As much as we wish we didn’t, we all have problems. Some may just shrug them off and accept them, others – like Samantha Jones – get up and do something about them.”

That’s what we at Idealog wrote about Little Yellow Bird founder Samantha Jones back in 2017. The winner of the Young New Zealand Innovator Award at the 2017 Innovation Awards – and not to mention a recipient of a prestigious Edmund Hillary Fellowship – Jones has been on a mission to change perceptions and prove you can do good, while still doing good business.

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Angels Tell the Truth: What Makes a New Company Fundable

There’s more than $100 billion dollars currently being invested annually by venture capitalists, private equity firms and angel investors. Why do some businesses get a piece of the action and others don’t? It comes down to the fundability of the company.

Entrepreneurs may think they have a great business idea, but investors may not see it that way. To learn why, entrepreneurs need to look at their business from the investor’s point of view. Just like the founder, investors are looking for a match made in heaven – when both company founder and investor make money in the end and all live happily ever after.

As an experienced angel investor, managing partner and CEO of Sofia Fund, here’s my advice – consider this the ultimate primer on demystifying the angel world.

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BioLumic raises US$5M for UV crop enhancement system

BioLumic has raised US$5 million in funding to help deal with growing global demand for increased agricultural crop yields using short-duration ultra-violet treatments rather than genetic modification or chemicals.

The Palmerston North-based company, creator of the world’s first crop-yield enhancement system using UV light, attracted funding from Silicon Valley agritech investor Finistere Ventures, the Radicle Growth acceleration fund whose investors include Finistere, Rabobank’s recently-launched global Food & Agri Innovation Fund and existing investors from across New Zealand. Finistere has previously backed Israeli agritech company CropX, which licensed research from New Zealand’s Landcare Research.

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Major trends in agtech for 2018

The disruption over the last decade in the retail food value chain gained momentum in 2017 with the IPO of Blue Apron, and acquisitions such as Bai Brands ($1.7 billion), Sir Kensington Condiments and Whole Foods by Amazon ($13.7 billion). This wave of disruption is being paralleled in the agricultural value chain, driven by increasing land turnover and altered land use, renewed focus on sustainability and, as in retail, changing consumer preference.

A continued slump in commodity prices has seen “Big Ag” facing declining margins and prompted a wave of consolidation to get cost efficiency, as well as a search for new innovation over the last three years. As key products in seed and chemistry have come off patent, the change imperative for the Big 6 has only strengthened. Coincidentally, the agtech investment landscape has exploded over the last decade, from a niche, opportunistic clade of the venture capital investment class, to a legitimate asset class attracting focused and generalist funds with dedicated agtech investment allocations.

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Hillary Fellowship chooses six Kiwis for global challenges

Six New Zealand entrepreneurs have been selected from more than 300 innovators who applied to tackle pressing global challenges in New Zealand through the Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF).

The group selected by EHF are part of the first cohort in a three-year programme run in partnership with Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to provide visionary entrepreneurs and investors with a platform to create positive global impact from New Zealand. An additional 24 international Fellows have been selected and will now apply for Global Impact Visas to take part in the programme.

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Investor Activity in NZ Tech Sector Continues to Intensify

Auckland, May 9, 2017 – Investment in New Zealand’s technology companies continues to rise, with record amounts of funding coming from offshore investors, according to the second annual Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector published jointly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Technology Investment Network (TIN).

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Investor Activity in NZ Tech Sector Continues to Intensify

TIN100 and MBIE launch second annual “Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector”
Auckland, May 9, 2017 – Investment in New Zealand’s technology companies continues to rise, with record amounts of funding coming from offshore investors, according to the second annual Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector published jointly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Technology Investment Network (TIN).

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Tech innovators pitch their wares at agribusiness showcase

Agritech innovators bathed in the spotlight at the latest Agribusiness Showcase near Palmerston North as they pitched their wares to investors looking for the next best and most profitable thing.

The occasion marked the fourth year of the showcase, sponsored by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the ASB, this year with a focus on 12 companies working on environmental and precision technologies.

“These companies show tenacity and courage, it’s been quite inspirational to work with them,” said NZTE investment leader Quentin Quin.

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Caldera founder Jim Watson loses cancer battle

Jim Watson, whose personal battle with prostate cancer led him to co-found Caldera Health, has succumbed to the disease but investors are showing confidence in the company’s gene testing technology by converting options into shares.

Watson, who had been a scientific and management adviser up until the end of 2016, died on Feb. 13, Caldera’s chief executive Rob Mitchell has confirmed. Watson co-founded the company with Richard Foster, who had also been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and died in January 2014.

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Datagate gets capital for North American push

AUCKLAND. New Zealand cloud software start-up Datagate Innovation Limited has raised more than $1m in capital as it gears up to hire salespeople and start selling into the North American market.

For customers including a network of Spark resellers and one of New Zealand’s largest IT services companies, Datagate’s cloud billing solution provides online billing, reporting and customer self-service for usage-based services.

Datagate has raised $1,042,794 from new and existing investors, more than double its $500,000 target. The capital raise was originally a rights issue for existing investors, but strong interest saw Datagate extend the issue to include new investors, says CEO Mark Loveys.

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Minister Chagger issues a call to action on women entrepreneurship in Canada and announces $50 million to help businesswomen access capital

Women entrepreneurs from across Canada gather to talk about growing their businesses and accessing new markets
November 9, 2016 – Toronto, Ontario – Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Today, the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, is hosting the Canadian Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference in Toronto. The Minister invited businesswomen from across the country to come together to share ideas on how more Canadian women business owners can be globally successful. Addressing a crowd of over 200 inspiring women entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them, the Minister issued a call to action to increase the number of women starting and running their own businesses.

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Labour targets ICT as second largest economic contributor

A Labour-led government would target the ICT sector to be New Zealand’s second largest contributor to the economy by 2025, believing it is a job-rich source of growth for a nation of small businesses.
While the precise definition of what constitutes ICT is up for debate, the party believes it currently sits somewhere between the third and fourth largest sector, behind tourism and the dairy and wine industries.
The party’s finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, unveiled the target when launching the results of the party’s two year ‘Future of Work Commission’ at its annual conference in Auckland over the weekend, unveiling a raft of proposals to improve intellectual property protection for small and medium-sized tech businesses, infuse schools and communities with digital learning opportunities, and a shake-up for innovation, science, and university research funding.

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Kiwi Landing Pad Spreads it’s Wings

New Zealand’s tech community – Kiwi Landing Pad – is on the move in San Francisco.

Set up in 2011 with funding from the New Zealand government and private investors, the Kiwi Landing Pad (KLP) has already helped hundreds of innovators keen to break into the highly competitive United States start-up scene.

The non-profit organisation caters for high growth technology companies. As well as reducing the risks and time involved in setting up an office, KLP also offers valuable access to necessary business information and networks.

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New Zealand Innovation Awards celebrates most successful homegrown trailblazers

The New Zealand Innovation Awards 2016 winners were announced last night, recognising the cream of the crop across 11 industry categories and 10 business disciplines including technology, science, marketing and agri-business.

The Awards attracted more than 700 entrepreneurs, innovators, businesspeople and investors at the SKY City Convention Centre last night. 21 winners and 19 highly commended awards were handed out on the night to companies creating the most ‘game-changing’ innovations.

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Mahuki – bringing innovation to the global GLAM sector

Te Papa launched its first acceleration programme, Mahuki, in August. The programme is now nearing the half way mark.

There are ten start-up teams focused on innovating the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). It is an in-residence programme and the Mahuki hub is located within Te Papa. The teams are working closely with museum experts, museum visitors and other cultural institutions to validate their ideas and build sustainable global businesses.

Given the size of the New Zealand market and our distance from bigger economies, Mahuki aims to take a ‘global from day one’ approach. To explore market opportunities, Mahuki will take these teams on a two week trip to the US towards the end of the programme.

The GLAM sector represents prestigious customers and large markets (it represents 4.3% of GDP in the US – larger than the construction industry). There are more museums in the world than MacDonald’s and Starbucks combined. There are in fact an estimated 75,000 of them, with 35,000 located in the US.  And while numbers of museums are still modest in China, that market has developed rapidly with a new museum opening every day.

The cultural sector is ripe for transformation – but entrepreneurs don’t necessarily know how to access the sector, how to best meet its needs or even recognise it’s potential.  At the same time, the experience economy is booming. However, no matter how large or attractive a market is – this means nothing if you don’t know how to access it.

The Mahuki programme has been designed to build the capability of businesses to deliver effectively to this valuable sector. Some of the key innovation trends and opportunities being seen in the sector include things such as augmented and virtual reality, gamification, location based services, mobile and BYOD, natural user interfaces, personalised goods and services, and wearable technology.

Mahuki can be translated as “perceptive” and it relates to the “wellspring of inspiration”. The Mahuki.org website provides more details about the programme, and you can get a small taste of the ten teams here –  http://www.mahuki.org/about/participants

Te Papa will host a Mahuki showcase event on Monday 5 December and an invitation will circulate Angel groups soon.”

 

 

 

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KPMG to drive economic growth through support of entrepreneurism across Indigenous communities

KPMG has today launched a series of proposals aimed at spurring the economic growth of the Australian Indigenous community. To encourage further involvement in business and entrepreneurship, KPMG has developed 20 recommendations in conjunction with Indigenous thinkers to focus on areas of innovation, education and the Empowered Communities reform.
The Igniting the Indigenous Economy report, conducted by KPMG revealed that the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is now showing some signs of closing in key areas. While this gap may be closing, the progress of employment for the Indigenous community is still poor. KPMG acknowledges that the employment gap for Indigenous Australians vanishes for those who attain a high level of education.

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READY FOR LAUNCH

SHOWCASING INNOVATIVE NEW ZEALAND COMPANIES THAT ARE SEEKING TO FUND THEIR NEXT STAGE OF GROWTH.

The Investment Showcase is a partnership between NZTE and the Angel Association NZ and will be held on the opening night of the 2016 Angel Summit.

Guests include Angel Summit delegates, local and international investors and other key stakeholders in the NZ investment community.

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What does it take for agritech business to Sprout?

An agritech incubator is back for a second season of growing business ideas. But will they take root?
The problem is well-known: there are more people in the world than ever before, so there’s more need for food than ever before. But more people also means there’s less available land to grow that needed food. What is one to do?
That’s where agritech innovation accelerator Sprout comes in. Working with agritech startups from across New Zealand’s primary industries and boasting a bevy of big-name partners including BNZ, Callaghan Innovation, KPMG, Air New Zealand and Massey University and counting Fonterra as its supporters, the incubator has some serious firepower – or in this case, seeding power – behind it. Programme manager James Bell-Booth says it’s proof there’s a serious appetite for agritech ideas. “We have a lot happening around incubation and acceleration,” he explains. “We’re after ideas from the paddock to the plate.”
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Done Deal: A collation of recent fundings secured, contracts inked and deals did, for the tl;dr crowd

A network of New Zealand angel investors has helped launch iPug into the US market at the BIO International Convention in San Francisco. iPug, an Australian company now based in San Francisco, is the world’s first mobile-friendly platform that transforms the way research is conducted and how public health campaigns are delivered. The investors, led by Hamilton-based property developer Zane Beckett, have provided seed capital and Series A funding.

SparkTank chief executive Rachel Kelly and Augen Software group director Mitchell Pham are among four new board members who have been voted to the board at NZTech.

Microsoft managing director Barrie Sheers and a Callaghan Innovation business group manager Erin Wansbrough have also been approved as board members.
A new chair to replace outgoing chair Bennett Medary will be appointed at the board meeting next month.

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The face of NZ’s brave business future in the world? Men, men and more men

A recent international “innovation mission” was predictably and overwhelmingly dominated by men. To help organisers remedy such absurd and damaging imbalances, Anna Guenther and Jessica Venning-Bryan have produced a list for next time

A 50-strong trade delegation of New Zealand’s finest innovators and business people headed off recently to Israel. Their plan? An “innovation mission”, to learn from a land that has inspired entrepreneurship on many levels and to share our own knowledge as a scrappy start up nation.

Fifty of our finest: but where were the women? Judging by the NZ Herald story previewing the trip, there weren’t any. While the article was written by a woman, no women were mentioned as being part of the heavy-hitting delegation. (Let’s not even start on why, again, we’re Israel gazing.)

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Ubco charging ahead to meet target By David Porter

Ubco, the Bay of Plenty-based offroad electric bike manufacturer, is on track to meet its minimum $1.5 million target in second stage funding and is aiming for a maximum of $2.5 million.

As well, Timothy Allan, founder of Tauranga industrial design and development company Locus Research, which has worked closely with Ubco’s co-founders in developing the bike, has now taken on the role of chief executive. Mr Allan will be restructuring his role at Locus in order to commit to the bike company.

“Ubco has been through a thorough due diligence process with Enterprise Angels and the company has good support,” said Enterprise Angels executive director Bill Murphy.

Ubco pitched to EA in February. Firm commitments now sit at $1.22 million, said Mr Murphy, who added that EA member Deion Campbell was joining the Ubco board in his capacity as a private investor in the startup. Mr Campbell is general manager generation for Trustpower.
Ubco’s funding is expected to come from a mix of EA members, matching funding from the Seed Capital Investment Fund and the angel group’s sidecar fund, as well as other wealthy private investors and regional funds.

Mr Allan, who returned on Monday from a trip to China to commission Ubco’s second production line and liaise with suppliers, said he was confident the fundraising was building healthily towards the total.

“It’s looking pretty good,” he said. “I’m hoping we will hit our target of $2.5 million. We’ve got some other interested investors doing due diligence at the moment, and we’ve also got interest from a couple of offshore investors.”

Mr Allan said Ubco hoped to close its funding round this month.

The company has also recently concluded a partnership with Blackhawk Tracking Systems, which makes advanced GPS tracking systems. “This gives us a technology platform that relates directly to the bike’s communication,” he said, adding that Blackhawk chairman Keith Oliver would be also joining the Ubco board.

Ubco has now fulfilled its pre-orders and is ramping up production and building up its team. The company recently hired former BMW mechanic Gareth Hills to supervise production. Mr Allen said the company was now recruiting for leadership roles in product and technology, sales and marketing, and operations and logistics.

Co-founder Anthony Clyde, who also runs his own company importing electric bicycles, was likely to scale back a little to more of a director role in the next phase, said Mr Allan. Meanwhile the other co-founder Darryl Neal was expected to serve as a design director.

The next major long term project for the company would be developing a road legal version of the Ubco electric bike.

Locus founder to focus on electric bike firm
Timothy Allan will restructure his involvement with Locus Research, the design and
development company he founded more than a decade ago, to focus on his new role as chief executive of offroad electric bike company Ubco.

“I’m stepping back from my roles at Locus and that is being discussed at the moment with the various parties,” he said.

Locus Research, based out of the Newnham Technology Park in Te Puna, Tauranga, is a product development and innovation consultancy. It has become a key player in the Bay’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and has been deeply involved in the development of a number of first-to-market products, including the Inverse Hair Treatment System and the Balex Marine Automatic Boat Loader.

Founded by Mr Allan in 2002, Locus has increasingly been taking equity stakes in companies it has worked with, including Ubco. Mr Allan said he estimated he had been spending around half his time on the electric bike company in recent months.

“I think Ubco has wheels, no pun intended,” he said, adding that taking on the chief executive role offered a different opportunity for him.

Mr Allan said Locus was evolving and would probably seek outside investment for the first time in order to go after more opportunities where it could become deeply involved in startup companies, rather than just provide contracted services.

“We’ve been fairly stretched over the last six months with the level of support we’ve had to supply to all of the startup companies we’re involved with,” he said.

He envisaged the senior Locus team would be stepping up, and he would be adding a couple more staff. But he will continue to be involved in the company, particularly in terms of selecting companies where Locus will take an equity stake.

The Locus ownership structure would not be changing, and the team had been getting used to his changing role.

“But we will be putting in place an employee share options scheme to make sure the key people have a stake in the outcomes and successes. A lot of them have put a huge amount of time into the various companies,” he said.

Ubco:

* Co founders: Whakatane-based Antony Clyde and Wellington-based Darryl Neal.

* Design and development: The founders, together with Tauranga’s Locus Research.

* Manufacture and assembly: Core components are built in China and assembled in Tauranga.

First published on nzherald.co.nz on 4 May 2016

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A young achiever

Orissa born Ojas Mahapatra-led Photonic Innovations featured among top three in New Zealand Awards 2016 Innovation category.

We aim to make the company a world leader in gas leak detection technology in the next five years, he said, adding that the company has recently launched its first gas leak detector Ammonia LD 4000.

Photonic Innovations was among the top three finalists in this year’s New Zealander of the Year Awards 2016 (Innovator of the Year category) and narrowly missed out to the eventual winner. Ojas Mahapatra is a young achiever who moved to New Zealand from Orissa in 2010 for his Ph.D. from University of Canterbury and was appointed the CEO of Photonic Innovations in 2014.

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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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Boost for Christchurch as Microsoft returns to CBD office following 2011 earthquakes

Just days after the city of Christchurch marked the five-year anniversary of the 2011 earthquakes, Microsoft New Zealand has announced that its Christchurch based operations are returning to the CBD as part of the new GreenHouse innovation hub.

The tech giant – which employs around 220 staff in New Zealand – has had a presence in Christchurch for many years, with four employees serving the business community from their inner city office, with regular support from the company’s Auckland headquarters.

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