The best people to advise startups are those who have built startups before, and this is one of our bigger gaps in New Zealand.
For NZ startups to succeed they need access to people who have built the world's best companies before — both as advisors, investors, and as new team members.
Whilst talking about Silicon Valley, YCombinator Founder, Paul Graham famously said, "Startups beget startups. People who work for startups start their own. People who get rich from startups fund new ones. I suspect this kind of organic growth is the only way to produce a startup hub, because it's the only way to grow the expertise you need".
Goal 4, therefore, is focussed on inspiring world-class enterpreneurs to come to New Zealand and building there companies here, whilst intentionally giving back to the startup community whilst they do it. It's a short-term way to hack gaining immediate entrepreneurial capability, whislt we organically develop these skills ovurselves over time.
Whilst we've already done a lot to encourage the growth of the startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand, it is ultimately sub-scale, because New Zealand is sub-scale. Many in the startup community feel that we have reached the limits of our own efforts, existing primarily on sponsorship, sweat equity, and goodwill, and now risk cannibalizing each other's efforts without further top-down support and intevention.
Therefore, the Start NZ Up action plan consists of a number of intentionally high-level policy-level recommendations, which, if thoughtfully impemented, would have significant impact on the development of the startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand. The specific recommendations for this goal are presented below.
Implement a premium national Startup Entrepreneur-In-Residence programme by Prime Ministerial mandate to attract some of the best minds to NZ and prioritise entrepreneurship - clearly embed outcomes around being hands-on, involved in the startup community, and upskilling our people over pure thought-leadership.
Pilot a new Startup Visa that allows international startups to come to NZ for a 3 year term with clear expectations about creating jobs, growing the startup community in NZ, and giving back to others. Use this to provide a pathway to permanent residency based on engagement and giving back to New Zealand. Use new innovations like digital e-citizenship which can provide favourable tax residency without the permanent residence option for those that do not wish to move here permanently.
Establish a Startup Chilé inspired programme to attract and fund promising international startups to NZ, moving from tourism to incubation and innovation as the biggest international attraction focus. Deeply embed structured engagement mechanisms to upskill the local startup community through mentorship, events, and education whilst here. In combination with the Startup Visa and international business development, this would attract talented companies and people to NZ and provide many opportunities for our people to upskill and join growing startups.
Whilst this isn't an exhaustive list of initiatives, any one of these, if thoughtfully implemented, could have significant impact on our entrepreneurial economy in NZ.
Some of our partners may have already started this work on the ground - view the list of those, or add your details to the list, below.
To create a more vibrant and entrepreneurial economy in New Zealand isn't just the job of one person or organisation, it will require the collective efforts of a team of 5 million people to play their part.
It is clear, however, that parts of this action plan requires policy change, and whilst that is a continuing conversation, it's useful to reflect on those people and organisations on the ground who are already doing this work.
If you're working towards one or more of these goals, please consider listing yourself or your organisation as a partner for the goals using the form below. Our current partners specifically working on this goal, are shown below.
I work with early stage companies on Go-To-Market strategy and execution, ultimately helping these businesses build relationships with the right people, and sell their products and/ or services into new international markets. I'm well networked with Angels Groups/ VCs, Universities, Crown Research Institutes & hundreds of innovative start-ups that together make up the vibrant NZ entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Contact: Oliver Harris
With over 40 years experience in the industrial manufacturing, software technology, and telecommunications markets, Chip has held numerous senior management roles, including executive vice-president, Chairman of the Board, executive director, and national sales manager positions with Apple Computer Corporation, Telecom New Zealand Ltd., Digital Equipment Corporation, SnapComms, Exicom International Corporation, CLEAR Communications, and Hitachi Data Systems, in New Zealand, USA, Asia, and the UK.
Contact: Chip Dawson
Return on Science investment committee members come from diverse and global backgrounds. We have investors, founder CEOs with exits, large company IP and talent scouts, industry specialists and consultants. We have experts from USA, Europe, Israel, New Zealand and Australia. For example on the Biotech Healthcare we have executives from Merck, Abbvie and Pfizer routinely call in.
We are members of BIO and IRweb.org
Contact: Will Charles
ZeroPoint Ventures is a local and international network of entrepreneurs, accelerator managers, and investors who partner with startups and growing companies to re-engineer their organisations for long-term, sustainable growth, and impact.
In 2013, members of our team designed and led Lightning Lab, New Zealand’s first and leading investment accelerator, leading a national vision to speed up globally scalable technology ventures from NZ and connect founders from around New Zealand to investment capital, mentor networks, and international expertise to help their ventures grow.
Through our local and international networks, we continue to connect founders and corporate entrepreneurs we work with to world-class expertise through accelerators, and direct advisory and mentor relationships.
Members of our team, have been involved at the earliest and most recent stages of selecting world-class investors and entrepreneurs to come to New Zealand and share their resources back into the community through the Edmund Hillary Fellowship, a global programme designed to bring world class entrepreneurs and investors together in New Zealand to catalyse positive change for the world.
In 2020, we launched the Start NZ Up initiative, a top-down effort to affect proactive policy-change and support for entrepreneurs, specifically to drive change in immigration and digital citizenship models for international startup talent, and to position New Zealand globally as an incubation nation, specifically through Goal 04.
Contact: Dan Khan
There are many of us already working on the ground towards creating a more vibrant and entrepreneurial economy in New Zealand. Whilst we contend that there's more support needed, it's useful to understand what others are already doing, what their impact has been so far, and how that impact could be amplified if we significantly change their access to resources.
If you're working towards one or more of these goals, please consider listing yourself or your organisation as a partner for the goals using the form below. The impact our current partners have had, specifically working on this goal, is shown below.
Two examples of my work are:
• I helped develop the Go-To-Market strategy and pricing for a start-up in the health & wellness sector, including arranging their first pilots with Auckland Council and LinkedIn.
• I worked with the only Heath & Safety company listed on the ASX, helping them take a new mobile worker product developed with Samsung to market. My work led to pilots with Argus Fire Protection, ArmourGuard & Fonterra.
Contact: Oliver Harris
International Launches, Trade Sales, Mergers, Acquisitions, in country introductions, and capital raise. He has been the President and Chairman of the NZ Software Association; Co-Chairman of ICT New Zealand; Chairman and President of Baseball NZ, Board member to Accelerating Auckland; President and Chairman of Mecca Group; Executive Director for EmbeddedFusion, Director of AintoG, Director of IP Markets, a Board Advisor for Watchdog Corporation, Director of Voola Software, and presenter for Lexus-Nexus, and facilitator for the Technology World NZ Conference, and Convergence 2007.
Contact: Chip Dawson
Many companies have engaged Kristian to help them access the global stock of knowledge (in the form of patents, articles, papers, videos, publications, etc) through very inexpensive searches. This has allowed some to avoid poor opportunities, and allowed others to proceed with the confidence that they have freedom to operate. All of them have a clearer picture of what they are getting into by helping them access the expensive and hard-won wisdom of experts all of the world.
I have had many startup failures and most recently a resounding success (Automio) in my field (software), and my expertise in researching and creating technology solutions combined with my ability to understand users helps me to help others cut to the heart of the opportunity represented by an idea.
Contact: Matt Sagen
Through our team member's early efforts to launch acceleration into NZ, we now have a new structural support system embedded into both Government funding/policy, and programme for early-stage venture acceleration throughout New Zealand. This is starting to attract international attention and competition through programmes like StartMate which recently opened up in New Zealand.
Whilst the programmes themselves continue to run and host 2-3 such accelerator programmes a year, through our direct efforts, we've incubated over 60 new founders, and helped them raise over $60M of public and private capital for those ventures. At least one of those ventures has resulted in a trade sale and early-exit for investors and founder, with many more still creating jobs, revenues in excess of $1M ARR, and continue to scale into high growth.
Alongside that, we're in early-stage discussions with MBIE, Callaghan Innovation, and NZTE on the recommendations related to these goals to further develop new channels to bring people in and connect people up.
Contact: Dan Khan
If you're already working towards some or all the ecosystem development goals, please consider listing your details below so we can link to you as a partner for those goals. Our overall aim is to collate a list of those working towards each goal in an effort to facilitate cross-collaboration, and to measure our collective impact in building a more vibrant startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand.