One of the biggest barriers startups have to deal with is our location in the world. Whilst NZ is great for incubating new ideas, our inherent lack of scale means that New Zealand is rarely a meaningful target market.
When our startups do reach new markets, they often realise that their competitors, having grown up being surrounded by talent who have worked for massive technology companies; and who have had access to the best minds, and venture capital in the world with far-reaching networks, means our startups are at a significant disadvantage from the get-go.
When startups do make the ‘flip', their often remote view of the market versus being on the ground can sometimes lead to products and markets having to be re-validated for that new market. How can we get our best and brightest into those markets sooner, and earlier to give them an equal footing on the ladder, as opposed to starting many rungs down?
Goal 7, therefore, looks at reducing our cost of doing business with the rest of the world to combat the built-in competitive disadvantage our entrepreneurs have in being so far from scalable markets.
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.
Immerse our most entrepreneurial university students in Silicon Valley and other startup hubs to inspire them to come back, share their learnings, and be entrepreneurs by building stronger in-market networks, insight, and awareness of global trends.
Provide in-market immersion loans to early-stage entrepreneurs allowing them to offset the cost of being in-market from future earnings. Allow any startup access to this programme, particularly at earlier stages than current Government support programmes allow. This provides a way for our entrepreneurs to compete on the world stage sooner, make advantageous connections earlier, and reduce the competitive advantage of others who start in more connected and established tech hubs.
Provide remote-working grants to support startups to be set up fully remote from day one and able to do global business. This would help NZ startups attract the best staff from around the world without requiring them to be physically present.
Build/support go-to-market programmes for key market destinations outside of New Zealand (or piggy-back off existing programmes like Austrade). These programmes would provide pre-market-entry preparation, and in-market crash-courses for Kiwi entrepreneurs to get up to speed, connected, and culturally fitted into those markets as they scale.
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.
Partnering with Global Funds - eg Horizon Ventures, Temasek, PeopleSoft, IP Group, Brandon Capital
Return on Science
Membership of Global Industry Associations Focused on R&D and Innovation
Engagement with NZTE
Leverage University:University strategic relationships - both at a University level but also at TTO partnership level
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. This programme brought hundreds of significant international mentor networks into the reach of New Zealand entrepreneurs without them needing to make those networks themselves.
Our team has consulted to Government agencies on the creation of startup-friendly 'soft-landing-pads' in other countries, and worked together with the Global accelerator networks to bring entrepreneurs from New Zealand into new countries and introduced into their networks, both through formal and informal programmes.
In 2020, ZeroPoint Ventures launched the Start NZ Up initiative, a top-down effort to affect proactive policy-change and support for entrepreneurs, specifically to specifically to drive change at Government level to look at ways to combat the built-in competitive disadvantage our entrepreneurs have in being so far from scalable markets, specifically through Goal 07.
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.
The impact on this Goal 7 is closely related to Goal 4 - by leveraging the work of others, we can help identify those opportunities where we can create an unfair advantage, and by preventing duplication we can ensure that this advantage lasts as long as it possibly can.
Contact: Matt Sagen
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.