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New MYOB report: New Zealand's startup scene is humming, but needs help to truly thrive

A report by business software provider MYOB on the state of New Zealand’s startup ecosystem says the country has a healthy startup culture – but more can be done to support the development of home-grown entrepreneurs. 

MYOB general manager Carolyn Luey says that, in the past few years, New Zealand has made a name for itself as an ideal place to start a business. “According to members of the startup community and data from our latest Business Monitor survey, in terms of environment, attitude and entrepreneurialism, New Zealand is a great place to be if you’re an innovator or entrepreneur,” she says. “However, we think more needs to be done to establish New Zealand as a hub for start-up growth and development, including developing our education system, changing the public’s investment mindset and cultivating talented people who can help businesses to scale up.”

Luey says that, while their total economic contribution to Aotearoa is difficult to measure, the opportunities start-ups provide in terms of diversification, employment and long-term global potential make them a vital part of the local economy. “In New Zealand, we have no shortage of ideas – and entrepreneurial people with the potential to make them really successful. However, we need to keep developing the conditions that nurture and develop the businesses coming through, and couple those startups with frameworks and disciplines that can help turn a good idea to a great execution.”

MYOB’s State of Aotearoa’s Start-Ups report also lists ways in which New Zealand can strengthen its start-up ecosystem. “Members of the community agree, undertaking a business venture like a startup requires a phenomenal amount of hard work – and it’s not for everyone,” Luey says. “To succeed you must be entrepreneurial. That means having a long-term vision, being curious, grabbing opportunities when they present themselves and a possessing a tonne of self-belief.”

To foster a thriving startup ecosystem, New Zealand also requires better access to capital and investors who are willing to take risks, Luey says. “New Zealand’s economy is smaller than the likes of the US or the UK, so our investors are slightly more risk-averse. We need a better understanding of the growth-cycle of these businesses. A smaller economy also means we have a smaller pool of people and organisations to supply funding. But start-ups with big and bold ideas need investors who are prepared to back them, despite the risk.”

Luey adds that shared working spaces are also beneficial to creative businesspeople, bringing benefits in terms of enabling start-ups to network with mentors, incubators and potential investors. “Start-ups require purpose built creative environments to collaborate and share ideas,” she explains. “We’ve seen it all over the world, particularly in places like Silicon Valley. By putting creative people in a vibrant environment designed to support the way they work, there has been a rise in the number of creative exchanges – everyone’s learning is greatly accelerated by being in the same place. New Zealand needs these types of spaces all over the country.”

The report also provides insights from industry leaders, incubators and investors, as well as data from international surveys. Together, the results suggest New Zealand is above average in terms of the essentials for a successful start-up environment.

According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2016, New Zealand is second-best nation in the world in terms of managing ongoing compliance requirements, and the Global Information Technology Report 2016 names New Zealand as the number one country to start a business in.

“If you have the passion and drive to do something extraordinary – turning a small idea into a globally marketed product or service – New Zealand has the people, facilities and environment to help you get there,” Luey says. “New Zealand is making some serious inroads too – with plans for better funding, improvements to tech infrastructure, and a growing startup ecosystem, but there is still a long way for the country to go.

“As New Zealand’s largest accounting solutions provider, MYOB is committed to helping startups achieve their goals. If today’s start-ups small business wants to conquer the world, we have a range of tools that can scale up with them have a range of tools, information and technology to get your ideas up and running and scale up with you.

“MYOB was a startup once. We know what it means to grow and transform how you do business. Ensuring New Zealand has a strong start-up ecosystem to support growing companies is hugely important for the future of our economy.”

The report was released on Friday morning at the GridAKL co-working space in Auckland.

Read the report here.