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Think big and dare to disrupt, says Woz

Dare to disrupt – it's a waste of time doing anything less.

That's the advice of Steve Wozniak, the other Steve who helped found Apple, and stopped by Auckland last month for a one-off seminar.

As he told Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, consumers are resistant to change and incremental improvements aren't enough of a differentiator, so unless your offering is substantially different, you're going to struggle.

By disrupting the status quo, he says, "you own a whole new category".

"You basically own the market because you were there first. That's what to shoot for. Don't look at what somebody else is doing and just shine it up a little."

While Silicon Valley is crammed with people who have already done just that, he also points out that not every city can be known as a centre for innovation.

On the topic of clusters (ATEED is driving the development of theWynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct), he says there's nothing quite like the cross-pollination of ideas and resources that occurs when businesses are housed in close quarters.

From engineering to production to marketing, it takes a lot to establish a successful company, even when not surrounded by mentors and trailblazers.

For example, Wozniak says, Auckland doesn't have the facilities to build an infinite number of companies, so the ones we do incubate had better be something special.

"You don't want to be innovating in ways that are a little better. You want to be innovating in ways that are substantially different."