The numbers are eye-popping: shoplifting is costing the global economy about $100 billion per year. In Aotearoa, millions are lost every day because of people stealing things from shops.
Putting an end to ne’er-do-wells and their ne’er-do-well-edness is the mission of Auckland-based outfit Auror – and it’s a mission the company is hoping to take overseas.
“Crime is clearly a global problem,” explains Auror marketing and communications lead Kevin Ptak. “Retail crime alone accounts for about $100 billion globally per year.”
A software startup based in Parnell, Auror has already entered into a nationwide partnership with New Zealand Police. It has also made inroads into the Australian market, growing from zero subscribers three months ago to more than 150 petrol stations who have signed up.
“Drive-offs cost the Australian economy $60 million per year,” explains Ptak. “So it’s an issue.”
It’s an issue that forms the core of Auror’s business, not unlike how Batman made it his life’s work to make Gotham City a safer place or Tony Stark designed products to better the world and eliminate wrongdoing. And it’s an issue they might just bwe getting some new tools to fight.
The company has just won a competition organised by SaaStr, the largest community of Software as a Service (SaaS) founders and entrepreneurs, to attend their annual conference in San Francisco in February 2017. Strartups from around the world submitted 90-second videos about why their company should receive $5,000 in travel expenses, four tickets (valued at $1,200) and VIP access to the conference. Auror’s video – which Ptak says was produced in just 24 hours at Auror’s offices, in Parnell – received nearly 800 votes and beat out 20 other competitors from five continents to win the competition. “It’s as homebrew, New Zealand no. 8 wire as you can get,” he explains. “It definitely surprised us to win.”
But win they did – and Ptak says they plan to use the opportunity to lay the foundations for a possible entry into the US market. “We want to learn from the best to be the best.”
Learning from other companies and sharing ideas is important, Ptak says, because despite a strong perception within New Zealand, Kiwi startups are often overlooked overseas. “My experience is the New Zealand voice isn’t as strong overseas as some other startup markets.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Auror CEO Phil Thomson. But that’s slowly changing, he says. “The startup culture here is becoming really big.”
And as it changes, he hopes his company can press forward in its mission, which he’s quick to point out can be seen as a form of social enterprise. Because the impact of crime, Thomson says, is holding our economy back in a b ig way. “In New Zealand, we lose about $2 million every day to shoplifting.”