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Winter 2019

Issue #71, Winter 2019

The Transformation Issue - Change is a constant so how can we adapt?

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Opinion

There are some big myths out there in start-up land, Vend and OMGTech! founder Vaughan Fergusson says. The overnight success story is the biggest myth out of them all, as it comes with an invisible trail of failures behind it. Here, he takes on New Zealand’s attitude to failure, its ugly sibling, tall poppy syndrome, and explains why all founders should embrace the fear of failure and not shame those who have given it a go.

Idealog + MYOB

Forget the ingredients touted as necessary to make a little girl in the age-old nursery rhyme, What Are Little Boys Made Of? To be a woman business leader, you need to have more than a pinch of resilience and a dash of tenacity. This is because although the country has made big strides when it comes to inclusivity, there’s still work to do before true equality is reached. Take the recent 2019 MYOB Women In Tech Report, which found nearly half of the industry’s women leaders have personally experienced gender bias during their career, just a quarter of local technology businesses have equal representation in their leadership teams and only one in ten tech businesses work to actively address discrimination. Head of delivery at Trade Me Diana Minnee talks carving their career paths, overcoming personal challenges and finding grit.

Idealog + Soda

​Entrepreneurs are a rare breed, and entrepreneurial students are even rarer. But the 20-something team of Waikato University students that make up Chameleon – Namrah Siddiqui Carpio, Callum MacDonald, Chun Ho Tse (Leo), and Jiabao Zhao (Boa) – went up against 19 teams in the 2019 Startup Bootcamp, and were one of two teams crowned as winners. Their idea for refrigeration leaks might just change the environment – and maybe the world.

Money making machines

When the subject of Soul Machines comes up, most of us think immediately of the company’s startlingly realistic AI-powered digital humans. But you could argue that the company’s rapid international expansion is almost as striking. The numbers certainly ready well: To date, the company has raised NZ$25 million from investors such as Horizons Ventures, Iconiq and Mercedes Benz. Created as a result of the spin out from the University of Auckland, the company was co-founded and serial entrepreneur Greg Cross, whose last company, PowerbyProxi, was sold in 2017, and by Dr. Mark Sagar, who had led the scientific research since 2012. With R&D headquartered in Auckland and executives located in LA, San Francisco, and New York City, the company combines neuroscience, cognitive science and developmental psychology to create new ways for humans to interact with AI. Current customers include Autodesk, P&G, Royal Bank of Scotland and ANZ Bank. Not a bad resume for a local company, we reckon, so we asked Greg Cross, Soul Machines co-founder and chief business officer, just what it takes to grow something so big starting somewhere so small.

Going global

What a difference a year can make. Just ask SwipedOn founder and CEO Hadleigh Ford. Founded in 2013, the Tauranga-based SwipedOn produces a slick, iPad-powered visitor sign-in platform for business reception areas, a well-overdue replacement to archaic paper-based systems. On the strength of that product, the company raised $1 million in 2017 from such investors as Enterprise Angels, Quayside Holdings, the NZVIFund and Stephen Tindall. So far, so good. Then, just a year later the company dramatically sold to UK investor SmartSpace for a cool $11 million – quite the return on its earlier six-figure raise. That’s good enough for us, so we spoke to Ford, a former harbour pilot, about growing companies, burning the midnight oil and the similarities between working at sea and working in the C-suite.

Idealog + MYOB

Forget the ingredients touted as necessary to make a little girl in the age-old nursery rhyme, What Are Little Boys Made Of? To be a woman business leader, you need to have more than a pinch of resilience and a dash of tenacity. This is because although the country has made big strides when it comes to inclusivity, there’s still work to do before true equality is reached. Take the recent 2019 MYOB Women In Tech Report, which found nearly half of the industry’s women leaders have personally experienced gender bias during their career, just a quarter of local technology businesses have equal representation in their leadership teams and only one in ten tech businesses work to actively address discrimination. Katie Byrne talks candidly to Banqer’s Kendall Flutey about carving her career path, overcoming personal challenges and finding grit.

Global success

Narrative co-founder James Broadbent says he's always had the business bug. Now, he can consider himself good at raising money too: The photography workflow software company he founded with Steffan Levet in 2017 recently announced that it has secured a not-insubstantial NZ$700,000 in seed funding from the San Francisco-based Founders Fund Pathfinder – itself co-founded by American venture capitalist Peter Thiel. This is just the third New Zealand start-up Thiel has invested in, alongside 8i and Halter. That’s a pretty impressive investment from an equally impressive source, so we talked to Broadbent about what it takes to get an audience with the Silicon Valley Kings.