Those who've been counting might have noticed that it's our 50th birthday – that's right, we've chalked up 50 issues of innovation creativity, technology and design since we launched in 2006.
You’d think we would have run out of stuff to talk about by now – but you’d be wronger than a wrong thing. The ideas just keep flowing and we’re going through stories like regular people go through breath mints.
Some of you have been reading Idealog since the very beginning (gold stars for you!), but many more have joined the party along the way. To celebrate our 50th issue, Vaughn Davis sat down with all 49 previous issues and ran the ruler over Idealog’s history (see below).
But first, some innerestin’ nuggets: alcohol has been the most frequent category of advertising on our outside-back cover; Geoff Ross has been featured holding either an egg or a fish more times than we really care to think about; we’ve used the headline ‘The Kids Are Alright’ more times than we really care to think about; and all 50 issues together weigh around 20kg.
In that time we’ve featured 23 men on the cover but only 14 women, and of the 14 women, four were models or stock images and one was – as Manu is our witness – a plastic doll. Idealog hasn’t been totally on the nail on this front. Looking back at our covers since current editor Hazel's first issue (#35), we’ve had two women, five men, and seven human-less covers, notably one with illustrated lollies. Apparently we have a sweet tooth at Idealog HQ. Our report card reckons we could try harder on the gender agenda (and we need more fruit and veges).
Our latest cover star is Rob Fyfe, who's now on board with woolly brand Icebreaker (don't worry, he didn't actually sit in a freezer; for once, it's Photoshop). Not a subscriber? You're in luck; we've got an extra special birthday deal for you...
For one, subscribe to the mag and receive one of these sweet Idealog t-shirts - first come, first served. Sizes are limited as well, so once you've nailed down your subscription drop us an email at editor(at)idealog.co.nz with your preferred size, quick smart.
PLUS, all new and renewing subscribers go in the draw to win a Tissot PRC 200 watch - it's 200m water-resistant with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, solid stainless steel case and comes in a three hand with date or chronograph version. Worth $995, this is arm candy almost too good to be true.
50 issues of Idealog
Eight years ago, Idealog’s first editor Matt Cooney (we’ve only had two; that’s not bad going, really) wrote, “creativity is demanded in every corner of the economy. If you’re interested in ideas and enterprise then you’ve come to the right place.”
Fifty issues later, we still stand by that. In our eight years in business we’ve seen a change of government, something of a recession, businesses with (yes!) little or no connection to cows take centre stage and stories about New Zealanders working cleverly in biotech, software, product design, music, film, intellectual property ... well, you name it.
Ironically, our very first issue featured a cow-based business, when we profiled Canterbury ‘Milk Mavericks’ Synlait and their plans to go from “farmer to pharma”. 2013 saw the now-listed company double its issue price and end the year looking forward to a 2014 profit of just under $20 million.
Starting a pattern that was to define Idealog for some years, we featured an interview with Geoff Ross about his imminent bottled water launch and illustrated it with a photograph of the vodka-maker with a fish on his head.
Inside, we put our creative money where our mouth was and commissioned Lindsey Redding to apply his legendary craft skills and design the feature article ‘Welcome to the creative economy’. Sadly, Linds died of cancer in late 2012, but not before sharing the story of his illness and the perspective it gave him on his blog, lindsredding.com. We won’t mind one bit if you take a break right now to read it.
In early 2006, ad man Roy Meares ("the last great showman") was on a roll. His agency, Meares Taine, had just opened a Wellington office and picked up the Kiwibank account. Three years later the agency sold to multi-national Ogilvy (as you do) and nowadays the English-born writer of the Speights Southern Man ads is a southern man himself, enjoying retirement in Queenstown.
We talked to Peter Cooper about his mad scheme to turn the rundown Britomart district into “a centre of retail, commercial and residential creativity” and met Luke Nola, who’d just launched a TV show called Let’s Get Inventin’, which is still in production today and is distributed worldwide.
In our third issue we interviewed the newly very rich Sam Morgan and asked him how he got $700m out (after Telecom’s Xtra refused to buy Trade Me for $10 million a few years earlier). When we asked him what he thought he might spend his $266 million on, Morgan commented that he could only get $500 a day from the ATM, but suggested he might buy a new mountain bike. We also introduced Gen C—the generation of digital creatives remaking the way we buy, sell and communicate.
Issue four featured artist and designer Tanya Thompson (aka Misery) on the front cover. In our interview we wrote, “Thompson has turned her subversive art into a pumping business that is expanding at a rate which ‘terrifies’ her but remains true to its heart.” In 2010, aged 28, Tanya retired the Misery persona by holding an exorcism, followed by a wake, and today works as Tanya Jade.
Keeping with the issue’s artistic theme, we interviewed songwriter and perennial busker Luke Hurley playing his guitar and singing outside a shop on Dominion Road. Last time we looked, he was still there.
Advertising was where it was at as we featured Kiwi ad creatives grabbing 10 Cannes Gold Lions. The winning campaigns featured Telecom’s Rubbish Film Festival (yes, movies on phones!), an exploding tomato sauce sachet to promote a land mine charity and a BNZ campaign using amputated body parts to sell student banking packages.
We also interviewed author Margaret Mahy, saying, “at 70 – although she doesn’t look it and certainly doesn’t act like it – Mahy has no plans to slow down”. By all accounts she didn’t, and had written more than 160 books and short story collections by the time she passed away in 2012.
The reinvention of TV was on our minds in late 2006, and no-one was doing it quite like Leigh Hart, aka Sports Café’s The Guy. He’d just launched his own show Moon TV, was writing a column for the Herald on Sunday, fronting Bonus Bonds ads and, of course, producing pedestrian safety videos for Asian students. These days, the ads are for bacon and Hart is busy spruiking his own beer label, Wakachangi. Hmmm, there could be a feature in that. Or at least a lunch.
We hadn’t had a picture of Geoff Ross with a fish for several issues so we included one, this time a snapper bought from the supermarket. We also interviewed George FM founder Thane Kirby about his new indie TV station, Alt TV. His business plan: “Take the piss, keep it funny and play a lot of music.” Alt TV closed down in 2009; the last song it played was The Doors’ ‘The End’.
Director Jonathan King had just launched his zombie sheep movie Black Sheep, starring Oliver Driver and supported by Richard Taylor and Weta Workshop, Despite the obvious comparisons we wrote that “he’s well aware it’s a long way from people calling you the next Peter Jackson and actually being it”. In 2009, King went on to produce the movie version of Under The Mountain.
And down in Lower Hutt the Dowse Art Gallery had just completed a $6 million redevelopment aimed at realising its council’s vision for a creative city. While the gallery reno was a success, the city part is still, as far as we can make out, a work in progress.
2007 marked the end of an era in TV commercials as production company Silverscreen closed its doors after 33 years. After creating such classics as Toyota’s ‘Welcome to our world’ and the Jemaine Clements-voiced L&P Stubbies ad, it seemed that the appetite (and budget) for quality just wasn’t there any more. As owner Geoff Dixon said, “Big budget beautiful ads became unfashionable and everyone just grabbed a handycam”.
And as Matt Cooney wrote, the advent of more TV screens, more channels, more choices all add up to more opportunity for creative Kiwis prepared to think outside the box.
Cover star Hollie Smith was on fire in 2007; her debut album Long Player had just hit number one, and she’d signed to Blue Note subsidiary Manhattan Records. In 2009, Blue Note’s owners EMI hit the wall, laying off a third of its staff and shelving projects including Smith’s. Despite this, her 2010 album, Humour and the Misfortune of Others, also reached the top spot.
We also asked how Kiwi Karen Walker was, and the answer was “not much”. When we asked if she felt pressured or obligated to support the local fashion industry she said, “the only person I have an obligation to is myself”. Walker’s fashion success has always been a global story, though, and in 2013 she was awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
We know you’re clever but you won’t live for ever—and we have to look out for New Zealand’s creative future. So Idealog placed calls to the established stars of Kiwi creativity and asked them to nominate our future fame bearers
Also in 2007, Taika Waititi released his first feature film, Eagle vs Shark, and told us he was working on what was then described as a “feature-length version” of the Academy Award- nominated short, Two Cars, One Night. The finished film was released in 2010 and was, of course, Boy.
Looking back, it seems a bit off that a magazine about innovation would wait a year before featuring Ray Avery. When we did, he told us about mixing leftover abattoir meat and waste kiwifruit pulp to create a superfood for the world’s starving, Proteinforte. His then garage-based company Medicine Mondiale had also invented a $5, reusable adjustable IV flow controller called Acuset that, we reported, was also handy for dosing rich Americans’ spa pools with just the right amount of chlorine.
Whatever happened to the Alpine Wasp? We covered the launch of the unflown self-piloted helicopter that was then about to be “the first to land on the peak of Everest next year”. Trevor and Glenda Rogers were developing the unusual looking diesel-powered craft in their East Tamaki factory. The idea was it would fly autonomously to wherever a climber was trapped and hope he would climb inside ... Well, the helicopter never flew and the company went into receivership weeks after our story appeared, with both Trevor and Glenda serving jail time after refusing to hand over the company’s intellectual property to its receivers.
On another note, we pointed out that like it or not, the landfill economy is coming to an end—and New Zealand needs to get real. Gena Tuffery uncovered the Kiwis doing us all a favour and living up to our undeserved reputation. Just don’t use that ‘G’ word
You might not know Kris Sowersby, but you probably know his type. Back in 2008, the 26-year-old type designer was crafting some very good looking fonts, but finding limited local demand for his work (other than from people sharing them online). Since then, Chris’ business, Klim, has taken off, designing fonts for BNZ, Air New Zealand’s new logo, and (we couldn’t say no) this magazine. We also chatted to artist Sofia Minson, who dropped out of fifth form art, got accepted into Elam, then decided to give it a miss.
In the same issue we profiled a young bloke called Derek Handley, co-founder of the rapidly expanding but yet-to-be sold mobile advertising company, The Hyperfactory.
They came to ART Venture to speed up their design, sculpture, dance, music, festival, symposium, architecture, TV and waka projects. And they all did one thing: slow down. Gena Tuffery learns why good things take time—and great things take up to 18 months
Wellington’s pumpkin-inspired international terminal, aka The Rock, got its first airing in this issue, with its designers claiming it would welcome travelers with “glass fissures creating theatrical viewing points” and “dramatic space representing Wellington’s seismic geography”. Controversial at the time, these days most of the attention is on whatever Hobbit prop is hanging from the ceiling down at the domestic end of the terminal.
North&South magazine once facetiously asked if Kevin Roberts was God. Others just thought he talked too much, and plenty regard his Lovemarksbooks as too eeerk for words. But Idealog publisher Vincent Heeringa left his cynical trousers in the closet and interviewed Saatchi & Saatchi global CEO Kevin Roberts. After talking rugby and telling Vincent he was an idiot for not kneeling at the Lovemarks shrine, Roberts filled three rambling pages with his thoughts on advertising (go, Saatchi & Saatchi!), hot cities (New York, Dubai), great magazines (Monocle, Idealog) and cool places to eat (El Bulli and The Fat Duck, naturally). It was rollocking and a bit mad. In other words, classic Kevin.
Look what’s hot in the tech section: it’s the iPhone 3G! The big news was its ability to run apps, and among our recommendations were More Cowbell (tap the screen, hear a cowbell) and iPint (a beer simulator). What were we thinking?
In a more serious mode, we reviewed 3,000 days of the Labour Government, Vincent Heeringa finding Clark’s crowd had delivered “a middling performance and certainly not good enough to advance us up the OECD table”. Then, presciently, he asked “will the Nats be any better?” And that’s why he’s the publisher.
For once, here was a story that actually was Rocket Science. Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck was yet to launch a single rocket when we interviewed him, but the company’s innovative fuel technology was attracting worldwide interest and they’d just signed a contract to fire dead Americans’ ashes into space (truly!). The company’s first rocket launched in 2009 and the last public launch was in late 2012. (Rocket Lab’s contract with US defence research agency DARPA may explain some of its silence since then.)
Why on earth would anyone drink bottled water from filthy old France? When Simon Wooley, Peter Cullinane, Kim Thorpe and Howard Grieve asked themselves that, the answer was their newly launched brand: Antipodes Water. (Water wasn’t the only product they considered, though; luckily for Green MP Gareth Hughes they narrowly chose it over canned tuna.) Back then we estimated the water was selling around two million bottles a year in a dozen countries, and its squat bottle still graces the tables of fancy-pants restaurants today. Vincent Heeringa revealed the story behind Antipodes—and the five inspired errors that made it happen
We profiled the launch of Meridian-backed startup power retailer Powershop. Ari Sargent and Simon Coley promised to“really open the game up” by reinventing power retail and help people understand “how much energy they’re using, how much it’s costing and to be able to choose how and when they pay for it on their own terms”. Crazy stuff!
We also made some high-tech suggestions for the year ahead and suggested that the digerati could:
• Start a personal Twitter account at twitter.com
• Organise an event using Facebook
• Plan a night out using Google maps
Plus we asked: when it comes time for visitors to leave New Zealand, what do they have to remember us?
American-accented Cantabrian Phil Keoghan was profiled in this issue and talked about life as a celebrity brand endorser, with agreements including Air New Zealand and Cookie Time’s One Square Meal, marketed in the USA under his own No Opportunity Wasted (NOW) brand. Almost five years later, One Square Meal and Keoghan’s Amazing Race are still going strong, with 23 series completed so far.
Nobody believes business anymore. So who’s in control of your brand? It’s all of us. We examined how the truth has been democratised, distributed and Google-optimised.
Nowadays he’s our own beloved Agony Aunt but back then Lance Wiggs was an ex-McKinsey consultant who’d decided, as the global economy stuttered, to return to New Zealand for good. “It’s a great place when times are bad.” More than once in our interview he reflected on his practice of criticising other companies and speaking his mind ... a thought he returned to recently when his Punakaiki Fund didn’t quite make its target. More recently, Lance has also been outspoken in support of making our cities safer for cyclists and gets group hugs from Idealog staffers who think he’s choice
Back in 2009, Orion Health was already a major success story. Its CEO Ian McCrae told us how in 16 years it had gone from a five-person startup to become New Zealand’s biggest software exporter, turning over $60 million and employing 330 people. Its software helps hospitals and other healthcare providers manage patients better, producing what our writer Andy Kenworthy drolly described as “the opposite of killer apps”.
We also looked at the costly issue of ‘free’ and noted “we’ll pay for the Herald, but not for its website”. Fast forward to 2014 and that may well be about to change ...
Mr Data (and Foo Camp organiser) Nat Torkington featured on our cover as the poster child for open data, particularly giving New Zealanders free and practical access to information our government holds.
In the tech pages, the frankly terrifying and scarily named New Zealand- designed Yike Bike made its debut, promising a range of 8-10 kilometres at speeds of up to 20km/h. Today, you can buy one for US$1,995 at yikebike.com.
Professor Paul Callaghan, typically, didn’t appear on our cover but his ideas were the focus of our feature Saving Science. Then, as now, the alarm bells were ringing for the state of science in New Zealand. Callaghan, though, looked inwards for blame, claiming many scientists had little or no interest in contributing to economic growth. “He often asks fellow scientists to calculate how much funding they have received and how many hip replacements or breast cancer treatments could have been bought with those taxpayer funds. For scientists to be taken seriously by the wider public, they must prove what they do it worthwhile.”
Trade Me founder Sam Morgan was our cover boy for the first time, looking back on the three years since selling to Fairfax. At the time he was back from three months with the family in Europe and about to head off again to TED in the USA, then Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. But international connections of a different kind were on his mind. “We need to solve the international bandwidth problem. I’m almost inclined to just do it myself. It’s maybe $600 million and I think you can make it happen ...”
And ever one for spotting the next big thing, we interviewed the sneaker-wearing owners of The Downlow Concept, the production company behind weekly TV comedy show, 7 Days.
Geoff Ross was on a roll, on our cover, and for once he wasn’t photographed with a fish. Geoff and wife Justine had just released their book Every Bastard Says No, telling the story of 42Below from garage distiller to selling to Bacardi. Back then, they hoped their book wouldn’t just inspire others to follow in their company-building footsteps, but shake up the investment market, too.
“It would be really good if the book could get the New Zealand investing public to pull out all the institutional investors, line them up on Queen Street and just go ‘Right! What in your portfolio is a high-growth New Zealand business that’s going to add value?”
Mechanical Engineering lecturer Dr Keith Alexander put some spring into our winter with his unique solution to the problem of kids injuring themselves on traditional trampolines. His circular, spring-free version (popularly known as the cage-fighter) won Children’s Product of the Year at the US International Design Awards and is still a strong seller today.
We also interviewed cover star and filmmaker Roseanne Liang about her upcoming autobiographical feature about a Chinese New Zealander battling her parents’ expectations to be with a New Zealand European boy. When we spoke to her the film was to be called Girl Meets Boy; you may know it as My Wedding And Other Secrets.
It’s that Handley boy again! Derek Handley first appeared on the Idearadar in early 2008, and in this issue he and his brother and Hyperfactory co-founder Geoff were on the cover following their sale of the company for what we described at the time as “megamillions”. Unlike many New Zealanders then (and now) they saw New York, not San Francisco, as the place to be. “I think if 25 young Kiwi entrepreneurs came to New York we would take over the scene.”
We also chronicled the global success of the designer and seller of the internet generation’s most popular ironically funny t-shirts, Glenn Jones. Designed in Auckland but printed in Austin Texas (not accidentally home to annual geekvarna South By Southwest), Glennz Tees are as popular today as they were in 2010.
Vend founder and CEO Vaughan Rowsell made the cover and told us about his vision for a cloud-based point of sale system that ran on laptops and tablets rather than big costly bespoke systems. The idea was the easy part; finding investors wasn’t quite so slick. “I wish I could get back the six months of my life I wasted having coffee with potential investors in Auckland,” Rowsell said. The breakthrough was hooking up with cashed-up individuals who saw the potential in a cloud-based business: Trade Me’s Sam Morgan and Rowan Simpson. The other half of our split cover was Philip Mills, stirring the pot not just for his company, but for the whole industry.
Also catching our eye but not really making much noise since was the Kymera Wand. Yes, a Harry Potter style wooden-looking wand that used motion sensors to let you control your TV, or whatever, with the flick of a wrist. Channela Transformus!
Ah, summer issues! The deadlines just don’t fit nicely around Christmas drink commitments, everyone who says they’ll write a feature does a vanishing act ... so roll on the megafeature: in this case our compendium of hints and tips from some of New Zealand’s most creative minds.
Dick Frizzell: “If you don’t get this thing out of your head and onto a bit of paper ... you’ll never know how good it is.”
Karen Walker: “We expose ourselves to as much creative stimulation as possible: watching movies, listening to music, looking at art, travelling, reading.”
Kevin Roberts: “I sweat it out in my head, with a pen and paper. Not a computer. Computers are for information and knowledge, but they desensitise an idea.”
As Sam Morgan hinted a year earlier, if the Gummint wasn’t going to solve New Zealand’s international internet connectivity crisis, private enterprise was going to have to do it itself. Morgan’s startup Pacific Fibre planned to lay a fibre optic cable between New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Faced with a surplus of bandwidth, CEO Mark Rushworth predicted, data would be so cheap that local ISPs won’t bother limiting the amount we can use. When we spoke to Sam, he said no-one on the team was expecting anything other than a successful launch.
TelstraClear (remember them?) boss Allan Freeth was ahead of the times, possibly, when he fronted up to oppose the government’s $1.5 billion ultrafast broadband programme. The problem? Lots of money being spent on fibre when the existing copper network could easily deliver a lot more speed. Foreshadowing last year’s debates, he also pointed out “the problem is the government is re-establishing the Telecom monopoly under a new name, Chorus, which will be protected for 10 years from regulation”.
On the cover we once more featured a Geoff with a fish but not, this time, with Geoff Ross but Mt Cook Alpine Salmon big fish Geoff Matthews. Matthews and investors including his former boss Jim Bolger reckoned back then that the company’s plan to farm salmon in Twizel’s hydro canals would quickly turn into a $60 million export success. Today the company exports its top-quality salmon to countries including the USA and in 2013 opened a multi-million-dollar processing plant near Timaru.
In his last editorial, Matt Cooney reflected on the irony that in a magazine supposedly all about the creative economy, the cover story was about cows. Specifically, Brazilian cows (no relation to shaved ham) providing the good stuff for a dairy venture backed by Sam and Gareth Morgan. Of course, the story did have an innovative bent, with GM Simon Wallace telling us the Brazilian operation’s combination of Kiwi practices, good land and Morgan money gave him yields three times greater than he’d get at home.
Two years down the track, the big end of the cowshed was taking notice, with Fonterra announcing last year it had opened a $45 million joint venture dairy distribution centre in Brazil.
Hazel Phillips slid into the editor’s chair this issue and immediately wheedled her way into publisher Vincent Heeringa’s good books by assigning him to a hands-on-spoons investigation of New Zealand’s gourmet food and drink sector. His conclusion? Burp! Also: brands like Collective Dairy and Moa Beer that add premium design to a top-quality product have a recipe for success.
Our cover story took a peek behind the scenes at Avanti, which 25 years on had found its stride and was looking to steal more than its fair share of the global market.
Down the back of the mag, new contributor Vaughn Davis [waves], spent quite possibly more time writing about Google+ than he did actually using it. His conclusion: meh.
Have we got a deal for you! This issue took a look at the then-booming phenomenon of daily deal sites, with everyone from Trade Me to Flossie.com launching their version of, well, Groupon. The dominant site, then and now, was GrabOne, since acquired by New Zealand Herald publishers APN. In a feature with plenty of numbers in it, one stood out: 21.7 percent of customers who buy vouchers never redeem them. Ker-ching!
The Auckland hate MUST STOP, screamed our cover, generating a predictable amount of outrage from south of the Bombays. While other voices were trying to find ways to prop up the provinces, editor Hazel Phillips argued instead in favour of a Death Star-style überglomeration, both nourishing and subjugating those few misguided New Zealanders who chose to live outside its ever-expanding boundaries (that’s more or less what she wrote but, as they say these days, TLDR).
Somewhat at odds with this thesis, we met the man in charge of Wellington company Wingnut Wings, creating the world’s very best plastic scale models of World War I aeroplanes. Richard Taylor runs the Jackson-backed (but you guessed that) operation and today they’re still dominating their surprisingly large global niche.
You may know Dion Nash from his bowling career with (and possibly his dope-smoking suspension from) the Black Caps. We spoke to him about his new skincare range, Triumph & Disaster. The move into brand creation wasn’t as abrupt as sports fans might think; Nash was previously marketing manager at 42Below and also worked for a while at Charlie’s. Today, the brand lists retailers in New Zealand, Australia, the US, the UK and even Switzerland.
New Zealand’s Mr Fix-It was, we declared, not Bob the Builder but Steven Joyce. We spoke to him just before the birth of MBIE, but the new super-ministry was clearly on his mind. No fan of any kind of silo mentality, he spoke of innovation coming about from getting the right people in the same room together.
Up front, in a section of the magazine that seems to have become more whimsical by the bi-month, we compared the new-fangled e-cigarettes to trusty old Spaceman Candy Sticks and came out firmly in favour of the classic.
Female CEOs are still rare; female bank CEOs sufficiently so that poultry dentists use them as examples when talking about rare things. We caught up with ASB’s Barbara Chapman and, among other things, asked her about women in leadership. In her view, things had been rosy a few years back, but that trend had reversed. “It’s been 30 years since it was legal to pay women different amounts than men ... it’s going to take another 30 years before that gets closed.”
In our sadly infrequent aviation section, we visited Hamilton-based Pacific Aerospace, test flew one of their new aeroplanes (oh, the smell!) and listened to CEO Damian Camp talk up the likelihood of reopening the production line for the company’s CT4 military trainer. That hasn’t happened yet, but orders for its workhorse PAC750XSTOL transporter are booming, continuing an unlikely export success that’s been going since the 1960s.
Shared workspaces have been all the rage recently, and in recent issues we covered Britomart’s Generator and Karangahape Road’s BizDojo. In this issue we pulled up a chair at social enterprise space The Kitchen, a facility designed to give a funky home to social enterprises and not-for-profits. Sadly, The Kitchen itself proved to be not for profit, and it closed in 2013.
In another, possibly less comfortable chair, we Grilled new Labour leader David Shearer and asked him, among other things, about operating in a combatitive political environment: “The thing about war and politics is that you have to bring people together. Often there are issues you can have common consensus around, but you have to bring people together.” It’s no spoiler to say that he didn’t quite manage that, and quit a year later, saying he didn’t have the support of his caucus.
Meanwhile, our cover story tackled the design industry - looking beyond logos and pretty packaging and into the design thinking philosophy of doing business.
In an issue focused on innovation, we spoke to Auckland-based Lillian Grace, then about to launch her website Wiki New Zealand, which turns grey fields of data into simple, colourful charts, maps and graphs, and is our favourite place to settle arguments on sheepmeat consumption per capita, among other things.
Tucked towards the back of the magazine we profiled Christchurch startup Rekindle ahead of its February retail launch. The company planned to make cool furniture from earthquake-salvaged timber. Today, business is booming and just before Christmas the first Rekindle store opened in Christchurch’s rebuilt New Regent Street.
Whether it’s laziness or just a desire to see if “Best of 50 Issues” compilers are paying attention, we at Idealog love the headline “The Kids are Alright”. This issue we used it, for the third time, on the front cover to lead a story about Gen Y. In it we interviewed social recruitment company owner Kirsti Grant, who described her generation as “ridiculously loyal, but not so loyal that we’re likely to stay in a job beyond five years”. (True to her words, she left her own company a few months later and now works with Auckland retail software company Vend.)
“They said it was too big, too difficult and that we just couldn’t do it.” Our cover star Shona Grundy was sounding (and looking) pretty positive about the launch of her iPad animation app Toon Hero when we spoke to her. While the go-live didn’t happen quite as soon as she had hoped, the platform did make it to the app store in August and has since received consistently high user ratings.
Inside the mag we once again met with Geoff Ross and photographed him holding not a fish, but an egg (possibly for crumbing-related reasons) in a feature about “racist, sexist and homophobic” investment company, The Business Bakery. The Moa IPO (with its much talked-about prospectus) had just closed and Ross along with partners Stephen Sinclair and Grant Baker were feeling bullish. The rest of 2013 wouldn’t be quite so rosy for the trio; distribution problems and some numbers falling short of forecast led the Herald to ask, “Can Moa Beer be saved?”
What do those bank economists DO all day? We asked BNZ’s mop-topped ragamuffin Tony Alexander and he admitted that now and then a boss would ask him the same question. “I’ll humour them and say well, you can look at the numbers of people that are subscribed to (my) publications and so on – but realistically for someone in my position there’s no definitive measure you can use.”
We also spoke to media darling Kimberley Crossman, among others, about building a personal brand and how to talk yourself up, preferably minus the ego trip.
Who says magazine editing isn’t fun? Anyone who read this issue’s spine would have been treated to “Writing this line is the hardest task of the whole issue. Do you think anyone would notice if we filled it with something meaningless? Yeah, nah.” Elsewhere on the cover our art director Aimee Carruthers eschewed PhotoShop and grew a headline in a patch of dirt to illustrate our story on Erica and Kim Crawford’s organic wine label, Loveblock.
Is UFB really all that? Our increasingly popular (Mum says) infographic section ran a ruler over the broadband project and concluded that for the $1.5 billion investment we could instead have launched the Space Shuttle twice (if we had one) or bought every New Zealander 74 hot, tasty and recently relaunched Georgie Pies. We crunch the numbers, so you don’t have to. And in our cover story, we dug into the pros and cons of specialisation in design. Jack of trades or master of one?
Crowdfunding was all the rage last year, so with Kickstarter just about to launch here we spoke to the heads of local platforms Givealittle, PledgeMe and Boosted for their take on the sector. We found Kiwi projects from camera mounts to cardboard pet coffins had successfully crowdfunded their way into being, but discovered that it’s by no means a cure-all: across all platforms, only about half the projects listed make it across the line.
We don’t really need to summarise a magazine you probably still have sitting on your coffee table, do we? Well OK ... we love a fancy office (jealousy? Maybe) so when previously featured retail software startup Vend invited us to their flash new place in Newmarket we were there before you could say “moustache wax”.
The star of the issue, though, was an exercise machine Wellingtonian Clem Thorn designed when his brother Phil was suddenly made blind and paralysed when he contracted bacterial meningitis. The YouBike has not only helped Phil pedal his way to regaining much of the movement the disease took from him, it’s also being exported to the UK and Europe.
Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).
Idealog is part of ICG. We work with clients like Woolworths New Zealand, All Good, Huffer, Liquorland, Resene, Citta Design, TVNZ, Spark and FCB on their event activations, in-store, in-office or out-of-home signage, content creation and vehicle wraps.