Matthias Bachmann, a 22-year-old UX/UI designer, has already worked with the likes of Fairfax,
Vero and The Warehouse. And he has just returned to Aotearoa after spending several months in Colorado, where he immersed himself in all things innovation and emerging tech.
“Initially, I came over to work with the futurist think tank The Da Vinci Institute,” he explains.
The creative technologies graduate was there as part of an AUT scholarship and, while there, he was also part of a team involved with Magpie Supply, a platform that aims to provide insight to farmers as to which markets would be most lucrative for their product, while also offering a transportation solution allowing them to avoid the headache of getting their goods to market. They entered it in the Denver category of a coding competition called Go Code, won that round and then won for the whole state of Colorado too. The team received a $25,000 government contract, trips down to San Francisco for a workshop with AT&T Foundry and automatic interviews with Boomtown and Techstars.
“It’s opened my eyes to all sorts of technology I’d never considered. I’ve really met some awesome people.”
Bachmann was in the United States from February until mid-October. And he says it was particularly interesting to delve more into Bitcoin, Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and the potential for those to disrupt the global financial system and the way we pay for things.
“It’s a thing a lot of people don’t understand,” says Bachmann. “A lot of it [when Bitcoin launched] was trying to disrupt the financial system … There’s so many exciting things you can do with it. We’re just starting to scratch the surface. I hate to sound sensationalist, but Etherium is the new internet. This went from being a niche community to something where someone can raise $150 million for their business in three hours.”
Although being a digital currency, America was the perfect place to research more into cryptocurrencies because of the sheer number of resources available.
“As with a lot of things in the United States, [the scale is] just bigger.”
And it’s an experience he says he’s incredibly grateful to have had.
“I’ve always been interested in the latest gadgets,” says Bachmann. “I’ve always been fascinated by it and invested in it.”
Needless to say, he has a few theories about how innovation could impact our lives in the future.
“The big thing that’s coming is 100 percent automation,” he says. “Just look at what Tesla’s doing [with its factories].”
Drone fleets, fully autonomous Ubers and Lyfts – all of those things will be the norm instead of the exception sooner rather than later, Bachmann believes.
“Preparing for integration is vital,” he says. “People like Elon Musk are the people we should be paying attention to. He comes up with all of these fantastic-sounding ideas. And he makes it happen.”
So could New Zealand be at the forefront of this drive towards automation and cryptocurrency? Bachmann hopes so.
“We have everything everyone else has [here]. It’s just condensed.”
This makes it the perfect test bed, Bachmann says. The only issue: overcoming resistance to that idea.
“There is a little bit of a problem of people saying, ‘that will never work.’”
Nevertheless, he’s confident Aotearoa will play a role in shaping the future – and is keen to hit the ground running after his American adventure.
“I’d like to delve into the New Zealand Blockchain scene,” he says. “It’s just starting to pop up.”
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