So… what does it take to start, run & grow a technology company in Wellington?
The Xero Summer Seminar Series had a relaxing start to 2011 with an evening event at a new venue, NZPost House.
We heard from 2 successful Wellington tech entrepreneurs, sharing wisdom and learning about how to execute a great idea, how to get it from the garage to the market, and what the key ingredients are to building a successful enterprise in Wellington, NZ. Here’s what our first speaker, Dave Moskovitz from Webfund shared. (Notes from Melissa’s talk are in part 2, over here)
Dave Moskovitz talked about starting a business in Wellington, and his advice to entrepreneurs is to Think Big, Start Small & Scale Fast! There’s a great series of videos on Dave’s NZAngels blog, entitled “Advice for Entrepreneurs” if you’re after more of his great tips, too!
Here’s some of what he shared on Tuesday:
Wellington (and NZ) = Great place to start a business!
Dave rattled off an astounding number of GREAT reasons why Wellington (ok, and the rest of NZ, to be fair) is an awesome place to start a business, first up, the business Environment: including the ease of doing business (3rd in OECD), registering a company, protecting investments, access to capital, being in good company (is it true “Company Director” is the most common occupation declaration for NZers??)… and we’re one of the least corrupt places in the world, according to “Transparency International“.
We have a world class Talent pool, including a large number of skilled migrants, and fantastic education system. The raw talent coming out of our computer science programmes is astounding (just look at our Summer of Tech interns, for starters!) It’s a great place to have bright ideas, to test them, and to make the first steps of turning them into a successful business.
The business Community in Wellington is very active, with networks such as Summer of Tech of course, but also the Chamber, Grow Wellington, Unlimited Potential, Lean Startup, Webstock, Ignite, Nerd Nite (not to mention all the user groups & virtual communities mentioned in our first Xero Seminar for 2010)
Start with the end in mind
Think big! And make sure you have an exit strategy from day 1. Investors want to know what the end-game is, but it’s a valuable conversation to have with partners and collaborators, to make sure you’re on the same page. The most common exit is a trade sale, so keep your eye on potential customers from the get-go. The key to a trade sale is to build an asset that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Your value might be in your product, in which case look for someone who would find it easier to buy you than reinvent you. Your value might be in your customer base, so your acquirer might be interested in buying your database?
As a balance to his first topic (Wellington = Great place for Startups), Dave talked about growing a business and international scale. There’s no getting away from the fact that NZ is a small market, conveniently located about 36 hours away from a big customer base. Growing globally might entail a lot of time on aeroplanes, or offshore partners/offices.
People are your greatest asset
The team is the most important factor in a startup business. It takes a bunch of different talents & skills to execute a great idea, and the acceleration from idea to product to successful business is all about people. Your first team does not have to be people who think like you. In fact complementary skills are more important, and passion and infatuation about a new idea can cloud decision-making. Make sure you do due diligence on your partners (in a tight community like Wellington, that’s easy). Remembers that investors will back the jockey rather than the horse, so you & your team are crucial to ongoing success.
If you’re a technical founder, be aware that your venture might outgrow you. Match your talents to the role (maybe you’d be best as a CTO rather than CEO?) Beware “founderitis“! One of the first skills to invest in for your startup is sales. Find or train an outstanding sales team and your business will thrive.
(You might also be interested in the writeup from Rowan Simpson’s Xero Summer Seminar focused on Startup Lessons, held back in December)
Thanks for making these events possible.