8 Things that Will Surprise You about New Zealand Startups

New Zealand isn’t usually the first place people think of when they hear the word “startup” but in fact, the Kiwis are doing something right. New Zealand is quickly becoming one of the hottest spots in the startup world, attracting talent and VC funding from as far as the U.S. 

Here are eight things to know about the NZ startup community that may surprise you.

1. The World Bank listed New Zealand as the #1 place in the world to start a new business. Overall, NZ is really, really good at protecting investors and it’s also relatively easy to register property. Getting credit and construction permits in the country of 4.4+ million are also a breeze, pushing it over the edge to the number one spot.

2. Auckland’s small size is both a hindrance as well as a help for startups. Auckland is the best and worst thing about the startup scene in NZ. Many entrepreneurs see its small size as a dead end and choose to launch their businesses in bigger markets only to fail faster. Its small size is what actually makes Auckland a fantastic place to launch a business. Test out what works, then make changes before going bigger.

3. Getting equity in the company is just not part of the Kiwi startup culture. In fact, many employees wouldn’t think to ask for stock which is part of the reason the startup engine in NZ hasn’t really taken off. Making early employees wealthy from stock is a great way to attract talent to New Zealand.

4. It’s really, really hard to get VC funding in New Zealand. More than just about anywhere else, investors and pensions in NZ are risk-averse and that’s holding the startup market back, big time. The thought is that Kiwis are used to making all their money from farming and are incredibly distrustful of tech and innovation.

5. Most New Zealand startups do all their PR in-house. That’s incredible. Unlike medium-sized startups in America or, say, France, that have to hire an outside PR or marketing firm to make the public aware. Not in New Zealand. Pretty much all the media in the country is based in Auckland and it’s a small community that’s easily infiltrated with a few well-placed phone calls.

6. The tech startup scene in New Zealand is highly dependent on the future of reliable internet in the country. Some people find it surprising that broadband internet in New Zealand is not very widespread and is unreliable at best. A few big investors are seeking to change the physical problems stopping NZ broadband from flourishing but until that happens the tech scene’s going to stay stunted.

7. Startups in New Zealand are thinking smaller, not bigger. In fact, studies keep showing the NZ market is pretty similar to other 2nd-tier startup markets, which begs the question: why aren’t more Kiwi businesses catering to New Zealanders, not the mass market? More localized, trial-based startups are certainly in the future for NZ.

8. The New Zealand startup community lacks leadership. That is, a few individuals who define the market and speak on “behalf” of the Kiwi startup community (think: Mark Zuckerberg.) Rod Drury is perhaps the most notable and successful entrepreneur from New Zealand. Peter Theil is doing a good job of pushing NZ interests abroad, but he’s not really a startup ‘trep himself.  This means New Zealand has plenty of opportunity for hungry entrepreneurs. The sooner New Zealand promotes a few recognisable faces that travel to startup conferences, the better.

New Zealand’s startup community is rife with possibility and ready to take off. There’s a sense all throughout the country and particularly in Auckland that something big is right around the corner and it may just be hinging on a better fiber-optic internet connection or a huge investment by one notable venture capital firm. Time will tell.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Comments