INSPIRED BY KIWI INNOVATION
Getting scaling knowhow into the hands of startups is imperative for our economy. In order to grow a vibrant ecosystem that helps ventures like yours, we need to know more about our upcoming pioneers. If you are selling innovation and have a bold plan we want to hear from you.
Our early pioneering innovators took decades to forge paths into the world’s markets. The scale-up knowledge accumulated by these pioneers along the way enabled them go on to successfully scale other global businesses.
The fierce independence that made these business pioneers successful means that while ‘what’ they have built is widely known, it is ‘how’ they are able to repeatedly start and quickly scale businesses that is not widely understood.
These people have laid a foundation of scaling knowledge that exists across New Zealand and that is not being fully tapped into, and (it happens that) a large amount of this scale-up knowledge is concentrated within Auckland’s North Shore.
Grow North is intent on connecting innovative start-ups into this seam of rich scaling experience to help create a vibrant ecosystem in which hundreds of start-ups will find themselves immersed, surrounded by the knowhow and connections needed to accelerate business growth into international markets.
Thanks to the efforts of research firms like TIN100 we now know a lot about NZ’s top pioneering scaling businesses. However, we need to gather more data about the next tier of upcoming innovators.
We need your help. If you are a business that is located in Auckland North and you are currently selling innovation and have bold plans for growth we would love to hear from you. If you are a supplier providing highly specialised products and services for pioneering innovators we want to hear from you also.
Connect and collaborate to accelerate growth and compete.
Contact the Grow North Innovation District email@example.com
Helping organisations communicate with their staff more effectively. SnapComms uses digital technologies to cut through the clutter and deliver the right messages to the right staff, at the right time. These unmissable channels (and formats) ensure staff are informed of news that’s relevant to them.
Information overload is a significant and growing problem. It prevents organisations from being operationally effective and employees from being well informed.
SnapComms was quick to spot this growing issue, and more than ten years ago, signed up its first customer - Vodafone New Zealand - to use its simple, user-friendly digital solution for internal comms. To this date, there is still no other supplier in the world who offers the breadth and depth of internal communication channels that SnapComms does. Its purpose is to help large organisations break through the clutter of daily communication and deliver important messages to employees – in ways they can't miss.
Based in Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore, SnapComms provides solutions to solve internal communication challenges. Its employee communication software platform provides seven digital tools. Mobile/desktop alerts, scrolling tickers, screensavers and digital newsletters are just some of the comms channels available to internal communicators, all of which bypass email completely. These help businesses deliver internal messages to staff in the best way and at the right time.
Co-founded by Sarah Perry and Chris Leonard, SnapComms is a self-funded, privately owned business that has grown from small beginnings. The majority of its clients are US-based, with a growing client list in Europe and the rest of the world.
Innovation is at the heart of the company’s DNA. This is achieved through a number of initiatives. For example, working closely with universities to attract and recruit interns and graduates each year so that fresh ideas are tapped into; regular customer workshop sessions hosted by our Lead Innovator (this often means jumping on planes and spending quality face-time at customers’ premises); and attending relevant conferences around the world to ensure the SnapComms team remains at the forefront of digital communication technology and retain its competitive edge.
The business is now a global market leader - serving more than 1.5 million paid enterprise users in 75+ countries (including several Fortune 50 companies). It’s a Deloitte Fast 50 and Fast 500 international company. It won the ICT Exporter of the Year Award in 2015. www.snapcomms.com
Unleashed Software eyes further developments in inventory management software following $7 million boost
In competitive markets, customer loyalty is crucial. And if you are a business dealing with stock, having the right amount in the right place at the right time – and knowing exactly what you’ve got and where – is key to keeping your customers happy.
Unleashed Software is committed to making inventory management easier and more efficient for businesses all over the world. The Auckland North company now has customers in almost 90 countries and has been recognised in the Deloitte Technology Asia Pacific Fast 500 for the last three years running. Unleashed Software has recently been mentioned in the Huffington Post as one of the top 10 small business tools globally.
Unleashed was developed in Massey University’s E-Centre in Albany, making the most of Massey University’s resource and dedication to helping innovative ideas go from garage to global. It was here that CEO and founder Gareth Berry, who is now on the Grow North Innovation District Steering Committee, was introduced to investors to bring his vision to life. His goal was to create software that allowed customers to take control of their inventory health in real time.
Through Unleashed Software, customer retention can be improved by analysing past inventory trends to predict optimal future levels of stock. Efficiency can be improved by knowing exactly where stock is at all times, so any enquiries can be responded to with an accurate prediction of delivery times. Transactions are monitored in real time, and an accurate stock count is available anytime, anywhere.
After their initial investors came on board, more companies started to pay attention to this Kiwi company that's punching well above its weight. After raising $18 million in capital in just a few short years, Unleashed Software has this year announced a Series C investment of NZ$7.0 million from Movac, New Zealand’s largest and most experienced technology investment company. The investment funds will go towards fuelling the development of the next generation inventory management software and support the global growth of the company that now services customers in nearly 90 countries in the wholesale, distribution and manufacturing sectors.
CEO of Unleashed Software Gareth Berry says: “We have been building both our core product and markets for eight years now. We see big opportunities in the United Kingdom and the United States markets where businesses are starting to migrate and adopt best-in-breed component solutions to run their businesses. This presents an amazing opportunity for us, with a substantial amount of growth in our businesses forecast to come from the Northern Hemisphere over the next few years.”
Leaders representing some of New Zealand's highest performing technology businesses at the 2017 TIN Report launch
Inclusion in the ranks of the top technology companies in New Zealand is a benchmark that many companies aspire, bringing kudos, connections and benefits. The information collected by TIN is helping the government, business and the investment community understand NZ’s fastest growing export sector.
The TIN Report is firmly established as NZ’s leading source of information on NZ’s most successful tech exporters.
TIN was formed by Greg Shanahan in 1999 with the simple objective of supporting the growth of NZ’s Technology Export Sector; focussed on High-tech Manufacturing, ICT and Biotechnology.
In 2005 TIN produced its first TIN Report beginning an annual benchmarking study of NZ’s largest technology exporters. The first Report included just 50 companies but it has grown considerably to where in 2017, it included 300 companies.
The catalyst for TIN’s creation was a major event TIN organised for the 2000 defence of the America’s Cup in Auckland which attracted some of the most powerful people in Silicon Valley at the time, including, the late Tom Perkins, founder of legendary venture capital company Klein Perkins, Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape, John Sculley, former Apple CEO, and Bill Koch, son Fred Koch, founder of Koch Industries, at the time America’s largest private company.
From their event, TIN set about building a network of NZ’s most successful exporters through regular events focussed on either capital raising or inspirational examples of business growth.
TIN also publishes “The Investor’s Guide to the NZ Technology Sector “in partnership with MBIE and is distributed to over 3000 investment and professional service firms in the Asia Pacific Region.
Based in the Grow North Innovation District, TIN continues to expand, hosting events across the country, including TINShed events for CEO’s and larger TINTalk Events for the broader business community.
In 2017 the revenue of 200 largest companies in the TIN Report passed the NZ$10B milestone for the first time and produced an equivalent export value of 10% of NZ’s exports. Total employee figures surged past 43,000.
The momentum of NZ’s tech export sector is now firmly established. It is changing NZ and the way that we think about our country, in ways that we could have only imagined when TIN began in 1999.
See a snapshot of the 2017 TIN Report: https://tin100.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2017-TIN-Report-Snapshot.pdf
TIN and the Grow North Innovation District have joined forces to collect and analyse data on the top emerging innovative businesses within the Grow North district. The Grow North TIN Report findings will be discussed at the Grow North Innovation Event to be held at the B:Hive Takapuna on 07 May 2018.
Imagine contacting your bank or mobile phone company at any time day or night and be instantly connected to someone who recognises you, is attentive and concerned about your problem, recalls your transaction history and resolves your problem there and then - a genuine one-call resolution each time. Then, if you were to call 12 months later the company would immediately remember you.
FaceMe’s ‘digital employee’ never leaves their job and constantly learns from each customer transaction, continually gathering vital customer data. Furthermore when they meet a customer face to face or over Skype they respond according to each customer’s emotional state.
These are not robotic ‘synths’ that create good science fiction stories. Digital employees only ever exist on the phone, computer or tablet or in-store with the sole purpose of providing amazing customer experiences.
FaceMe have a background of world-firsts and continue to focus on making complex technology, simple and accessible. FaceMe’s recent project, Nadia, was the first ‘Virtual Assistant’ built for over 460,000 people with disability in Australia; FaceMe is now challenging all businesses to review their approach to digital customer interfaces.
From their Smales Farm base in Auckland North FaceMe are enabling customers in New Zealand, Australia and the USA.
FaceMe recently won the Virgin Business Challenge, voted The Most Likely NZ Startup to Succeed Internationally. This gave FaceMe access to mentoring from Richard Branson and built the foundation for FaceMe to become an international business.
Danny Tomsett, FaceMe’s founder says “Amazing customer experience is about people and AI working together in a pervasive way with immediacy, personalisation and empathy being core. We know people are great at building relationships and doing complex tasks; AI has an incredible ability to learn and complete high volume transactions. We believe this approach is the recipe to re-define Customer Experience.”
Customers’ expectations of service are higher today than ever before and have such a significant weighting on both loyalty and wallet share. As customer experience increasingly becomes a key strategic driver for most firms, the traditional contact centre will be disrupted by Artificial Intelligence, estimated to be a $47b market by 2020. www.faceme.com
FaceMe's founder and CEO Danny Tomsett in conversation with digital employee Elyssa.
Sealegs has grown from a single inspired idea into a global company providing craft for civil defence, military use and for many global customers including acclaimed designer Philippe Stark.
How many ideas are discussed over a few beers and later dismissed as unfeasible? How many ideas come from the thought;
“I wish there was an easier way to do this” and then turn into a unique product that grows into a global business?
New Zealand has a long history of marine innovation. Kiwis were the first to use refrigerated ship holds to export meat and butter around the world. Kiwi farmer Bill Hamilton built a jet boat to travel up shallow South Island rivers. Today his company is providing commercial jet boat engines globally. SEALEGS® began with a revolutionary idea to make boat launching and retrieval easy and today is providing purpose-built amphibious craft to customers around the world.
Sealegs patented fully integrated solution uses motorised, retractable, steerable wheels that allow craft to be driven from a storage location down a boat ramp or beach and into the water with the occupants remaining dry within the boat. Once in the water Sealegs wheels are retracted allowing normal high-speed boat operations.
A Sealegs craft’s unique ability to transverse land and water allows them to travel through floodwaters of varying depths, allowing fast and effective access to communities in flooded urban and rural communities making Sealegs ideal for civil defence work.
The craft are increasingly used for purposes such as super yacht tenders allowing access to remote beaches and waterways. A Sealegs craft was recently built to Phillipe Starck’s exacting specification for his own personal use, and a customised fleet of Sealegs craft recently went to the Fijian government to support emergency response operations with 23 Sealegs amphibious craft supplied to the Malaysian Civil Defence Force. See the press release here.
Owned by Future Mobility Solutions, Sealegs operates from its modern factory and offices in Auckland North where complete craft and amphibious enablement kits are designed and built.
The company that began with a “I wish there was an easier way” dream of effortless boating has become a publicly listed company that has designed and built more than 1250 amphibious craft that can be found in more than 55 countries.
Design-led firms are contributing to New Zealand’s success through DesignCo, a strong network of like-minded organisations including New Zealand’s leading tertiary design schools, the Designers Institute, and local and central government entities.
New research into design’s economic contribution to New Zealand’s economy has shown that during the last year alone design contributed $10.1b to New Zealand’s GDP.
Good design really matters. In the private sector, the study highlights design’s significant impact on firms such as Gallagher, Fisher & Paykel, Xero and Air New Zealand and there are many firms within the Grow North Innovation District such as Invenco, ERoad, Navico and BCS where design has played a significant role in their success.
Massey University’s Professor Claire Robinson, convenor of DesignCo, said at the research launch: “There is a strong correlation between national prosperity, economic growth and a thriving design sector. International evidence confirms that design leads to more competitive firms making and selling higher value products and services”.
The sector also provides approximately 94,200 FTE design positions in New Zealand, roughly 4.4% of employment. Product design and interactive design disciplines are the two biggest individual contributors towards design’s GDP. The study indicates a broadening use of design as an effective process; in exporting firms, technology, health, conservation, the public sector and within cities”. Professor Robinson said.
Design is not always associated with software companies, but Xero is a design success story: its insight into how to make reconciliation easy, the essence of the Xero approach to accounting, was devised by its co-founder, Philip Fierlinger, a designer.
Grow North’s Director Kel Marsh says “Business people should look to the processes used by designers if they want to build more innovation into their businesses. The thought processes involved in identifying problems and then conceiving and developing unique solutions is the same for entrepreneurs as it is for designers. Both designers and entrepreneurs have to be effective at creating unique and valuable solutions and designers are often much better at it.”
Professor Robinson said: “DesignCo partners will continue to connect with the constituent parts of the New Zealand design eco-system, telling the story of New Zealand’s design excellence, rectifying the paucity of information about the design sector and gathering statistical data on the value and impact of design in New Zealand.
In 2015 a group of Auckland leaders gathered together to create a vibrant innovation ecosystem that will encourage more innovation and scaleable ventures. Research carried out by Massey University within the district informed a "Grow North" strategy which is now being implemented under the guidance of a steering group representing business, university and government.
New Zealand is becoming one of the best places in the world to create and test new ideas before launching them onto the world's markets. And the Auckland North district is a fantastic place to base a business and to live, learn, work and play. As part of this, the Grow North initiative connects people and groups together to create a single school-to-scaleup innovation escalator, increasing the number of researchers, academics, innovative and pioneering businesses and pulling more skilled employees into the district.
Grow North’s mission is to unlock the potential of individuals, groups and organisations and raise the overall level of innovation, collaboration and investor intelligence. Visionary leaders, specialists, entrepreneurs and investors are being attracted to the area to contribute their knowledge and hard-won experience.
The Grow North Smart Innovation District is sponsored by Massey University, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development and the BNZ. Enquiries from potential new sponsors and partners are welcomed.
For further information about the Grow North Smart Innovation District, please contact Grow North’s Director, Kel Marsh. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Grow North Innovation District ‘architects’. From left, Brett O’Riley, former CEO of ATEED. Gary Monk, BNZ. Kel Marsh, Grow North Director. Ted Zorn, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Massey University. At right; former Massey University Vice Chancellor Steve Maharey and Grow North Research Leader Prof Rebecca Gill.
Invenco- revolutionizing self-service payment globally, one of the top ten NZ technology companies to watch
Inspirational self-service payments company, Invenco, is taking on the world and winning.
Invenco is experiencing 300% growth from its Auckland North base, creating dozens of skilled jobs to develop its hardware, firmware, software and cloud based products.
Founded in 2009 by Sir Peter Maire and a team of entrepreneurs, Invenco has rapidly secured its place as a leading provider of self-service outdoor payment terminals (OPTs). Having dominated 98% of the New Zealand fuel retail market it has expanded across South East Asia, the UK, Middle East and most recently the USA.
Invenco enjoys partnerships with some of the biggest players in the global fuel retail market including NCR Corporation, Diebold Nixdorf, Tatsuno and Petrotec and as it sells under its partners’ brands outside of New Zealand, millions of people use Invenco technology every day without ever knowing it.
What makes Invenco successful?
Invenco produces incredibly, technically complex products that are extremely difficult to execute, to the point where nearly half the world’s major OPT manufacturers have opted to move to Invenco product rather than continue to build their own.
The layers of certification and complex security around managing self-service payments, particularly in unattended environments, is extensive; with tens of thousands of tests to attain just one level of certification. This complexity is significantly multiplied when you add handling loyalty and fleet cards plus the safety requirements for operating electronics on a petrol forecourt.
Invenco has been able to be disruptive in owning and developing the technology from the ground up. Because it produces every nut, bolt and chip it can manage all of those costs and ensure seamless integration. And in building the product on an open platform it can support the widest possible range of content and applications.
It has also fueled some world leading innovation including the first twelve-inch touch screen – not only the world’s largest but it has the highest certification of any OPT on the market. This strongly positions Invenco and its partners to capitalize on a significant regulatory change in the USA forcing all one million pumps with OPTs to change to chip-card enabled terminals by November 2020.
Invenco is looking to seize a significant share of this opportunity while revolutionizing the pay-at-the-pump experience for the US market. It’s a great export success story from a North Shore company that has largely flown under the radar – something that’s becoming increasingly difficult as it continues to expand exponentially to meet growing global demand.
For more stories about Kiwi innovators click here. For more information about Invenco click here.
Booktrack's CEO Paul Cameron with members of the team at their Takapuna office.
Booktrack is an AI company that creates movie-style soundtracks for Audiobooks.
Based in Takapuna on the North Shore, Booktrack began in 2007 when Paul Cameron, and his co-founder and brother Mark, noticed that people all around the world commuting on buses, trains, ferries and aero planes, would get out their headphones and listen to music while they read a paper book. They thought that this was a strange behavior, and wondered why we would read a book and listen to music that has nothing to do with the story? Paul and his brother then started to prototype, test and patent designs that would synchronize music to text & speech so that you would hear the right music matched in mood/emotion to the right part of the story. People loved it!
Today, Booktrack has evolved to use scalable artificial intelligence (AI) technology to automatically create movie-style soundtracks for audiobooks. There has been an evolution with new mobile devices and digital delivery, but the audiobook listening experience is the same as the 1970’s. The current audiobook experience is still a plain narration with no background music, ambient audio, or sound effects. Imagine if we still watched silent movies today! Audiobooks have not evolved to include soundtracks because soundtrack creation is expensive and cost prohibitive, it can cost up to $40,000 per title.
Booktrack solves this with a proprietary AI engine that generates unique soundtracks based on the mood and emotion of the story, which can then be customized by Booktrack’s tools and production capability to create a cost effective premium soundtrack. This production methodology is >50x more efficient, 10x faster than current competition and introduces new revenue streams for publishers and distributors.
Booktrack’s solution generates a new and totally immersive augmented reality listening experience by delivering a soundtrack while listening to Audiobooks; equivalent to the introduction of sound transforming the experience of film forever.
For more stories about Kiwi innovators click here. For more information about Booktrack click here.
Grow North articles are written by those who work closely with businesses, incubators, accelerators, academics, investors and business interest groups within the Auckland North Innovation Corridor.
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For more information about the Grow North Smart Innovation District
The Auckland Innovation Dashboard (Click the image)
For more information on Grow North's Partners