“We’re hosting our second international Let’s Talk Crowdfunding event in wonderful Auckland, New Zealand!
Thanks to our friends at The Edge for hosting us, join Pozible’s Anna Whitelaw and Biz Dojo’s Phil Williams, along with Sarah Larnach, whose Pozible project raised over $6600, 265% of her initial funding goal. This is your chance to learn more about how crowdfunding can help you and New Zealand’s creative industries.”
Spaces are strictly limited, so please rsvp at http://ltcauckland.eventbrite.com
Last year at TEDxAuckland Scott Gilmour presented on the I have a dream project that he has been
I have a dream aims to inspire the whole school and related community by helping a whole class
Scott was one of the founding members of this group. The full video of his presentation is over here on the TEDxAuckland website. Or below (if you can see the embedded video.)
TEDxAuckland 2010 is on again Sunday 26th September 2010 from 10:00AM (Registration from 8.30 AM) at Westlake Boys High School Campus, North Shore City, Auckland. Tickets are $100 from Ticketek (no essay this year) Go here to buy online.
Speakers haven’t been announced but you can be sure they will all be world class. Don’t wait too long to get yours as tickets are going fast.
Presentation by John at the recent NZSA meeting last month: notes by Chip
John O’Hara – April 08 NZSA Dinner Review
Forget Picking Winners: Avoiding predictable disasters is much more likely to lead high tech start ups to financial success.
Which has the greater probability of occurring during your lifetime?
- an economically significant earthquake in Wellington
- an economically significant volcanic eruption in Auckland
- or your having a heart attack?
Statistically, the all have equal probability
Which is more likely to survive five years? A Technology Start up or a person diagnosed with cancer?
Survival Rates after 5 years are;
- the 5 year Cancer survival rate is greater than 80%
- the 5 year Tech start up survival rate is less than 15%
The key is that a high tech business is not generally a business you leave to your children. How can we reduce the risk and maximise the chances of success?
John covered four key areas to focus on: Market, Team, Strategy and Cash.
Note product is not one of them!
The Germans have a unique word with no English equivalent called “Schadenfreude”, which loosely translated means taking pleasure from the misfortune of others.
So whilst enjoying our Schadenfreude let’s reflect that choosing the right market will more than anything else determine how well you are rewarded personally for the effort you will put into your technology business.
If you have the nagging doubt that maybe you are not in the right market now is a good time to reflect. Often by moving slightly to an adjacent market you can change the outlook significantly.
The biggest risk is that you don’t know what you don’t know. There are always traps for the unwary and having seen the same issues previously is hugely valuable experience you can benefit from at much lower cost than making the same mistakes yourself.
In most cases a kiwi company will build a product and then look for the market. The American company will typically find the market then build a product, a subtle but important difference.
Knowing the market before building the product is a key attribute and helps keep the product development tightly focused.
In contrast a product that is constantly evolving in search of a market is usually much more difficult and expensive to build and although often more feature rich is ultimately not usually as commercially successful as one built for a known market.
As a sweeping generalisation NZ high tech start ups are often over represented with technical experience and lacking sales and marketing experience along with financial expertise. This often leads to a high spend on building product and a low sales and marketing spend.
In the UK and US sales and marketing is often 45% of revenue, rarely for New Zealand companies is it more than 20% and often it’s much less.
A balanced team including people with sales, marketing and financial experience in building start ups in the same or a similar sector have a much greater chance of success.
In the UK having completed a number of presentations over the past year or so the most credible team to represent the company to financial institutions is a team comprising the Chairman, CEO and CFO.
An advisory board or board of directors with proven experience is also a key way of reducing risk and helpful in establishing realistic strategies. A recent report by a UK analyst commented that lack of grey hair around the board table was a significant red flag for new technology companies.
In most high tech categories the top three vendors share 90% of the value, while everyone else has to fight for the last 10%. In the US these companies are called the un-dead. Here we usually call them lifestyle businesses.
If you have a balanced team of people your chances of getting the funding you will need to get to positions 1,2 or 3 will be greatly enhanced.
We are not instinctively good at assessing risk and estimating probability. So we need to work at it and also try hard to be objective in developing strategies.
Carefully developing a sustainable strategy and then implementing it successfully is a key discipline. The marketplace creates a background noise of tactics and incidents that can bounce a small technology company around like a cork floating on a turbulent sea.
A coherent strategy is like a compass showing direction through the turbulence and gives direction to the business and confidence to its external stakeholders.
Of course having the right people around to develop, critique, review, modify and adapt a winning strategy is critical.
Finally Cash, the Oxygen to keep breathing and the resource to pull your business out of the pack and into a position where it can become meaningful and valuable.
It’s often the difference between being un-dead and being successful. If you plan to be successful on a wider basis than just within New Zealand, you will not be likely to get there organically.
Finally for any high tech start up cash is the oxygen that keeps you alive, managing cash wisely and avoiding running out at inopportune moments is a key skill to acquire.
If you are growing quickly, you almost certainly won’t have enough of it. How do you get it?
Well you need to show you have a valuable market a balanced team and a coherent strategy.
Colin covered a number of topics including a very high level scan of limited partnerships* now available in NZ and the advantages of using them as well as a q&a around the conundrum of equity as part payment for fees. (* Limited Partnerships Act goes live on May 02, 2008 in NZ – see quote below.)
“The primary objective of the introduction of the Limited Partnerships regime in May 2008 is to facilitate sustainable growth in New Zealand’s venture capital and private equity industries.”
The impression on the equity scenarios was that partly paid shares should be near the top of the list when reviewing options but no magic bullets so check with your advisor.
Colin is a Director of the RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT TEAM at EY and his core topic was the new Research & Development Tax Credit Regime.
“For many businesses the R&D tax credit is a welcome tax benefit. 15% of qualifying expenditure can be claimed as a credit against tax payable or, potentially, as a cash refund. To take full advantage your business needs to maximise its ability to identify and track qualifying activities and expenditure.
Ernst & Young’s R&D team can help businesses maximise their R&D claims.”
“The areas of qualification fit all New Zealand companies which undertake R&D and software development.
The regime is perhaps more relevant to locally-owned enterprises as the resulting Intellectual Property must be New Zealand owned, but it is likely to also apply to inbounds also.”
The credit applies from 1st of July 2008 although could be in effect earlier depending on tax year. It is in effect a rebate of 15% of allowable R & D expenditure which can be claimed in cash if the entity has no tax liability.
The presentation also covered off eligibility, activities which qualify as allowable R&D, excluded activities, level of documentation and record keeping and the claim process. Check their website for more information like this summary or this list and contact Colin regarding specific assistance where required.
Geoff McDowell introduced his firm – Bridge Ellis – The Knowledge Hunters. To quote from their website
“Do you need:
* an expert in a particular field?
* a detailed competitive analysis of your marketplace?
* ongoing market intelligence on the subjects and trends of your choice?
Bridge Ellis can help. People think of us as knowledge hunters because that’s exactly what we do.
Whatever your taste in knowledge, we hunt it down and present it for your consumption. Knowledge is, after all, the lifeblood of any organization.”
Geoff then spoke about social networks covering trends, mentioning cultural relevance as a driver and the inherent conflict between one to one and the actual ‘many to many’ scenarios experienced on some of the larger sites. Also the difference between internal (ISN) or external (ESN) social networks which tend to be more advertising driven and some discussion around business models. Not sure where the following quote came from
“The value of a network is not defined not only by who’s on it but by who’s excluded.”
Customer facing companies need to have a social network engagement strategy so they can learn about and leverage the areas of consumer interest and participation.
Contact him for more detail if needed. Gary also mentioned golf.