Favourite Wellington cafe: Little Penang
Most used app: Email (unfortunately)
Fintech startup to watch: All of the KFA startups :-)
Q: What’s your background?
A: After a career in the IT industry as an engineer, I cofounded a startup doing Internet integration in 1995. We were domain number 302 in .co.nz and grew this company from our garage to 40 people in Auckland and Wellington. We exited to a multinational in 2002, and since then I’ve been working to help build up the local startup ecosystem through angel investing, mentoring, and generally doing what I can to build the world I want to live in.
You can find out more about me on my blog or my LinkedIn profile. You might find my TEDx talk on the Four Superpowers of the Internet interesting as well.
Q: Why are you passionate about startups?
A: I said above that I try to build the world I want to live in - and I see startups as the best way to do this. Commerce and social commerce are central to our day to day lives - how we transact with each other - and strongly shape how we live our lives. Some of today’s startups will be the big companies of the future. A recent study showed that virtually all job growth in the US in the last 30 years could be attributed to new companies.
Q: Why do you think that the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator is important?
A: Money sits at the heart of commerce - for today anyway. [I’m on the record saying that we should be working for the day when money is redundant.] An important step toward that is bringing finance into the Internet age. KFA provides a way to start achieving that, while creating exciting new companies that will create lots of value for their customers, their shareholders, the NZ economy, and the world.
Q: What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened leading up to the programme so far?
A: I don’t want to jinx things but we’ve achieved amazing cohesion both in the ops team and the cohort really quickly. Everyone was all-in from the first moment, it was like we were all a highly functional family in a previous life. We’ll try to retain that as the pressure builds towards Demo Day.
Q: What are you most excited about heading into the programme?
A: For me, it’s all about the personal transformation that people associated with the programme go through. Being in an accelerator - as a venture, and even as one of the people running the programme - requires regularly plumbing the depths of your soul. Some people are ready for this, others not, and it’s fascinating and rewarding helping people find their inner entrepreneur, as they hone their craft, pick up skills, do things they never thought they would have to do, and achieve things they never thought possible. And all of this while “making something from nothing” that is the magic of starting a new venture.