Prime Time for iPredict

I was so pleased to see iPredict’s Matt Burgess fronting up on the TV3 Leaders Debate this week with a demo of a political market trend forecast using their software product. Getting their website address in front of a few hundred thousand eyeballs won’t have done them any harm at all.

I’m pleased for two reasons. Firstly, Matt is a good guy, with an intriguing product and is doing a great job as CEO of iPredict in getting the company market recognition through media, events and the web. Secondly, it validates our decision to select him as one of the presenters at the Unlimited Potential Wellington to the World event on Friday. iPredict fitted our definition perfectly in that they had a novel and scalable global opportunity but still with a relatively low profile. Moreover, iPredict is a great example of academic research that has crossed over into the mainstream business arena.

In fact the first half of our show on Friday is devoted to linking academia with entrepreneurs and investors downtown. It’s an area that we have traditionally struggled with in New Zealand. Academics normally deliver to other academics and are focussed on building a body of research during their careers. Commercialisation of research is generally a secondary consideration. That’s a shame, because more than ever we need to be moving away from selling milk fat and instead moving towards selling knowledge to pay our way in the world.

It’s a cultural issue. In southern California smart post-graduate technology students are queuing up to attend seminars on how to structure their start-up businesses and court investors. Sure, the days when even a half decent business plan would get some crazy 20 year old funding for his pet project are gone. But that’s a good thing. Money migrates to value in the end and that’s where New Zealand creativity has an advantage. But we first need to overcome the barrier of distance to major capital and consumer markets; which is why we’ve partnered with KEA to take the event global.

It’s perfect that iPredict is a successful Victoria University spinoff company. There are other interesting projects emerging from Vic that could go the same way if we can help attract entrepreneurs and capital in that direction. That is why we are taking some first steps with W2W to strengthen bridges between academia and business here in Wellington.

For an entertaining forecast of the election outcome from our friends at iPredict and a look at some other cool ICT projects around town, make your way to the Wellington to the World event from 3.45pm on Friday 7th November at the Town Hall in Wellington. Registration essential.

W2W – Local Innovation Going Global

The culmination of months of hard work by the UP team and the fulfilment of a long held personal ambition of mine will happen on Friday afternoon 7th Nov when we open the inaugural Unlimited Potential – Wellington to the World (W2W) event.

If ever there was a time when we needed to grow our services exports it’s now. Trade deficits are worsening and commodity prices are dropping along with the value of our currency. On the other hand, with economies contracting, businesses are looking to technology to help drive efficiencies. That represents a huge opportunity for our small technology service providers who can react quickly and now price more competitively in foreign markets.

Furthermore, lean businesses with compelling and scalable value propositions will survive tough economic times and thrive when the next upswing arrives. So at Unlimited Potential we decided to help by creating an event that would both promote technology commercialisation and assist a bunch of Wellington companies to take their products to the world.

With the aid of our multi-talented MC, technology blogger, entrepreneur and Unlimited magazine columnist Ben Kepes, the free two-part event kicks off with an afternoon tea at 3.45pm followed by several short presentations by ICT researchers from Victoria University. Topics covered include network security, robotics and next-gen search engines. Sponsored by VicLink, these speakers are looking to engage with potential business partners and collaborators from downtown to begin moving towards commercialisation with aspects of their research.

The second part of the show begins with drinks and networking from 5.15pm and involves already fully commercial ventures that are preparing to scale up and go global. We’ve deliberately chosen businesses with high growth potential, but that are not well known (yet). We’ll be video filming all the presentations and promoting these across KEA’s huge global network as well as New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s offshore trade offices. It’s a huge opportunity and one that we hope to repeat on an annual basis – with your support. The presentations will be followed by drinks and networking.

We already know that Wellington has a reputation for producing great digital technology businesses and we want to keep promoting the city through this event. Even better still, we think W2W could eventually become a nationwide event, based in Wellington but promoting the best and brightest of NZ technology innovation in a “Kiwi Demo” style format.

The full programme for W2W can be found here

You need to register for the event here.

So this is Christmas

xmas_tree.jpgI know that it is traditional to offer up rosy summaries of sterling progress achieved during the past year at Christmas time.  But being a contrarian, I’m not going to do that. Unlike previous years, 2007 was neither good nor rosy on the personal or business front. However I did learn a great deal. C’est la Vie.

I learnt that (a few) people don’t keep their promises and that a good idea on its own is worth nothing without skilled political entrepreneurship (ie. who you drink with) and a little luck. I guess 2007 was the year I didn’t get to “start a billion dollar business from the beach”. But I’m sure 2008 will bring new challenges and opportunities.

Of more concern was that with the aid of armed Police and gagging laws, as a nation we lurched a couple more steps closer to authoritarianism (remember Sleeping Dogs?) whilst on the other hand failing to protect innocent members of the public from repeat drunk drivers, child abusers and escaped violent criminals.

On the economic front, New Zealand again did not invest  in research and development at a rate sufficient to improve our poor OECD standing, because (even though we can afford to) it was not a vote winner. The actual rate of inflation for real people (with cars to run, mortgages to pay and mouths to feed) was more like 10-15%. But more of our income got swallowed up due to taxation thresholds that punish middle class families on relatively modest incomes.

In the meantime our kids are being indoctrinated at school into the racist and politically correct myth of “bi-culturalism” instead of learning English, math and science. Cultural awareness is a good thing, socially divisive dogma is not.

So with the rain pissing on my roof on a cold, grey Christmas morning, I’m starting to see why almost 30,000 Kiwis permanently left our shores for Australia in 2007. We need to turn this around!

At least it’s been fun bringing you the GeniusNet Weblog in 2007. Expect more news, info and opinion on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in New Zealand. Expect to be challenged, don’t expect sycophancy. I like ideas, even imperfect ones, as long as we can knock them into shape together.

Now special thanks must go to those who shared comments and opinions. I look forward to hearing from you again soon. There are lots more issues to canvas in the New Year, especially with an election looming.

Have a cool Yule and a safe and profitable 2008.



ION e-Letter Nov/Dec 2007

Welcome to the ION e-Letter.

Leadership Resource Goes Live

A new multimedia site is offering personal insights from business leaders prominent in the area of technology commercialisation. Supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand, leadership researchers have captured a rich collection of video clips in which New Zealand innovators and entrepreneurs talk about how they built their careers and their businesses. The aim of the Leadership Pathway project is to to take young people on a journey of reflection that, through the use of role models, emboldens them to consider a future in business or technology as an attractive choice.

Instinct Exports Wikipedia App

Wellington based Instinct Entertainment scored a coup recently by getting their mobile Wikipedia application onboard at Singapore Telecom, the island nation’s largest telco. Instinct director Dan Millard says Wikipedia were happy to agree to the idea which allows mobile users to interrogate the site and receive an abbreviated query response directly to a mobile handset. The company are still looking for a local provider to host the product in New Zealand.

U.S. Firms Looking to Buy Up Kiwi Tech

ION has been approached by an intermediary acting for U.S. companies seeking to purchase rights to proprietary ICT. The contact is well connected through his writing and lecturing on technology and is willing to act on behalf of any company with technology patents to sell. Email ION for an introductION.

Offshoring Opens Access to China Market

A software developer in China is looking to provide outsourcing services to resource constrained industry peers in New Zealand. The Beijing based firm specialises in Java/PHP and .Net development for mobile and enterprise applications. Run by a young Canadian educated Chinese chap, the firm has a sound project track record with a number of multinational companies. The developer is also offering to assist NZ firms by tailoring existing applications to the China market. Email ION to make the connectION.

Vaulting to Success

Emergent business consultancy Vault is leaping to the defence of businesses with big plans for growth. The firm offers a tailor-made service to small and medium sized businesses dealing with financial, strategic and organisational issues during start-up or periods of high growth.  “It’s much like having an oncall executive cheer leading team of business and financial experts at your fingertips”, says Vault director Marie-Claire Andrews. As a former advisor to an economic development agency, she helped dozens of small businesses take their first steps.

What’s Happening at ION

At the start of 2007 we completed the Immigrants Online project and wrote up a report for the Asia NZ Foundation. The project looked at how recent migrants make use of online communities to form networks and garner information. Assisting migrant entrepreneurs was an important part of the project. Flowing on from this we are currently considering developing a proposal to identify migrant investors and channel them toward local business opportunities.

At the present time ION is essentially unfunded, hence there has been less facilitation on offer to the community this year. However we would like to acknowledge the ongoing support of the University of Auckland Business School who provide hosting for the ION website and forum. Also thanks go to Revera who assist with broadband. Greatly appreciated.

Best wishes for a Happy Christmas and a safe and profitable New Year.

Paul Spence – ION Executive Officer

contact  [at]  genius . net . nz

ION e-Letter – May 2007

Welcome to the Innovators Online Network e-Letter.

ION is New Zealand’s leading innovation and entrepreneurship online community. ION provides an informative and interactive virtual knowledge sharing forum plus a private business matchmaking service for emerging technology enterprises.

The ION e-Letter is supported by Revera – High integrity I.T. infrastructure.

Capital Raising in the Capital

Capital raising networks are rapidly waking up to the latent opportunities available within the New Zealand technology community. Startup founders in Wellington are welcoming the news that tech incubator CreativeHQ is planning an Angel Network of its own and there has been a notable increase in the number of networking events relating to the tech sector in the city.

Towards this end, young entrepreneurs and investors will be engaged in some serious networking at Unlimited Potential’s aptly named Angels and Demons gig. Joseph Stuart from FRST will be speaking about funding programmes available to the creative and ICT sectors following which there will be a panel discussion, including Peter Dickinson from high tech accelerator AintoG. NZTE’s Escalator programme is also running an ongoing series of workshops and networking events around New Zealand aimed at matchmaking businesses with investors and bootstrapping new ventures into investment ready status.

From Xero to Hero

Serial technology entrepreneur Rod Drury demonstrated impeccable timing by announcing a planned NZX float of his latest venture the day after he cleaned up at the Wellington Gold Awards. Drury scored the ‘Absolutely Creatively Wellington Ambassador’ gong in a nod to his ongoing contribution to promoting the Capital as a destination for technology investors. A successful listing for Xero could mark a sea change amongst investor sentiment in a market where there have lately been very few local technology offerings.

VCs Connect Across the Ditch 

Looking offshore we note that Slattery’s are organising the annual VC Connect event. Attendees can meet investors, learn how to win VC backing and how to evaluate the right VC firm to meet their needs. There will also be sessions outlining the expectations of venture capitalists; funding strategy; termsheets and team building. Best of all the cost of entry is affordable for cash-strapped entrepreneurs!

Investors Leverage Web Technology for Outreach 

About 18 months ago we flagged that North American markets were reawakening to technology venture investment and that trend continues to accelerate. Microsoft are jumping on the bandwagon with a web-based community that mediates between investment ready tech companies in Asia-Pacific and sources of capital. Our friends at IPMarket also provide a global online listing of intellectual property looking for investment and commercialisation expertise, supported by research that identifies potential partners. Even No8 Ventures has a blog these days as investors look to leverage communities of interest.

Getting Your AintoG

AintoG continue their engagement with upstart technology firms around the country later in the month with a number of seminar events discussing business growth. Through taking a stake in a new venture AintoG deploys its team of “battle hardened” ICT industry executives to help with growth pains. The philosophy goes further than simply sitting on a board, but gets some key talent into the target business at ground level to move things along.

Your ION Needs You!

Have you got a NZ technology success story? Can you help new ventures connect globally? Are you an investor, mentor or technology entrepreneur? Do you have a community project that leverages technology or is seeking expertise? We’d love to hear from you. ION is a connector community, with both social and economic objectives, helping New Zealand innovators reach out to the world. Add a comment to this blog article or reply to your email alert.

Blog Beta

Welcome to the GeniusNet Blog Beta. If this works out, we are looking at completely migrating our web presence away from a website to a more interactive setting that appropriately reflects the nature of our consultancy work. Hopefully we will share some interesting viewpoints, meet some new friends and have some fun along the way. So all you geniuses out there, get typing, share your thoughts and let’s explore the new environment. Cheers.