Time flies when you’re head down, bum up…
As with many people in Christchurch – and the NZ tech industry particularly – 2014 was a year of relentless workload. The triple dynamics of the post-earthquake rebuild, increased capital available to local tech companies plus a constrained resource pool meant lots of extra hours put in to sustain momentum. Looking back it’s pretty satisfying to see how much was achieved in 2014, but also daunting the amount of work that’s stacking up ahead. A big thank you to all of Memia’s customers, partners and friends for your business, support and company during the last year!
For the last few years I’ve managed to write an end-of-year round up blog post before heading off on the traditional Kiwi beach holiday – but this year unfortunately I didn’t make deadline before summer [=winter…sigh] holiday travels to the UK. However, better late than never, here’s the first of four linktastic posts on all things zeitgeist 2014->2015 . Something for everyone. Enjoy. 😉[My good friend @benbodley passed comment that the blog has been “sparse” last year (“…eat your own dogs**t” I think was the exact phrase…) – so best intentions, will try to be more prolific this year…]
New Zealand’s Tech Industry Continues To Grow Strongly
2014 saw continued growth in the revenues and capital base of NZ’s tech sector. According to NZTech ICT alone accounts for 5% of GDP, more than 73,000 jobs and growth of 16.5% pa – with Canterbury’s scene particularly vibrant.
2014 saw a procession of software and tech companies floating on the NZX – Serko, IkeGPS, ERoad, GenTrack, Vista Group and finishing with Orion Health finally floating – raising $120m for a growth round in their oversubscribed IPO.
Meanwhile investments in 2013’s tech IPOs Wynyard Group and SLI Systems ended slightly down but steady on a year ago, largely following NZ tech sector bellwether Xero’s rollercoaster ride – lots of banter flying around as to how successful Xero will be taking on Intuit in the US – however the company continues to execute on its growth targets hitting 400,000 customers in December and with YoY subscription revenue growth now at 85%. Question is: has the share price now hit the bottom and is it time to get back in?! With a NASDAQ listing still in the pipeline, the company continues to mature. An amazing achievement by @roddrury and all of the management team which leads the way for others to follow. Just the other day there was a solid article looking at Xero’s metrics by SaaS-focused VC @ttunguz, worth a read.
One other notable success was @lancewiggs who hunkered down and just got on with Punakaiki Fund after the aborted IPO attempt last year. The fund managed to raise $1.5M in a private offering and another $1.5M in November from existing investors.
At the end of the year the fund is invested in four companies: Timely, Mindscape (@jdtrask doing an amazing job growing Raygun.io), InfluxHQ and Vibe Communications and added a December round for others to come in at $25K a pop.
Just a couple of other notable mentions of cutting edge tech capability here in NZ – firstly holographic virtual reality platform 8i raised several private rounds of funding and look like they’re hiring like crazy – I was lucky enough to have a try out of their early product on Oculus Rift – mind blowing stuff. Watch this space.
The other is Mark Sagar and his team‘s ongoing development of BabyX and the underlying AI models – watch this video of his presentation to TEDxChristchurch in 2014 and see the future. I can think of 1001 commercial applications already….
Christchurch Tech Scene
2014 was a year of continued growth and development in the Christchurch technology industry scene.
First up in March was Christchurch Startup Weekend – a well organised and attended event held at EPIC which was a major investment into our startup ecosystem. Nearly 100 participants formed teams and developed 6 startup pitches in just 54 hours!
I’m looking forward to this year’s event in May 2015 as well – Memia is a sponsor.
There was good representation and a full house at the annual New Zealand High Tech Awards, held in Canterbury for the first time since the earthquakes – it was a great night out and congratulations to all the winners – especially Doug Willems of Delta Strike International from Christchurch.
Also back in May Memia and Sourced launched the FLUX report – an in-depth profile of the Canterbury Technology sector in 2014. As part of researching the report we generated an open database of over 500 businesses and organisations working in our region’s technology cluster – we also published a giant poster infographic which you may have seen on walls over the year – what the FLUX database shows is just how broad and mature the technology cluster is here in Christchurch – something to be nurtured and developed further in coming years… We are looking forward to taking FLUX forward in 2015, including placing the database online and adding some more cool infographics into the mix – watch this space…
It was another successful year for the Canterbury Software Cluster – again lots of well-attended regular monthly events, together with the Full Throttle 2014 Software Summit held at Wigram Airbase in October with international speakers and a growing software industry tradeshow – great to see the sector continue to be in good health.
One of the speakers at the Summit was Michael Trengrove, co-founder of CodeClub Aotearoa. This is a volunteer foundation dedicated to teaching young children how to explore software in after-school code clubs – a great effort from all of the founding team in 2014 and establishing the movement nationally: watch out for further success in 2015!
Also established this year is a new early-stage investment network for the region – Canterbury Angels. This group has built great links already with other angel networks throughout New Zealand and all being well will hold the first investment pitch night in the first quarter of 2015, followed by ongoing speaker and investment events throughout the year. Sign up to join the mailing list!
was a success at the end of the year and looking forward to this year’s Christchurch LightningLab programme.
Ones to watch
In terms of fast-growing local tech businesses worth watching, here are just a few that I know have had great years in 2014: Jade Software (really enjoyed being part of the judging panel at December’s Thinkubator event. Great looking website too…), Aranz Geo, Smudge, CleverMedKits (now Inventory Tech Ltd), iViis, goRoster, Debtor Daddy, Trineo and Redseed. Apologies if I’ve left you off the list – let me know!