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The NZ Startup Community: Interview with Dave Moskovitz ~ New Frontiers

hello everyone it's alina here with kiwi connect i am at at new frontiers 2016 with dave moskovits dave you've been around the new zealand startup community for a number of years do you want to tell us how you got into new zealand startups well in 1995 i managed to convince my wife Kate Frick Berg to start up a company with me doing web development we were domain number 302 in the dmz namespace and of course now they're over half a million names in that space 1995 was pretty early in New Zealand I think we were one of two web development agencies at the time anyway we do that company to 40 people in Wellington Auckland and then exited to a multinational and since then I've been working helping startups get off the ground and investing in a few of them and generally trying to build the future that I want to live in and in Wellington New Zealand that's a very vibrant economy with lots of exciting companies trying stuff at exporting to the world trading people and ideas with the rest of the world and in generally up in the level of our game right so since 1995 that's and that's a good amount of time in New Zealand what what trends have you seen changing over the last two decades so against the backdrop of the rise of the internet which i think is really been central to a lot of the startup startup scene because it lowers the barrier of entry for people to do really cool stuff because it means that ideas become a fungible commodity and the implementation of those ideas becomes a lot less difficult I think New Zealand has become much more outward focus and it used to be that said I think a lot of the startups that we see in New Zealand have some sort of level of immigrant involvement I mean you look around today it's at the people here at key we connect and even the nominal Kiwis like myself you know you know there are a lot of people whose who either been overseas a lot or originally come from every is so um I guess that's one trend is uh you know this has been a much higher interconnectedness with the rest of the world I think Kiwis are becoming more confidence in terms of executing on their own ideas and less reticence in terms of being shy about their own ideas people are more realistic about what they can accomplish sources of capital have grown hugely particularly since 2007 2008 when we started angel HQ the local angel club it's become much much easier to find my angel investment for your four-year venture and there are a lot more people who are willing to invest in these swords adventures trade me 0 these sort of startups who are no longer startups who've increase in value immensely the wealth that they've generated amongst their investors means that there's now money that those investors have to invest in other things and there have been some other significant exits along the way and so we're starting to gain critical mass in terms of the various elements that we need in the investment ecosystem of great people who can draw on great team so we're producing some fantastic developers and designers as well as entrepreneurs in wellington in new zealand and sources sources of capital and connections to places overseas so much so that i mean there was a time about three years ago when I thought I knew everything that was going on in Wellington in terms of startups and now it's just like I probably only know about ten percent of what's happening in Wellington which is really really exciting for me because every day I'm discovering new stuff so I started a blog last year called New Zealand startup of the week sotw NZ and when I started that blog people said right are you sure you're going to have enough startups to write about you can really do one a week I said sure no worries and of course you know it's been no issue at all filling up my pipe I've you know that you know five or six hat at a time now so so there is really a tremendous amount going on another really interesting statistic is at the end of 2015 angel HQ the local angel club had I think it was 12 open deals for angel investment there are 12 companies that had partially received the funding that they were after that they were trying to close out before Christmas in addition to there were six steals from Lightning Lad accelerator companies as well so there were 20 deals open for this angel Club which has 50 people in it in Wellington so you know that is really the sign of a vibrant startup ecosystem that you know there's so much going on at any one given point in time and so you know I've waited for this day to arrive and you know we're here now and unfortunately what it means is that there's so many investment opportunities that not all these companies are going to get the investment that they need from local investment sources which means that it's really really important it's always been important but it's even more important now than more than ever to continue developing our investment relationships with other overseas sources of potential sources of investment in market investment for New Zealand companies wanting to make the jump overseas and to try to attract more investors to come here to New Zealand to to come and see what we've got and it's a great place for investing because people are highly educated they're really open honest it's the easiest place in the world to do business according to Transparency International we've got no corruption you know the business and farm here is great and the valuations of companies in New Zealand are significantly lower than what they might be in other overseas overseas places because of basically the risk of you know taking a team from New Zealand and trying to get it executed in some places overseas but it can be done especially with the right guidance and mentorship and overseas connections so it's an incredibly exciting time to be involved in startups in New Zealand at the moment and you know every day I wake up and I go I'm like a kid in a candy shop you know are there particular industries or opportunities that you are excited about so I'm really excited by mission-driven companies so I'm like one of the companies I'm an investor and I'm chairman of the board is pub lon's which is a company whose mission is to speed up science through the power of peer review and everything we consider doing we always look at the mission site is this going to speed up sides and how is that going to contribute to to what we're doing so I love those mission-driven companies because you know they really they really separate at people who are serious about it from the people want and these guys will do anything that is what they want to do is speed up science and that's what we're trying to achieve and this will have a long lasting impact on the world that we live in so that's really exciting but I just love you know general internet startups in general what I've seen over the last year which has been missing from the scene which is really exciting to me is Agri tech startups agricultural businesses that are doing some really cool stuff so there's a company in Palmerston North by a loumac who are producing lighting system for plants to help plants grow more quickly even even whether sunlight we've seen stuff in irrigation there a number of drone startups and all of a sudden there's this real blossoming of agri tech startups where I think people were doing this sort of stuff five years ago but they weren't turning them into startup series these are just little side projects but now people are trying to turn these into proper businesses and export not only the products of these businesses but the businesses and themselves and trying to set them up overseas and service the world and that's got to be good for New Zealand the more interconnected we are as a world I think the more peaceful place we can be and the more we understand each other through through trade and commerce that gives us a chance to form much more deep relationships with people from all over the world it sounds like what you're describing is a real maturing of the ecosystem here is now the time for New Zealand do you think I think we're always playing catch-up and I think you know we've gone you know from being babies to being toddlers and you know where I don't know whether we're approaching adolescence or what our life cycle development stages at the moment I look at other economies you know Silicon Valley is always held up is a you know the star economy ours are we as mature ISM will we ever be as mature ism I don't know and you know people say well how do we how are we going to turn Wellington into into the next Silicon Valley and I say look we don't want to be the next Silicon Valley we want to be the next Wellington we want to be the next New Zealand let's design that and figure out you know what are the what are the really cool things about where we are and what we're doing and how do we how do we double down on those and make those even more awesome than they already are rather than trying to emulate other places which have their own problems in their own contexts yeah I got you wonderful thanks so much for getting with me

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