Wellington the startup capital

Alana Christensen in the SMH writes:

New Zealand has been the home to Australian expats for years, and now Kiwis are muscling in on the startup world as low living costs and talented entrepreneurs continue to build the country’s reputation for innovation.

The country, which was ranked No.1 in the world for ease of doing business by the World Bank, is increasingly becoming the dark horse in the Asia-Pacific startup world, attracting entrepreneurs from across the globe.

Andrew Lamb is one of those expats building the New Zealand economy. Having moved from Melbourne to Wellington in search of a cooler summer, Lamb and his company, Camshaft, have thrived with the relocation.

“We could run the company just as well in Wellington as we could in Melbourne, but Wellington has in our opinion nicer weather, it was too hot in Melbourne,” he said.

But the attractive lifestyle choice extends far past the weather, to an inclusive and collaborative tech startup community.

“In Wellington, there is a really tight-knit tech startup community where everyone knows everyone else, everyone is willing to give everyone a hand with whatever they’re working with,” Mr Lamb said.

“You can’t help but know everyone, and whenever a new company forms it’s a bunch of people who’ve worked at other companies together previously.”

The ecosystem that Lamb and Camshaft enjoy and Creative HQ sits in is much different to that of a decade ago. With support from the federal government, which has fostered the ecosystem, startups and startup incubators are growing and there’s greater opportunity in New Zealand. 

Creative HQ’s Lightning Lab is the biggest incubator program in the country and has benefited from a more structured and organised approach to innovation.

“When we started 12 to 15 years ago, the scene was very disorganised and very ad hoc, there were no angel investors and very limited talent. So it was pretty much random and sheer luck that any of us got off the ground,” Mr Korn said.

“Over the past four years we’ve worked very hard to structure it … as a result we’re seeing, especially in the past three or so years, dramatically increased levels of innovation coming from the startups, and increasingly so corporates and governments working together to drive innovation.”

We do have many amazing startups in Wellington. Good to see this being recognised.