In recent years, New Zealand has proven itself to be a real hub for innovation. The local startup scene is constantly growing and thriving, and there are plenty of noteworthy players leading the way. Here are 10 great ventures all tech geeks should put on their watchlist.
StarNow was one of the very first New Zealand tech startups to hit the world stage. After talking to an actress friend who had been struggling to find work, three Kiwi expats living in London had the shining idea to create a talent and casting directory. That was in 2004 — now, the website has become a global powerhouse with more than four million members and an ever-growing list of audition and job postings.
PledgeMe is the local alternative to Kickstarter. The biggest point of difference between the two is the Kiwi venture’s unique approach to the crowdfunding concept. In particular, the platform homes in on three different fundraising categories: pledgeme.projects serves general project ideas that need support for getting off the ground, the pledgeme.equity is aimed at companies looking for investors, and the pledgeme.lend provides crowdfunded loans to companies and organisations.
Silverstripe began in the year 2000 by three tech pioneers, and is now used by more than 20,000 community members worldwide. The open-source CMS platform earned international acclaim after it was selected to operate the United States Democratic National Convention website during Barrack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. In its native New Zealand, the startup is also renowned for being among the very first participants of Wellington’s CreativeHQ (which supports local startups as they’re getting off the ground) and for winning the New Zealand Open Source Awards in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
STQRY (pronounced ‘story’) is an interactive app that uses the power of storytelling to showcase all the best artistic and cultural attractions in various cities. Since its humble beginnings in Wellington, the startup’s clientele has grown to include some of the world’s most highly-sought after places: like the Walt Disney Family Museum, the Washington State History Museum, and the Seattle Art Museum. Closer to home, STQRY has also been adopted by entities like Wellington Zoo and Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium.
Vend is a point-of-sale management system for Mac, iOS and PC that can be used online and off. It helps retailers create e-commerce stores, set up payment systems, track sales, and establish performance targets. Since its launch in October 2010, Vend quickly gained traction among online vendors from all corners of the globe; the company now boasts more than 18,000 customers from 140 different countries. Etsy, NASA, The Harvard Shop and Disney are some of the most famous names in its loyal clientele.
Xero is a cloud-based accounting software for small businesses. It was founded in 2006 by Rod Drury and quickly expanded its operations to include offices in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. Nowadays, Xero has more than one million subscribers, and 20 different offices across the globe. The intuitive platform allows accountants and bookkeepers to collaborate directly with small business clients, helping them stay on track of all aspects of their financial operations.
Loomio is a Kiwi venture that aims to simplify organisational decisions. Emphasising the power of collaboration, the open-source software enables businesses to create community groups, where its members can access essential information and participate in active discussions about different topics. Interestingly, one of Loomio’s noteworthy successes has been with the Welsh Government — the National Assembly of Wales used the platform to reach out to the country’s citizens about various policy issues.
Would you believe one of the first mobile app companies in the world came from little old New Zealand? The pioneering tech company Carnival Mobile was founded in Christchurch in 2007, by Guy Horrocks and Cody Bunea, and currently boasts some of the highest profile clients any startup could ever ask for. They have created apps for Taco Bell, Dreamworks, and CNN. The company even spearheaded an interactive Facetime campaign that connected One Direction fans to Nabisco.
In June 2016, Wellington native Touchtech announced it would be expanding its operations to Australia. The small-but-mighty company has seen a growing demand for its services since it began its innovative pursuits in 2012. Some of the cool projects it has been involved in include the creation of audio-visual displays for the Copenhagen Museum’s commemorative exhibition of Kierkegaard’s philosophical works, the development of a contactless payment app for the National Australian Bank, and the production of an interactive app that gives insight into New Zealand’s historical contributions in Gallipoli during the First World War.
StaplesVR takes the concept of virtual reality to an entirely new dimension. The Kiwi startup is renowned for creating an interactive fire simulation game, and inspirational social initiatives like using VR to raise awareness for homelessness in the Auckland region. The company’s most recent collaboration is with the Auckland District Health Board — StaplesVR has been tasked with creating special headsets for Starship Children’s Hospital, to help make medical visits less intimidating for their young patients.