A Best of British Christmas Bash
The Value of Stakeholders – Alan Brannigan, CEO of Vigil Monitoring
Building your future, today – Daniel Batten
With daylight savings providing an extra boost of sunshine, the October NZSA networking evening was off to a bright start. The evening kicked off on a high, with the sharing of fantastic news from many members. Its great to hear about all the new and exciting activity and achievements.
Regan, Glengarry’s resident wine expert, prepared us for the upcoming barbecue season by educating and entertaining us with his wine tasting session. We were treated to a Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio 2014 (Italian Pinot Gris) and a Church Road MacDonald Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – perfect accompaniments to sip on a warm summer’s evening, or to enjoy alongside a delicious steak.
With the audience wined and dined, it was time for Daniel Batten, our guest speaker, to take to the stage. Daniel drew everyone in with an entertaining recap of the experiences which lead to him developing his Founder2.0 concept. One of the attendees, Ollie Mikosza of Metrino PRT, had worked with Daniel and was able to share experiences as well. The underlying theme for the evening was: If you want to grow your business to the next level, invest in growing yourself. Nobody knows your business better than you and that equips you to be the best person to sell it! A simple message which was greeted by accepting nods from around the room.
It was an enjoyable evening with delicious food & wine, excellent networking, and an inspiring guest speaker.
Mitchell Pham, co-founder & Director of Augen Software Group
September’s NZSA networking event was a more intimate affair, following on from the stellar turnout in August. Nevertheless, the atmosphere remained lively, with the room humming with the flow of conversation over a few drinks as guests began to arrive.
Once seated, Roger Ford made his inaugural introduction as NZSA President and quickly got the evening under way.
Attendees were treated to a selection of wines including a Domaine Romanin Macon Villages 2014 (Chardonnay) from France ($17.99 per bottle in September) and a Finca Cuco Tinto 2014 (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah) from France ($17.99 per bottle in September), both easy drinking wines perfect for upcoming barbeque season.
Then it was time to meet our guest speaker for the evening. Mitchell Pham, from Augen Software Group captivated the room with his charming recollection of their journey since launching in 2005. Mitchell highlighted the challenges Augen have faced maintaining a unified culture between their New Zealand and Vietnamese offices. The different cultures between the two countries proved to be a substantial hurdle which the team has worked hard to overcome.
Managing Growth – Perspectives from aviation software
Hosted by John Quirk – Howard & Company
August’s NZSA networking event was a sell-out, with a packed house turning out on a wintry Auckland evening.
The evening got off to a cracker start thanks to a round of drinks kindly sponsored by Howard & Co, followed by (once everyone had found a seat) some entertaining stories from Regan on German Rieslings and German winemakers.
John Quirk from Howard & Co then hosted a panel discussion with 3 leaders from the aviation software industry (Mark McCaughan from merlot.aero, Simon Mitchell from Matchbyte and Martin Grant from Private Flight) on managing growth.
Each of the speakers gave an overview of their business then discussed issues such as market positioning, innovation, crowd-sourced development, and the ability of Kiwi companies to take on larger offshore players.
The panel format created a very interesting and interactive evening, and it was interesting to hear the 3 presenters’ different perspectives on a number of issues.
Angel at My Table
A great evening – a full house listened to, and along with our three ‘dragons’, judged five early-stage companies pitch for the judges investment money.
Our five entrepreneurs were:
VestaStore – Charles Nicolson – e-Commerce solutions
Wherewolf – Ben Calder – Digital Check-ins
HR Executive Solutions – Angeline Long
RoleMap Ltd – Carol Brown – On-line knowledge transfer
ecoPortal – Logan Wait – on-line health and safety
The Peoples’ Choice winner was: VestaStore
The Overall Winner was: Wherewolf
Many thanks to our three judges:
Rudi Bublitz – Co-founder at Flying Kiwi Angels, director & investor
John Quirk – Director, Howard & Co.
Peter Dickinson – CEO, Greentree and ex-president of NZSA
Geoff Olliff, co-founder and director of ViFX
Geoff Olliff, director and co-founder of ViFX, gave a fascinating and frank overview of the ViFX journey and future.
By focusing on top-end clients and riding the virtualisation wave, ViFX experienced significant growth since their founding in 2007. Lessons learnt included bringing in (and exiting) an external CEO, board structure, and challenges on scaling a services business internationally.
Geoff’s infectious honesty and articulate vision of future challenges and opportunities made this one of the best presentations this year.
Richard Gill of CLOUD M
Richard Gill, founder and CEO of CLOUD M, gave a summary of his 20 years as a serial entrepreneur. Starting in 1987 with Monstar Labs, Richard created a series of companies including Startrax, Cyberglue, Solar Island and Digital Water. All these companies had their genesis in solving customer problems. Four years ago, Richard saw a convergence of major technology trends: mobile and cloud computing; CLOUD M was born.
The focus of Richard’s presentation, however, was on the role of, and lessons learnt from early-stage company boards. His insights included how to build an A-class board, picking the right chairperson and making sure you’ve got cool technology for the board to show-off!
Media Panel – Is traditional media dead?
Four media experts provided their insights into how software companies work with the media to get their message across to their target audience. Decade of experience was tapped into during the panel session hosted by Bob Pinchin, director of Swaytech and ex-CEO of IDG publications. Bob, and the audience, asked Bill Bennett, Clare Coulson-Dalton and Rob O’Neill questions like: what have been the most dramatic changes in the industry and the way reporting takes place? Does the tech media have a future in NZ and if so what roll will it play? Or, what’s the best way to engage with a journalist?
Anne Fulton & Jo Mills of Fuel50
Anne and Jo, co-founders of Fuel50, gave us a view of their company’s strategy and progress to date in entering the US market. Their vision of providing ‘meaningful career paths for millions’ focusing on companies with 1000 or more employees was compelling. Fuel50 have invested in brand from day one – reflected in their consistent and eye catching collateral and digital offerings. Lessons such as why it’s a good idea to on-shore your development team and embracing the culture of customers were presented. Their vision-led product development strategy means they have multiple releases of their SaaS product every year.
Murray Holdaway of Vista Entertainment
Murray Holdaway, co-founder and CEO of Vista, gave a fascinating summary of Vista’s story from start-up to IPO and the plan for future success.
Vista started in 1996 when Murray was asked by a global cinema company to produce ticketing software to ‘enhance the cinema experience’. The result was ground-breaking technology and they’ve been innovating and growing ever since. This expansion has resulted in Vista now employing more than 200 people in four offices, providing market-leading services to customers on all continents.
Murray’s key lessons were: trust people (and do good things with good people), sales are more important than software, UI is more important than functions, and get an a plane and meet the customer!