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Being from NZ can help catapult our country’s technology exports

18 May 2018

Article by NZ Story Group head of engagement Sarah Morgan

Name ten New Zealand technology entrepreneurs.

It’s a challenge – and not because we’re lacking the talent. We split the atom, invented the electric fence, created the disposable syringe. We’re not short of successful innovators. It’s just not in our country’s nature to be loud and proud about what we do.

Consequently, it’s not always typical for New Zealand technology and innovation exporters to use their country of origin values – trust, honesty, integrity, creativity – as leverage to grow their business. But here’s three quick reasons why they absolutely should (and trust me, there’s lots more where that came from).

First, New Zealand's technology sector has become the country's third biggest export sector behind dairy and tourism. Research from the Technology Investment Network (TIN) showt the tech sector’s top 200 companies generated $10 billion in sales in the past year, making it the third largest sector behind tourism and dairy – but ahead of New Zealand stalwarts forestry and meat. Technology is our fastest growing sector, which is encouraging given the exponentially-growing global demand. As the industry continues its massive growth spurt, many eyes will be on us.

Second, being from New Zealand gives entrepreneurs a real point of difference. The tech sector is massively competitive, so standing out from the crowd is critical. For New Zealand tech companies, the real value is in the intelligence of the people behind the design and our well known national integrity when we do business: we’re straight shooting, pragmatic and hard working. Also, we’re super friendly: we’re among the most transparent countries to do business with, and we’re ranked number one in the 2017 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.

Third, we have a long and proud history of ingenuity: from Richard Pearse’s powered flight to the flying boats of the America’s Cup we have always flown higher than Kiwis should. Tech companies can leverage this reputation. We’re the nation that produced Rocket Lab, for goodness sake!

All these attributes are represented by our iconic national silver fern trademark known as the FernMark – it’s the official mark of authenticity that attests to the unique New Zealand IP. The FernMark translates all these cultural attributes into a simple, recognisable emblem that’s distinctively Kiwi for customers to identify in-market.

Tech company Fingermark uses the FernMark as leverage in-market. CEO Luke Irving says Fingermark’s export triumphs are the result of a ‘New Zealand flair for problem solving’. To mark that Kiwi spirit, they use the FernMark country of origin logo to market their brand.

“It’s the easiest way to explain your origins. The fern epitomises New Zealand and New Zealanders. It sets us apart from other entrepreneurs because anyone can come up with a ‘bleeding edge’ business idea, but Kiwis are great at taking an idea and scaling it for multiple markets,” says Irving.

Like other bearers of the FernMark, Fingermark gets that New Zealand’s location on the globe means global thinking and memorable icons are an effective combo.

Kiwi entrepreneurs in this sector must be ‘honestly Kiwi’ and truly leverage their roots when they do business. The world loves our ingenious inventions, our integrity and our trustworthy natures – so let’s communicate that as our unique difference in-market. If we all tell our New Zealand story consistently, we’ll collectively continue to climb that technology ladder and help our national economy flourish.

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