Paeroa-based software development company Adroit Creations is proving that IT companies can thrive in a regional, rural town rather than a big city centre.
“You don’t have to live in a big city to have a successful IT company and to connect with clients around the world,” says Adroit Creations co-founder and customer experience chief Nic Edmonds.
“I am a strong believer that you can be innovative and creative anywhere.”
Founded around two years ago, Adroit Creations develops software for local government organisations to enable them to do things more efficiently and effectively.
Their elementSERIES software helps manage timesheets, data and training online.
Many of Adroit’s clients are based in Australia, with growing interest from New Zealand councils and organisations.
“We have chosen Paeroa as the place to launch and grow our business because we believe investing in heartland communities is the way of the future, especially for companies like ours,” says Edmonds.
Born and bred in Waikato, Edmonds spent time living and working overseas before starting Adroit Creations in late 2014.
During a stint in Australia, he saw what other IT service providers were doing and thought it could be done in better, innovative and more sustainable ways.
“I wanted to start my own IT business and see if the model could be different,” says Edmonds.
“I could see the potential for disrupting the way software and services are delivered to clients, and I wanted to provide a more sustainable business model that would also serve the community.”
It came at a time that Edmonds and his wife Donna Haynes (Adroit’s co-founder and development director) were wanting to start a family.
Small town culture beckoned, but could an international IT company survive and thrive in rural New Zealand?
“We looked at Auckland and Sydney before making our choice, but Paeroa ticked the box for many reasons,” says Edmonds.
“Paeroa offers a great lifestyle. The cost and ease of living are better than a bigger city. It’s easier to own your own home, and renting office space is cheaper. We don’t get stuck in traffic for hours – heavy traffic in Paeroa is five minutes.”
Edmonds says living in Paeroa has been a drawcard for employees and new recruits.
“A big reason for setting up the business here was providing a good lifestyle for our kids, and buying a large piece of land that we could grow vegetables on,” says Edmonds, who now has two preschool children.
The company has grown from two to nine staff members, including several overseas recruits.
One of them was a top developer from WeChat, a Chinese social media application with more than 938 million active users – and life in Paeroa appealed.
“He wanted the job because his three-year-old had never played on real grass. They wanted to replace the Beijing smog with fresh air and a home with a backyard,” says Edmonds.
Another staff member recruited from Brazil – “an amazingly talented developer” – was also attracted by the lifestyle opportunities of living in rural small town New Zealand, says Edmonds.
The latest staff member to join Adroit Creations is its new director, Daniel Newman, who hails from Auckland.
Newman spent the last nine years managing his IT business but was attracted to Adroit due to the refreshing approach the company takes when building products, engaging with clients and supporting the community.
Newman commutes daily from Pukekohe to Paeroa – a drive he says is easier and quicker than his previous commute through Auckland to Albany.
“Living outside Auckland or a major city is no barrier to business, especially if you work in a field such as IT,” says Edmonds.
Although he travels a lot for business, Auckland International Airport is not far away.
Investing in regional New Zealand was important to Edmonds: a way of supporting the local economy, providing jobs and perhaps more importantly, inspiration.
Edmonds says that around 43% of Hauraki residents do not have access to the internet at home, according to the 2013 Census.
Adroit Creations hopes to change that, and inspire people into careers or opportunities in the technology sector.
Adroit recently began a social good initiative called the Creation Room, in partnership with Promapp and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
It has been designed as a free community resource for Hauraki residents interested in exploring opportunities in technology and creative industries and is set up with computer equipment and an internet connection.
“People can come in and learn about coding or web design or blogging,” says Edmonds.
“If they want to set up an online presence for their own business, or explore robotics or something else tech-related, then we have a free public space for them to use within our professional offices.”
“It doesn’t matter how old or young people are, or if they are new to technology or not, they are welcome to pop in and use the Creation Room,” says Edmonds.
“We really want to give back to our community, and enable them to make the most of the opportunities the Internet can offer. It’s our way of supporting the district council, who has big plans to digitise the region.”
Edmonds hopes to inspire other companies, particularly in the IT sector, to replicate their business model for the social good of their communities.
“A company doesn’t need to be big to be responsible to its community and to be a good social citizen,” says Edmonds.