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NZ start-ups need to think big

29 Jul 2011

Sam Minnée was just 18 years old when he founded software start-up SilverStripe in Wellington in 2000, along with friends Tim Copeland and Sigurd Magnusson.

Now, at 29, Minnée has one piece of advice for other start-ups: Think big.

"New Zealand start-ups still think small when it comes to new business ideas,” Minnée says.

"Just because people live on an Island in the Southern Hemisphere they often think that they can only affect that much.”

With the dot-com bubble in the process of bursting, Minnée and his friends founded the company based on the idea of building a cutting-edge content management system to support websites.

Now, SilverStripe has 40 staff, and offices in Auckland and Melbourne in addition to the Wellington HQ. 

In addition to building websites and applications for such clients as Air New Zealand, AA and Plunket, Silverstripe was the website platform of choice for the US Democratic National Convention that supported Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008.

"The World Wide Web turned the world into a global market and anybody can reach anything and anyone pretty easily,” Minnée says.

"Don’t be afraid to get offshore customers from an early stage. Find a niche and get profitable early. You might find people help you out with experience and advice, but venture capital is much more difficult to get in New Zealand than overseas if you are not yet profitable.”

Go here to read about the success of another Wellington tech start-up, Aptimize, or go here for our story on internet uptake in New Zealand businesses.

Image: Sam speaking at the WDCNZ conference earlier this month. Credit: Jason Naylor.