A chance to gain rare insights from global tech giants Oracle and Amazon, and forge links with influential high-growth California firms were highlights of this month’s 20-company New Zealand mission to San Francisco.
Led by the New Zealand Information and Communication Technologies Group (NZICT), companies which went on the five-day trip are already following up leads for potential breakthrough deals.
The trip was also supported by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) as Kiwi tech firms attempted to fast-track their business growth at the heart of the industry.
“The San Francisco region is renowned for its business, investor and education opportunities in technology, and the mission was a way to attract interest in New Zealand’s technology capabilities and give Kiwi companies exposure to export opportunities,” says Candace Kinser, CEO of NZICT.
“Exploring those opportunities as a group in a high-intensity schedule made it easier for the new entrant and in-market companies participating on the mission to understand the realities of the business culture in the region.
"They achieved much more as a mission group than if they had tried to learn and discover the market as individual companies.
“The mission was a tremendous success, having put building blocks in place which will have great flow-on effects for the companies involved.
"The momentum generated from the trip will be a long-term legacy of export-oriented growth, and ultimately a boost for New Zealand’s economy.
"We also generated interest from US companies keen on investing in New Zealand businesses and possibly setting up research and development facilities in Auckland.”
NZTE provided the mission companies with introductions through its established networks, while ATEED sponsored an evening event to bring together key market and investment networks with Kiwi businesses, including an investment specialist on hand to support the trip.
“The mission was a fantastic opportunity to talk to large US companies in the hope that they will invest in future developments in Auckland, and for the group to learn from Silicon Valley’s successful ICT businesses," says Clyde Rogers, ATEED GM.
Adam Blackwell, CEO of Showcase Software says his company is among those which have seen immediate benefits from the trip:
“We received very strong US investor interest during the mission which requires us to head back to San Francisco for another round of presentations and discussions next week," he says.
“We also have had a first round of meetings with one of Europe’s leading technology companies who are interested in re-selling Showcase to their enterprise customers throughout the world. It’s a very exciting time for us.”
He says NZICT, ATEED and NZTE’s California-based team are doing an incredible job for New Zealand companies wanting to break into the high-tech scene in California.
“This tour was a deep dive educational experience that we could never replicate on our own.
"The contacts we have made and the understanding we now have of how to get our product on the world stage is going to fast track our progress immensely.”
The mission included a session with internationally focused business incubator Plug and Play, in Sunnyvale, focused on training to help them be investment ready.
The group also explored investment opportunities at Silicon Valley Bank, Shasta Ventures and Menlo Ventures – all potential sources of finance – and took part in educational visits and discussions with Palantir Technologies, Oracle and Amazon Web Services.
Kylie Robinson, Managing Director of Igtimi – whose flagship product YachtBot is used for training and watching international competitive yachting – says:
“The tour helped demystify the entry process into the US market, and gave us the opportunity to talk to other New Zealand companies on the ground to learn from their experiences.”
The San Francisco-based president of Mako Networks Sales & Marketing, Simon Gamble, also had positive opinions of the whistle-stop tour, finding the trip motivational and informative, thanks to the array of speakers and presentation sessions.
“It was great to see so many other successful New Zealand companies that have embarked on their journey to the US, which speaks well to the potential of our country's technology export capabilities," he says.
NZICT will put together a year long programme for an America’s Cup 2013 showcase to expose and familiarise high-growth software and technology companies with the opportunities in San Francisco.
Over 70 tech companies are interested in participating in hosting and entertaining activities around the regattas, and in another trade mission to Silicon Valley in August 2013.
NZICT welcomes contact from any interested parties which would like to be included in planning meetings and exciting events next year.