Are you an exporter or a global company? It’s a subtle but very important difference. NZ tech companies have been confused on this one for too long.
Brand NZ does little for the NZ technology enterprise, so trying to derive some advantage in our clean, green, pure image is a waste of time. If anything it reinforces distance, remoteness and high cost. That’s not to say those values don’t work for our dominant industries – like agriculture and vodka production.
Don’t get me wrong, there is lots to love about being a NZ company with a bunch of dedicated Kiwis powered by Kiwi values. But that doesn’t mean you need to feature it.
At the end of the day, what we export in tech doesn’t weigh nearly as much – often it’s lighter than air. And more than often, while the IP is generated in NZ, the product is normally made in all the usual places. We in effect export ideas to people who make things for us and then export them to our customers who in term export the final product to their customer. You get them idea, if we are all exporters, why make the point?
Al Munroe of Next Window hits this on the head:
"It’s important that New Zealand start-ups see themselves as global companies, because it may sound good to be a leading high-tech exporter [in New Zealand] but to the rest of the world it sounds pretty naff," he said.
Monro said being a New Zealand exporter gave potential customers and investors overseas the impression that their focus and scale was at a low level.
"I rail against the term export," he said.
Asked how New Zealand start-ups could escape being categorised as lowly exporters, he said they needed to be careful how they positioned themselves.
"If you position yourself as an emerging global company, it sends a completely different message."
Next Window is poised to become to of NZ’s tech giants. (And they are a supplier to Dell.)