From the beginning
In 2006 after a relatively successful career in the corporate world I co-founded a software company - a startup. Actually it turned out to be what is now commonly known as a Software as a Service (SaaS) startup - it’s just we were early.
The journey with Sonar6 was an asymptotic multi faceted growth experience and emotional roller coaster, learning about rejection, global scale requirements, HR as a business practice and everything in between on a super tight budget.
In 2012 we sold that business to a US Corporation (Cornerstone on Demand) and completed the entrepreneurial “full circle” - from idea to global exit from New Zealand.
I found the experience both addictive and extremely lonely at times. Being the founder CEO and going where you needed to go on a shoestring while making a tonne of mistakes (in hindsight) along the way.
Sam Morgan was Sonar6’s “Angel” investor. He saw promise in an idea and a founding team putting money behind that potential which most do not. In doing so he signed up for a front row seat on the adventure of becoming a global business.
His resultant one liner for our initial launch of Kiwi Landing Pad (KLP) still resonates:
For some time a number of Kiwi entrepreneurs had felt there was a need for more support of our fledgling industry. Between building our respective businesses and racing each other for the then single shower at Auckland Koru club we agreed that, having “been there and done that” we could add value to others following our lead and accelerate their progress.
I put my hand up to do the groundwork and we found others who agreed with the need/opportunity and, more importantly were keen to be tacitly involved in building something to make the journey less hard, less lonely, faster and theoretically lower risk - that something being Kiwi Landing Pad.
Sir Stephen Tindall, a passionate New Zealander and accomplished entrepreneur and active supporter of global business growth through his investment company K1W1
Sam Morgan, the brilliant “accidental entrepreneur” who turned a search for a heater on the print classifieds into the igniter for what would become trademe, New Zealand’s most significant startup exit to date sold to Fairfax in 2012 for $750 million
The Holdsworth Family who through their family owned investment firm Evander have backed some of New Zealand’s most successful companies leveraging their own success building an incredible IT services and integration powerhouse Datacom which turns over in excess of $1 billion annually
Phil McCaw who with his work colleagues financially backed Sam Morgan helping to create Trademe and using some of that wealth created to found New Zealand’s preeminent Venture Capital firm Movac
Peter Thiel, an American who take a strong liking to New Zealand as a personal destination for adventure and relaxation but also invested in it’s economy through Valar Ventures.
Craig Elliott, living out of the spotlight but with a raft of accomplishments as both a corporate executive for an early Apple Computer and as a multi exit Silicon Valley entrepreneur with a love of the South Island
With this group behind me with their financial and moral support we teamed up with the New Zealand government and created KLP - quickly without fuss and focussed on making the entrepreneurial journey out to the world and then specifically, Silicon Valley easier, more connected and hopefully faster in terms of leveraging some simple things provided at low or no cost through Kiwi Landing Pad.
The offer was simple - a physical place to land which was low cost and centred in the heart of the action for software in the world at the time.
Our best and brightest validated our offer very quickly with our first resident signup being Xero - New Zealand’s multi billion dollar success story taking on the big players around accounting for business globally. Also early to join was Magritek, a relatively unknown spinout from Victoria University co founded by Paul Callaghan - now known to most in our ecosystem as Sir Paul Callaghan, passionate advocate of New Zealand’s opportunity to play on the global stage for technology and innovation and reap the benefits for our economy and consequently our people. His advocacy was recognised with the government Agency responsible for driving this vision into reality bearing his name - Callaghan Innovation.
Where we are now
Fast forward today - 2019 and much as changed. We provided a place for our best and most ambitious to land in San Francisco but we also listened to their feedback and observed their behaviour both on aggregate and as individual companies and entrepreneurs - just as any good startup would observe it’s early customers interaction with their product or service.
From this we refined and built on the KLP proposition to ensure we were relevant and evolving as an organisation to deliver where it made sense.
In 2014 23 year old digital nomad Sian Simpson joined us as the manager of the San Francisco office. Her energy and thirst for learning provided us with the platform to transform the largely physical offering in San Francisco into a much wider reaching role of curating a truly global community of entrepreneurs and startups spanning many countries and markets around the world.
Today we provide Networks, Information and Access to a growing number of companies and individuals from school leavers unsure of their path to seasoned serial entrepreneurs looking for upskilling or inspiration for their next venture.
We’re a global network now with no single point of failure or straight line from New Zealand to San Francisco. We encourage our community to examine every aspect of their idea or business and the plans for it’s growth from all angles - where, how and when to expand.
All of this is provided with a core team of two - Sian and myself but with the support of many including our foundation sponsors mentioned previously and our corporate sponsors Air New Zealand, Bank of New Zealand and (representing NZ Inc.) New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.
The KLP vision remains as it was from day one with an overarching goal:
To have a meaningful sustainable impact on New Zealand’s entrepreneurial community and, in doing so, contribution to economic growth and export income.
That's our story so far but we are only nine years in. We’re proud of what we have achieved with the support of our sponsors and excited about the road ahead and being able to build further on our impact and goal.
We encourage you to join our community and engage with our content and programmes and hope that it provides you with some value in your evaluation of an idea or solving some key challenges preventing your business from going to the next stage.
Kiwi Landing Pad is a not for profit community, that focuses on supporting the best New Zealand Founders global growth aspirations. We've been around for ten years, with a twenty year vision to make a meaningful and sustainable contribution to the New Zealand entrepreneurial community and, in doing so, positively impacting economic growth, export income and the wellbeing of New Zealand.
Proudly supported by: The Bank of New Zealand, Air New Zealand, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, Sam Morgan, Stephen Tindall and the Holdsworth Family.