We’re always looking for new ways to support entrepreneurial kiwi start-ups, so as part of a ground-breaking programme run by Kiwi Landing Pad we sent four of them to Silicon Valley to spend a month in the innovation capital of the world.
Auckland based Pageproof, Weirdly, and Populate join Dunedin’s Cloud Cannon as the first cohort hand picked BNZ customers to receive our support which includes cash, business advisory support and free office space at Kiwi Landing Pad (KLP) during their time in market.
The start-ups are now back on home soil so we caught up with them to find out more about their KLP experience and the importance of tackling the beast that is the US market.
During her time in San Francisco Kirsti Grant, CEO and Founder of Populate quickly learnt that businesses need to tailor their products for the US market.
“Something that works here in NZ or Australia most likely won’t work in the US, so early on we made the decision to make sure that the product we were building catered to the complexities of a US business,” says Kirsti.
“We did some research from NZ over Skype but we really needed to be there on the ground, talking to as many people as we could and really getting our head around how they work and how that translates into requirements.”
Reflecting on her time with Kiwi Landing Pad, Kirsti believes the networking opportunities are invaluable.
“Sian and John are masters of making connections and the quality of connections is excellent. They know the lay of the land for sure… It’s a big deal to get an introduction into some people so you have to be prepared and clear about what you want to get out of the connection and remember it’s not all about you.”
Follow Kirsti on Twitter (@KirstiGrant) or Linkedin
The majority of Cloud Cannon’s customers are based in the US according to their CEO and Founder, Mike Neumegen, so they’re focussing all their energies on that scalable market.
“We want to make the best product possible for our customers…To do this we need to live, speak and breathe in their environment.
“A lot of entrepreneurs come to San Francisco and expect a heavy schedule of meetings in their week. You can actually do this but you need a good network, Kiwi Landing Pad gives you that network to get you started.”
Page Proof Founder, Gemma Hurst sees the US as their second largest market behind Australasia, but despite this there are countless opportunities.
“Keystone agencies and corporates are based in the US and we want them embracing PageProof to make their sign-off on a multitude of marketing material and content, simple. As it should be.”
Gemma speaks highly of the warm welcome businesses receive when they arrive at Kiwi Landing Pad, and her initial advice is to make friends.
“Make connections through those friends,” says Gemma.
“For Marcus and I, we met some key contacts in the US who we will be developing relationships with ongoing – for advice, intros and tidbits on conducting business in the US. What could be more valuable than that!”
Weirdly CEO and Founder, Dale Clareburt sees the US market as leading in the development of new HR technology.
“This provides an ideal channel partner for sales, as well as a mature market with an appetite for what Weirdly has to offer… It’s also easy to service from NZ as the time difference is fairly good, and a direct 12 hour flight to the west coast (San Francisco, LA).”
Having somewhere comfortable and familiar to ‘land’ when she arrived in San Francisco was a real bonus for Dale.
“It’s the little things that you need to know when you land in a new city like where to buy food, how to get around, where to get money, how much is too much, locations to avoid that can make a real difference. Especially when you’re a new start up without tons of cash. Every penny and minute of time counts.”