OPINION: New Zealand has a great recipe for supporting start-up ventures, but there are a couple of ingredients that will add more zing to the dish.

Recently we released the MYOB State of Aotearoa’s Start-ups report that examined how well our country does in supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs. The report provides insights from industry leaders, incubators and investors, as well as well as data from international surveys.

Together, the results suggest our country is above average in terms of the essentials for a successful start-up environment, but there is more work to be done.

MYOB has been working with New Zealand’s start-up community for more than two decades now. Our report asks whether we truly creating the right environment in which start-ups can thrive? Is the right training and support in place for budding entrepreneurs? Are there ready sources of sophisticated and risk-tolerant funding available to stimulate growth? And does the wider economy provide enough impetus for start-ups to grow and develop? Or are we as a country too traditional in our thinking, too conservative in investing and just too far away from the markets of the rest of the world?

According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2016, our country is second-best placed globally for managing ongoing compliance requirements, while the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2016 names New Zealand as the number one country to start a business in.

So, if you have the passion and drive to do something extraordinary – turning a small idea into a globally marketed product or service – then Aotearoa has the people, processes and environment to help you get there.

And we’re not just settling for “good enough”.

New Zealand is taking the next steps in supporting start-ups – with plans for better funding, improvements to tech infrastructure and a growing start-up ecosystem – but there’s still a long way for our country to go.

Of course, it’s difficult to measure the total economic contribution of start-ups to New Zealand – but the opportunities they provide in terms of diversification, employment and long-term global potential make them a vital part of our local economy.

carolyn luey
The MYOB start-up ecosystem report released February 2018.

In New Zealand, we’re fortunate enough to have no shortage of ideas – and entrepreneurial people with the potential to make them really successful.

However, we need to keep developing the conditions that nurture and develop the early-stage ventures coming through, and couple those start-ups with frameworks that can help turn a good idea into a great business.

Strengthening our start-up ecosystem

One of the key pieces missing from New Zealand’s start-up ecosystem is enough investors who are willing to take risks.

Our nation’s economy is smaller than the likes of the US or the UK, so our investors are slightly more risk-averse. We need a better understanding of the growth-cycle of our local businesses.

A smaller economy means we have a smaller pool of people and organisations to supply funding. But start-ups with big and bold ideas need investors who are prepared to back them, despite the risk.

There are other things we could do too, like building more co-working spaces to enable our local entrepreneurs to network with mentors and potential investors. Start-up ventures often require purpose-built creative environments to collaborate and share ideas, something that came through strongly in the report.

We’ve seen this all over the world, particularly in places like Silicon Valley. By putting creative people in a vibrant environment designed to support the way they work, there has been a rise in the number of creative exchanges – everyone’s learning is greatly accelerated by being in the same place.

And technology providers, such as MYOB, have a role to play in the growth of our start-up sector.

If today’s early-stage ventures want to conquer the world, we have a range of tools that can scale up with them. MYOB was a start-up once. We know what it means to grow and transform how you do business.

Ensuring New Zealand has a strong start-up ecosystem to support growing companies is hugely important for the future of our economy.

Let’s create an environment in which our start-ups can thrive.

For more insights on the state of Aotearoa’s start-ups, download the full MYOB report here.

Carolyn Luey is General Manager at MYOB New Zealand. This article is Part 1 of a five part series. See part 2.

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