Check out this email that got a Stanford student a job at Foursquare, on Business Insider

(especially the explanatory footnotes )

This is definitely a US example, but the messages hold true for Summer of Tech candidates in NZ: show some passion, put yourself out there, be clear that you can fill a real need in a company.


Great article on TechCrunch for students AND employers, here

Interns and job-seekers

Take note: smart employers will be hiring on Attitude (and Aptitude)!  If you’re seeking a role in a startup or innovative company, know that punching above your weight, constantly seeking to learn & develop, and being a good fit with company culture are all EXTREMELY important!

“Eff experience. I want to know whether you can deliver. If you can, you’re golden. You’ll go a long way. If you can’t – you’re toast. Are you up for it?”

Startups (and other smart employers)

Are you constantly investing in your talent pipeline?

“Get out there and find them. Ask others for intros to their talented friends. Meet talented people and sell them the vision. Get them exited about what you’re doing. Be relentless.”

We meet a lot of smart employers who know that attitude, aptitude and potential are essential for growing an awesome team. 

Highly recommend the whole article, here.  May not be completely tranlsatable to the NZ market, but some excellent themes in there for the Summer of Tech community.


On 11 January 2011, successful Wellington tech entrepreneurs Melissa Clark-Reynolds and Dave Moskovitz shared wisdom and learning about how to execute a great idea, how to get it from the garage to the market, and what the key ingredients are to building a successful enterprise in Wellington, NZ.

(our notes from the talk are available here)

Here’s Part 2 of the session for your viewing pleasure:

Tech Entrepreneurship with Melissa Clark-Reynolds from SummerOfTech on Vimeo.


On 11 January 2011, successful Wellington tech entrepreneurs Melissa Clark-Reynolds and Dave Moskovitz shared wisdom and learning about how to execute a great idea, how to get it from the garage to the market, and what the key ingredients are to building a successful enterprise in Wellington, NZ.

(our notes from the talk are available here)

Here’s Part 1 of the session for your viewing pleasure:

Tech Entrepreneurship with Dave Moskovitz from SummerOfTech on Vimeo.


On Friday 3 December, Rowan Simpson explained why many of the things that you think you know about what it takes to start and grow a technology company are wrong, why most of the successful companies and entrepreneurs that you read about in the media can’t teach you much about your startup, and some of the counterintuitive lessons that you should be paying attention to as you try and get a new idea off the ground.

There’s this mythical startup model that involves a lone hero having a “eureka moment” in a shed. Next thing, they’re inundated with customers, the business grows, is sold to an investor for a gazillion $, and the inventor retires happily to the beach (with a boat & beemer parked nearby).  Time for some mythbusting:

Startup Lessons with Rowan Simpson from SummerOfTech on Vimeo.


Calling all growing IT companies, entrepreneurs and anyone curious about protecting the value of their ideas, product and business!

The fine folks at Baldwins are offering Summer of Tech participants a great opportunity to learn more about the ins and outs of IP, with a special focus on IT companies.  If you’re a startup (or even established business) curious about how Intellectual Property works, if you’ve been thinking of trademarking but didn’t know where to start, if you’re a Designer want to know how copyright & design registration can help you protect your creative output… read on!

“Intellectual Property in Information Technology Seminar” presented by Baldwins Intellectual Property

This presentation will share insights into the opportunities and risks associated with trade marks, trade secrets, registered designs, copyright, and patents as well as offer commercially practical tips to succeed and grow your IT business. Baldwins Intellectual Property has a number of professional advisors having IT-related qualifications and expertise in assisting local and global IT companies achieve and maintain their commercial advantage.

You will also be able to book a half hour private discussion after the seminar, to learn more about how YOU might be able to maximise the value of your IP – at no cost and at a time that suits you.

What: Baldwins “Intellectual Property in Information Technology” Seminar
When: 1pm-3pm, Tuesday 1 February
Where: Level 14, Baldwins Centre, 342 Lambton Quay
Rsvp: is compulsory, please sign up over here, before 28 January (space is limited!)


So… what does it take to start, run & grow a technology company in Wellington?

The Xero Summer Seminar Series had a relaxing start to 2011 with an evening event at a new venue, NZPost House.

We heard from 2 successful Wellington tech entrepreneurs, sharing wisdom and learning about how to execute a great idea, how to get it from the garage to the market, and what the key ingredients are to building a successful enterprise in Wellington, NZ.  Here’s what our first speaker, Dave Moskovitz from Webfund shared.  (Notes from Melissa’s talk are in part 2, over here)

Dave Moskovitz talked about starting a business in Wellington, and his advice to entrepreneurs is to Think Big, Start Small & Scale Fast!  There’s a great series of videos on Dave’s NZAngels blog, entitled “Advice for Entrepreneurs” if you’re after more of his great tips, too!

Here’s some of what he shared on Tuesday:

Wellington (and NZ) = Great place to start a business!
Dave rattled off an astounding number of GREAT reasons why Wellington (ok, and the rest of NZ, to be fair) is an awesome place to start a business, first up, the business Environment: including the ease of doing business (3rd in OECD), registering a company, protecting investments, access to capital, being in good company (is it true “Company Director” is the most common occupation declaration for NZers??)… and we’re one of the least corrupt places in the world, according to “Transparency International“.

We have a world class Talent pool, including a large number of skilled migrants, and fantastic education system.  The raw talent coming out of our computer science programmes is astounding (just look at our Summer of Tech interns, for starters!)  It’s a great place to have bright ideas, to test them, and to make the first steps of turning them into a successful business.

The business Community in Wellington is very active, with networks such as Summer of Tech of course, but also the Chamber, Grow Wellington, Unlimited Potential, Lean StartupWebstock, Ignite, Nerd Nite (not to mention all the user groups & virtual communities mentioned in our first Xero Seminar for 2010)

There is LOADS of Support available for Startups in Wellington. business incubators like Creative HQ and Webfund, Co-working spaces, the investment community, and TechNZ, to name a few…

Start with the end in mind
Think big!  And make sure you have an exit strategy from day 1.  Investors want to know what the end-game is, but it’s a valuable conversation to have with partners and collaborators, to make sure you’re on the same page.  The most common exit is a trade sale, so keep your eye on potential customers from the get-go.  The key to a trade sale is to build an asset that’s greater than the sum of its parts.  Your value might be in your product, in which case look for someone who would find it easier to buy you than reinvent you.  Your value might be in your customer base, so your acquirer might be interested in buying your database?

As a balance to his first topic (Wellington = Great place for Startups), Dave talked about growing a business and international scale.  There’s no getting away from the fact that NZ is a small market, conveniently located about 36 hours away from a big customer base.  Growing globally might entail a lot of time on aeroplanes, or offshore partners/offices.

People are your greatest asset
The team is the most important factor in a startup business. It takes a bunch of different talents & skills to execute a great idea, and the acceleration from idea to product to successful business is all about people.  Your first team does not have to be people who think like you.  In fact complementary skills are more important, and passion and infatuation about a new idea can cloud decision-making.  Make sure you do due diligence on your partners (in a tight community like Wellington, that’s easy).  Remembers that investors will back the jockey rather than the horse, so you & your team are crucial to ongoing success.

If you’re a technical founder, be aware that your venture might outgrow you.  Match your talents to the role (maybe you’d be best as a CTO rather than CEO?)  Beware “founderitis“!  One of the first skills to invest in for your startup is sales.  Find or train an outstanding sales team and your business will thrive.

HUGE thanks to Dave sharing his tips!  Check out what our 2nd speaker talked about over here.  More information about our speakers can be found here.

(You might also be interested in the writeup from Rowan Simpson’s Xero Summer Seminar focused on Startup Lessons, held back in December)

HUGE thank-yous to Xero for being our fantastic sponsor of the seminar series. And to Kiwibank for being our venue partner.

Thanks for making these events possible.


We heard from 2 successful Wellington tech entrepreneurs, sharing wisdom and learning about how to execute a great idea, how to get it from the garage to the market, and what the key ingredients are to building a successful enterprise in Wellington, NZ.  Our 2nd speaker was Melissa Clark-Reynolds from Minimonos.  (Notes from Dave’s talk are in part 1, over here)

Melissa Clark-Reynolds

It is my belief that the purpose of the start-up phase of every business is to work out if your brilliant idea has “legs” – in other words is there a market? Can you get to it? Is there a real problem you solve? Can you really solve it? Will customers pay to have you solve their problem? Can you make money along the way?

Melissa talked about 4 Startup Mistakes and distilled some valuable lessons from them!  Her “Diary of an Entrepreneur” blog post today has much more detail, so definitely check it out over here.

Here’s some quick highlights:

1. Pick the right business partners
It’s all about people!  Having the right team from the start is essential, and it doesn’t necessarily mean someone who’s just like you.  Make sure your co-founders, investors & employees share your values.  You need to have the tough conversations with co-founders about money, about vision, about values.

Minimonos has recently extended their Employee Share Scheme (Melissa talked about that in an earlier blog post) and keeping the right team means they share the company’s vision and are motivated to achieve it.

2. Make sure you have a (big) market
A great idea is not the same thing as a great business.  The judges of your business are your customers, and they vote with their wallets.  If people won’t pay for your product, you don’t have a market.  If you don’t have a market, you don’t have a business. There is no virtue in being ahead of your time, or first to market… at the end of the day, they key measure of a successful business is SALES.

3. Focus on the business (not just the technology)

When we fall in love with our product and not with our customers, we are in deep trouble.

There’s a lot of buzz about innovation and inventions and the “new” leading edge R&D.  Beware!  See point 2 above, if you’re ahead of your customer, you don’t have a business.

The F&P Smart Drive Washing Machine is a beautiful piece of engineering.  It has smart electronics and intelligent agitators and all sorts of fabulous technology.  However, if yours is broken, the only thing you want it to do is WASH YOUR CLOTHES.  If it’s not achieving that basic goal, the revolutionary nature of the direct drive motor doesn’t matter one bit.

Melissa talked about cranking money out of existing technology, being customer focused and creating a global business that uses technology as a tool to meet a customer need, rather than having the technology as the main focus & driver of the business.

It’s kind of ironic, however, that one of the top returns on Google is a website explaining how to turn your smart drive washing machine engine into a wind turbine generator.  Maybe that’s a better use for it, after all…

4. Know your competitors
If you’re going into competition with a big organisation, like the government for example… beware!  If your competitor has big resources, or sets the rules of the market, then your business will have a tough time.  Examples include health insurance and education.  This lesson can be expanded to other industries, the main thing is not to underestimate your competition!

HUGE thanks to Melissa for a great talk!   More information about our speakers can be found here.

(You might also be interested in the writeup from Rowan Simpson’s Xero Summer Seminar focused on Startup Lessons, held back in December)

HUGE thank-yous to Xero for being our fantastic sponsor of the seminar series. And to Kiwibank for being our venue partner.

Thanks for making these events possible.


Hope to see you at our Xero Summer Seminar on the evening of Tuesday 11th January! Please RSVP over here!

YOU are invited, yes, that means YOU! SoT2010 Interns, Mentors, Colleagues, members of the UP and wider Wellington Tech community!

We’d love to see you at our summer seminars, supporting & developing & connecting the top talent of Wellington and the top employers of Wellington. Here’s the details for our 11 January #xsss:

So… what does it take to start, run & grow a technology company in Wellington?

Following on from Rowan Simpson’s Startup Lessons, we’ll hear from 2 other successful Wellington tech entrepreneurs, sharing wisdom and learning about how to execute a great idea, how to get it from the garage to the market, and what the key ingredients are to building a successful enterprise in Wellington, NZ.

Melissa Clark-Reynolds is the founder of minimonos.com, a virtual world for children focused on growing good kids, not good consumers. In December minimonos had over 60,000 kids registered in its beta. Melissa has a string of entrepreneurial experiences (including being CEO of 2 other software companies and selling her first company to Southern Cross). She has raised capital for minimonos in Wellington, and loves living here.

Dave Moskovitz is an experienced entrepreneur turned angel investor, having co-founded one of Wellington’s early web development companies, and taken it from the garage to strategic trade sale. He’s part of the Webfund team, and leads the board of MusicHy.pe. Dave is a great communicator and collaborator who brings out the best in the teams he works with, as well as a dab hand at coding and general sysadmin geekery. He’s been a member of the Institute of Directors since 2002, and believes good governance is central to building strategic value.

When … 5.30-7.30pm (for a 6pm start), Tuesday 11 January 2011
Where …NZ Post House, 7 Waterloo Quay, Pipitea, Wellington (here’s a map)
Rsvp …is essential!! please do this over here on the groovy lil’ regie platform.
What …are you waiting for? inspiring & informative speakers! refreshments! awesome networking with the startup & business community!

HUGE thank-yous to Xero for being our fantastic sponsor of the seminar series. And to Kiwibank for being our venue partner.

Thanks for making these events possible.