Red Bull Basement Start up Speaker Series 5a
TECH TALK: The Red Bull Basement Startup Speaker Series panel enjoy a joke at the University of Waikato event.

What inspires you to do what you do, and wake up every day?

The question came from Wayver general manager Ezel Kokcu who was moderating the Red Bull Basement and Icehouse Ventures Startup Speaker Series at the University of Waikato on July 20.

I had been asked to sit on the panel as co-founder and director of software specialist Company-X. We do a lot of work with businesses in the digital start-up space and have invested in a $40 million fund administered by Hillfarrance Venture Capital to support early-stage technology companies.

One of the reasons I co-founded Company-X with my business partner Jeremy Hughes was the huge opportunity for building a better and brighter future in New Zealand.

The technology sector spans our entire economy. Whether you’re in agriculture, finance, health or some of other industry, so much of what you do is underpinned, enabled and delivered through technology.

This is also the reason I became a venture capitalist in that space, investing into early-stage technology companies. The tech sector is the second largest export for New Zealand, according to the Technology Investment Network TIN200 report. It accounts for $9.4 billion dollars of exports from the country’s top 200 tech companies and is a major contributor to our economy.

The fact we grow really cool businesses that generate trade surpluses through exporting is another reason I love the sector. It also makes life easier and fun for many people, enabling us to become a knowledge economy rather than just a process or manufacturing economy. It’s amazing in terms of the things that we can do and the value that people can create.

I pay a lot of attention to the companies that we invest in, and look at our own company through the eyes of American business magnate Warren Buffett. Buffett talks about three aspects that you need to be aware of in any business: the ABCs. The first one is arrogance, and that’s in relation to your business or your position in the market or your product. The second is bureaucracy, the implementation of systems or processes that actually aren’t efficient, or stifle decision making. The third one is complacency, and that’s where you make assumptions, you can just be doing so well that you don’t look at managing or maintaining costs in a business. The ABCs are really important aspects to always consider.

That’s why I got into it, and that’s why I wake up every day. How about you?

  • David Hallett is a co-founder and director of Hamilton software specialist Company-X.