Another article up on NBR online …
Great to connect with so many smart people and some old friends last night. It’s pretty cool to present at Haymarket. Last night the sky was clear and it was very hot. Such a great view of London.
The KEA events are a great way to connect with other New Zealanders.DOC huts in London?
Great post from Dave5.
I’ll raise that at the next Beachheads meeting.Â Excellent!Beating the streets in the UK
After a quick (4 days, 3 nights) in London, itâ€™s hard not to get excited about the UK. This is the 4th company Iâ€™ve pounded the streets for. I did my OE in the USA and only started coming up here 10-12 years ago. In the last 2 years I think I’ve been up 7 times. Each time you learn a bit more about how things work, your networks are better, youâ€™re better resourced and itâ€™s just easier.
For NZ software companies especially I really recommend the UK. The usual reasons are good cultural fit, that the New Zealand mafia is everywhere and always keen to help good companies, itâ€™s a massive market, yet itâ€™s very easy to get around.
More specifically there are some exciting things going on here. I had the morning with Microsoft out at TVP. There is a definite buzz around SaaS and this year seems to be a tech boom. Anecdotally they believe the UK is well ahead of other markets with SaaS adoption. That seems to be backed up with IDC recently upping industry forecasts.
Not my primary space these days, but as Iâ€™ve mentioned before I think a great opportunity for NZ software companies is Enterprise SaaS. It is red hot in the UK right now with multi million GBP funding happening at the concept level.
The carriers here are becoming sophisticated in the application space with big investments in their partner ecosystems. NZ could learn a whole lot here. The UK Telcoâ€™s seem to be the ones setting the pace with a lot of other carriers monitoring their programmes.
Just spending another few days in the UK fills you with opportunities and alters your perspective. I really recommend that other NZ companies get on a plane and make it happen. And there is plenty of help to tap you in. NZTE and especially the UK Beachheads team are very well placed to give you ideas, make introductions and validate strategy. For some reason the pipeline of NZ software companies is pretty thin. Where are you all?
Saw the new iPod Nano. Ridiculously, magically, small. The screen is amazing. BlackBerry 8800’s and Curve’s are the phone of choice on the trains. Other trinkets for the traveling man that caught my eye included the new StarWalker Blue, which is just about to be launched (apparently there is a Charlie Chapman collectorâ€™s model due soon). Also spotted the big boy sized Navitimer World for the first time and that’s making a case to leap onto my wrist.
Just landed at LAX for the ’sports’ leg of the journey.Seat gap + Cure
Am I getting bigger or are AirNZ winding the seats closer a centimetre each week?
They seem to have just crossed the line where you can’t open your laptop on your tray any more.
This is a major pain. Normally on the way home I bang out some email follow ups from meetings during the day, maybe write a blog post and just catch up. I can’t do that anymore so that 30 minutes dead time used for catch up now has to happen at home later on. Grrrrrrrr!
I’ve been doing the once a week to Auckland for probably 15 years or so now. I had a 7:30 this morning and found myself in Auckland the same night as the Cure. Sometimes you need to take the opportunity.
Vector Area was really convenient, thought it would be great if they stuck some egg crates or whatever around the walls to fix the sound.
The Cure was nostalgia night and good to see people of my vintage reliving their youth. When they said it would be 3 hours you knew it was going to be indulgent. They could have taken 60 minutes out of the middle and it would have be better.
We have kids now. We pay baby sitters. 2 hours is plenty.Vanuatu
Back from a quick break in Vanuatu. Since we can’t go to Fiji (as they kicked out our High Commissioner), Vanuatu was the next choice. 3 hours flying time from Auckland - a key criteria with kids under 4.
It sucks that there are few options out of Wellington. Flying through Auckland means a hotel overnight by the Airport to catch the 7am flight and 3 hours travel on the way back becomes 7+ hours. When you go on an overseas holiday with young kids you don’t visualize lying by the pool, you’re only thinking kid-fly-time. Public speaking in front of a couple of hundred people - no sweat. Flying with kids - stress for weeks before. Hopefully WIAL can work out some deals for a once a week flight to a few destinations. We’d certainly travel more if we could go direct out of Wellington. There are enough sun starved windsurfers that a couple of direct to Maui flights during winter would be booked out years in advance (I’m fantasizing now of course).
Vanuatu was good. I liked it better than Fiji. We stayed at Le Lagon which I wouldn’t rave about but was OK. We were in a non-refurbished room which was tired. Pools were good and we couldn’t keep the 3 year old out of them.
Port Vila is located in a great setting but still feels fairly third world. Taxi’s don’t have seat belts and the driving is fairly loose so you are a bit nervy with the kids. There is a French connection and the Au PÃ©chÃ© Mignon bakery provides a welcome respite from resort buffet serving probably the best pain au chocolat in the southern hemisphere. They have real coffee so you can ease your mojo withdrawal symptoms.
The currency is something like 75:1. You can’t get vatu until you get there, so when you use the ATM for the first time at Vanuatu airport you’re not sure if you’re getting out enough money for a pineapple juice or Toyota Corolla.
There is no mobile data network - GSM only. The hotels have internet access in the lobby (at hotel rates) which was enough for a couple of checks. So no BlackBerry (which my wife loved of course). On the plus side, with no mobile data, my phone battery lasted all week (maybe only I found that interesting).
So Vanuatu is a good substitute for that mid winter Fiji power break. Good temperature, relaxed and fairly easy to get to.Saffron and SnowPark
Just had first weekend away without the kids. Chasing the sleep in. Fantastic.
Won’t bore you with that but in the spirit of paying recommendations forward (most places I go are from tips on the web) I wanted to post about Saffron Restaurant in Arrowtown. It featured a year ago on Taste New Zealand and we made a mental note to check it out if we were ever in the area.
It was just superb. Great food, excellent service and even the owner/chef Peter poked his head out of the kitchen and had a chat. Definitely one of the best restaurant experiences I’ve had. Very, very recommended. Start with a drink at the Blue Door.
Another big highlight was Snow Park, the new ski and snowboard terrain park up high opposite Cardrona. SnowPark is an hour from Queenstown along the now sealed Crown Range road. Snow Park is a world class set up. It’s run by Sam Lee, John Lee’s son. These guys really have vision and I was super impressed by how they have developed something that is truly special.
From a John Lee interview with Unlimited …
Sam Lee, my 26-year-old son, runs the Snow Park â€” thatâ€™s his company. It is an all-terrain, mainly snowboarding park. Heâ€™s going to make that brand so good that no one will be offended coming on to do commercials because thereâ€™ll be no other brand there but Snow Park. Rip Curl and Billabong did commercials there last year plus several others.
Great facilities and great atmosphere. You can stay up there too. On Saturday there was a 1/4 pipe contest going on which we had a look at. The ramp was a good 20 foot. You could easily walk out and watch.
Part of the complex is Snow Farm, where international car makers have been testing snow tyres for years. There was a few car shipping containers down the bottom that I would have loved to have peeked into. The road is used for the Race to Sky in Easter so is a good drive.
I just love seeing people build world class businesses doing what they’re passionate about.
There is now a a direct Wellington to Queenstown return flight. 90 mins. Out Friday, back Sunday. Perfect.
I did a season in Queenstown when I finished uni - 20 years ago. Queenstown is New Zealands version of Noosa. Too pretty, too pricey, but great for quick break.
Looking forward to Web on the Piste.Wales Day 1
The purpose of Welsh Government funding the Technium Challenge is to promote inwards investment into Wales. I’m really impressed by the Welsh team who have lined up an excellent week of activities meeting a number of companies and people that can help Xero enter the UK.
Already I’ve learned a lot about the UK market.
We were based in a Corporate Box at Cardiff Arms park for a lot of today. I’d love to be here when there is a game on. I thought it would be bigger as it handles 72,000 people, but it is really intimate. You are very close to the action. It must be great when the crowd is going full noise with the roof closed. It’s right in the middle of Cardiff so can see how the atmosphere would be special for the big games. Xavier Rush is captain of the Cardiff Blues so they are big fans of New Zealand around the park.
One of the highlights of the day was visiting an Incubator that assists companies with market entry into Wales and the UK. The program is the @Wales Digital Media Initiative. This place was really slick. Funded by the Welsh Government it was very inexpensive for new companies and an excellent first facility.
It made me think how token our knowledge economy aspirations are in New Zealand. Wales has gone past the talking stage and investing significantly in new economy businesses. All countries in the world see the opportunity for the Knowledge Economy. We have to invest just for parity. There is no doubt we are going backwards which made me feel slightly ill.
What also interested me was the success in companies going through the incubator. More than half had successfully graduated and were on their way to the becoming significant businesses.
I think our lack of success is partly be due my Valley of Death point. To reach significant markets we need to be exporters.
But as they have continued success there is more experience to help out the young companies.
Drove down to Swansea where I’m based for the next few days. Weather is excellent and both Cardiff and Swansea look like great towns. The hour drive down was tough as the lack of sleep kept in.
Met one of the other finalists Eyeslices from South Africa who have a cracker CEO who has her marketing nailed. She’ll be tough to beat. I managed to get some of their product so looking forward to some eye soothing in a few minutes.
It was a packed first day. The people and way of networking in Wales is very similar to NZ and they are very passionate about their country. The Welsh have got mobilized and are transforming their country to be more service based. The next part of their plan is to attract higher value work and workers.
If you thought I was fired up about Broadband investment before - wait until I get back.Leg to Wales
Flight from Hong Kong delayed a couple of hours. The 2nd leg to London is a biggie but I definitely prefer this way to transiting in the US.
I tried to get some sleep as once off the plane I had a 2 hour drive to Wales.
The flight in across London was stunning. A right turn over the London Eye and we could see all of the London landmarks as we flew up the Thames.
Hertz was infuriating. First the car I ordered didn’t have a GPS (as ordered). Managed to get an A6 which only has text based GPS and that didn’t work properly so thru my toys out of the cot and ended up in a Mercedes R320CDI. That’s their 7 seater for soccer mom’s. An hour and 15 later I was out of there. There was a big queue and lot’s of irate customers. For all their computerization they still take 15 minutes to check people out. You would think that someone would be monitoring branch performance for time savings. If you came after just a few people your wait was an hour. These are tired travelers. Look out!
Even though Hertz Gold seems to charge retail plus 10% it is convenient when it all works and you can go right to your car. If only they gave you what you ordered.
At least the GPS was map based but really badly designed as it orients North up, rather than changing based on the direction you are going. So if you are heading south the map is upside down. Coming off a day of flying and lacking sleep that was tough. It’s hard to turn your head upside down when you’re driving. Even the big manufacturers don’t seem to do Interaction Design of the basics.
Ready to burn my clothes after 30 hours of travel I stopped off at Steve and Becky’s place near Hook for a cup of tea and power shower. I can report to everyone that remembers the Brooke’s that they are well.
I had to drive through the country back to the M4. The first time I stayed in the UK out of London was a few years ago. Driving through the country lanes is an experience - but a tease. England is quite flat and almost all the houses have had years to grow big hedges, so you can’t really see the country houses. You just get glimpses. It’s like driving through a maze.
Back on the M4 and the the first thing you notice is that on the motor-ways the average speed is 75mph with the fast lane anywhere from 80-95mph. At less than 3000rpm in the Merc diesel you gooble up the miles.
Checked into the hotel. Broadband didn’t work. Room change. But they did have a trouser press. Yay! Finally get to a proper bed, 52 hours since I got out of the last one.Hong Kong transit
Landed in Hong Kong. Decided to take the west route to the UK rather right thru LAX so I could feel a bit more like a person.
The Hong Kong flight leaves at 11:30pm. Would you believe last flight Wellington to Auckland on a Saturday is 7pm. Thank goodness for Dancing with the Stars. Great to watch with a crowd.
Finally the International Lounge now has free wifi. Thanks Air New Zealand.
Fortunately met up with a couple of Ernst & Young Partners heading to Hong Kong. The three of us being fathers with preschool children so were all excited about the uninterrupted hours catching up on movies. We were all talk, lasted one movie and slept. Leg one over painlessly.
The guy opposite me took his shirt off to sleep. He got up, walked around, went to the loo - all shirtless. It’s great to be relaxed but surely that’s taking it a bit far. Thank goodness he didn’t go completely natural. You wouldn’t want turbulence with all that going on.
After all the TV advertising I was disappointed that my brand new, seal unbroken, 125ml tube of Colgate Total counts as a liquid. Who would have thought the events of a few in New York would reach into almost everyones daily lives many years later. Confiscated after a small and futile protest. Wonder what happens to it?
Pouring with rain in Hong Kong. Couple of hours and we’re off again.New airport tax
Anyone noticed there is no free time in the car park at Wellington Airport anymore?
I think it used to be free for the first 15 minutes and now it’s $3 for the first 30 mins. As you aren’t allowed to pick up from the top deck, every car picking up passengers now gets charged $3.
Clever. Maybe it’s paying for the free wifi in Koru now.
The WIAL giveth, the WIAL taketh away.Wales bound
Some good news yesterday. Xero was selected to represent New Zealand at an event in Wales next month called the Technium Challenge.
The Welsh Development Agency put on the event to encourage inward investment.Â We’re quite aligned with this program as ours is a very regional strategy.
It’s good validation for us for the UK market.Â Release from the International Business Wales organisation below.
Haven’t been to Wales before, so that’s exciting.Vancouver, oh yeah
AirNZ is looking at going Direct to Vancouver. That would rock!
Having easy access to Canada may make a lot of sense for a North American entry strategy for many businesses. Getting to the UK should be easier, and of course - quick access to Whistler.
It is amazing how your perspective changes with a direct flight.If I was in charge
Drove out of Wellington twice in the last two nights.
There was a 20 minute delay at Mana, because the T2 lanes weren’t operating. 2 cars were parked.
It took 90 minutes to get up to Otaki, where there was a large southbound queue. How much money have they spent ? It’s no faster now than it was 10 years ago.
If I was the boss, this is what I’d do:
- Make Mana four lanes all of the time. No car parks. Scrap the T2. The residents must expect it. Twenty people hold up tens of thousands every day.
- Drag some dirt off the hill between Pukerua Bay and Paekakiriki, and dump it on the rocks to make that stretch of road 4 lanes. They could make some fantastic sections up there to help meet some costs. Create a big flat subdivision above the road. I hope its not resource consents that are holding that up. It’s not like its a great stretch of beach.
It just scares me that if we ever we had to leave Wellington in a hurry, you just couldn’t.What’s that over your shoulder?
DomPost ran a great photo today of Astronauts passing over NZ. (Also on SpareRoom)
Full res shot is here …
Stunning.Bad iron experience
I had 3 days, 2 nights in Auckland this week, mainly for NZTE Beachheads. But I was traumatised by a bad iron experience.
The Beachheads program does reimburse me for hotels but I feel guilty about spending to much money and selected 1 Hobson Street which was very cheap on Wotif. It was the first time I’d stayed there but my heart sank when I saw the Iron.
It was like a dolls house toy iron.
Try as I might I could not de-wrinkle my shirts. Even worse I thought I had - until I saw myself in a bathroom mirror mid morning and realized I looked like I’d slept in my clothes.
If Hotels did Interaction Design ….
Wellington Airport now has another innovation. First Wishbone and then Wifi and now a coffee cart in the Koru Lounge!
Wishbones are becoming the new Starbucks (but in a good way). Saved my life when baby #2 arrived.Thanks Sam
At the IceBreaker Airport store launch Sam Morgan asked Airport CEO Simon Draper why there was no public Wifi access in the terminal.
At that time, Simon’s only possible response was to shuffle his feet and say “Er, good point”‘.
So WIAL has launched a FREE wifi service. Just login with your email address and you’re in.
Thanks Sam, and thanks Simon. Good stuff.
Ok Sam. Your next target is AIAL’s Don Huse.Dunedin Wednesday?
Heading to Otago Wednesday for a session with an MBA class in the middle of the day. I’ve got a few spare hours to kill. Any tech business people down there that want to catch up for coffee?What does your customer do next?
This old chestnut. Sometimes it just stuns me how companies don’t look at what their customers do next to see if they can easily create value that would create a passionate user. Very often, when the suppliers workflow ends, the customers work flow keeps going.
Buying tickets online is a classic. The Qantas site is actually pretty good. They remember most of my details. That’s great. But as soon as passengers have booked their flight they then have to manually type all the details into their calendar. Why not provide a simple iCal link?
If the airline asked me for a simple feature that would create loyalty just watch what happens at expense claim time. I need to try and remember what flight was for what. What was personal, what was bizdev, what was on-chargeable. Wouldn’t it be great if you could enter in a reference that made its way to the eTicket. The trip would then always be tagged and easy to match up.
Interaction Design facilitates the discovery of these opportunities. Forget about the system, ask the users to explain what they do. You’ll easily uncover these gems.
It’s amazing how much is still broken. Just like Seth says.Hell froze over: Wifi in Air New Zealand Lounges
Caught a flight to Auckland yesterday. In the Wellington Koru lounge was an invite to grab a free userid and password for wifi access.
Could Air New Zealand have worked out that this is an expected feature of any world class lounge? Like power and water?
Even better, have they realized the goodwill it creates by providing this for free? I would have expected a carrier would have locked it up and made people pay $10 for the access that in reality would only be a quick 20 min email check. As providing this service would probably only cost a couple of 100 bucks a week, that would have been offensive but been better than no access
Flying home, more of the puzzle was revealed. They had a different instruction sheet in the Auckland lounge that directed the user to not use the Auckland International Airport Limited (AIAL) hotspot as that would not be free.
So I suspect there are big politics at work here. AIAL has disgracefully held up wifi in the airport for years. I assume because they thought there was some value they could rort out. I say disgraceful as the lack of wifi just stuns visitors from overseas who arrive from a 12 hour flight and can’t check their messages. Are we a knowledge economy or not. It’s disgraceful because of the millions of dollars in lost productivity forced on domestic travelers who can’t use the lounge downtime.
- Is free wifi here to stay in the lounges?
- Is it international as well? Auckland and LAX?
- Where is Telecom in all of this?
- What will AIAL do next?
Kudos to Air New Zealand. 3 years late but finally you’ve got it.