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New Zealand Start-Ups Have to Think Big

New Zealand Start-Ups Have to Think Big

July 28, 2011: The first one hundred days as SilverStripe’s CEO are over for 29-year-old kiwi Sam Minnée. It is time for the founder, and now leader, of the Wellington based software company to look back on the early days and check in to the future with his company.

“New Zealand start-ups still think small when it comes to new business ideas. Just because people live on an island in the Southern Hemisphere they often think that they can only affect that much. But that’s wrong. The World Wide Web turned the world into a global market and anybody can reach anything and anyone pretty easily”, says Minnée.

When Minnée founded the company in the year 2000, with his friends Tim Copeland and Sigurd Magnusson, Minnée was only 17-years-old. It was the time of the dot-com bubble, the perfect time to start something big. Although they had no capital, these graduates were armed with a good idea and motivation to follow it through. They had a couple of clients who needed a website, two computers and access to high speed Internet. The idea to build a cutting edge content management system to support websites was born.

Eleven years later and with 40 staff, offices in Wellington, Auckland and Melbourne, SilverStripe is building websites and web applications for clients like Air New Zealand, AA and Plunket. When SilverStripe was the website platform of choice for the US Democratic National Convention, that supported Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, SilverStripe was established as a key international player.

Minnée’s advice for people starting a business in New Zealand today is easy. “Think big. Don’t be afraid to get offshore customers from an early stage. Find a niche and get profitable early. You might find people to help you out with experience and advice, but venture capital is much more difficult to get in New Zealand than overseas if you are not yet profitable.”


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