By Peter Kerr 11/11/2015

If you don’t love your idea, don’t do it.

As well as this point, tech entrepreneur Nick Gerritsen, speaking at Supercharge, a recent startup event that attracted 150+ in Wellington, said that it is possible to smash it big from Aotearoa.

Not that it is easy to do it from here, or from anywhere – given that well over 90% of startups don’t manage to carry on as operating companies (though that’s not failure).

Gerritsen, who has founded and grown a number of ventures such as Carbonscape (charcoal and very valuable components through microwaving) and Nxtfuels (algae-derived renewable hydrocarbons).


Here’s 10 key points he made, along with celebrating the fact of being a Kiwi.

1. Quality

  • Quality of your proposal
    • How does it stand out?
    • Why is it unique?
    • Massive impact?
    • What’s it going to take?

2. Disruption

  • How disruptive can you be?
    • What stage are you at and does it matter?
    • Low hanging fruit?
    • How fast can you move?
    • Global?

3. Defence

  • What is your defensible position?
    • What is the IP?
    • Any big gorillas on your side?
    • Scale to market?
    • What is there to invest in?

4. The Plan

  • Compelling plan
    • How much and for what?
    • Own the use of fund?
    • Does the ‘ask’ match the ‘potential’?
    • Capitalisation trajectory
    • Build the capability picture
    • (The way to build credibility is by having capable people in your team)

5. Capital

  • The right flavour of capital?
    • Venture (vulture)?
    • Strategic
    • Can you get there with partnerships?
    • Sample the mix
    • (There is an opportunity for NZ at the moment; multinationals are under pressure. They know they have to change…and are talking to cool early stage companies, even if they are from NZ)

6. You

  • How authentic are you?
    • Is it about the $ or real change
    • Use the Kiwi humility card
    • Earn respect
    • Under promise and over deliver

7. Pitch

  • Remember that most over-sell
    • Understand the culture
    • Target your pitch
    • Research the portfolios (of people pitching to)
    • Ensure it makes sense
    • Be nice

8. Follow up

  • Commit to following up
    • Be part of the team
    • Reach out
    • Admit to problems and ask for help
    • Be there

9. Think smart

  • Continually look for tipping points
    • Don’t get too complacent/comfortable
    • Drive results
    • Remain open to opportunities (not locked into your plan)
    • Trash the founder syndrome (to be successful, you’ll have to build a team)
    • Deliver, deliver, deliver

10. Share

  • Always leave something on the table
    • Everyone has to win
    • Bad energy will always limit progress
    • Generosity pays
    • Achieve liquidity for ALL
    • Get ready for the next one/build a following