The Opportunity

The opportunity is there for the taking. But in an election year, negative outlooks and doom-and-gloom predictions are a bit easier to push down the throats of the electorate.

Skill-biased technological change is happening all around the world, and it’s a global story not limited to San Francisco, New York or London. Just look at the explosion in households earning more than $100,000 per annum since the last census.

Thousands of little niche markets exist that have business needs that can be solved by someone with domain knowledge teaming up with people who have technical knowledge.

They don’t need a massive venture capital investment or time in an incubator. They just need to find a way to commercialise a solution to a problem without bleeding cash. It’s possible, it’s achievable and it’s amazing that more people aren’t thinking about these opportunities.

A key failure on the part of policymakers is thinking that these opportunities can be acted on by anyone. That, with the perfect mix of government subsidy and prodding, New Zealand can become a tech powerhouse.

It’s ridiculous. There’s already organic interest in the opportunities, there’s already a lot of Kiwis doing exceptional stuff in the “real startup” sphere as opposed to the “take grant money and bail” sphere.

The opportunity to build companies that have highly skilled workers who receive decent salaries is there for the taking. The level of startup capital required is lower than ever – a laptop and an AWS account are the new starting point.

It must be done, it can be done and it will be done. With or without the government trying to pick winners in the technology sector.

Government largesse isn’t the answer here – in fact, it puts the whole opportunity at grave risk because it stuffs up the market signals gained from entrepreneurial trial and error.

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