UPDATE: This post from February 21, 2016, is being republished in the light of the announcement that Club Penguin is closing its doors in March. No amount of PR spin, arm waving, or equivocation can make the bitter truth of this post go away. I note that Lane Merrifeld and Accelerate Okanagan have been conspicuously silent. […]
British Columbia and New Zealand share many economic similarities, except that New Zealand has way more sheep, are way better at rugby and are better sailors. Both economies are focused on natural resource exploitation, tourism, wine, and horticulture. Both economies have similar populations though we have more space and are not isolated in the South Pacific. The motion picture industry has been a major factor in both economies, but both are highly vulnerable to foreign exchange fluctuations. Both economies have made efforts to diversify into high tech, pouring millions into development of startups. Both economies have had modestly successful companies in high tech, which have been bought out and moved out. The crucial difference may be New Zealand’s pragmatism about how to deal with this economic reality. British Columbia could learn from New Zealand.
It was with some amazement that I read of the stunning results achieved by Andy Hamilton and the Icehouse incubator in Auckland. I have had the good fortune to know and work with Andy, visiting the Icehouse as the Director of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise’s Silicon Valley incubator in Redwood City. Andy routinely asked me to stop by when I was in town to deliver a “tough love” talk to the resident companies. Andy’s results contrast sharply with the results being achieved in other incubators, particularly here in BC. Much is being written about an incubator glut, massive waste of government money, and most importantly poor quantitative results from incubator companies. For example, when asked how many companies they have helped succeed a local BC accelerator employee could only say: “You really have to define success. I mean for most of these guys our success is just about getting them to realize their ideas are bad.” Really?
When I first stumbled on the HBO television series Flight of the Conchords, I had no awareness of the developing cult status of the two Kiwi comedians/singers/songwriters, Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. I will say that the first episode was so exceptional that I nearly pee’d myself in hysterical laughter. I then immediately got on the Net and the phone to my mates at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise here and Down Under in New Zealand. My first question was who at NZTE had helped with development of the script for the show?