NZTech Board Nominations required by 14 June 2017

Board Nominations

Nominations for the NZTech Board close 5pm next Wednesday 14 June.

We encourage you to send in your nominations for a role on the NZTech Board.

This year there are vacancies for the following positions:

  • Major Corporate (3 positions)
  • Corporate – Other (2 positions)
  • Business (1 position)
  • Government/Education (1 position)

It is important to note that while the board candidate must be a from an NZTech member organisation, they do not need to be from the same membership tier that they wish to represent on the Board, provided that they are nominated by at least one Member of that tier. The details of what’s required and who is entitled to be elected are set out on the attached form.

If you wish to nominate someone for a position on the Board, the nomination must be forwarded to Chantal Thomas by 5pm Wednesday 14 June 2017.

Notices and Remits
If you wish to propose any notices or motions to be considered at the AGM, please send them to Chantal Thomas by 5pm Thursday 29 June 2017.

Electronic voting and Other Key Dates
The voting will take place electronically in advance of the meeting and the results will be announced at the AGM

Please see the current constitution for an outline of Board Membership and election processes.

The NZTech AGM is scheduled for the 20 July 2017 and is to be held in Auckland. We will be holding the formal AGM presentation from 4pm, followed by refreshments and given it is election year we are working on getting a panel discussion from the various political parties to discuss their thoughts on tech.

Key dates related to the AGM are as follows:

  • Now: Call for Nominations for Board representatives issued to Members
  • 14 June: Deadline for nominations to be received by NZTech for Board representatives
  • 21 June: List of Board nominees to be issued to Members and electronic voting commences
  • 29 June: Any proposed notices, motions or remits to be advised to NZTech
  • 7 July: Electronic voting closes
  • 13 July: Members to have confirmed attendance at the AGM
  • 19 July: Any proxies for the AGM received by NZTech
  • 20 July: AGM event in Auckland, results of electronic voting announced.

Nomination Form

Entries Open 2017 NZ Innovation Awards!

 

 

 

 

From the humble paperclip, to building rockets, to feeding hungry kids, to cola with a conscience. Kiwis have innovation in their bones and we want to recognise and celebrate innovation. Tell us about your product, service, process or business. You could be a one-man band, a company of few or a large corporate – we just want to hear from you!

You smart kiwis have innovation in your bones and it’s time to recognise and celebrate you!

NZ INNOVATION AWARDS 2017 IS NOW OPEN FOR ENTRIES

 

2017 Tech Skills Demand Survey

The 2017 Tech Skills Demand Survey is now live and our members have been invited to take part.  Created by the New Zealand Digital Skills Forum, this survey will determine exactly what skills are required by the industry for tomorrow.

Survey answers will provide the tech sector and Government with the first real picture of the state of skills in our sector and help us forecast in demand skills.  The survey results will also help inform education and immigration policy, plus the development of public and private sector initiatives to support future growth.
The survey only takes 15 minutes to complete, answers will be kept anonymous and all participants will receive a copy of the survey results.

Thank you from NZTech in anticipation of your involvement and spreading the word for this landmark survey.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TechSkillsSurvey2017

Digital Wedding Planner Wins Startup Weekend Christchurch

 

Startup Weekend is a format of super intensive business accelerators held around the world in which entrepreneurs are required to conceptualise, test, and build the foundations of a new business in just 54 hours. This weekend was the fifth in Christchurch.

Binder was awarded first place this evening, coming out on top of 12 other startup teams.  The app helps brides and grooms-to-be plan their weddings with all the service of a human wedding planner and the convenience of a smartphone.  The team has won a month of free co-working space at The Ministry of Awesome on top of the experience of forming a business over a weekend.

Binder co-founder Fionna Fraser says she’s stunned by the win. “I wasn’t even going to pitch the idea on Friday night, and wouldn’t of if it wasn’t for my amazing work colleagues who forced me into it. I’ve learnt so much in such a short amount of time. I can’t believe my idea actually lasted the whole way through. There was amazing support, amazing mentors and it’s definitely something I’d recommend doing.” The startup hopes to capitalise on the lucrative wedding market and help take the stress out of planning the big day. Last year there were 20,235 weddings in New Zealand and the average cost of a wedding here is $35,000, meaning the annual spend domestically is around $700m every year.

Following Binder as runners-up was Buzz Keeper, who pitched an anti-theft alarm system for beekeepers, and in third place was Freeze My Glass Off with its wireless car defrosting and heating system idea.

15-year-old Ollie Brakenridge from Christ’s College pitched his business idea called GapFinder, which is an online platform to allow greater public engagement with local councils through social media. “I came in just thinking ‘this could be interesting’ and I’m so surprised as to how much further we’ve progressed from a very simple idea on Friday night to where we are now. The highlight of the weekend was definitely in those last hours when it was all coming together. It’s pretty hard not to feel that overwhelming sense of pride in that you’ve helped create something so awesome.”

Organiser Geoff Brash says the calibre of this year’s contestants is the best he’s seen in Christchurch. “Half a decade of Startup Weekends here and the ideas and execution of the teams always astounds me,” he says. “It’s an incredibly exciting time for the Christchurch startup ecosystem. Innovation is at an all time high and we have widespread proof of that here this weekend. Some of these people will lead the economic growth in the city in coming years with smart uses of technology which makes lives better around the world.”

Successful New Zealand companies such as financial education software Banqer and edible insect supplier Anteater were founded during Startup Weekends domestically, as well as multi-million dollar automation software Zapier internationally.

Silicon Valley-based Olivia Borsje attended this year’s Startup Weekend Christchurch. Her background in tech startups includes almost two years in Dropbox’s marketing team.

“The weekend had all the highest highs, lowest lows, and lots of caffeine typical of startup life all condensed into a weekend!

“I really enjoyed working with people with different perspectives and backgrounds. It helped challenge some of my automatisms and taught me to work differently.”

Startup Weekend is run entirely by volunteers and is open to developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts to come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and ultimately launch startups.

More information can be found at:

christchurch.up.co

ENDS
For further information, comment, or interviews, please contact Alex Procter directly on +64 27 4245 493 or at acoprocter@gmail.com. High resolution photos are available here.

2017 Hi-Tech Awards winners announced

Record number attend gala dinner

Highlights:

  • Pushpay named PwC Hi-Tech Company of the Year
  • Frances Valintine inducted into the NZ Hi-Tech Hall of Fame
  • RedShield Security takes out two awards
  • Record number of entries
  • 910 attendees at record-breaking gala dinner

Pushpay was the big winner at the 2017 Hi-Tech Awards gala dinner in Auckland tonight, claiming the PwC Hi-Tech Company of the Year category and the IBM Innovative Company Award. A record breaking 900 people attended the awards dinner, held to celebrate the successes of New Zealand hi-tech companies across 13 categories and to recognise the 2017 Flying Kiwi, Frances Valintine.

In selecting Pushpay as the PwC Hi-Tech Company of the Year, the international judges said, “Pushpay was first to recognise a worldwide unserved market need: credit and collections help for churches and charities. They have combined hi-tech with an innovative business model and quickly gained impressive traction both locally and in America; as a result they are now in a strong position to dominate those markets even as they diversify their product line towards more conventional commercial customers. Pushpay is solidly profitable and a truly great example of nimble, fast-moving Kiwi innovation.”

Another big winner tonight was RedShield Security, garnering two awards – the Duncan Cotterill Innovative Software Product Award and the Kiwibank Innovative Services Award.

The judges remarked, “We were impressed with RedShield’s proprietary, patent-pending technology. RedShield uses a clever combination of security shields and consulting services to protect and mask clients’ security vulnerabilities and extend the life of their complex, high-value web applications. This approach allows fast, secure deployment, whilst the underlying security flaws in clients’ core applications can be addressed over time. RedShield’s IP is a complex set of algorithms and processes, which scan and shield web-apps to address both technical and business logic vulnerabilities.”

The Hi-Tech Awards judges, said the calibre of this year’s entrants was at all-time high, making the job of selecting winners exceedingly challenging for the more than 50 local and international judges who assessed entrants across the 13 award categories.

Tonight also marked the unveiling of the 2017 Flying Kiwi, Frances Valintine, founder and Chair of the MindLab by Unitec and recent founder of the Tech Futures Lab.

New Zealand Hi-Tech Trust chair Wayne Norrie said it’s great to be able to recognise the achievements of Frances on such a momentous night.

“Frances has achieved so much and is truly an inspiring and passionate individual. She is changing the way people think about technology and the pivotal role that it plays in our lives, not only today, but critically, how important it is to our future as a country. Frances is just an awesome person and a true role model for us all. It’s great that her peers recognise the contribution that Frances is making to New Zealand. She is truly a worthy recipient of the prestigious Flying Kiwi award,” said Norrie.

The 2017 NZ Hi-Tech Award winners are:

2017 Flying Kiwi and inductee into the Tait Communications Hi-Tech Hall of Fame
Frances Valintine

Xero Hi-Tech Young Achiever Award
Winner: Aliesha Staples
Highly commended: Kendall Flutey

Qual IT Best Hi-Tech Solution for the Public Sector Award
Winner: Orion Health & HealthOne

IBM Innovative Company of the year Award
Winner: Pushpay

ATEED Best Hi-Tech Solution for the Creative Sector Award
Winner: Shotover Camera Systems

Callaghan Innovation Hi-Tech Maori Innovation Award
Winner: Biolytix

Duncan Cotterill Most Innovative Hi-Tech Software Product Award
Winner: RedShield Security

Endace Most Innovative Hi-Tech Hardware Product Award
Winner: Adherium

Kiwibank Most Innovative Hi-Tech Services Award
Winner: RedShield Security Highly commended: Navilluso Medical

NZTE Best Hi-Tech Solution for the Agritech Sector Award
Winner: Compac

Quick Circuit Most Innovative Hi-Tech Mobile Award
Winner: oDocs EyeCare

New Zealand Venture Investment Fund Hi-Tech Start-up Company of the Year
Winner: Latipay

Coretex Hi-Tech Emerging Company of the Year
Winner: Timely

PwC NZ Hi-Tech Company of the Year Award
Winner: Pushpay

The NZ Hi-Tech Awards
Now in its 23rd year, the New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards celebrate the success of our producers of goods and services from the software, electronics, telecommunications, mobile, agritech, creative and other hi-tech industries. The Awards are run by the NZ Hi-Tech Trust, a not-for-profit organisation that supports and promotes the wider industry. The board is made up of ten trustees: Bennett Medary, Vaughan Rowsell and Erin Wanbrough in Auckland, chair Wayne Norrie, John Fokerd, Kirsty Godfrey-Billy and Jennifer Rutherford in Wellington and South Island-based Owen Scott, Helen Shorthouse and Ian Taylor.

Could Christchurch become New Zealand’s Silicon Valley?

With Christchurch’s first Techweek over and done, Jonathan Cotton takes a moment to look back and ask the question seemingly on every tech-conscious Cantabrian’s lips: Could Christchurch become the centre of New Zealand’s burgeoning tech boom?

‘The Next Silicon Valley’ seems to be a term that describes everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

The next Silicon Valley is in Seattle, right? Or was it Austin, Texas? Somewhere in India? The North Shore? Contenders for the title are myriad and we’ve heard it all before – is there a city in the world that doesn’t want to be the centre of the new digital economy?

But you know what they say: You have to break a few eggs … and following the devastation of the 2010/2011 Christchurch earthquakes, many people started thinking about just how to make the most of Christchurch’s scrambled ground zero.

Cue the creation of an innovation precinct in downtown Christchurch. Part of the city’s 2012 blueprint, supported by the Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) and covering three city blocks, the hub focuses on tech-based companies, from startups to established global organisations. Majors already occupying space include Vodafone, Wynyard Group and Kathmandu.

For (currently) smaller companies looking to make it big, the GreenHouse is one of the co-working spaces on offer, already housing several burgeoning startups – including Property Plot, Debtor Daddy and the great hope of financial education, Banqer.

BANQER CEO KENDALL FLUTEY

Banqer, a simulated online banking platform for classrooms provides a hands-on environment for young people to “get curious, creative, and ultimately, confident” with money. They’ve been winning awards everywhere and are currently expanding into Australia. And they’ve managed it all from the Garden City. Perhaps even more surprising, that’s by design rather than accident.

“We did a big search of New Zealand before we made a move,” says Banqer CEO and relentless achiever Kendall Flutey. “I’m a Cantabrian. I grew up here, so I knew the city. I was away for around eight years but moving back was like moving back to a new city. The quakes had happened of course, and this conservative little city had now become this exciting, risk-seeking place.”

“We had launched in Wellington and some of our team were starting to go full time. We needed office space, so we did a search of the country and we were just attracted to the GreenHouse.”

The GreenHouse is a collaborative hub in the central city focused on supporting and commercialising small business, specifically digital and ICT start-ups. “There’s a spectrum for these sorts of places,” says Flutey. “They’re either completely hands-off, or they’re incubator style. The Greenhouse is great for us because you get a lot of support from the Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) without the equity investment.”

CDC (PHOTO: CHRIS WILLIAMS)

The purpose of the CDC (the oldest agency of its kind in the country) is to identify sectors in Christchurch with high growth potential and to support businesses in those sectors. And, so far, it’s working.

“The tech scene here is really connected,” says Sheralee MacDonald, client manager at The Agency. “We’re talking about world-class businesses here, businesses that are renowned in their niche tech sectors. There’s a lot of collaboration going on. We’re not doing things in isolation.”

“These are clever people getting on and doing their thing, and there are so many companies here doing astounding things. It’s just that no-one here has heard of them. That’s what Techweek has been about for us – getting those names out there. The unique thing about Christchurch is that there’s a definite vision that’s evolving”.

That vision is producing interesting results. Case in point, the ’gamified’ crossing technology that’s been popping up all over the city.

SmartCross is a New Zealand-born technology that combines traffic signal technology with gaming concepts to produce ‘while-you-wait’ diversions at central road crossings.

In essence, SmartCross promotes road safety via an interactive touchscreen device that allows pedestrians to play Pong with each other while they wait to cross the street. The game is linked to the red pedestrian signal which means the game finishes when the signal turns green. The platform also offer a unique method of advertising for business as well as an opportunity traffic-based notifications.

Similarly, the oversized 1980’s arcade-style game Attack of the Cones, which appeared at a Tuam Street crossing in December last year, hints at the creative possibilities open to a city rebuilding itself, and deciding what that rebuild is going to look like.

Produced by creative urban regeneration initiative Gap Filler, the project, the first of its kind in the world, boasts an oversized joystick, giant buttons and 5 metre-wide screen mounted on the Vodafone Building. The game requires two to three people to operate, forcing pedestrians to make friends with other Cantabrians while they go about their day. (High scores here).

And while diversions such as the above may seem trite for a city building itself in the wake of disaster, the Christchurch tech sector has the numbers to back up its claims as New Zealand’s most exciting innovation hotspot. The tech sector currently contributes $2.4 billion to the city’s gross domestic product annually and employs almost 15,000 people.

While it’s not without its own heavy-hitters (including e-commerce solutions heavyweight SLI Systems) the big names can usually still be found in Auckland, increasing numbers of remotely-based companies are starting to make their mark in New Zealand and on the world stage.

“Christchurch is beginning to attract attention as a place where you can really do great business,” says MacDonald. “We’ve got a lot of very, very good companies doing amazing things here and overseas, and it’s not just about the opportunities available to CEOs. The people in these companies are finding themselves in really good positions. The people who have come up through these companies – the initial dev people for instance – some of them are now heading up really big teams, here and internationally.”

Employers in Christchurch report that the region is becoming more attractive for staff weary of the economic burdens of other areas. “Christchurch has got it all for us,” says Gwyn Edwards, CTO of game development studio CerebralFix.

Having worked with some of the biggest names in the gaming industry (including The Walt Disney Company and DreamWorks) and with roots firmly in the mobile and casual gaming markets, CerebralFix forms part of a rapidly-growing game development scene in Christchurch including Digital Confectioners, who also occupy a space at EPIC (Enterprise Precinct and Innovation Campus).

“It’s got talented people, a good work/lifestyle balance and an unbeatable cost of living,” Edwards says. “It’s about affordability. We’re a smallish company and were we paying Auckland wages we simply wouldn’t be sustainable. If we were in Auckland the salaries would be probably 50% higher and our staff still wouldn’t have the opportunities they have here in Christchurch.”

With soaring house prices in Auckland and an unenviable cost of living, Christchurch is increasingly attracting both employers and staff who want to achieve great things and not go bankrupt doing it. “It’s really useful to be able pay wages that allow staff to actually buy houses,” says Sam Evans, director at Digital Confectioners. “Especially when you compare here to Auckland, where that’s just not possible. Sure, there is a positive network effect of being in a larger city, you have a bigger talent pool to pull from, but I have no temptation to move there just because of that. Your staff being able to buy houses, that’s important, and now that we’re growing a bit factors like that are becoming more and more important to us.”

So does Christchurch offer the big city experience comparable to the big city, without the big city price tag?

“If you’re used to living in a small centre it’s great,” says MacDonald. “There is a real convenience to Christchurch and that’s attracting people to the area.”

“You see out the tech people out on the mountain bike tracks every weekend. It’s easy to live here, it’s easy to find a park and when you do it’s only $10 a day. The cost of living is better and you’re able to buy a house. I’ve heard companies say there’s so much interest from dev people outside of Christchurch wanting to buy a house and not being able to do that anywhere else.”

“Oh, it’s all about lifestyle,’ says Edwards. “For me personally, I fish, I mountainbike, roadbike, ski, and all these things are on my doorstep. Christchurch has a big city feel – there are decent restaurants, things to do, and there’s plenty to make you want to stay here.”

And these days the commute to those things – whether it’s Auckland’s bar scene or your product’s target market – can be a perfectly acceptable time commitment. “I still spend a lot of time in Auckland,” says Flutey. “It is the heart of New Zealand corporate business after all. When we meet with our partners, launching new features, Auckland is usually a part of that. It has the economies of scale. But the great thing is Auckland is very accessible from Christchurch. And these days you can really conduct business anywhere.”

Edwards agrees. “You can 100 percent work from anywhere. For this business, it doesn’t matter where we are, we just need strong infrastructure – strong IT pipes – to get data into and out of the country easily. We’re a completely cloud-based organisation, so that’s important. We’ve even got an office in Westport and even there we’ve got decent upload and download speeds.”

When teams and founders move it’s often for the purpose of being close to their markets – If your customer base is in Auckland it might make a lot of sense to be there. “There are companies here that might set up an Auckland office or travel a couple of times a week,” says MacDonald, “but for a lot of the businesses we work with, Christchurch isn’t the market they’re targeting. And neither is Auckland.”

In fact many of the companies occupying Biz Dojo, the GreenHouse and EPIC in the innovation hub have their sights set firmly on the international market.

“Most of these started off here and the founders live here and can quite easily do the job from here,” says MacDonald. Modlar is a good example. The platform connecting architects and building product manufacturers and with a network of over 179,000 architects, designers and construction professionals was founded in Christchurch and most of their product and development them are still here.

“The manufacturing is not New Zealand-based however and the sales and marketing team are in the States,” he says. “They didn’t need go to the international market via Auckland.”

The elephant in the room of course is that Christchurch lies on some very active fault lines. But for these entrepreneurs, the quakes are more about resilience and opportunity than of disruption or loss.

“We were hit hard in the quakes but we still consider ourselves very lucky,” says Evans. “When the quake hit, our office was in the red-zone but we managed to save our equipment. We effectively got a short period where we could get into the office and get our computers out and we just worked from [partner] James’s [Tan, director at Digital Confectioners] living room for the next couple of months. And here we are.”

“There are so many stories like that,” says MacDonald. “Stories of our people being able to say ‘no problem’ and work out of garages and living rooms and just getting on and making it happen. I think in part that’s thanks to Christchurch having such a cool, connected community in the tech sector and that’s only become more so after the quake.”


| Guest writer | |

From Start-up to Scale-up // Masterclass

It’s easy to start up a start-up…but what about when it’s time to scale-up?

Once you’ve validated your idea fits a market need, you need new skills, a bigger team and a different culture. You have to change your mindset! Hear from Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, Bill Reichert, on how to make the transition from being a “start-up” to being a “scale-up.”

In this three hour interactive Masterclass, Bill will take you through the steps required to make the transition from being a “start-up” to being a “scale-up.” You will walk away with tangible and effective steps and skills to grow your current or future idea.

Friday 19 May, 9am to 12pm at the Awesome Lounge @ Epic

More about Bill

Bill Reichert, Managing Director at Garage Technology Venture, has over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur and operating executive. Since co-founding Garage in 1998, Bill has focused on early-stage information technology and materials science companies. He has been a board director or board observer at CaseStack, WhiteHat Security, ClearFuels Technology, Simply Hired, MiaSole, D.light Design, ThermoCeramix, and VisaNow, among others. Prior to Garage, Bill was a co-founder or senior executive in several venture-backed technology startups, including Trademark Software, The Learning Company, and Academic Systems.

Bill earned a B.A. at Harvard College and an M.B.A. from Stanford University. He was a founding board member and a Chairman of the Churchill Club, and a Board Member of the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs. Currently he is the Chairman of the Small Fund Roundtable of the VC Taskforce and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

This event is brought to you by Ministry of Awesome in collaboration with Canterbury Development Corporation and The Project.

Register

Christchurch Marketing Firm Wins Global Marketing Award

Congratulations to Canterbury Tech members, Concentrate, for their HubSpot Impact Award which recognises excellence in digital marketing amongst HubSpot’s 3,400 member community worldwide. The award was for its work with Christchurch-based electronics exporter AuCom Electronics.

“Digital marketing is so important for New Zealand’s technology exporters as it enables them to compete more effectively anywhere in the world,” says Concentrate’s managing director Owen Scott.

“Most discussion about digital marketing focuses on consumer marketing, the real opportunity for Kiwi exporters is using online channels to sell to other businesses, which slashes their cost of sale and vastly increases their reach.”

“Kiwi firms’ technological innovation has never been questioned, but our ability to sell into large and competitive markets has always been constrained by our size and distance – digital marketing is changing that.”

“AuCom is a world class technology company, our goal has been to support them to become world class marketers as well, which this award goes towards recognising.”

The HubSpot Impact Award recognises certified partners of the company worldwide who use HubSpot software to improve the online marketing of their clients.

“Concentrate has set an example for how businesses everywhere should be transforming their marketing.

“Their strategic approach to attracting, engaging, and delighting customers has not only built valuable relationships with their audience, but has driven growth for their agency.

Our team here at HubSpot is proud to call Concentrate a Partner and recognise them with this award,” says David McNeil, VP Global Partner Program and Strategy at HubSpot, Inc.

Mr Scott said Concentrate had worked with AuCom for several years, and helped them develop their digital marketing strategy, especially in relation to their low voltage product range.

During 2016 AuCom increased their website traffic by 32% and received 20% more sales leads with over 700 new sales opportunities created.

“Selling electronic products into over 40 countries through a complex channel is a huge challenge. Concentrate understand this and bring us real insights into sharpening our strategy and using online technology to connect with our whole supply chain,” says Brent Archer, CEO, AuCom Electronics.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE SIMILAR RESULTS FOR YOUR TECH COMPANY? CLICK HERE TO GET IN CONTACT WITH ONE OF THE CONCENTRATE TEAM TO DISCUSS HOW INBOUND MARKETING CAN HELP YOUR COMPANY GROW.

Have Your Say: Proposed changes to immigration policy settings: Suite of proposed changes to the Essential Skills visa

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is consulting on proposed changes to temporary work visa settings, through the Essential Skills visa policy. The changes aim to ensure that settlement expectations are clear for temporary labour migrants and that the settings enable access to migrant labour where there is genuine need.

We are consulting on the following proposals:

  • Using wage or salary information to help determine the skill level and visa conditions of Essential Skills migrants.
  • Reinforcing the temporary nature of the visa and managing the settlement expectations of Essential Skills migrants where they have no pathway to residence.
  • Reinforcing that Essential Skills visas may only be granted for the period for which the employment is offered.

Submissions received from the discussion document will help MBIE develop final proposals for the Government’s consideration.

More information on the proposed changes can be found in the attached downloadable forms above.

Make your submission

What STEM talent shortage?

When Thor and Alan first met at the Canterbury Innovation Incubator in 2009, they had no idea they were soon to be co-founders in a tech venture that would disrupt the billion dollar English testing industry. Six years later, however, their common network in the Canterbury Tech cluster brought them back together again and – after some matchmaking (and funding) by powerHouse Ventures, – Fluent Scientific was born.

Immediately, they spotted a gaping hole in the English language testing industry. There are many products focused on English language testing for academic purposes but no proven product suited for the career market. This means that, with over 2 billion people in the world learning English by 2018, there is no way for recruiter to efficiently select candidates with competent English communication skills. Enter FluentIQ Test Center – the world’s first completely automated, cost efficient, and accurate English assessment product built especially for global job seekers and their recruitment and hiring professionals.

Many recruiters will get as many as 60% of their job applicants from applicants who are non-native English speakers. But very few of these applicants are ever seriously considered despite their impressive experience and skills. This results in vast amounts of global talent and experience wasted and Fluent aims to change this. As Jessica Lin, Fluent’s Chief Scientist, says “A name and an accent are part of a person’s unique identity, they don’t impact ability or performance. FluentIQ removes fear of communication barriers thereby promoting a more efficient and transparent selection process.” Since teaming up in 2015, the three founders have encountered their own share of twists and pivots. The first version of the test platform was packaged up as a diagnostic tool for international students entering NZ tertiary programmes. Despite encouraging early traction, it quickly became apparent that – unless students were “forced” to use the product, only the rare A+ student would bother. Then came that “Aha!” moment when – after a sleepless weekend in mid-December 2016 – Alan and the team put the whole diagnostic project on ice and refocused.

Their mission: deliver the best automated testing platform for English language communication and leave all the frills behind. That refocus has paid off well and FluentIQ Test Center went live in February 2017. Immediately came the industry early adopters who demonstrated that Fluent had found its sweet spot with global recruiters. Integrations with well known recruitment tools such as Job Adder – an innovator in the applicant tracking system (ATS) space are currently in the works. The integration with JobAdder means that 2,000 global recruiters will be able to seamlessly request that applicants supply FluentIQ Test Center scores. Hard to find technology talent and their recruiters are the initial customer focus for Fluent Scientific with the initial focus for traction is Australia and New Zealand and then on to the APAC region. In the meantime, you can find the Fluent team happily ensconced in their Central City premises in the Ministry of Awesome + building on Madras in the heart of the newly bustling innovation precinct. All three founders see Christchurch as their short, medium, and long term home. As Alan Cox, Fluent’s CEO, puts it: “There’s an amazing tech community here and Christchurch is becoming even more attractive to top quality global talent. I have every belief that Fluent can grow into a major global business with operations right here in Christchurch. That would be a dream come true for me.”

As a member of the Canterbury Tech community, we encourage you to trial FluentIQ Test Center as part of your essential recruitment tool kit. For a demo and some free test keys, get in touch with andy@fluentscientific.com and he’ll sort you out.