Distance makes the heart grow fonder
One interesting fact about New Zealanders is that the distance they are from New Zealand is directly proportional to their patriotism for their home country. I got to see that first hand at the launch party of the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco, in conjunction with Kea (formerly the Kiwi Expats Association), featuring the New Zealand Ambassador to the US, the Rt Hon Mike Moore.
Kiwi Landing Pad is a joint venture backed by leading entrepenuers from New Zealand and the US, as well as the New Zealand Government. The Landing Pad is a hub in SoMa, San Francisco, where technology companies from New Zealand can base themselves as they move to being exporting, global businesses. Xero is part of the initial wave of New Zealand companies taking up residence in the Landing Pad – it’s definitely a great vibe – it’s like a whole lot of New Zealand technology businesses taking on Silicon Valley from deep within the heart of San Francisco. It’s a great venture to be a part of, even if we hope to be so successful, so quickly that we’ll outgrow it!
Kea is New Zealand’s global network of expatriates and honorary citizens, connecting and networking together with the common goal of enabling New Zealanders to engage on a global scale. It is a fantastic organization, and one that has been very helpful to us as we’ve entered new markets. It really is amazing how many New Zealanders are out in the world doing incredible things and their willingness to share and embrace other Kiwis to help them to do the same. The Tall Poppy Syndrome that is very prevalent back home seems to dissipate as you cross oceans. For Kiwi businesses that are new to a particular market, Kea not only provides a little taste of home but also a tremendous network of contacts and connections.
As part of the launch event a few of the early residents of the Landing Pad, including Xero, did little introductions to their businesses (and hopefully made a few quick sales). And then the mic was handed over to Mike Moore, New Zealand Ambassador to the US. Mike Moore is a former Prime Minister of New Zealand and also a past Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). He spoke about the relationship with the US and how it has been developing over the last few years. It was actually very interesting to get an inside view on it all. He was also very excited about Landing Pad and the New Zealand companies that are taking on the US market. He was very eloquent in his view that the biggest risks we face at New Zealanders are to ourselves. The opportunities globally are huge for New Zealanders and it’s initiatives like the Kiwi Landing Pad and organizations like KEA that are out to make sure we take full advantage of them.