[Cross-posted at Your Wellington] In the second week of November, I attended two functions for Global Entrepreneurship Week. The ﬁrst was Wellington to the World 2009, where numerous local businesses, who had made it big worldwide, got a chance to talk about how they leveraged the internet. Solutions such as social media, virtual working and licensing were among the topics raised.
This year, Richard McManus of ReadWriteWeb was the keynote speaker. I had heard of ReadWriteWeb before but—and this is terrible for someone who went through the same thing with Lucire—thought it was foreign. Admittedly, I tune in to ReadWriteWeb when there’s a news headline that intrigues me, and sometimes, those are from one of its overseas bureaux.
It was a great wake-up call—that there are many world-class businesses right here in Wellington—and I enjoyed listening to Richard, who is going through many of the same phases as we had in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I remember the days when I had not met some of my team members in person, judging them by the quality of their work. It works quite well in the dot-com sphere. And for most of my 22 years in business, many people did not make the connection between our properties and New Zealand—including New Zealanders. (I still hear people think that my businesses have some foreign ownership or overseas partners, which is untrue.)
We need to change the mindset of New Zealanders, myself included, toward thinking the best comes from this country. And if you look around the country, Wellington is the most creative city. We have as much capability of creating world-class businesses as anyone else. In fact, the Kiwi can-do mentality suggests we have a greater capability of doing this.
This is one of the reasons behind the free wiﬁ that I would like to see implemented if I am elected as mayor in October 2010. It is about job creation, and it is about civic pride. Weta, Sidhe and ReadWriteWeb have already shown that it is possible—and I would love to see more entrepreneurs get the right breaks to make Wellington even more vibrant.