Dunedin is a lush landscape for growing tech-based businesses and startups ‑ constantly renewing itself, with new ideas emerging and support networks growing.
As the tech sector in Dunedin grows, so too do the opportunities for employment. Seasoned tech professionals and recent graduates alike are needed to join the city’s increasing number of niche tech firms, or fulfil rolls within larger organisations. Positions in high demand include:
Software developers / systems engineers / database administrators
An early roll out of gig-speed internet that has made it the most connected city in the Southern Hemisphere. This removes any sense that this beautiful city, quietly perched at the bottom of the world is at all isolated. In fact, being slightly removed is repeatedly listed as an advantage by those who have begun their international businesses in Dunedin.
This is an excellent place to establish a or scale up a tech business, especially given the access to both research and staffing resources of the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic, and the support of Startup Dunedin.
Ryan Baker, co-founder of Timely, an international booking system for salons and spas, with 11,000 customers and over 80 staff across the world, says, “If your plan is to build a global business from day one, and ours always was, it doesn’t matter where you are. In fact, being in a smaller place is an advantage because you have to think about accessing the world right from the start.”
Nurturing tech startups
Some established Dunedin startup founders, Ryan Baker included, have begun advising new entrepreneurs on the tech scene. Jesse Meek, for instance, who founded CodeLingo in 2016 after realising software code quality issues often held businesses back and devising a toolset to address the problem. Jesse says helpful connections are one of the bonuses to being based in Dunedin, and that business support mechanisms have really improved.
“CodeLingo began not long after I’d finished a project and met with Jason Leong (PocketSmith/The Distiller) to say, ‘what do I do next?’. He suggested going to see Startup Dunedin. I also touched base with the likes of Jacob Manning and Abbe Hyde from Winely – they were ‘firecracker’. They’d been through Startup Dunedin’s Upstart Business Incubator with another project.
“Other key introductions and advisors, plus the amazing pool of talent in Otago, have helped us hire and grow. There’s also Code Craft, a local group of people interested in software development who meet monthly. You look around the room and realise there are some real heavy hitters in the tech scene, nationally and internationally, based here in Dunedin.”
Winely is an early phase Dunedin startup, developing automated testing and wine analysis systems. Co-founder, Abbe Hyde, says, “In Dunedin… consultants, freelancers and entrepreneurs work alongside one another to make the magic happen. This is supported by a healthy level of startup enthusiasts who are initiators and cheerleaders of the many amazing events, competitions and celebrations for startups in the city.”
All concur that quality of life is a big reason for remaining in Dunedin.
Dunedin City Council Enterprise Dunedin Business Advisors, Chanel O’Brien says, “We have access to a lifestyle here on ‘the edge of the world’ that gives people great opportunities for relaxation and regeneration. That sense of having space and time, and being a bit outside the normal loop of startups, gives people the opportunity to do something different, test ideas and do something creative.
“There are significant developments in the local community, too; the central city plan of improvements, waterfront development, a new state of the art hospital. Excitingly, an investigation into creating a Centre of Digital Excellence to enhance Dunedin’s thriving gaming industry is at the business case stage (as at February 2019).”
Co-working spaces, startup communities
Innov8HQ’s founder, Heidi Renata,says it is the first Māori founded, privately-owned co-working space in the country and the first indigenously-based co-working space in the world.
Heidi says, “Dunedin's rise in innovative Māori enterprises and the co-working revolution is exciting to be part of and it has come out on top regarding inspiration in indigenous-led enterprise.
“We’ve had over 16,000 people through Innov8HQ’s doors in our first two years of operation. Of those who have worked from here, 20% are startups, others are regional corporates, people from trans-Tasman operations and small to medium enterprises. We’re a bird’s nest, making it easy for people to transition here.”
Petridish began in 2016 when co-founders Kate and Jason Lindsey saw a gap in the ability of people starting out in business to make connections.
Jason says, “We mostly get contractors that work for companies transferring to Dunedin. People walk in here and they are immediately part of a community. Finding the right creative connections is everything. We get help from people like Chanel, who are fantastic. Kate and I try to do something similar - fostering connections throughout the town because we know that trying to operate in a silo kills a lot of businesses.
“The typical success rate for startups is 10% survival in the first three years. But when we look back on who has been in here, we think we have done five to six times better than that. That sense of community really helps.”
Techweek Dunedin, 20-26 May
Each year, New Zealand celebrates Techweek – an annual festival of innovation that’s good for the world. In 2019, people are booking out 20-26 May to check out their region’s events.
Dunedin has gone from hosting one event during the first Techweek in 2017, to hosting 45 in 2018. This year is set to repeat that with dozens of invited speakers, site visits, presentations and demonstrations, advice sessions for startups, and launches of new initiatives.
Dunedin Techweek Coordinator, Lauren Saker, says, “This is an annual chance to celebrate what is particularly successful in Dunedin, as well as promoting our innovators and creators."
This year, Dunedin’s Programme Highlight is the University of Otago’s showcase of medical technology, research and innovation being developed at Otago. The highly successful TEXpo from last year’s programme will also be repeated, with the University and Otago Polytechnic's joint cross-campus expo of Dunedin’s best tech companies and academic and student research.
Techweek offers business seminars, networking opportunities and educational speakers – but it isn’t just for those in the industry. There will be tech workshops for kids and seniors, and other inspiring events aimed at a broader audience, both in Dunedin and nationwide. (@dunedintechweek)
Select Recruitment | Phone: +64 3 477 0873 | www.select.co.nz
Crew Consulting | Phone: +64 (0)3 477 2929 | www.crewconsulting.co.nz
Platinum Consulting | Phone +64 3 477 3633 | www.platinumrecruitment.co.nz
Human Connections | Phone +64 29 200 1595 | www.humanconnectionsgroup.com
Fluid Recruitment | Phone: +64 3 467 7220 | www.fluidrecruitment.co.nz