20 Startups That Have Led Innovation Out Of New Zealand For the World

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New Zealand has been home to a range of innovative startups that have not only impacted the local market but have also garnered attention on the global stage. The country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem benefits from a collaborative spirit, strong governmental support, and a focus on research and development. This environment, combined with New Zealand’s unique position in the world, makes it an exciting place for startups, showcasing that innovation isn’t solely the domain of larger countries.

While many startups have chosen to move to the Silicon Valley to access a wide variety of resources and capital, many still have offices and lead the innovation from the Pacific nation. Many from below have got acquired or got listed in other parts of the world. Here’s a list of 20 startups that have led innovation out of New Zealand:

1. Xero
Probably the most famous startup to emerge from New Zealand, Xero was founded in 2006 by Rod Drury and Hamish Edwards. Xero is a cloud-based accounting software platform for small and medium-sized businesses.

With a beautiful user-friendly interface, it offers tools for invoicing, bank reconciliation, inventory, bookkeeping, and more. Xero’s success lies in its ability to simplify complex accounting processes and its seamless integration capabilities with various business tools.

2. Rocket Lab
Founded by Peter Beck in 2006, Rocket Lab aims to increase access to space through its lightweight, cost-effective commercial rocket launch services. Their Electron rocket is designed to launch small satellites into orbit.

Rocket Lab’s focus is on reducing the costs and increasing the frequency of space access, changing the way satellite deployment is approached.

Founded by Craig Piggott, Halter leverages technology to revolutionize farming. Their GPS-enabled, solar-powered smart collars allow farmers to move and manage cattle remotely using sounds and vibrations.

This innovative approach aids in pasture management, reduces labor costs, and provides insights into animal health and behavior. The startup combines the power of artificial intelligence with the unique demands of farming, symbolizing New Zealand’s marriage of tech innovation with its agricultural roots.

4. Pushpay
Established in 2011 by Eliot Crowther and Chris Heaslip, Pushpay offers a donor management system, including a digital giving platform for churches, charities, and education providers in the US. It simplifies transactions through mobile solutions, allowing easy donations and fostering generous behavior.

5. Soul Machines
Co-founded by Mark Sagar in 2016, Soul Machines focuses on humanizing AI technology. They create lifelike, emotionally responsive, artificial humans with personality and character, driving a more natural and intuitive interactivity between humans and the digital world.

6. Trade Me
While it’s matured beyond the typical startup phase, no list about New Zealand tech firms would be complete without mentioning Trade Me. Founded in 1999 by Sam Morgan, Trade Me is New Zealand’s largest online auction and classifieds website, covering almost every conceivable product and service category, similar to eBay or Gumtree in other countries.

7. Timely
Launched in 2011 by Ryan Baker, Andrew Schofield, and Will Berger, Timely offers appointment booking software for service businesses. With a focus on beauty and wellness sectors, Timely provides tools to manage appointments, clients, and staff schedules effortlessly.

8. 8i
Founded in 2014 by Linc Gasking and Eugene d’Eon, 8i specializes in virtual reality and augmented reality software, allowing users to create and experience 3D human holograms that look and feel real.

Their technology captures people in a way that can be streamed into virtual and augmented realities.

9. LanzaTech
While LanzaTech’s roots began in New Zealand, they have since expanded globally. Founded in 2005 by Sean Simpson and Richard Forster, LanzaTech develops technologies that turn waste gas from steel mills into ethanol and other valuable chemicals. This biotech company’s mission is to provide novel and economic routes to fuels and high-value chemicals, reducing industries’ carbon footprints.

10. PredictHQ
Co-founded by Campbell Brown and Robert Kern in 2015, PredictHQ is a demand intelligence platform. It allows businesses to forecast demand surges caused by real-world events and adjust their operations accordingly.

By aggregating data on events from concerts to conferences, PredictHQ helps companies anticipate market needs.

11. Jasmax
While not a startup in the traditional tech sense, Jasmax is a pioneering firm in sustainable architectural design. Rooted deeply in New Zealand’s cultural and environmental landscape, the firm is known for its biophilic designs that bring nature into the urban environment, aiming to enhance the well-being of the community.

12. Raygun
Founded by John-Daniel Trask and Jeremy Boyd in 2013, Raygun offers software intelligence and diagnostics for developers. Their platform provides insights into how users are really experiencing software applications, helping developers diagnose and fix issues faster, and optimize their software’s performance.

13. Aroa Biosurgery
Founded in 2008 by Brian Ward, Aroa Biosurgery develops regenerative medicine products to improve the rate and quality of healing in complex wounds and soft tissue reconstruction.

Their products are based on a proprietary extracellular matrix technology, which acts as a scaffold to support tissue repair.

14. Mint Innovation
Established in 2016, Mint Innovation has developed a unique biotechnological process to recover valuable metals from electronic waste. Their method uses low-cost, non-toxic chemicals and naturally occurring microorganisms to extract precious metals, providing an eco-friendly and effective solution to the increasing e-waste problem.

15. Sharesies
Launched in 2017 by Brooke Anderson, Leighton Roberts, and Sonya Williams, Sharesies aims to democratize investing. The platform provides an easy and affordable way for individuals, even with just a few dollars, to invest in a range of assets.

Their philosophy is that everyone deserves a fair shot at growing their wealth, and they’ve significantly lowered the barriers to investment entry.

16. Vimba – Now Called CoinHQ
Vimba, previously known as MyCryptoSaver, was founded by Sam Blackmore in 2014. It’s a platform that enables users to automatically save and buy Bitcoin and Ethereum weekly. Vimba prides itself on its user-friendly approach to cryptocurrency, making it accessible for all, irrespective of expertise level.

17. Ambit
Founded by Tim Warren, Josh Comrie, and Gareth Cronin in 2017, Ambit offers an AI-driven platform for building chatbots. Their system allows businesses to develop, integrate, and refine natural language chatbots to handle customer interactions and improve engagement, ensuring that bots can converse with users as naturally as possible.

18. Kami
Initiated by Hengjie Wang, Alliv Samson, and Bob Drummond in 2013, Kami is a digital classroom tool designed to facilitate a paperless environment.

It allows students and educators to annotate, share, and collaborate on documents in real-time, fostering a more interactive and engaging learning experience.

19. First AML
Founded by Milan Cooper, Frankie Tam, and Bion Behdin in 2017, First AML offers an online platform that simplifies the anti-money laundering (AML) compliance process. Their system automates customer due diligence and identity verification, streamlining the traditionally complex AML process for businesses.

20. Wilderlab
Started by Dr. Liping Pang and Dr. Sylke Rohrlach in 2018, Wilderlab offers a water quality testing solution that uses DNA-based technology. Their approach identifies pathogens and other organisms in water sources faster and more accurately than traditional methods. This allows for more effective monitoring and management of water quality, crucial for both human health and environmental protection.

New Zealand startups continue to bridge the gap between technology and real-world challenges. The ventures mentioned above showcase the nation’s capability to innovate across diverse sectors, ensuring both economic growth and a commitment to sustainability. The future of Kiwi startups appears bright, and their influence on the global stage is poised to grow further. Given the pace of growth and the quality of ideas coming from this island nation, the world can undoubtedly expect more groundbreaking initiatives in the years to come.

(Disclaimer: This is not a ranking of NZ Startups or a comprehensive list. Many startups have chosen to move their HQs out of New Zealand to other parts of the world for scale, but many still retain their NZ innovation hubs. )