Christopher Adams

Christopher Adams is the Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Quick pitch needed in US: expert

John Holt. Photo / Mark Mitchell
John Holt. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Local entrepreneurs need to cut straight to the chase and not place too much focus on telling "the New Zealand story" during meetings with Silicon Valley investors, says John Holt, the managing director and co-founder of San Francisco's Kiwi Landing Pad.

The business development organisation was set up to help firms from this country gain a foothold in the United States.

Wellington-based Holt said US investors did not tend to beat around the bush and companies needed to quickly deliver their "killer point" - the problem their product could solve.

"People in a business context in the States, particularly the Silicon Valley, will take a meeting but it will be a half an hour meeting - it will really be for them to sound out what the opportunity or level of interest will be," he said. "We tend to have quite a conversational style that takes up most of that 30 minutes. You've really got to get to the punch quite quickly."

Holt said telling the New Zealand story helped, but it was not something Kiwi firms should lead in with during meetings with US investors.

"I think a lot of Kiwis think that people in America and other geographies automatically regard [the NZ story] as a leg up, but we've actually got to play on the same playing field and show that you can actually solve something meaningful."

The Kiwi Landing Pad, which opened in 2011, is the brainchild of Holt and Trade Me founder Sam Morgan. Its backers include The Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall, PayPal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel and former Apple executive Craig Elliott.

- NZ Herald

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