Indian immigrant Pariket Dhabuwala, 29, is offering those new to the country a helping hand. Dhabuwala talks about his unfortunate start in New Zealand and how he's since turned it in to a business.
A brief description of the business
Kiwizing lays on the idea of helping migrants who are coming to New Zealand. Many people are coming to the country for the first time; students, visitors, those on working holiday visas and many won't know anyone, so we want to be their first contact by offering essential services packages which include airport pickup, duvets, accommodation and assistance with setting up bank and IRD accounts.
We started working on the business last September and officially launched our website last month. Our current target market is international students, especially those who are coming in the July [university] intake.
How did this idea come about?
It came about from my own personal experience. When I first came to New Zealand five years back I didn't know anyone and a couple of things happened.
The taxi I booked didn't wait for me as I got late going through customs and so I had to take a taxi waiting outside. I had money, but I didn't have coins to use a public phone, so I just went with the first available taxi and it cost me more than $100 to get to the suburb of St Johns from Auckland Airport.
I arrived on July 5, the peak of winter. I didn't have a duvet or any of those kind of things. My landlord was kind enough to give me one but it wasn't good enough so I had about three sleepless nights because it was too cold.
After I came to New Zealand, many of my friends came and I sort of took care of everything for them, helping them with the things I'm offering now. They had a much smoother experience compared to me so I turned this idea into a business.
Where are you from and what's your background?
I'm from the Western part of India, Gujarat and my city is Surat. I'm a doctor by qualification, I studied medicine in India and then wanted to explore an abroad country and somehow I came to New Zealand. I came here on a student visa studying a postgraduate diploma in public health education at the University of Auckland. I did that course and have now completed my registration exam.
How many people work for Kiwizing?
Currently it's me and my wife Bhoomi doing all things. I also have a business mentor, Nicholas Howarth, from Business Mentor New Zealand who is helping me.
My wife is a web developer so she developed the whole website and design for the brochure and business cards. My father looks after marketing and management affairs in India.
Our current target are students coming to New Zealand. For that reason we have made our website up and running for international students to buy packages online before they arrive.
The first package we offer is called the 'Starter Package' which includes airport pickup, a mobile phone sim card with a plan of 100 minutes, 500mb of data and unlimited texts, and a travel adaptor which costs $149.
The second package, in addition to what is offered in the first, will include at an AT Hop card with $10 top up, and one week of grocery items. This is our 'Economic Package' and costs $249. If someone is coming [to New Zealand] at 12pm at night, and on the second day morning want to have tea or coffee, they don't want to go shopping to get it as they may have jet lag, so that's why we offer groceries.
In the third 'Premium Package', in addition to these services, we offer bank account opening assistance, IRD number assistance, plus more groceries, which costs $499.
If you've got an idea, go speak with friends and family members about it and if you're really convinced, go for it.
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The final package is the 'Elite Package' which offers all of those mentioned services plus driving license theory test assistance and an electric blanket, heater or fan - whatever preferred - for $699. In the last two packages we will also help people to find longer-term accommodation.
This is your first business, how challenging has it been to set up?
It has been a fun ride, but the challenging part is that I'm new [to New Zealand] and don't know much about doing business here. It took me a while to put everything together, but overall it has been a good experience. I've found that it's really easy to set up a business in New Zealand - everything is online, it's straightforward and transparent.
Being a migrant yourself, do you think this your competitive edge?
Being in the same position as a migrant means that I can definitely relate to people, especially about what difficulties they may face. My personal experience of being a migrant has been overall very positive, people are so welcoming. Living in Auckland, it's so multicultural, so you don't feel like an outsider.
Is Kiwizing your only job?
I'm currently working a 9 to 5 job at Greenlane Clinical Centre. Usually I work on my web business once I go home and during the weekends. Sometimes I do take leave from work if I have to attend some meetings. My employer is kind enough so I just take two or three hours of leave and then sometimes I take some extra hours. I'm trying to balance the two and it's working out alright as of now.
Lately I've found that I have a passion of helping people. If I'm getting the feeling of yes I'm doing the right thing then I may continue this as my main occupation.
What advice do you give to others thinking of starting a business?
If you've got an idea, go speak with friends and family members about it, and if you're really convinced go for it. New Zealand is such a business-friendly country.