High-tech New Zealand start-ups need to portray themselves as truly global players from their inception, rather than humble exporters, says the chief of a successful Kiwi technology company.

Speaking at the New Zealand-Australia Investment Forum yesterday, Al Monro, chief executive of Next Window, said he hated the term "exporter".

"It's important that New Zealand start-ups see themselves as global companies, because it may sound good to be a leading high-tech exporter [in New Zealand] but to the rest of the world it sounds pretty naff," he said.

Monro said being a New Zealand exporter gave potential customers and investors overseas the impression that their focus and scale was at a low level.

"I rail against the term export," he said.

Asked how New Zealand start-ups could escape being categorised as lowly exporters, he said they needed to be careful how they positioned themselves.

"If you position yourself as an emerging global company, it sends a completely different message."

Bill Payne, entrepreneur in residence at the University of Auckland, said Next Window was in the business of exporting intellectual property.

"[Next Window] is truly a global business," he said.

Next Window designs and manufactures optical touch screens used in all-in-one computers and large format screens such as those found in bus and train stations.

The company, founded in 2001, has manufacturing and office operations across Asia. Its customers include Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Sony.

"Staying focused is one of the key things that have made us who we are," said Monro.

On the horizon for Next Window, beyond touch screens, was gesture technology.

Gesture technology would enable mouse control to take place through gestures, rather than touching the computer screen, Monro said. Research and design was taking place, and gesture screens would enter production by 2011, he said.

Raising capital was another challenge facing high-tech manufacturing start ups in New Zealand. "We just could not raise capital in the New Zealand market place, and believe me we did try hard," said Monro.

He said the company struggled to get capital even when it had Hewlett-Packard signed up as a customer.

Next Window ended up using "Angel" investors - individuals who provided capital - as well as private equity, in its early days.

"Our target is to be a US$250 million ($354 million) company within two years," Munro said.


Next Window:

* Founded in New Zealand in 2001.

* Manufacturers touch-screen technology for companies such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Sony.

* Aims to earn revenue of $354 million within the next two years.