Chin Abeywickrama — Netlogix
Auckland entrepreneur Chin Abeywickrama (right) quit what he describes as a comfortable job at Fonterra and sold his house to finance his new venture, Netlogix, in 2012.
The business is a technology-based freight logistics company, serving clients across Australia and New Zealand. His digital marketplace integrates more than 500 customer sites and 200 carriers.
The foundation customer was Carter Holt Harvey and current clients include Oji Fibre Solutions, Fletcher Building and Steel & Tube.
The business shifts more than 3 million tonnes of freight a year. It operates by collaborating with freight owners and carriers, targeting "inherent inefficiencies" in the freight-forwarding market.
In Abeywickrama's words, Netlogix brings "sustainable freight efficiencies that owners and carriers cannot bring acting on their own". Freight can be moved via rail, road or coastal shipping.
It also shifts significant numbers of trucks off the roads, and the system works for both large freight-forwarders and SMEs.
For freight owners, Netlogix offers a centralised freight desk where they can access a network of carriers with a single point of contact.
For carriers, it offers a level playing field with access to Netlogix's freight network, greater operational certainty and better use of assets.
Abeywickrama says the business has seen significant growth in the past five years. In 2013, it served 35 transport operators and just over 100 customer sites. Today, more than 500 customer sites and 200 carriers are on its books.
Dan Fowlie — Trineo
More than a third of all billboards in the US are managed with software designed in Christchurch by Trineo, a business that Dan Fowlie (below right) co-founded in 2007.
Thousands of skiers rely on its software to buy and manage access to 26 North American resorts. And at Fonterra, 22,000 global team members use a Trineo-built social intranet for two-way engagement between management and staff.
Fowlie started Trineo in what he describes as "a broom cupboard" in 2007. He had returned to New Zealand "with nothing to lose" after a stint in Kuwait. With a background in operations management, analysis and development, Fowlie was living on the cheap and taking contract work to fund his idea of building a cloud services company.
After the company's first iteration, which involved setting up Google apps for half a dozen customers, Dan bet on Salesforce, and later, Heroku. Salesforce is currently the top customer relationship management (CRM) platform while Heroku (owned by Salesforce) enables companies to develop software rather than worrying about hardware and services.
Trineo's growth wasn't without obstacles. The Christchurch earthquake destroyed its offices and the company was forced to relocate temporarily to Fowlie's home. Co-founder Abhinav Keswani moved back to his Sydney hometown and made the most of a stressful time by expanding Trineo's work to Australia.
Today, Trineo operates from New Zealand, Australia, the US and Europe. Staff numbers are around 65. The company has funded itself via client work, taking on no debt.
Aaron McDonald — Centrality
Formed two years ago, Centrality is now one of the world's leading blockchain venture studios. It is supporting the development of a marketplace which allows developers to build and scale decentralised applications using cutting-edge blockchain technology.
Based in Auckland, Centrality employs over 100 people in Auckland, London, Melbourne, Tokyo, Germany and Singapore.
Future growth has been crowdfunded using digital tokens. Despite the newness of this funding model, Centrality's US$80m January initial coin offer (ICO) sold out in just six minutes.
Centrality plans to nurture a peer-to-peer marketplace so that instead of tech behemoths like Amazon and Facebook reaping all the rewards, more businesses and consumers can share in the value which is created.
The highly complex transactions are made possible because of blockchain, which can be used to record and share any digital data and is a more secure way of exchanging information.
Centrality is leveraging blockchain to introduce a concept called decentralisation, which helps companies with no prior relationship to work effortlessly together and integrate their applications.
In addition to its ICO funding, Centrality has more than 20 "venture investments" in its portfolio which, says McDonald (above right), have raised an additional US$100m and employ a further 150 people.
Anne Fulton & Jo Mills — Fuel50
"Everyone deserves to love their job and bring their best self to work," say Anne Fulton (on left, below) and Jo Mills (on right), of Fuel50. Co-founders, the pair design and develop cloud-based career path software and services.
The aim, they say, is to enable leaders to engage and motivate their teams and "empower employees to map an inspirational career journey, leveraging critical talents and positioning themselves and their organisations for the future world of work".
The pair had been doing one-to-one career coaching before developing their signature Fuel50 software, which has been translated into 28 languages and used in more than 35 countries. It delivers a career path for employees and engagement at work.
Largely because of automation, the future of work is uncertain and traditional HR practices are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Fuel50 can help leaders cross this "talent chasm" and enable their employees to drive their own careers, and businesses to future proof their workforce.
The pair's big break came when they secured key US flagship customers after jointly raising $1 million in angel investment funding led by IceAngels and NZVIF in Auckland. In the US, they have built up a sales team of more than 12 people who produce 90 per cent of the company's revenue from global operations.
Fuel50 has added some of the world's biggest brands, like Walmart, PepsiCo, eBay and Mastercard, to its client base. Its next market is Europe, where there is high demand from companies such as Expedia, Virgin Media, Virgin Atlantic, BMW and Bosch.
Craig Piggott — Halter
Agritech entrepreneur Craig Piggott's "aha" moment came while he was working at Rocket Lab — Peter Beck's satellite launch company.
Wondering why we could launch rockets into space when farmers were still walking behind their cows, he realised the dairy industry had changed little since the advent of the milking machine.
He'd come up with an idea while studying for an engineering degree, but says the pieces didn't come together until he was at Rocket Lab. His company, Halter, was founded in 2016.
Piggott, now 24, has developed a GPS-enabled cow collar — a solar-powered tracking device which allows farmers to shift and monitor their herds remotely. It will self-herd cows and send data about their behaviour, emotions and health to farmers by phone, Piggott says, giving farmers "unprecedented control over cow movements".
The device uses sound and vibration to create a virtual boundary to keep cows in one place or to herd them to another.
Testing is being done on a Waikato farm and Halter is working towards having its first paying farms by the end of this year.
Piggott (above) had to top up his student loan to buy parts for his prototype and used his own belt to attach the device to the cow. But Halter has now raised US$8 million from Silicon Valley investors, including Data Collective, Ubiquity Ventures, Promus Ventures, Tuhua Ventures and Peter Thiel's Founders Fund.
Elizabeth Barbalich — Antipodes NZ
Dry skin, and her inability to find anything natural on the market to help, was behind Elizabeth Barbalich's decision to start experimenting with making her own natural products.
Barbalich (below right) says she saw a niche for "a cool, avant-garde brand that elevated skincare to the next level".
In the lead-up to the 2006 launch of her business, Antipodes New Zealand, she mixed dozens of trial formulas at home and experimented on her own dry and sensitive skin.
The result was a unique range of certified organic and vegan skincare and makeup.
Products are made from premium ingredients from nature, and Barbalich, who has a background in science, has had her claims validated by independent scientific testing.
And she is constantly tweaking her range.
"Our best anti-ageing natural skincare features new scientific discoveries like revolutionary Vinanza® antioxidant extracts. These super-charge our anti-ageing face creams and ultra care serums," she says.
At the start, she sold the products herself, travelling the country selling direct to retailers.
Today the company sells in nearly 20 countries. Key markets include Australia, Britain, China, Hong Kong and France.
- This story is sponsored by EY.