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Friday, 17 June 2016 12:25

VIDEO Interview: Chris Whelan explains why start-ups should follow the WREDA

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Leadership in the land of start-ups is being claimed by WREDA, the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency with plenty of zeal for new tech businesses!

If you’re planning to start or are already running a start-up business, the good folks at WREDA would love you to learn more about them.

They’re based in New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud, the creamiest of milkshakes and ice cream, fluffy sheep and now one of the most desirable start-up destinations on Planet Earth.

That’s because Wellington is growing to become one of the "most prosperous, vibrant and liveable region in Australasia by 2025", and is already well endowed with lush liveability.

What WREDA has done to promote itself as the site of the Southern Hemisphere’s most seductive start-up scene is to work hard at "unlocking the potential of Trans-Tasman business and talent opportunities between Australian cities and Wellington by collaborating with business, sector and government leadership to deliver: tourism promotion, business growth and development, major events, conferences and business events, innovation, acceleration and incubation".

It’s a bold claim, but with scads of start-ups already having selected Wellington as their ideal go-to spot, with plenty of capable tech workers and a scenic setting not so easily accessible in standard big cities, it’s not just a claim but the existing reality.

So, why did WREDA’s chief executive Chris Whelan come to visit Australia?

Well, Australia is Wellington’s biggest international market for business and talent and Whelan was here to build even greater connections and mutually beneficial opportunities.

And, while he was here, he took the time to make himself available for an interview with iTWire, so we could learn more about the business and start-up opportunities "across the ditch" as they say, with Whelan clearly hoping to tempt some start-ups to make their way over to Wellington to join in the fun and do some serious business!

Here’s my interview with Whelan, with a summary of the questions I asked and that he answered below the video, please read on! 


In the video, I started by introducing Whelan and then asked him to tell us a bit about his history in the world of tech, before we moved onto WREDA’s mission itself, along with when the agency started and more.

I asked the obvious question as to why Australian tech companies and start-ups (and any globally) should look to expanding to, or moving to, Wellington.

We also looked at how Wellington must also attract talent from within NZ itself as a tech powerhouse.

We explored some of the the exciting career opportunities for Australian tech and creative talent in Wellington, and discussed NZ's liberalised laws around equity crowd-funding and how they’re helping tech start-ups to scale fast.

We delved into NZ government initiatives to support innovation in Wellington and New Zealand, and examined more of the factors that make Wellington unique.

I then asked Whelan about some of the tech trends that have captured his attention, and which he thinks are ideal for the start-up space.

He told me what he thinks Wellington might look like by the end of the decade and well into the 2020s, before sharing the best piece of advice he has ever received to help him get where he is today. He finished by sharing his final messages for iTWire viewers and readers and for his current and future Wellington-based start-ups.

So, if an adventurous move to one of Australasia’s other most beautiful countries down under is up your alley, WREDA certainly hopes you’ll start up your engines and consider making the move!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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