“Leverage all the resources you can – even just coming from New Zealand opens doors.”
Taylor Howatson, CEO of Wireless Guard
It’s always awesome when one of our own does something really notable. This week, I sat down with the slightly jet-lagged Taylor Howatson, CEO of Wireless Guard, to talk about his recent experience in America.
Taylor flew to San Francisco to attend the Connections Conference, known as the premier connected home conference and hosted by Parks Associates, the headline research company for emerging technologies in the US. His company’s product, Hatch, aims to be part of the connected home market; a small, low-cost device, it fits on your doors and window and notifies you if your door or window is unlocked or open. It is an exciting development which reduces the likelihood of burglaries.
Taylor has been one of our exemplary CEOs. His energy and charisma mean his pitches are always engaging, and he is reliable and quick to seek out knowledge. He also has a strong and supportive team working with him.
Although Taylor missed a week in the lab, his time in the States was unrivalled in its value. Perhaps the most useful aspect, he tells me, was the chance to network with leaders in the connected home industry. He was able not only to connect one-on-one with people he had only talked to virtually (such as representatives from Nortek and ROC-Connect), but also to meet new people who could help him progress.
For any startup, it’s vital to have a clear idea of where the market is heading. This conference provided Taylor with exactly that opportunity: he was able to hear first-hand the latest thoughts from the leaders in the industry, as well as discussing how his product could fit into that scene. This was particularly useful for Wireless Guard, as their product is versatile and could be incorporated into the value propositions of many companies, from connected home companies like Nortek, to service providers like Comcast, to insurance companies.
Although it’s a tough task to connect with people when you have very few established contacts in the industry, New Zealanders have an advantage. Affectionately referred to as the ‘Kiwi Mafia’, networks of kiwis on the ground in the States are always willing to lend a hand to other kiwis. For Taylor, connections from his advisory board and support from powerHouse were immensely helpful. Was it difficult to adjust to the different culture? Taylor shrugged off this suggestion. While there may be a difference in the way business operates overall, he comments, he believes the fundamentals – firm handshake, clear communication – hold true across the two cultures.
His advice for anyone thinking of heading over to America to accelerate their startup is to leverage all the resources you can. Get in touch with Kiwi Landing Pad, contact any New Zealanders you know who are over there and meet up with them early on. Importantly, be ready to follow up once you get back to New Zealand so that you don’t lose momentum.
Taylor’s straight back into work, and gearing up for Demo Day. We have no doubt that he’ll see many more future successes, so keep an eye out for Wireless Guard!
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