Date: 27th February 2012
Four hundred entrepreneurs from around the world gathered in Queenstown last week to try out the Martin Jetpack, chat with Jonah Lomu, and share their knowledge in a New Zealand-first event.
The Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), an international grouping of 8000 business founders from 40 countries, meets twice a year to offer inspiration and networking opportunities to each other in a peer-to-peer environment.
Each EO ”university”, as the events are called, is held in a different location – the last one was in Amsterdam, the one before that in Texas. This is the first time the high-powered gathering has happened in this part of the world.
The local EO chapter has partnered with the World Class New Zealand Network of influential expatriate Kiwis to create a uniquely New Zealand event.
While speakers at the EO universities are usually from around the world, this time they are all Kiwis who have built impressive careers offshore.
Among the lineup is Craig Nevill-Manning, director of engineering at Google, and his wife Kirsten who is director of human resources at Facebook.
Other names include Sarah Robb O’Hagan, PepsiCo’s Gatorade president North America and global chief marketing officer, and Linda Jenkinson, founder of multinational provider of concierge services Les Concierges.
Chair of the Queenstown event Mat Wylie said it was a coup to be able to host it here. Most of EO’s membership was based in the northern hemisphere, with 40 per cent in the US, and New Zealand was a long flight away.
But the event tried to offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it spoke a lot about New Zealand as a desirable destination that the entrepreneurs were willing to come. The event sold out within eight hours.
The local EO hosts were determined to showcase New Zealand, he said.
”Essentially we’ve got a vision of creating four hundred raving fans of all things Kiwi.”
EO’s membership is invitation-only, and members must be the the founder or controlling shareholder of an enterprise with turnover of at least US$1 million a year.
The organisation has a non-solicitation policy to discourage people from joining solely to sell their ideas, products or services.
But entrepreneurs being entrepreneurs ”there will always be opportunities that come out of it”, Wylie said.
The World Class New Zealand Network was launched last year by non-profit organisation Kea New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.
It is a global network of New Zealanders and ‘New Zealand-friendly’ experts aimed at promoting the country’s development, international competitiveness and economic growth.
Director Stephen Dee said around 160 successful expat Kiwis were now part of the network and presenting New Zealand to the world.
– © Fairfax NZ News www.stuff.co.nz