October 13, 2010
July 15, 2010
Right now, two billion people have no access to electricity. They rely on burning fuels such as kerosene and wood for light and heat, which is highly toxic and expensive. Having solar power improves people's health, income and education. That's because solar power can enable people to cook food, pump clean water, run fridges, light homes, schools and hospitals, farm more effectively, and much more.
May 28, 2010
February 17, 2010
The story of Tait Communications, and Sir Angus Tait in particular, is quite a remarkable one. Sir Angus was bought up by his mother in Oamaru, and when his father died in the 1918 flu epidemic, he began working in the local radio shop before going on to become an RAF radio operator in WWII. He came home from the war, set up a company...and went broke. He paid off his creditors, then tried again 2 years later.
Tait Electronics was the result, and today it records annual sales of $190 Million in 160 countries worldwide. They invest 12% of revenue in R&D, which is rare for NZ companies, and as a result have a revenue of $300,000 per employee, making them one of NZ's most knowledge-based companies.
Sadly, Sir Angus passed away 2 years ago, aged 88. I wasn't lucky enough to ever meet Sir Angus, but I think we can all learn a lesson from him. He wasn't afraid to give it a go, in fact he failed the first time he did, but he learned, and he came back to create something so wildly successful. I think there is a tendency in NZ to avoid trying anything for fear of failing. But we must, and we must learn from our mistakes. If NZ has another 50 companies like Tait Electronics, we wouldn't be worrying about Taskforce 2025.
"Technology is our sword; we must keep it sharp and bright."
- Sir Angus Tait
February 10, 2010
February 3, 2010
When a quartz crystal is cut and mounted properly, the silicon and oxygen atoms that make up that quartz crystal can be made to distort when an electric field is applied. When the electric field is removed, the quartz crystal will return to its normal shape and generate an electric field.
The result is an electric circuit with a precise resonant frequency, to which time can be measured. This is known as piezoelectricity. Such crystals are used in digital watches, cellphones and computers - Rakon sell theirs to GPS equipment manufactuers so that they can measure the time taken for signals travelling between two points and thus figure out where in the world you are.
With the explosion of handheld GPS devices (CAGR 18%) and the inclusion of GPS technology in many mobile phones such as the iPhone, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise that if Rakon stay ahead of the game, they will have a very big future indeed. This will only be achieved by having the right science and technology minds behind them - not only imperative to Rakon of course, but to New Zealand.
January 20, 2010
"I think it is good to think about decades when you think about the development of new startup hotbeds.
In the first decade, you are largely making it up, copying what works elsewhere, the VCs and entrepreneurs are largely doing it for the first time, and while you can have successes, they are mixed with a lot of failures. That was 1995 to 2005 in New York City and 1965 to 1975 in Silicon Valley.
In the second decade, you start to get it right. The entrepreneurs are doing it for the second or third time. The infrastructure has developed (lawyers, VCs, recruiters). And it is easier to get talented employees to do a startup. This is where we are in New York City now and is where Silicon Valley was from 1975 to 1985.
In the third decade, the ecosystem is fully formed and producing great companies. That is where Silicon Valley has been from the mid 80s on."
According to this analogy, it took Silicon Valley 25 years to mature. If you consider New Zealand has seen declining economic prosperity since the 70's, then that "first decade" has actually been something like four for us! Lets hope 2010 is the year we start getting it right...