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Live from Morgo

29 August 2008
Michael Whitehead

Morgo is a two day conference for hi tech entrepreneurs from New Zealand held in the picturesque Bay of Islands.  The official theme this year was “Partnering for Success” but some of the strongest presentations were on giving back rather than partnering.

Selwyn Pellet, on the board of AIM listed Endace and now with Imarda talked about an entrepreneurship apprenticeship he is looking at setting up.  Born from the idea that you need entrepreneurs to grow economies he is looking at program that apprentices promising gen-ys (which he acknowledges may be a contradiction) with dark side CEOs – he is looking for sponsorship so the youth can fully participate with the CEO – joining them in all meetings, travel etc.  Sounds to me like a great idea and I would be in.

Scott Farquar from Atlassian (one half of the Australian Entrepreneurs of the year a couple of years ago) talked about as well as Atlassian’s 1% initiative – giving 1% of revenue, equity and time into the Atlassian Foundation.  They also offer non-for-profit licences, and he offered the details from his web site if anyone wants to copy the idea.

Other highlights of the conference were Ben Anderson from CT Partners on the talent war and Andy Lark from Dell using an Olympics medal metaphor to discuss New Zealand’s relative performance to other countries. 

Glenn Martin’s talk about his recently released jet pack was highly engaging.  After spending 27 years working on a dream he was justifiably proud of his invention – and there is no denying flying with a jet pack is pretty cool.  Unfortunately the pack didn’t arrive in time so we were not able to get a demo.  Didier Elzinga, CEO from Rising Sun Pictures, gave a great talk about working with Hollywood from Adelaide, and how for the people he does business with if you outside their zip code you might as well be in Adelaide.

The Honorable David Cunliffe launched the Government’s Digital 2.0 Strategy at the conference.  His comparison of politicians to entrepreneurs was a bit of a stretch – I don’t know of too many politcos who have mortgaged their homes and borrowed money off their friends to go into Parliament.  I was a little surprised the Digital 2.0 targets were not a bit more ambitious. They are throwing some money at making sure the entire country can get broadband which is great, but surely we can plan for a bit faster speed especially in the urban areas?

Overall a great couple of days. As usual it is the informal discussions that are as useful as the actual content, it is great to catch up with a bunch of people all trying to make a difference, and a conference without people trying to sell you stuff is always refreshing.  Thanks to the Morgo team for organizing it and inviting me.


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