Wherescape chief executive Michael Whitehead. Photo / Chris Gorman
What is your personal business philosophy or business focus?
Create a company you are proud of that operates in the way you want it to operate.
What was the best business decision you made for the company?
Being global from day one. Even when we were working in a little office over the Devonport shops, we never thought we would be a solely New Zealand company. So we started with US spelling, our page sizes were Letter, we had a US toll-free number, a .com website, etc. You might as well start as you mean to go on.
What was the hardest or worst business decision you made and what did you take away from it?
The hardest business decisions for us have been about when and how to take on external capital. We created a profitable, internationally successful technology company from nothing using our own resources. This was no small achievement and something we are immensely proud of. Then within a year we decided to take on private capital and not do an IPO (for now) - all hard decisions but we are confident they are good ones.
What do you think are some of the top fundamental things businesses need to do to be successful?
Focus on customers, have a long-term view, hire great people. Seems simple but it can be harder than it looks.
Do you have a golden rule you always try to follow or a business motto?
Never do anything you wouldn't tell your mother about.
What do you think are some of the most common mistakes businesses make?
One that can really hurt is not thinking big enough - especially when it's only later you realise you have been holding yourself back. Another one is not applying enough critical thinking. There can be a difference between how you see things and how they really are, and data often can help you sort it out.
Do you have a business leader you admire or aspire to emulate?
New Zealand is full of them: Rod Drury has blazed a trail for all of us in the tech sector, and Ian McCrae has shown you can build an enterprise software company from New Zealand.
What is your favourite possession and why?
At the moment I am enjoying my Fitbit. It measures your steps, with a goal of 10,000 per day.
It is a great example of the power of data - when I know my steps are being counted I am far more likely to take the stairs, or leave the car and walk. It doesn't hurt that there is a bit of neighbourhood competition as well.
What is your business goal for 2015?
World domination! The data and big data market is taking off globally and WhereScape is right in the middle of it.
What are you most looking forward to in 2015 (personal or business)?
Sitting down at the end of the year looking back at what we achieved. We have the team in place, we know what we need to do - there is some stretch there but it's going to be a fun time.