Feature story: The 2018 Festival of Growth
There’s no doubt that when it comes to innovation and ingenuity, New Zealand is always ready to mark its place on the world stage. We’ve been the birthplace of many amazing Kiwi inventions – the electric fence McLaren cars, pavlova and bungee jumping.
This appetite for invention also extends to the many amazing New Zealand businesses and SMEs that have been established around the country. Deloitte Private’s Fast 50 programme was set up to recognise their progress, and to celebrate those that are seeing business growth at blinding speed.
September marked the Fast 50 regional events across the country but last Wednesday, 14 November 2018, was the pinnacle of the 2018 competition as over 250 people came together for the Fast 50 Festival of Growth to find out the final rankings, enjoy a little bit of knowledge-sharing and copious amount of delicious snacks.
The sun turned out to celebrate too, with the gorgeous sun-kissed vines of Auckland’s Villa Maria providing a suitably classy background. Attendees were taken far beyond the confines of the Earth as this year’s theme of ‘creating Planet New Zealand’ transformed the barrel hall into the inside of a glossy spaceship. Sorry, Han Solo, but the Millennium Falcon did indeed look like a piece of junk in comparison.
MC Nadine Higgins kicked off proceedings for the day and introduced our three keynote speakers, who each gave excellent opening speeches. There was super entrepreneur Claudia Batten, who talked about how her favourite books lend lessons for today’s business. Head of AI Strategy at Xevo, Rich Tong, who helped grow the Microsoft Windows business to $500m, and after many years as a VC is now Head of AI Strategy at Xevo, used his lessons learned from Silicon Valley and challenged all attendees to put aside 20% of their time to focus on their true passions. Finally, Guy Haddleton inspired the crowd with his very recent success story of listing the company he founded, Anaplan, on the New York Stock Exchange.
With the day off to a great start, attendees then had a choice of different panel sessions to go to. The session topics ranged from discussions about artificial intelligence and robots in the workplace, to the importance of creating high-performance teams. Both the speakers and Fast 50 entrants came equipped with amazing insights and questions, leading to engaging discussions across the board.
Fully inspired, the awards section of the day then began with the announcement of the Master of Growth index, recognising those mature businesses that have seen sustained growth over a period of five or more years.
With 20 businesses on the index, Auckland company, Southbase Construction, came away with the number 1 spot. Check out the full Master of Growth index here.
After a pause for space-themed food that was (ahem) out of this world, everyone returned to the barrel hall for the final frontiers of the night – the Fast 50 index countdown and the national Rising Star award.
The Rising Star award is for younger, high potential businesses that are seeing incredible results. This year’s winner was met with a raucous reception, as the team from parking app company, Parkable, took the top spot. The Rising Star One to Watch award went to Sharesies, who help Kiwis get started with investing. Both businesses are true markers of innovation, designed to meet common problems and fill a gap in their industries.
Finally, the Fast 50 index was revealed, with the bronze and silver medals going to Vertex Engineers and Tuatara Structures respectively. Then, with a 3602% growth that elicited gasps from the audience, power company, Electric Kiwi, was announced as the national winner of the Fast 50 index. The team took to the stage and were greeted with a standing ovation, cementing their spot as New Zealand’s fastest-growing business. You can find out more about this innovative Auckland company in our e-zine, produced by Stuff.
With the awards handed out, dinner suitably demolished and the space puns exhausted, the hall returned to Earth and the attendees headed home, marking the conclusion of the 2018 Fast 50 programme.
Now, all that’s left for us at Deloitte Private is to thank all the entrants for making this a fantastic competition. The team was so impressed by the ingenuity of these businesses, and their commitment to improving the lives of New Zealanders. We look forward to seeing these companies continue to grow - see you all in 2019 for the next round!
See the full 2018 Deloitte Fast 50 index here.
Jen Scouler works in the Deloitte clients & marketing team across digital content and social media. She also works closely with Deloitte Private.