A decade of Wellington business success
Our coolest little capital has always punched above its weight for creative and successful business enterprise
From finance to food and drink, Wellington businesses challenge the status quo, think outside the box and dare to dream big. And we have a decade of successes to prove it. Check out some of the amazing achievements from 2010 to 2019.
Xero gets to zero (and then some)
Founded by Rod Drury back in 2006, Xero has dominated business headlines over the last decade, growing to over 2 million subscribers worldwide. In 2019 they turned their first net profit of $1.4m, exciting investors and setting themselves up for a strong start to the 2020s.
Launching ‘Into the Dead’ in 2012 put Wellington game developers Pik Pok on the world stage. They’ve followed up their zombie-killing mobile game with an Into the Dead 2 as well as numerous other top-performing games, including partnering with Dreamworks Animation on Turbo FAST which surpassed 50 million downloads in its first year. Pik Pok is also in good gaming company, with the likes of Aurora 44, Weta Gameshop and Studio Mayday all based out of the Wellington region.
Wellington returns to the small screen
Wellington’s famous trio of writer/directors Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement and Paul Yates put Wellington back on the small screen in the most Wellington way possible with the 2018 premiere of Wellington Paranormal. The first episode was watched by 500,000 Kiwis on the first night it went to air. Visual agencies like Pukeko Pictures and Flying Saucer have also grown incredibly in the last decade, producing incredible visual projects for television, web and virtual reality platforms.
Weta moves beyond film
The Weta Group of Companies has become a world leader in the global screen industry, particularly in post-production. While this decade saw Weta continue to dominate the film sector with the likes of The Hobbit Trilogy, The Adventures of TinTin, Mortal Engines and Alita Battle Angel as well as working on major productions like Taika Waititi’s Thor Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame, perhaps even more impressive is their diversification into AR through Magic Leap, gaming and digital experiences. This decade has also seen the evolution of Weta Workshop, which has evolved from props and prosthetics into public sculpture, products, gaming and exhibition and experience design.
Sharesies reinvents investment
This local financial technology startup, led by young female co-founder Brooke Roberts, has established itself as a game changer in the investment world with more than 47,000 customers signing onto to their services since 2017. Sharesies manages more than $57m in funds for New Zealanders and in 2019, began work with NZX to open up wider market access for New Zealand investors. Sharesies is one of the many Wellington fintech startups that are disrupting New Zealand and global markets to make sure investment, insurance, and other financial tools are easily accessible for all consumers.
Wellington energy companies Powershop (Flux Federation) and Flick Electric have taken the power industry and turned it on its head, making buying electricity consumer-friendly for all New Zealanders. Both companies have challenged the big names in power to be better to consumers, more transparent and fairer for all. Powershop has also expanded to serve both Australia and the UK during this decade.
Whittakers joins forces with Nigella
It’s been a big decade for Whittakers, which is now New Zealand’s most loved chocolate. The Porirua chocolatiers have repeatedly been named New Zealand’s most loved and most trusted brand and have kept churning out innovative flavours including their Artisan Collection and Kiwi collab flavours, like the mass hit Jelly Tip. But their masterstroke? Partnering with the domestic goddess herself, Nigella Lawson to increase their international reach.
Wellington Craft Beer
Wellington brewers Garage Project and ParrotDog launched a craft beer revolution after establishing themselves in 2011 and quickly rising to prominence in the capital and throughout New Zealand. Wellington regional brands like Panhead, Tuatara, Martinborough Brewery and Choice Bros followed suit making the capital the undisputed craft beer connoisseurs of New Zealand. Not only are these brands exported throughout New Zealand and Australia, Wellington now hosts must-do events like Beervana and Beers at the Basin showcasing the latest and greatest pours on offer.
Allbirds takes flight
The 'world’s most comfortable footwear’ was founded just five years ago by former All White Tim Brown. With grants from Callaghan Innovation, Wellington is considered the birthplace of the revolutionary sneaker brand. Made completely from natural materials, Allbirds challenged an industry based on flashy logos and synthetic alternatives. Allbirds are now a major global success and are worn by A-listers like Cindy Crawford, Mila Kunis, Sarah Jessica Parker and Blake Lively as well as pretty much everyone in Wellington.
Snacking gets a Wellington makeover
Wellington is a foodie’s paradise with artisanal products reaching markets all around the globe. In 2013, Tom & Lukes launched a healthier snack option, with thousands of ‘snackaballs’ being rolled by hand in their Wainuiomata factory. Fast forward to 2019 and the team is now selling their snacks throughout New Zealand, Australia and now, Japan. They’re joined by the inimitable artisan peanut butter barons Fix and Fogg. In just six years, they have expanded to US markets but their hole-in-the-wall food spot in Hannahs Laneway has become a top tourist destination for Wellington City.
The rise of social enterprise
Mix Wellington’s entrepreneurial spirit with our desire to do good and you’ve got a recipe for success. Crowdfunding platform PledgeMe launched in 2012, originally to help fun Kiwi music and expanded to helping communities throughout Aotearoa. Ethical underwear brand Nisa and catering company Pomegranate Kitchen have found ways to support refugee communities in New Zealand through employment. Thankyou Payroll is supporting smaller charities through free payroll services and fashion activists Nope Sisters walked the catwalk at the 2019 New Zealand Fashion Week.
Wellington companies are leading the way when it comes to a more sustainable, greener world. Founded in 2013, Method Recycling continues to grow in New Zealand and overseas with winning the Deloitte Fast 50 One to Watch award in 2016 and 2017. Clothing brands Kowtow and twenty-seven names are continuing to make a global impact with their ethical and sustainable practices and The Formary won the Wellington Gold Award for sustainability this year for its work recycling and re-purposing textiles.
And that's not to mention Wellington’s digital advertising entrepreneur Tim Pointer making the Forbes 30 under 30 list, Shopify establishing an Oceania office in Wellington, and our financial technology companies like Montoux, Hnry, Data Torque and more growing fast and taking on global markets.
Who would you add to the Wellington business success story?