Breaking into Asia
A prize package including a year's free office space in Hong Kong and links with local distributors is set to boost a Kiwi startup's chances in Asia.
Auckland-based paint company D'Arcy Polychrome was named one of three grand winners at the Startmeup Hong Kong Venture Programme last week, beating over 380 other entrants from around the world.
As part of its prize D'Arcy receives HK$2 million (NZ$300,000) in professional services, including the Hong Kong work space and being partnered with potential distributors and suppliers.
D’Arcy Polychrome makes dry colour pigments, called Drikolor, which can be mixed easily with water-based paints.
It does away with much of the equipment normally needed to mix specific shades of paint, and means the mixing can be done onsite with just a kitchen spatula.
Expanding into Asia is an important step for the company, as Asia is the fastest growing consumer paint market in the world, D'Arcy founder and chief executive Rachel Lacy said.
“As great a market as New Zealand is, it is a small country a long way away. So we wanted to get out into the world because we want to [do] high value manufacturing, we want to create an industry that New Zealand can support and we want to employ people, and to do that we want a bigger market.”
Drikolor was "faster, safer, cleaner and more accurate than any tinting system currently available at retail, and the retailer still gets to sell the paint, without the hassle", she said.
The Startmeup Hong Kong Venture Programme would facilitate the company's move into the market.
“We’ll have to have a massive strategic session to work out what the first thing to do is,” she said.
While the product was the result of significant R&D work, it was the simplicity of D’Arcy Polychrome’s business model that grabbed the judges’ attention, Lacy said.
“We make a product and sell it for more than it cost us to make it… I think that kind of appealed, the revenue channels also,” she said.
The worldwide house paint industry is currently a US$50 billion industry, and that is set to grow to $70 billion by 2017, she said.
The other two grand winners were American human-like robot tech specialist Hanson Robotics, and “internet of things” semiconductor producer Wifinity Ltd of India.