App firm hopes to catch America's Cup sparkle

MARIA SLADE
Last updated 11:48 19/07/2013
Ezel Kokcu and Chris Smith
Fairfax NZ
CO-FOUNDERS: Ezel Kokcu and Chris Smith, of Kiwi application developer STQRY.

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A Wellington startup whose investors include Gareth Morgan is one of 11 Kiwi technology firms showcasing their work to US investors as part of the America's Cup regatta.

STQRY (pronounced Story) is a mobile phone application developer founded by entrepreneur Chris Smith last year.

Venture capitalist Gareth Morgan and his son Floyd are both shareholders in the firm.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) is running an extensive programme in San Francisco with the aim of capitalising on the attention New Zealand is getting as it competes for the America's Cup.

As part of that 11 firms will take part in an Investment Technology Showcase in September, presenting to Silicon Valley investors.

STQRY has been on a fast growth track from day one, and now has over 100 customers in New Zealand and the US.

It produces an app which helps destinations and attractions tell their stories to visitors. Users scan a QR code at their actual location and the app delivers a multimedia experience, telling the visitor about where they are.

Customers include the Wellington City Council - it has developed an app for Wellington Zoo - San Francisco's City Art Commission, and the City of Seattle where it does heritage and art work.

NZTE is also using STQRY's technology to promote New Zealand business, investment and tourism at the San Francisco event.

Smith said the company had raised some money in New Zealand but was now ready to move to the next stage and attract some Series A, or growth, funding in the US. "This is an opportunity to network and pitch to some venture capitalists and start that Series A process," he said. The future of the business was definitely in the US.

The showcase is part of a wider NZTE programme promoting about 150 Kiwi companies with interests in the US market.

NZTE's America's Cup project manager Briony Ellis said the companies were able to take customers onto the Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) base and host them on the official spectator boat. "It's turning out to be quite a sought-after programme."

The ETNZ boat looked fantastic in action and the spectator craft were able to get up close, she said. "When you're down at water level looking at it coming at you, man, it's so impressive."

Catherine Robinson is a director of the Kiwi Landing Pad, a not-for-profit organisation based in San Francisco helping New Zealand technology companies break into the US market.

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Locals wanted ETNZ to win, because of its innovation and technology and the way the team was conducting itself, she said. Fairfax NZ

- The Press

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