Today’s innovation seminar was one of the best to date. Kept in very down-to earth Kiwi spirit, Jonathan Carr presented a short history of ARANZ (Applied Research Associates New Zealand). ARANZ conducts research and development in the area of 3D scanning and modelling technologies. Having research and engineering background myself, it was really neat to hear Jonathan talking about his business and entrepreneurship journey. The stress of the talk was on the fun and excitement of solving problems. Focus on motivation and technical drivers. Not on money making or management perspective, but rather on problem solving.
Jonathan highlighted a number of points. He stressed that it is important to be motivated and have a goal/aim that is a driver in all of your activities (which is quite different to be money driven). The money should be the side-effect of the work and activities, but the main motivation or goal you engage yourself in should lie outside of financial domain. One needs to have a high fear threshold and not be afraid of taking personal risks. And the third main point is to know what brings you the most fun and satisfaction, and concentrate on it. To know your place.
It has been stressed that during the first 10 or so years of the venture all the founders basically did everything in the company. They have been running all possible positions, from research, engineering all the way to accounting. However, none of them was super happy with management tasks, dealing with people and logistics of running the company. It has been as late as this year when they have hired their first Software Manager.
One of the important points mentioned was dishonesty and non fair-play practices that are common in business circles. “Know who you dealing with”. “See beyond the facade and illusions that are created for you”. “Never believe what you are told, especially if it sounds to what you would like to hear.”
Jonathan also stressed that after years of product development, the best business model for them turned out to be software licencing. Their software package licence brings around $10k a year, which provides linear stedy flow of revenue, on top of which every single new sale brings more money to the company. This was also something their investors are much happier about, rather then “just” product development.
Quite an amazing journey and amazing story. Inspirational.
Started as 4 engineers dream, in early 90s, ARANZ has 50+ staff today, with full time CEO and two independent directors. There is a number of spin-off companies that carry out commercialisation of certain product lines and ideas. ARANZ stayed as a central unit that provides main R&D for the entire operation.