Lift Off - New Startup CEO locked on success

by Peter Newport - Feb 28, 2020


It's the toughest market there is, but the new boss of Startup Queenstown Lakes, Olivia Wensley, reckons she's on track to deliver results.

There's logic behind her confidence. She had the courage, and stamina, to take on the formidable, male-dominated world of sexual harassment in the New Zealand legal profession - and won.

It's hard to imagine a tougher challenge than that - but raising money for high risk start up businesses would come close. Especially in a region dominated by the relatively low wage, low productivity tourism industry.

The good news is that there is a decent chunk of QLDC funding to keep the lights on while angel investors and venture capitalists are wooed to this part of New Zealand, in fierce competition with Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch as well as other wannabe Kiwi Silicon Valleys.

In partnership with QLDC's Economic Development manager Peter Harris, Olivia Wensley is targeting tourism tech as the first sector for funding. It makes sense to bracket something that we already do well, tourism, with something that can produce higher wages and better returns - technology.

In an early win Olivia has already got the attention of the Provincial Growth Fund, a resource that so far has largely ignored the Deep South.

Speaking with Crux this morning, Olivia Wensley also has attributes that will go a long way towards securing success - charisma, intelligence and a deep knowledge of how the world turns. She says she can juggle the dual act of nurturing fragile start ups while competing for the attention of the people who have the money to help those businesses achieve their potential.

In the words of outgoing CEO James Burnes , The Future Looks Bright.

Watch: Our interview with Olivia Wensley.

Olivia Wensley - CEO, Startup Queenstown Lakes





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