Don’t Just Survive, Thrive: A Tech Entrepreneur’s Secrets to Positive Disruption and The Power of Curiosity

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In partnership with BNZ

Welcome to our new series, Don’t Just Survive, Thrive – where we talk to New Zealand women absolutely nailing it in business. We’ll be talking to wonderful wāhine about their experiences – good and bad – in starting businesses, and with the support of BNZ, the tools that make business banking easy. Today we feature a tech entrepreneur whose career path has been shaped by using technology to solve problems.

Back in the 1980s, when the internet was something known to about 0.05% of the world’s population and the entire digital world we now live in was literally unbelievable, Dexibit founder Angie Judge was getting a front-row seat to a tool that would change the world as we know it. Her father was a software entrepreneur, so she was learning about a whole new world long before anyone else was.

“When no-one else had a computer, I remember the day when he brought the internet home and said, ‘this will change the world’.”

At the time, Angie believed that marine biology was the career path for her and when her father was using the kitchen table to start tech companies, she was designing an underwater hotel on the Great Barrier Reef. “Then my dog threw up on it, so that was the end of that,” she laughs.

Now one of New Zealand’s most successful technology entrepreneurs, Angie says she’s aware of how lucky she was that her dad’s job not only demystified the world of digital technology for her, it also helped her turn to a career that has evolved dramatically in her lifetime. The only computer-related course that was available when she was at high school was the ‘Pittman’s Secretarial Typing Course’ (an absolute blast from the past for those of us who were also teenagers in the 1990s!). “Kids today grow up as digital natives and my generation was probably the last of those that didn’t have devices when we grew up,” she says.

Case in point: when she went to university to study a conjoint degree of Commerce and Software Engineering (then an Applied Science), it was an unheard-of combination. “The university told me I was nuts combining the two, because ‘you don’t mix business and software engineering,’” she says. “These days, of course, that’s exactly what you do.”

A career path that took her through working for merchant banks, for telecommunication companies and for giant computer companies like Hewlett Packard, Angie says the main thread was that “I was curious about how you solve problems with technology.” In each of these jobs, there was always sudden change and massive disruption on the horizon, be in it in the forms of good things – the invention of fibre in telecommunications – or bad things – the Global Financial Crisis in 2007. “All of those things made me want to be on the side that was disrupting, rather than being in the business that was being disrupted,” Angie says. “That was part of the drive for me in starting a company that would go on to disrupt an existing industry.”

“As an entrepreneur, one of the biggest things you have to do is wait for that moment in life when you feel ready,” Angie says. “When you feel like you’ve got the right experience and expertise, but also when you find that problem that you are ready to dedicate your life to solving.” Those things lined up once she got to a certain point, she says. “I had found a problem, in an industry that I had fallen in love with, using a part of technology that I found incredibly exciting.”

In absolute layman’s terms, Dexibit uses AI technology to help predict and analyse visitor behaviour of visitor attractions: what people are looking at the most, what they find the most interesting, what they want to see more of. This then allows the visitor attractions – including museums – to make informed choices about what they feature and also improves user experience. Basically, everybody wins. “We believe democratised data, rapid time to insight and constant innovation changes the game for the world’s cultural future,” reads the website, and the platform combines two of Angie’s passion: the use of cutting edge technology to find out what people are doing and what they want, with the mix of her passion for arts and sciences (e.g., being the kind of six year old who designs an underwater motel because she wants to be a marine biologist).

It’s a career path that has seen Angie going through visitor attractions the day before they open to the public, being able to visit the basements of the world’s biggest museums and seeing all the locked away treasures and being able to crawl through museum sites that haven’t been available to humans for 100 years. “It’s been one of the great pleasures of my life to be able to see those things,” Angie says.

Here, she shares her nuggets of business wisdom she’s learned along the way:

Getting experience in your industry is invaluable

“My father gave me so many pieces of life advice along the way and one of them was to go out and make all my mistakes on someone else’s dime, before going out on my own. I worked at the bottom end of town in small, fast-growing companies and then in the top end of town, for massive corporations, to see how they both did it and then I combined all of that.”

Creating your own start-up requires a different mindset to working for a corporation

“A simple example is that in a corporate mindset, one of the first things you do if you have an idea is write a business case. But that’s a horrendous thing to do if you’re starting a company, because it takes far too long, and it doesn’t really generate any value for the business. It’s the opposite of that for a start-up, where you’re much better off to go out and test out your ideas with your potential customers and go and interview them, testing out your product through proof, rather than in theory.”

Find a bank that suits the bigger picture

“We were building an international business and out of all of the banks in New Zealand, BNZ were the one that looked [to us] the most like the enabler of international businesses. One of the clear features of that was that they have US dollar accounts. We are running a business in US dollars and our customers are predominantly in North America. If you’re having to constantly manage currency coming back into New Zealand, that’s really challenging and you take on a lot of the risks and pressure and stress of doing that yourself. So being able to have joint US and NZ dollar accounts was really powerful.”

Women can bring tremendous value to the STEM industries

“The characteristics that I have seen be really successful are things like a deep interest and curiosity in the world, a deep interest and passion for other and a deep pride in design and aesthetic. In technology, when you’re talking about product discovery, user experience, design, application, front-end engineering of software applications, all of those sorts of characteristics are exceptionally valuable. And while they’re not necessarily gender selected, I think they’re things that a lot of women are fantastic at.”

A diverse staff makes your product far stronger

“One of the founding principles of Dexibit is that friction polishes the stone. When everybody thinks the same way and drinks the same cordial, you get bad ideas and bad decisions. When you’ve got a diverse group of people who all bring different thoughts and ideas to the table, you get a much better result. A diversity of gender, background, ethnicity, age, of walks of life… all those things are important to achieving that result.”

Any views expressed in this article are the personal views of Angie Judge and Capsule, and do not necessarily represent the views of BNZ, or its related entities. This article is solely for information purposes and is not intended to be financial advice. If you need help, please contact BNZ or your financial adviser. Neither BNZ nor any person involved in this article accepts any liability for any direct or indirect loss or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance on, all or any part of the content. BNZ terms and conditions and fees apply to the products and services mentioned in this article.

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