PaySquad founder Cam Richardson wants to see redemptive entrepreneurship disrupt the traditional technology sector to create a sustainable and ethical industry.
More and more young people, fueled by a desire to change the world around them, are entering the business world before the age of 30.
Young Enterprise Scheme chief executive Terry Shubkin says a growth in support available for those aged between 18 and 30 in the “past few years” has been encouraging young people to stay in the business ecosystem longer.
“We are definitely seeing a rise in that age group … in the past few years we have doubled the amount of students graduating our programs, and we are seeing more and more carry on their business or stay in that ecosystem.”
The Angel Association New Zealand, an organization which connects early stage investors nationally and internationally, found in its last startup ecosystem analysis in 2017 that the average age of founders in New Zealand was 35, lower than the global median age of 36.
* The houses of The Block NZ finally go under the hammer
* Workmates stoked to be on property ladder at 20 – and already planning to buy a rental
* The Detail: The roots of our housing crisis can be traced back to 1937
Shubkin said those in the under-30 age group tended to be in the purpose-driven business space, with particular interests in creating social, environmental and cultural change.
A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment report says the number of purpose-led businesses in New Zealand is likely to grow steadily during the next 10 years as a result of increased awareness of social responsibility.
“One of the benefits they bring [to the business landscape] is the naivety of youth … I see it as a positive thing, they haven’t been eaten up by the system … a lot of older people will say ‘well that’s been tried, that didn’t work’ .. . and maybe that’s true, but maybe society wasn’t ready for it,” she said
“That’s where you’re going to see a lot of innovation and fresh ideas.”
It’s this business ecosystem and available opportunities which led Southland entrepreneur Cam Richardson to found his own business late last year.
Richardson had been studying as a geotechnic engineer before stumbling into the entrepreneurial world through winning a funding challenge in 2013 with his invention – a bicycle helmet with a built-in bike lock.
“That was the light bulb moment. Like ‘okay, entire ecosystems exist who help people with a drive to make amazing things for the world’,” he said.
Richardson, who is the founder of Invercargill financial technology start-up PaySquad, is firm in the belief that to succeed in business at a young age you have to be motivated by a force greater than profit.
“Entrepreneurs now days are getting a little flashier than they have in the past, it’s like ‘wow cool, I’ll get some nice cars and some street credit’. You don’t see the extremely late nights, the lack of social interaction, the giving up evenings out with friends, and the constant rejection,” he said.
PaySquad is designed to allow multiple people to buy directly from a merchant at a point of sale, instead of splitting costs after purchase.
For Richardson, it’s a method of disrupting the popular Buy Now Buy Later services where about a third of consumers are behind on their payments.
“If we can encourage people to collaborate and buy things together instead of dipping into credit or making unsustainable purchases, then it’s bringing a real redemptive force to the payment industry and consumerism as a whole,” he said.
He wants to prove that you no longer need to be in Silicone Valley, or have a great amount of capital behind you, to make a difference to Southland’s business landscape.
“In the old-school mindset, you only hit the strides in your career when you’re in your mid-40s, but nowadays, you can do it so young. It’s still important to have mentors and a bit of wisdom behind you, but what’s possible is massive when you’re younger.”
“The biggest thing for me is that it isn’t either or … adults and youth working together is where we’re going to get that real innovation and growth.”