Spark Ventures CEO Rod Snodgrass speaks with Computerworld NZ the focus areas of the NZ unit within the larger group, and its semi-independent nature that allows the division to function like an incubator within a telco giant.
Q: What are the focus areas for Spark Ventures?
Rod Snodgrass: At the very top level, taking a corporate view, our focus is about generating long term wealth for Spark and that means overtime creating new sources of revenue. To do that you have to enter new markets or adjacent markets or sub-segments related to the core markets that the core business is not addressing well. That means you have to build new products and services, and new businesses.
To do that, you have to adopt different business models and different ways of doing things. We use the lean start-up methodology in terms of how we do market validation and testing. We use agile software development processes because that's quite aligned to the lean model.
In terms of our focus areas, these would be markets where a different model is necessary to address a different segment -- might be a different brand, different business model. Examples of these would be Skinny Mobile and Bigpipe, which are very digital centric businesses designed in a different way, with a different brand and different technology and people. That's around more disruptive models in existing markets.
We also look at adjacent markets where disruption is occurring, a natural market for Spark to be in. Lightbox is a clear example of that in terms of media.
There are areas where by adopting disruptive processes and ways of thinking you can create new markets and new ways of doing things. Qrious clearly would fall into that. There is a lot of hype around big data at the moment but the reality is if you use data well and turn it into information and insight, you can create action and outcome. Qrious is just a recognition by us that there is a lot of data that other parties have and if you bring it together there are processes that you can use to create insights and information that you can then turn into action to drive business outcomes.
If you were to see what we are through all of that, we are about creating long-term wealth for Spark and doing that by adopting different ways of doing things, different processes and having a bias for disruption, bias for action, bias for partnering and trying to move quite quickly in small iterative steps rather than long development lead times.
The areas that we are operating in is much more uncertain and nascent than the other markets so you have got to make a lot of small, fast steps rather than long, big ones. We are about embracing new ways of doing things and being able to be disruptive, but in a positive way.
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