Leading the charge: NZ’s first Tesla Model S

The electric garage: Tesla Model S, Segway PT, and a pair of Nissan Leafs.
The electric garage: Tesla Model S, Segway PT, and a pair of Nissan Leafs.

Auckland software entrepreneur Steve West has imported the first Tesla Model S electric sports saloon into New Zealand. In fact, his is the first privately owned Model S in all of Australasia, and it arrived direct from a European showroom – purchased as soon as the right-hand-drive version was released to the UK market.

Steve hosted a “Leading the Charge” launch party at his home last weekend, inviting leaders and influencers in the electric vehicle field. TV3 News covered the story in prime time.

Amongst the ~50 attendees were internet entrepreneur and Segway Polo player Seeby Woodhouse, technology and economics writer Rod Oram (another enthusiast of the Segway PT), and Philip Bendall from Segway New Zealand (who visited the Tesla head office and factory in San Carlos, California in 2008, and attended the Sydney unveiling of two not-for-sale Model S’s in August earlier this year – the first Australian customers hope to receive their Model S’s next month).

A lucky few got to be some of the first people in New Zealand to ride in the luxury, all-electric Model S. Afterwards, a ‘fishbowl discussion’ followed, centred around what can be done to speed the adoption of electric cars in this country.

Other electric cars on display included Steve’s other Tesla – the original Roadster, two Nissan Leafs (or is that Leaves?), and a red MX-5 (known as the Miata in USA) that had been converted to EV. Segway Personal Transporters were also available for attendees to ride.

The electrified nose of an EV-converted Mazda MX-5 (known as a Miata in USA)
The electrified nose of an EV-converted Mazda MX-5 (known as a Miata in USA)

Steve exhibited his pride and joy at MIT in Auckland today, displaying the Tesla alongside the Killacycle and Killajoule before they all head off to Christchurch for Evolocity on Sunday 30th at Mike Pero Motorsport Park.

Steve co-founded Serato, the world’s leading DJ software.

Tesla S launch NZ


Top Kiwi entrepreneurs and their Segway PTs

While it is not for us to be so bold as to suggest causation, there is certainly a high correlation between being recognised as one of New Zealand’s top entrepreneurs and owning your own Segway Personal Transporter (PT).

Lets consider three leading examples: Rod Drury (Xero, Trade-Me, Aftermail), Seeby Woodhouse (Orcon, Green Carbon, Voyager Internet) and Bill Buckley (Buckley Systems).

Yes, of course they all own Segway PTs, and….

Also, Xero and Buckley Systems were two of the three finalists in the 2013 NZ Hi-Tech Awards.

So there it is folks. The statistics are on your side….

….buy a Segway PT and the data suggests the odds are good that you’ll become a top entrepreneur!


Segway Games at Kordia ITEX expo 2012

Four hundred of New Zealand’s top IT people attended Kordia ITEX 2012 yesterday. Part of this year’s annual Information Technology Expo has been the nomination of ten IT Superheros from within businesses and organisations around the country.

Kordia is best known to consumers as the owner of popular ISP Orcon (founded by Segway PT owner and Segway Polo player Seeby Woodhouse). With a team of over 1,000 people, Kordia builds, manages and maintains telecommunications, broadcast and infrastructure in New Zealand, Australia, South-East Asia and the Pacific. Kordia’s shareholder is the NZ government, and the organisation has been around for over 60 years.

Kordia’s advertising agency Chemistry Group suggested Segway Games as a great way to engage and entertain delegates. Chemistry created a stunning space for the activity to operate in, backed with banners of all 10 nominees for IT Superhero. As the day proceeded  we updated a Top Gear-style Leaderboard to find the fastest players, who went on to win a range of prizes.

ITEX 2012 banner; the Segway Game Zone with banners of the 10 nominees for “NZ IT Superhero Awards 2012”; Segway game Leaderboard

Fish & Chips with Woz

by Philip Bendall (Managing Director of Segway New Zealand)

Today I ate fish & chips* with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple – perhaps the most valuable company in the world today.

Woz is in Auckland preparing for his Steve Wozniak Live seminar tomorrow, and there was time for Steve Simms (Tomizone), Seeby Woodhouse (Voyager, Green Carbon, founder of Orcon), Andrew Somervell (Eventfinder, The Beer Festival, Biggie) and myself to enjoy a leisurely lunch at Jack Tars, North Wharf on Wynyard Quarter, Auckland.

I first met Woz five years ago, when we each captained our respective Segway Polo teams at the world’s first international championship held in Auckland, February 2006. The Aftershocks and the Pole Blacks were the only two teams in the world competing for the freshly minted Woz Challenge Cup back in February 2006, but by the following year three US teams faced the Pole Blacks in San Francisco (Seeby and Andrew were our best two players that year, with Rod Drury (Xero, Trade-Me) completing our team of five players along with Steve Simms and myself). This year at least 16 teams will compete at the 2012 tournament in Stockholm next month. 

Woz remarked it was so nice to have time out of his busy schedule to just relax in Auckland again with friends he hadn’t seen for a while. I mentioned one of my favourite memories was the surreal experience of him and I driving around Cupertino, California, in his Hummer he’d fitted out with radars for hurricane chasing. Competing on the Polo Field at Gold Gate Park in sight of the famous bridge was pretty cool too.

Woz spend the morning enjoying a Magic Broomsticks Segway Tour of Devonport, calling it “just the most beautiful place to see by Segway PT”. Owner Pauline Baker was thrilled to take Woz on a guided tour of the many historic and picturesque sights – the nautically themed township, North Head with its ancient ‘disappearing gun’ and tunnels, Mount Victoria with the best 360 degree views of Auckland. Pauline has also loaned Woz the use of a Segway PT to use during this 4 days in Auckland. Woz is not only a great fan of the Segway PT, but is often seen getting around on one. He’s famous for queuing up at a local Apple Store on a Segway PT to buy the latest iPhone on launch day (nicely parodied here).

As you can imagine, these five technology entrepreneurs talked non-stop throughout lunch about all manner of topics, including waxing lyrical about the coming Technology Singularity. We were interrupted only once by an enthralled member of the public who recognised Woz and came over to introduce himself, thanking him for inventing the personal computer and thus forever changing the world.

Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak and Philip Bendall, 20 May 2012. Woz is on a Magic Broomsticks Segway PT and Philip clasps his signed copy of iWoz – Steve Wozniaks autobiography.

* Fish and chips is a favourite Kiwi takeaway (fast food) meal, although today we ate it as a sit-down restaurant meal. Foreigners insist New Zealanders pronounce it as “fush and chups” when they hear us say it, but yeah, yeah, nah mate, they’re just hearing funny, Bro’.

Business networking by playing Segway Polo and other 21st century sports

Business and sport go together. Think golf, think sponsorship and branding, think corporate boxes, or breaking the ice by talking about last night’s game before a meeting starts.

While the old adage says a lot of business is done on the golf course, fastcompany.com says golf is so business 1.0. If you want to meet and play with the movers and shakers of the modern world you have to get out and play 21st century sports such as Segway Polo.

In Playing Games with Networking read how Segway Polo tops a list that includes Ultimate Frisbee, Kiteboarding, Snow-Kiting and Dodgeball.

So who’s playing the new sports of the new millennium? Steve Wozniak (Apple co-founder) of course, now add Richard Branson (Virgin), Larry Page (CEO, Google), Drew Houston (CEO, Dropbox), Othman Laraki (Twitter), along with partners and founders from many of the main venture capital firms. Find out more about what these people say appeals to them in Playing Games with Networking. For example:

“Tech people were the ones willing to first spend $5,000 on a Segway. Then we started saying, ‘What could we do with these things?’ And we wanted to socialize,” says Wozniak.

Woz hits the ball fair and square – these new sports are a way for enthusiastic people to spend time with those who they’d otherwise probably never be able to reach. Check out some of the players and touring team members of New Zealand’d first Segway Polo team The Pole Blacks: Rod Dury (CEO Xero, Aftermail), Seeby Woodhouse (founder of Orcon, CEO Green Carbon), Steve Simms (CEO Tomizone), Andrew Somerville (Voyager, Biggie, and of course The Beer Festival) and technology writer Peter Griffen (ex-NZ Herald, Science Media Centre). And of course Segway Polo has been a fixture at MORGO since 2007 – the annual get-together by the who’s who local technology entrepreneurs (this event has showcased the launch of inventions such as the Martin Jet Pack, Yike Bike and the REX Exoskeleton).

Philip Bendall – managing director of Segway NZ and captain of The Pole Blacks – says “If Polo is the sport of Kings, then Segway PT Polo is the sport of technology Kings.”

Check out this 30 second promo by the Stockholm Segway Polo Club – hosts of the Segway Polo World Cup 2012.

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