Making selling global simple

Zack Pentecost is helping to make it easier for Kiwi businesses to break into overseas markets....
Zack Pentecost is helping to make it easier for Kiwi businesses to break into overseas markets. PHOTO: SUPPLIED / LIAM COLEY
You couldn’t accuse Zack Pentecost of lacking ambition.

The young Queenstown-based businessman has a lofty goal; he wants to help create "the next generation of Kiwi world beaters" through his start-up Noria, which aimed to make it simple for Kiwi businesses to sell to the world.

Mr Pentecost has packed a fair amount into his 26 years, including moving to China at the age of 20 for an internship and later working for global toy company Zuru Toys.

Now he is focused on his own business, saying it was the potential of Noria which was getting him out of bed each day. Since officially starting in January, it had already generated "millions of dollars" of sales for clients, he said.

Originally from Morrinsville, Mr Pentecost said he was "a little bit all over the place" at school but he really enjoyed business studies.

He studied strategic management and finance at the University of Waikato, where a class in management and sustainability opened his eyes to issues facing the world, including resources and climate change. That was when he found his "why" — and he wanted to help combat that change.

During his studies, he picked up a part-time job doing sharemarket analysis. He also continued to work as a duty manager at his local New World supermarket.

An opportunity arose for him to do an internship in procurement and supply chain management in China and, three weeks later, he temporarily dropped his studies and headed to Asia where he worked on sourcing and supply chain management for quick service retail brands.

Returning to New Zealand and university, he picked up an internship at an angel investment firm in Auckland. One of his interesting projects was building an emerging market strategy for herd improvement and agri-technology co-operative company LIC.

A meeting with Zuru toy company co-founder Nick Mowbray revealed the company was looking for someone to move to China to work on its e-commerce transformation. He fitted the bill of someone who was "young and hungry", coupled with his previous Chinese experience.

Nick Mowbray, along with siblings Matt and Anna, started Zuru Toys in 2004 in Waikato before moving to China and turning it into a global toy company.

Returning home due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Mr Pentecost saw a lot of great New Zealand brands but said they either did not make it overseas or they had a limited presence, and he saw a great opportunity to make selling globally a lot more simple.

Quite burnt out after an intense time, he met Zuru co-founder Anna Mowbray and explained it was time to move on to the next step of his life.

In October last year, he moved to Queenstown. Initially, the plan was to spend a month or two in the resort to "reset" before he started his business. But he discovered he loved life in the south.

Queenstown was endeavouring to build itself as a tech hub and there were a lot of great founders setting up businesses there. There were also a lot of high worth experienced business people in the area.

While there was somewhat of a stigma that jobs were only available in tourism and hospitality, the narrative was starting to shift from that.

It was early days for Noria, which he described as a marketplace solutions company, but he was excited to be involved in helping create opportunities for other Kiwis. And he already had friends who were planning on moving to Queenstown.