Queenstown tech firm’s US expansion

Tackling the US: From left, Wherewolf co-founder Ben Calder, Lisa Robertson, from reservations...
Tackling the US: From left, Wherewolf co-founder Ben Calder, Lisa Robertson, from reservations systems partner Rezdy, and US head of sales and partnerships Eddie Schmidt. Photo: Scene
A Queenstown software business has opened a United States office to assist its global expansion plans.

Set up in 2013 to allow tourism companies to digitally check in their clients and collate data about them, Wherewolf’s established 40 per cent market penetration in New Zealand.

It already has clients in 26 countries, with the US being its biggest market.

“Wherewolf has always had the clear goal of being the global leader in digital waivers,” co-founder/chief operating officer Ben Calder says.

Now it’s set up an office in Denver, Colorado, to service the US market, and Calder’s moved there after 13 years in Queenstown.

He says Denver was chosen for several reasons.

It’s more affordable to employ and retain good staff there, he explains, than in major tech cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, and living costs are cheaper.

It’s easier to cover the US from, as it’s central, while the time zone – between four and six hours’ difference from NZ, albeit the day before – also made it more suitable.

Calder says Colorado’s also known for its outdoor activities, while Denver has a fast-growing venture capital scene and is closer to business partners.

NZ Trade and Enterprise had provided huge support in setting up there, he adds.

“The business landscape is very different – you are essentially dealing with 50 different countries.

“It has been a fun but long challenge to get everything set up right, from registering the company, visas, employment law and healthcare.

“Even just setting up a bank account, social security number, credit checks and getting an apartment has been an interesting experience.

“The US is not used to people from different countries setting up here.”

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