Kiwi 'Rocket man' inducted into Hall of Fame

Southland-raised "Rocket man'' Peter Beck has been inducted into the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame.

But he missed out on the top honour at the prestigious annual EY World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards held in Monaco.

Mr Beck, who was raised in Invercargill, and his company Rocket Lab last month successfully launched an orbital-class rocket into space, the first time this has been achieved from a private site.

While the rocket reached space it did not complete its orbital mission, but the feat was nonetheless considered a major success.

Mr Beck was crowned EY New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year and is now in Monaco where he went up against 49 other entrants vying for the world title.

Murad Al-Katib of Canada was named as the title winner. Al-Katib's company AGT Food and Ingredients has $1.4 billion in revenue, operates in 120 countries and holds around 23% of the world's trade in lentils.

Speaking from his Monaco hotel, Mr Beck told the New Zealand Herald today he was proud to have represented New Zealand on the world stage and the competition was tough.

"It's a huge honour - whether you're a sportsman or an entrepreneur representing your country is the ultimate,'' he said.

"I don't really care for Peter Beck, it's got to be for the country, so that to me is really the prime driver here, being here amongst the most the most amazing people in the world, representing your country.''

Each entrepreneur had just 20 minutes in front of the independent judging panel, who number amongst their participants former New Zealand Winner and chairwoman of the New Zealand judging panel Diane Foreman.

Mr Beck described the event as being like "Olympics for entrepreneurs and business. And that is really exciting".

Ms Foreman said judges spent three hours independently studying each national winner before they met the panel.

"So by the time we arrive in the judging room we really know the competitors. And then we have 20 minutes in the room with each winner to `make magic'.

"Normally it takes around an hour and a half to reach consensus - this time it was four hours of very rigorous debate - but we have a winner and a winner of whom we are very proud.''

Mr Beck said his singular vision in creating Rocketlab was to establish a company that would "challenge the norm and take New Zealand into space''.

"I knew from a very early age that space was something I'm going to work in,'' he said.

"As far back as I can remember standing outside looking up at the stars with my father I knew that space was something I had to be involved with.

"It's kind of a marriage between engineering and space that has lead to all of this''.

He said the first rocket launch showed the world that the company was "a serious player'' in the business.

"I think we're perceived as the leaders in the small launch vehicle. We're lucky to be quite clearly in front of our competition with the first flight of our vehicle.''

Mr Beck wanted to encourage other young Kiwi entrepreneurs and had some advice to share.

"Work hard and don't give up,'' he said.

"There's going to be a lot of people that tell you it's not possible, there's going to be many, many times when it just seems impossible and hard, but we always find a way.

"Sometimes it's almost sheer arrogance there's a barrier in front of you, you can accept that it's a barrier and stop or you can find a way around it.''

Add a Comment

Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter. For more than 158 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is more important now than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter