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Tourism Tech Expo another path for startups – Wherewolf’s Calder

21 Aug 2019  By Paul Yandall | | @tourismticker

(l-r) Wherewolf founders Ben Calder and Wulf Solter

Those with the most allies in business win wars, says Wherewolf co-founder Ben Calder.

Speaking to the Ticker ahead of Friday’s inaugural Tourism Tech Expo at Queenstown, where he will present the keynote, the technology entrepreneur said business alliances with other companies could give your own business a disproportionate amount of market heft.

“You can do it all yourself with a certain number of employees or you can partner with other companies where you both complement each other’s products, then you’ve got many other companies and thousands of more ’employees’ effectively acting as your sales people and advertisers,” said Calder.

“Not only does it increase the speed of your exposure to your market it increases your lifetime value of your client base because a more integrated client is a more sticky client. They stay around for longer and they spend more money – that’s certainly something we have seen.”

Adventure tourism software developer Wherewolf was founded in 2013 and has clients in two dozen countries around the world. It opened an office in Denver, Colorado, earlier this year.

The company secured $550,000 of angel investment in 2017 and was named the ‘Rising Star – One To Watch’ at the Deloitte New Zealand’s Fast 50 national awards in 2017.

But finding funding for the tourism technology company wasn’t easy.

“It was quite tough for us when we were starting up in 2013. We had to drive to Dunedin and fly to Auckland if we ever wanted to try and raise capital. Every time we pitched we had to fly up to Auckland,” said Calder.

“We went for the typical angel investment round – tried, got denied, tried, got denied – had no luck. We turned the company profitable in 2016, got investment in 2017 and went on from there.”

The Tourism Tech Expo at Queenstown’s Memorial Centre would provide hopeful start-ups with another opportunity to pitch to investors.

“We tend to leave it to Auckland and Wellington to deal in the angel investment and venture capital world but there’s a lot of wealth in Queenstown and I think it’s important for them to see that there’s a lot of innovation coming from Queenstown,” said Calder.

“It’s a good idea to leverage the tourism brand of Queenstown and put the focus on the technology that can help operators. When working in tourism almost all around the world now, Queenstown has a very good reputation – it’s obviously the adventure tourism capital of the world, and there’s a lot of software and technology going on behind the scenes that helps make Queenstown so great when it comes to tourism.”

Tourism Ticker is an official media partner at Tourism Tech Expo 2019. More information on the event can be found at


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