Each year, Kea draws from a rich network of high flying global Kiwis to make over 1,000 connections for New Zealand businesses. Lewis Road Creamery, Auror and Walk On are three ambitious Kiwi companies Kea has helped connect in recent months.
1. Lewis Road Creamery
Jamie Svensen from Lewis Road Creamery (of the chocolate milk fame) approached Kea to find a connection who could advise them on growing a business in the food and beverage industries of the UK and EU. Kea connected Jamie with two Kiwi expats Bharti Parsotam, former Managing Director of Yoplait UK, and John Alderman, Marketing Manager of Kraft-Heinz, who were able to give Jamie some valuable insights.
Who are Lewis Road Creamery?
Jamie Svensen is the Marketing Development Manager for Lewis Road Creamery, an artisan dairy brand that began in a shipping container in the Bay of Plenty. The original idea was to churn premium butter from organic and permeate-free milk right here in New Zealand. However, Lewis Road quickly realised there was a demand for other premium dairy products like milk and ice cream – especially after the chocolate milk craze of 2014, where supermarkets were hiring security guards to defend their stocks of Lewis Road’s Whittakers chocolate milk. If the demand and thriving market on TradeMe for chocolate milk taught Lewis Road anything, it’s that there’s a lot of room for expansion in artisan dairy products.
Who is Bharti Parsotam?
Bharti Parsotam has a wealth of experience in managing global consumer products, especially dairy – she was the Managing Director of Yoplait UK for four years. Bharti has also worked for a range of multi-national food and beverage businesses such as Danone, Burton’s Biscuit Co and HP Foods, making her the perfect choice to advise Lewis Road on their business goals and growth.
Who is John Alderman?
John Alderman is the marketing manager of Kraft-Heinz, a huge multi-national food and beverage company. John’s experience is in building regional marketing plans for a wide range of products and working on Kraft-Heinz’s marketing strategy for Europe and the UK. His in-depth knowledge of the UK dairy supply chain means he had a lot to offer Lewis Road.
How did Bharti and John help Lewis Road?
Bharti and John both had three-hour meetings with Jamie and the Lewis Road team, where they shared their knowledge and insights into the food and beverage industry, expanding overseas and the inner workings of the UK dairy and supermarket industries. After their meetings, Jamie said “I feel much more on track and it is amazing to have someone to turn to with such incredible experience in the FMCG industry. Kea is a fantastic network and it is so nice that other Kiwis are so willing to help and offer their services.”
Through Kea Connect, Bharti and John were able to advise Lewis Road Creamery on where they might expand to next and now have an on-going working relationship. The connection provided valuable insights into how to take Lewis Road from New Zealand to the world.
2. Auror to Walmart
Auror are Kiwi creators of crime prevention software. The company approached Kea for help taking their software to major global retailers. To help with them with their goals, Kea introduced Auror to Greg Foran, New Zealander and President and CEO of US giant Walmart, who have been looking for new security software.
Who are Auror?
Auckland based Auror creates software for police, shopping centres and businesses that are victims of crime. After noticing that traditional ways of investigating theft were both expensive and allowed thieves to go uncaught, Auror set out to find a solution that was cost-effective and would see more thieves being caught. Auror brings all the different areas of crime prevention, from facial recognition to mapping out organised crime groups, into an easy to use platform that shares information between stores, security teams and police. After developing their solutions here in New Zealand, Auror wanted to take their platform to the world.
Who is Greg Foran?
Greg Foran started his career in retail working nights at Woolworths in Hamilton, before working his way up into management and heading overseas to Australia and Asia. Now President and CEO of Walmart US, Greg is responsible for leading the performance of 4500+ stores that serve more than 140 million customers each week. Walmart has been looking for a new provider of security software, so when Auror asked Kea to connect them with someone who could hep take Auror global, Kea knew just who to contact.
How did Greg help Auror?
Greg introduced Auror to Mark Ibbotson, Walmart’s Senior Vice President of Asset Protection. Mark spoke with the team at Auror about what their platform could offer Walmart and was impressed by their software and video demonstration. After their conversation, Mark requested that Auror come visit him in the US for a face-to-face meeting about how Auror and Walmart might be able to work together.
3. Walk On
Walk On is a Kiwi company that develops natural footcare products from NZ merino wool. Walk On was looking to enter the US market and asked Kea if there was anyone that they could connect with. Kea found a number of connections for Walk On, including (1) Justin Walford, President North America for Icebreaker, (2) Trish Choudhary, CEO of E-Sep Technologies and (3) Katy Kunkel, a US based marketing strategist with connection in the US military.
Who are Walk On?
Walk On saw a gap in the blister protection market for a natural alternative, as most existing products were plastic based. Keeping the needs of athletes and outdoor sports in mind, Walk On designed a blister protection product that is simple, natural, completely biodegradable and made from NZ merino wool.
Who is Justin Walford?
Justin Walford is a New Zealander with 15 years’ experience in outdoor apparel and currently oversees Icebreaker’s operations in Canada and the US. Justin’s experience in the US outdoor market made him the perfect choice to advise Walk On on entering the US.
Who is Trish Choudhary?
CEO of E-Sep Technologies, a biotechnology firm, Trish Choudhary has a wealth of experience in creating innovative products and leading teams. Trish is also a New Zealander with many connections in San Francisco, which Kea thought would be useful for Walk On.
Who is Katy Kunkel?
Katy is a freelance marketing strategist and creative consultant based in Washington DC. She has a number of connections in the US Military and has worked on campaigns for a range of global brands. Kea saw her connections with the US Military as a valuable lead for Walk On.
How did Justin, Trish and Katy help Walk On?
Justin from Icebreaker met with Walk On and gave them insightful advice about distributing and selling merino products in the US. Trish connected Walk On with her contacts at Recreational Equipment Inc, NZ Trade Commissioner Adam Bennett, footwear company Wolverine Worldwide and with activewear brand Canterbury. She also gave samples of Walk On’s products to players in the NBA. These connections gave Walk On valuable advice in consumer behaviour which they used to develop a more user-friendly product. To further get the word out, Katy was able connect Walk On to her contacts in the US Military.
As a result of these connections, Walk On has developed a new strategy and received support from AGDMART, Callaghan Innovation and The Woolmark company to build a new product for the US. They also have an on-going relationship Katy, who will be assisting them with their entry into the US.
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