While the large multinational corporations are gearing up to wow you with technology and woo you with their high-speed data capabilities, small New Zealand companies are also fighting for their share of the mobile and wireless turf.
Working out of Auckland’s University of Technology (AUT) Technology Park, Parochus Software is the newest player in the sandpit.
“We’re still very much in the development stage at the moment,” says co-founder Jason Swain, who isn’t overstating the company’s position.
Parochus (an old word meaning “an officer who looked after travelling ambassadors and magistrates”) has no product or marketing team, shares a secretary with other Tech Park companies and is looking for venture capital.
What it does have is a team of dedicated professionals, some of whom have given up employment overseas to come to New Zealand to work on the project.
“We’ve got funding for our initial development work — mostly from ourselves and what you’d call angel investors. Honestly, finding money wasn’t the hard part, it was convincing people to give up high-paying jobs to come and work with us.”
Parochus plans to build a platform for mobile applications. Swain likens it to AvantGo, the popular content aggregator that allows content providers to re-package their data for smaller handheld devices, like palmtops or cellphones. “We’ve been compared to AvantGo but where they provide content, we would provide applications.”
Parochus hopes to tackle the sticky problem of users working with a variety of handheld devices in a corporate environment. “Some will have a full desktop with all the multimedia tools that comes with, others will have a Palm or a Java-enabled cellphone. We would help enterprises deliver applications across any platform,” says Swain.
Parochus is currently looking for venture capital to take the product to a marketable stage, but Swain has his eyes firmly focused on the big prize — being an international provider.
“New Zealand is a little further ahead than countries like Britain, which are still wary of the technology. In the UK, WAP is considered a failure, whereas companies here are working out how to use it to their advantage. It’s a different mindset.”
Swain says there are many WAP uses in the consumer field but Parochus would focus more on areas that make money — namely the corporate market.
“We are looking at a financial calculator, for example, that mobile lending managers could use. It would be small, around 1k in size, and would be tailored to the bank’s particular lending rules and interest rates and so on.”
Parochus hopes to take its first product to market in the New Zealand financial sector this year and tackle the US the year after. Swain says the company has already been in discussions with Hewlett-Packard and once the first product is available, HP will facilitate discussions with some potential customers.
“It’s fantastic to be able to have that waiting for us.”