Brothers John and Michael Chow –- who in 20 years have built a financial empire from a Wellington takeaway shop -- have announced plans to put at least 25 percent of their investments, some $100m, into the information technology sector by 2020.
They say they aim to have assets worth $1b by 2020 and aim to invest in leading-edge technology systems to get them there.
The move follows the pair’s failed earlier foray into IT. John Chow said: “Seven years ago we invested $3m into an offshore IT start-up business as a punt and lost the lot, but we learned from that loss and we are smarter for it.”
He added: “We were actually before our time. But we know now that the time is now right to invest in smart technology in certain market areas.”
Chow said the pair’s Inno Capital finance company was operating in a sector that had the potential to grow rapidly through the application of IT. Inno Capital – a joint venture between the Chows and Clint Webber of Webber Capital -- was launched in 2015 with the claim that it would undertake financing ventures that the banks would not touch.
"We are already a fast-growing lender but to grow at the pace we have targeted we need world-leading technology, so we are on the hunt and have already had some high-level meetings with industry leaders.”
He also cited systems for the building industry and for property maintenance as two other areas of interest -- the pair recently acquired Stonewood Homes and Stonewood Fire Services, but declined to be more specific. "My degree is in computer science so that might give a hint as to what are of IT excites me,” he said. “But I’m open to be convinced from market players where we should invest".
The Chows bought Stonewood – formerly New Zealand’s largest home builder – in 2016 after the company collapsed, owing unsecured creditors $15 m.