John Gallagher nominates for a joint Ladder Award:
1. The Press’ (Christchurch, New Zealand) BusinessDay section for its new weekly “In Good Company” series and
2. “Rocket Languages,” the subject of the first article in the series. The article “Online language courses rocketing for city firm,” was published on 30 March, 2009 on page A7.
The Press “In Good Company” series is to feature “established small- to medium-sized local and South Island [New Zealand] businesses making their mark in the domestic and international markets.” BusinessDay also invites readers to send in information about any company that fits these criteria.
John Gallagher sees this focus as exactly what is needed everyone to help see more quickly how the country, the second most indebted next to Iceland, can begin to move beyond 4 decades of continuous year-on-year deficits.
He considers that the first company, Rocket Languages, is particularly worth knowing and thinking about.
It sends online instruction packages in 7 languages, produced in a studio in the city of Christchurch, to about 60,000 people all over the world. More than 200 courses are being sold each week, and the firm has experienced steady growth since starting up in 2004. This growth has so far, contrary to expectations, been sustained since the economic downturn that began last year.
Rocket Languages are here creating what David Skilling (New Zealand Institute, September 2007) referred to as a knowledge-based, weightless economy.
Notably, Gallagher says, Rocket Languages is producing a premium virtual, “weightless” product in that it:
1. is both economically and environmentally very efficient. It is highly knowledge and skill-intensive rather than capital-intensive, or energy-intensive or even materials-intensive compared with manufacturing and farming. The company does invest heavily in research and development, but is doing this by ploughing back the firm’s own profits rather than borrowing money, which usually has to come ultimately from overseas sources.
2. is export-intensive, which helps to reduce the country’s overseas debt.
3. is owned locally, so profits do not go offshore, which would serve to add more to our mounting external debt.
4. is beginning to show how, in terms of the kind of innovation commended by Village-Connections, the benefits of smart networking between people with diverse multicultural, and multilingual, backgrounds in an increasingly cosmopolitan and educated city and country.
If a culture could be developed in which diverse people met and networked in local areas, many more, similarly innovative such start-ups could emerge to help meet the endless needs of ultimately 7 billion or so people. Cumulatively, such projects could then draw in considerable new income of a kind that could be earned and disseminated throughout society.
It is true that New Zealand has depended and will continue to depend on agricultural production. However, the greater the success of the capital-light, knowledge-intensive products, the more quickly will the country begin to move out of its chronic indebtedness. The country will also be more easily able to reduce its heavy dependence on capital-intensive, energy-intensive and environmentally-taxing agriculture.
To conclude with a final thought even in this regard: if agricultural producers themselves should choose to tap rather more into the multicultural communities, networks, and knowledges in this country, they might find out how to process their products and pitch their marketing to reach far more of the world’s people for a much greater return from more modest, less environmentally demanding production .
What do you think?
See also – The Weightless Economy – David Skilling argued:
“To succeed in an intensely competitive global economy, New Zealand must determine how it wants to compete. New Zealand is more likely to succeed in weightless goods and services: adding knowledge-based value to physical products … as well as producing services that can be transported virtually.”
(From the Executive Summary of “Positioning New Zealand to compete in the global economy” published in September 2007.