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[May 19, 2011]
Global firm sets up in city [Nelson Mail, The (New Zealand)]
(Nelson Mail, The (New Zealand) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) International software company co- founder Michael Cartwright was looking for one thing when he shifted his business halfway around the globe to Nelson.
"I wanted to walk to work via the coffee shop in shorts and a T- shirt during winter," he says.
And he's doing just that, having now relocated Solid Documents from Seattle, in the United States, to Akersten St on Nelson's waterfront.
Mr Cartwright and his wife, Tamara, founded Solid Documents in the US about 11 years ago, although they had no idea at the time that it would become what it has.
They set out to produce a superior document editing product but, like many business startups, their funding dried up too soon.
Looking for ways to fund completion, Mr Cartwright searched what people were most often seeking online and noticed a need for a program that converted PDF files to Word documents.
Solid Documents was already doing work in this space through its product development. The Cartwrights decided to adapt and sell it as a way of raising extra capital - an exercise they thought might last six to 12 months.
"Boy were we wrong," Mr Cartwright said.
"Our little funding plan turned out to be our business. We were the first players in the market with this niche. You can't plan these things. There's a fair degree of timing and an element of luck." Solid Document sells its programs directly to end users around the world, either via the internet or through its international network of resellers.
"We've pretty much got someone in every major city. Right from the beginning we've translated the product to 15 different languages." It also licenses its programs to major software companies. "The big shining example of that is Adobe which is using our technology in Acrobat X." Mrs Cartwright said shifting the business didn't require any great change in mindset.
"We've always been an international company and always thought worldly or globally - not just where we are." They came to Nelson last May to scope it out, deliberately not renting a car to test how easily accessible the city was. "What we were trying to improve on was a more pedestrian lifestyle." Mrs Cartwright said Nelson had "a great vibe to it". She found people to be "super efficient and helpful" - an experience that's stayed with them as they've set up the business here.
Mr Cartwright has been highly impressed by local internet provider Pacific.net, lines company Network Tasman and the cable laying service, Underground Brown. They are also complimentary of Government websites and organisations. Getting New Zealand banks that handle income in American dollars and relocating their three cats here have been the biggest challenges.
"The immigration application for us was easier," Mr Cartwright says.
The couple leased their premises through Summit Real Estate agent Bevan Dixon and envisage they'll be hiring between two and four staff as they grow the New Zealand base.
They're also enjoying the Nelson lifestyle, being into rock climbing and trail running.
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