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Globally, tech is growing faster than ever. Can New Zealand keep up?
Date Published:
Ryan McMillan from Atlas Digital
Ryan McMillan

#006 Serge van Dam: Playbook for Global SaaS Growth

Many of you reading this are founders and marketing leads. The Raise is all about raising the ambition and raising the bar for Kiwi and Aussie SaaS companies. So this week I’ve put together a playbook of wisdom shared during my conversation with Serge. Watch, read, grow. Then take your SaaS business global - bigger, better, faster. 

Date Published:
Ryan McMillan from Atlas Digital
Ryan McMillan

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Scroll Serge’s playbook in less than 1-minute

Globally, tech is growing faster than ever. Can New Zealand keep up? Tech in New Zealand is predicted to grow by 4x over the next 10 years. Behind us are several years of consistent growth in the sector, a bunch of successful exits, and experienced founders reentering the ecosystem. Ahead of us lies AI, rocket ships, and international expansion by NZ SaaS companies like we’ve never seen before. How do we prepare? What should we be concerned about? Can we grow beyond what’s been predicted? 

Truthfully, I’m not sure that we’re set up right now to deliver that growth. We need companies, we need people, we need investment and we need founders. Where do they all come from? I would add that I’m an optimist - we will solve these problems.

I’m hoping to get some insights into the solutions from this week’s guest, Serge van Dam. 

Serge is a tech and SaaS veteran, angel investor, board member, operating partner at Movac, advisor at NZTE, advisory council member at KiwiSaaS, and previously CMO at Fiserv (MCom) before a successful exit. Serge’s modus operandi is scaling up his time and using it for good. He dedicates about 500 hours each year to helping others. Reflecting on his career so far, Serge says that failure is not only the best teacher, it’s the only teacher. When he took his first fintech startup, MCom, to the US in the early 2000’s, there wasn’t a blueprint for exporting NZ tech. 

So let’s hear what Serge has to say 💡


Absorb Serge's wisdom by watching the full interview.


In this week’s longform article, we’ve pulled together Serge’s experience into a playbook for entrepreneurs of all stages:

The offence play - Offence is about making advancements that your opposition can’t keep up with. For Serge, creating new market categories or winning a particular market segment requires “getting lucid” about your ideal customer profile (ICP). A truly global company can unlock tens of millions of dollars in revenue from a single ideal customer profile.

The defence play - Defence is about backing up your offence and playing to your strengths. For New Zealand SaaS companies, this means launching new services by building on available technologies. The blueprint has been leveraging cloud infrastructure like Amazon and Microsoft, and to some extent Google. Serge predicts that  AI will follow suit. “In terms of AI, I think it's a great thing for New Zealand tech because I think it lowers the price of everything. So capital efficient all-rounders, which is how I describe the average New Zealand founder, would actually do better proportionally.”

The team culture play - Serge describes Kiwi founders as “tinkerers.” That culture comes into play during the “accelerating growth” phase, a time when New Zealand startups most commonly fail by hitting a ceiling of growth, short of investor expectations. Having an experimentation mindset is what sets apart the companies that breakthrough that growth ceiling.

The investment play - “Physically make a list of the 20 people in the world who are best qualified to understand  your market  opportunity. If they all say no, it'll be for a reason. If some of them say yes, then  you've got the best kind of investors because they can verify or validate that there's a market  opportunity.”

Bigger, better, faster might be the desire for the SaaS sector - especially off the back of the immense growth prospects. But, with the advent of AI’s latest developments, we need to be mindful that ‘bigger’ isn’t always better.

Read my full take on the themes from Serge’s interview here.


Trends: ChatGPT-4o and the Future of Search

I’m currently in Melbourne, and asked ‘Ember’ my chosen ‘voice’ on ChatGPT-4o about visiting the aquarium over the weekend (I love a croc!). Not only did it tell me about the aquarium, it told me how long it might take, and how to get there. It asked me what else I’m interested in, so Ember could make similar recommendations.

The results were seamless and successful. It was like getting a recommendation from a trusted local. I got just what I needed and closed the app in less than a few minutes.

This completely changed my search and discovery experience. Researching a destination typically would’ve taken me ten to fifteen minutes via Google Search, starting with the keywords ‘Aquarium Melbourne’ and then building on the search depending on the results.

In just 18 months of ChatGPT’s launch, it has replaced a ‘local search’ i.e. what’s near me that I can do, with an outstanding experience.

Read my full take here.

SaaS Spotlight: Hey, Bustle!

After over a decade of helping hospitality businesses run smoothly, posBoss has rebranded to Bustle.

They’re still the same great company helping independent hospitality businesses with POS, reporting, ordering, loyalty and payments across NZ, Tonga, AU and the UK.

Check out their new website: Bustle — The POS for Hospitality (

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