Rocket Lab founder’s seven lessons for success

Techweek, which has over 480 events taking place throughout New Zealand, has officially begun, with Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck headlining the launch event in Auckland today.

Beck, whose company’s successful test flight in January has meant New Zealand is the eleventh country in the world to “reach orbit”, says that building the rocket is only “one third” of the effort. The other two thirds have involved creating the launch site at Mahia Peninsula on the East Coast, and ensuring the regulatory settings are in place to enable space flight. The former involved building 4kms of road, and the latter a bilateral treaty between the New Zealand and US Governments.

His top lessons for success, that he shared with the audience today are:

  • Tech is important but so is everything else. It’s especially key to hire the right team of people and to look after them.
  • Kiwis are problem solvers. Wherever Beck travels – to the United Nations, or to large space and tech companies – he invariably meets a Kiwi in a managerial position, because “New Zealanders have that ability to see right through the problem”.
  • Only hire the best. Beck says he “refuses to hire a ‘pulse’”. Rocket Lab receives 800 CVs every couple of months. The company is currently hiring about five new staff a week.
  • Get on a plane. Beck says we shouldn’t lament the fact that successful New Zealanders go overseas. He says there has to be a strong geographical reason to base your company in New Zealand, and “we shouldn’t get too precious about that”.
  • Fail fast. Beck says they won’t study a problem forever, they will pick a direction and “just go with it”. He says if it turns out to be wrong then they “just stop” but they shouldn’t use up time debating, rather than doing.
  • Sometimes ‘no’ is just ‘yes’ but on a different day. Beck says if he had stopped when everybody said ‘no’ then he would still be working in his garage.
  • Go after the big problems. Beck says that creating a successful company is hard work so you might as well go after the big opportunities.

The ‘Good for the World’event that Beck was speaking at was opened by Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern, who appeared as a hologram. Ardern, who was about to step into a cabinet meeting in Wellington, reiterated the Coalition Government’s goal to make ICT the number two export earning sector by 2025.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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