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The ultimate carry-on luggage. Paul Barmes had dreamed it, designed it and spent six years developing his start-up. Now he was ready to take his state-of-the-art bags Stateside.

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Paul’s first port of call? Kea Connect powered by Xero. Paul was keen to talk to other Kiwis who’d already cracked the American market and we were more than happy to facilitate those conversations.

The first high-achieving Kiwi Paul got to “chew-fat” with was Tim Brown, Co-Founder and CEO of billion-dollar footwear business, Allbirds, when they met up in San Francisco.

Paul took Tim through the machinations of The Barmes Case, a unique combination of travel case, mobile office and personal storage. The patented design has three ingenious, independently-locking compartments that separate business, travel and personal items.

Tim thought the product was well-resolved but offered some thought-provoking ideas to help the product hit a wider demographic – especially in relation to entering the American market - which Paul has since incorporated.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Before meeting Tim, Paul thought he was a running a bit behind in development. He felt a lot better when Tim, seeing where Barmes Design was already at, told him “Paul, we spent six years in development before we got traction. You are further down the track than we were at this point.”

Reassured and invigorated, Paul gained “Real excitement about what lies ahead.”

Designer meet Designer.

Allbirds wasn’t the only Kiwi in the know who we connected Paul with. He also Skyped with Simon Endres of Red Antler, a specialist branding company for the likes of Google, Allbirds and Birchbox, based in Brooklyn, New York. On the back of this conversation, Paul has hired a Kiwi-led marketing team in San Diego who have repositioned the case to include young influencers

The power of Kiwi connections.

Paul encourages fellow SMEs to take advantage of Kea Connect powered by Xero, adding Kiwi start-ups can learn a lot from the World Class New Zealand network.

“The most important thing in the world is people. New Zealanders are out there and they’ve made things happen. Reaching out to New Zealanders who’ve cracked it is exciting.”

One of the best things he found about the free Kea Connect service is its human element. “It’s just real. These contacts add great value and I think Kea is a wonderful organisation.”

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Part 12