What drives Movac and founding partner Phil McCaw

31 July 2019

It was an exciting time back in 1998. No one quite knew what a force the internet would become. But back then when we started as Abbott, McCaw, Richter and Associates we had an eye to the future. We wanted our business to generate cash flow which we could reinvest back into all those ideas we had brewing. We could see a whole lot of opportunities to create wealth.

But we didn’t just want to be a money-making machine.

We wanted the business to rest on a strong set of values and we came up with four guiding principles.  We knew they had to be enduring and really bind us as a company.

I think we’ve proved these ones work considering I can still talk about them 21 years later.

Freedom to act was a very important one. We’d been in significant corporate careers before we set out to create our own business, so freedom around work was a must. We wanted to be able to follow our own dreams and so our business had to be an enabler of those desires and the opportunities we wanted to pursue. We didn’t want to be in a strait-jacket and we’ve really resisted being constrained ever since.

Innovation is also a big one. Coming up to the end of the millenium we had more than a hunch the internet was going to be transformative and we wanted to be part of that journey. So building a business in a way that enabled us to participate in the innovative products and budding companies and talent that were springing up was crucial.

Sustainability . How do you create a business that actually serves the life you want to live?  We knew from our previous corporate jobs how incredibly stressful projects can be and we knew we needed time out of the business to recharge so we created the 8:2:2 model to build our operation around. We’d be available for work and billable for eight months of the year, two months would be spent on quality thinking time and the remaining months we’d spend completely out of the business.

We’ve come very close to achieving that and it’s a big reason why our business still exists.

Being relationship-focused is the fourth pillar of this gig. We’ve learnt that staying in touch and demonstrating to people what you’re doing over time brings results and that emphasis on relationships is a big reason why we’re still going strong 21 years on.

There are a few other drivers for me personally. Doing good with the money we’ve made out of investments, for one. I’ve felt enormous responsibility around the big successes like Trade Me. It was a natural thing for me to find opportunities to reinvest the profit, put it back into the community that had helped us make this wealth and go on and help others try to create more Trade Mes.

I also want to help create the next wave of jobs and wealth for New Zealanders and ensure they can have fun and satisfaction too.

Our original driving principles are still there, I believe, but they’ve been embellished. Trust and integrity are wrapped around them too now and you can see that in the relationships we’ve developed with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, Ngai Tahu and K1W1, who are cornerstone investors in our Fund 4.

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