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There is a new gold rush in town – and one Cromwell entrepreneur is encouraging businesses to stake their claim.

Southern Software founder Duncan Faulkner wants the people in Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago to shift their focus – and reliance – tourism, and step into the realm of technology.

“Pre Covid, the primary industry in the Queenstown Lakes was tourism, which paid its workers 12.28% below the national average. This makes it almost impossible for the average person to survive financially in the region,” Mr Faulkner said.

The solution was a change in perspective.

“We need to reinvent ourselves as #TechTown to remove our dependency on tourism.

“We have had two years to do this since the international tourism tap was turned off.

“Covid has shown us we have been far too dependent on tourism, for far too long.”

Mr Faulkner said that technology could be used to solve real world problems in the region. This in turn would create a thriving tech ecosystem with sustainable, well paid job opportunities.

The US city of Boulder, Colorado, was proof a tourist town could reinvent itself as a thriving tech industry, Mr Faulkner said.

“Boulder is a city in the mountains 13,000km away in the US.

“It is also known as a tourism destination, not too dissimilar to Queenstown Lakes, however, Boulder has a thriving tech industry.

“The people of Boulder enjoy higher wages, at 29.6% above the national US average.”

Kiwis switching from tourism to the tech industry could find themselves with a 41% pay rise a billion dollar idea, Mr Faulkner said.

“Take that Kiwi ingenuity, No8 wire approach [already applied] to physical products and now relate it to tech.

“If you find yourself saying ‘wouldn’t it be great if there was an app for . . . ‘ then the chances are you’ve found a niche problem that needs solving.”

People did not need to be tech savvy to enter the industry – and getting started could be as simple as grabbing a coffee.

“A big problem, I think, is not knowing where to start and feeling overwhelmed.”

“We just want people to realise they may not have the technology knowledge and know-how, but that’s where we can help – just hire the smart people.

“People ask themselves how do we start with this? It always starts like this – with a coffee.”

Mr Faulkner was partnering with Start Up Queenstown to launch TechTown and encourage people to rethink a career in tech.

“We challenge you to see if your idea could be the next big tech company.

“Get in touch with the team at Start-up Queenstown Lakes or book a free coffee with Southern Software to start making your idea a money-making reality for you, and the Queenstown-Lakes.”

*Southern Software is launching a series of TechTalks to help the business community think more digitally starting June 7 in Queenstown.