Justin Flitter
Justin Flitter
Justin Flitter - AI-DAY 2018.jpg

I'm a Marketer, passionate about emerging technology and creating communities.

 

it all started in 2000

I graduated Massey University with a Bachelor of Business Information, majors in Marketing and Communications Management.

My first real job was working at the BNZ as a Junior Financial Planner, we both realised that was not the right fit for me. I got itchy feet and started looking for pizza & beers nights with like minded entrepreneurial people. But I couldn't find any.

So I started going to every After 5 networking event I could find. I researched and discover the idea of Business Incubators running in the States. 

Before long I met my first Board of Directors and together we created the NRG Charitable Trust, a community focused business incubator. We found a home on the top floor of the Wellington Railway Station and secured $200,000 funding from Te Puni Korkori and the Wellington City Council.

At it's peak NRG had 7 tenants, a network of remote members and community of partners providing services and support. 

Developing management and leadership skills

In 2016 I joined Student Job Search managing a team of 20+ in the Victoria University office, national workflow and supporting some IT projects.

During that time I worked the New Zealand Institute of Management. We created the Wellington Young Professional Group. 

The monthly meet up was attended by 100-200 people networking and hearing talks from people about career path planning,  technology and leadership topics.

New city, new opportunities, no networks

Moving to Auckland in April 2008 to take up a role with Fishpond.co.nz as their Head of Customer Services brought new challenges. 90 minutes travel each way on public transport to start with. 

New technology challenges and an online retail market that I hadn't worked in before. But I met some guys that are still friends to this day. Kunal and Andrew - high five!

By November that year the GFC had taken effect and redundancy had me sitting my my K'Rd apartment wondering what to do with myself.

The power of social media

I signed up to LinkedIn. And started searching for companies that I thought would be interesting to work with. One of those was Zendesk, a customer support platform I'd trialed at Fishpond.

I found Michael in Hong Kong, messaged him and within five minutes he replied 'Here's my Skype username, call me'. I did and a couple of weeks later I started working for Zendesk, then still based in Denmark with less than 1,000 customers. I was their 8th hire.

I spent the summer writing the product documentation then started on support. Often up at odd hours answering tickets when things went skew-whiff I fell in love with the future and the product as many people have. 

I over the next couple of years I became the APAC Business Development Manager and created their social media presence. 

That interested in content marketing and community development would lead me to create the Social Media Managers role and work with a editor and amazing video content people. Together we created the foundations of their Content marketing strategy, community engagement and lead generation programs.

After a short years break I returned for a final project, looking after some NZ clients as Michael established the Australia office and a three week tour of India, running workshops for Zendesk clients in Bangalore, Pune and Delhi. A highlight os the trip was taking a taxi the 16 hour round trip from Delhi the Taj Mahal in 50 degree temperatures.

Freelancing

After my first trip to San Francisco in 2009 I returned home to establish the Auckland Social Media Club, modelled on an event I'd attend over there.

At the beginning of of the Social media marketing hype cycle our first event featured Wine Guy Jason Briant and the now even more famous Giapo.

SMCAKL (Social Media Club Auckland) grew to 200-300 attendees each month. The group of organisers (I handed over guardianship) kept the program running through to 2017.

During this time I started working on freelance projects. Most notably 18 months with Honda New Zealand and Hardys Health Stores driving their social media marketing strategy and activation programs. 

I worked on the 2011 Rugby World Cub and produced their Social Media Report. My final contract was with the Wellington City Council and developing their Social Media Strategic plan and work programs.

SAAS and Professional Services

Following my work with Zendesk and Digital Marketing Projects I joined ORA HQ, an enterprise established by Christina Domecq as Localist evolved to develop a suite of marketing tools and services for SMEs. 

Growing the business to 3,000 customers with 100+ staff I launched the ORA Dreams Grant program aimed at celebrating and accelerating high growth Kiwi companies. 

One success story was Forbidden Brewing, actually a cider company in Warkworth that has won many international awards and established international distribution. 

At ORA HQ I was their Head of Marketing, coordinating brand and communications strategies and digital marketing activation programs for the business and it's clients.

Following a short stint with Tomizone, an enterprise WiFi platform and services provider I joined RESULTS.com a business intelligence platform with offices in Auckland and San Francisco. 

As CMO I managed a small team with an expert Marketing Automation manager in Auckland and a Content and Paid media producer in San Francisco. On the Executive Leadership team I established strategies to transform the business from a consultancy with a SaaS offering to a SaaS company with professional services wrapped around it. 

This shift in approach alongside smart, scalable digital content marketing programs contributed to 3 consecutive quarters of double digit growth before funding issues suffocated growth.

It was during that time my interested in Artificial Intelligence like how Natural Language Processing would impact my world as a marketer ignited a side-project that would become my next venture.

Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology

After months of reading and researching I started to attend vendor events on Artificial Intelligence in Auckland. At the back of this events I meet many people, like me working in the Professional Services sector hungry to learn about how AI would impact their business.

Seeing this gap in the market and realising I had skills in community development and event management I established the AI Happy Hour Events. 

Starting in June 2017 at a noisy bar in Britomart, 70 odd people attended the first event. There was Shannon Thomas from IBM who said "We'll host the next one". And I immediately realised this was a thing.

I started charging for tickets immediately. To manage numbers with limited capacity venues and provide some cashflow to give me time to develop a business model.

As is so typical in NZ, it was a Friday night beer with a mate brainstorming that led to purchasing NewZealand.AI and deciding to create a business around AI Events and Education for the Professional Services Sector.

By the end of 2017 I had run 7 sold out events at IBM, Microsoft, Datacom, AUT and the Generator,  (attended by 100-200 people each) and formed a partnership with the AI Forum of NZ to co-produce AI-DAY, New Zealand's Premier AI Event on March 28th, 2018. 

2018 kicked off with the announcement that IBM was to become the first commercial for AI New Zealand Ltd. In months to come I signed partnership agreements with AUT, The Generator, Ipiphany.AI, Hudson Gavin Martin, Storicom and PWC. 

The highlight of my career - to date

AI-DAY on March 28th at the ASB Waterfront Theatre was the result of nine months planning. $100,000 in sponsorship had been raised from Westpac, Microsoft, AUT, IBM, Soul Machines, Jade software, Qrious and Pure Storage. And we had three international speakers from IBM, Microsoft and Amazon presenting keynotes alongside the leading experts and startups working with AI in NZ.

Attended by over 500 people the event production was seamless. All the videos are available on AI-DAY.co.nz.

Scaling up

What's next?

Recognition

In 2016 I was recognised as one of the top 100 (29) Most Influential CMOs.

I was recognised in 2011 as one of the 25 most influential people on Customer Service (Mindtouch) and in 2013 as #20 in the top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros on Twitter (Huffington Post)

Education

I have a Bachelor of Business Information from Massey University with majors in Marketing and Communications Management. My 3rd year Major Report studied the Critical Incident Technique which dates back to the 1940's Airline Industry study of customer experiences.