Burnes Bows Out As CEO

Startup Queenstown Lakes Trust announced today that James Burnes will be stepping down from his role as CEO in early February 2020. Burnes’ resignation was prompted by his wife accepting a new assignment starting in January with her U.S.-based tech employer.

“James has played an important role in the creation of Startup Queenstown Lakes,” said David Wallace, chairman of the Trust. “His vision and work on the ground has established a district-wide tech, innovation, and startup community and laid the foundation for things to come. We thank him for his energy and commitment to getting the ball rolling”

“This is bittersweet for me. I have poured countless hours into the creation, establishment, and launch of our startup ecosystem,” Burnes said. “I consider getting this startup ecosystem built-up so quickly one of my career’s greatest accomplishments – and I look forward to seeing it flourish while I am away.”

Burnes emphasized it’s been a team effort and that many individuals have been involved to make the community what it is thus far.

In its first year while under Burnes’ leadership, Startup Queenstown Lakes Trust has:

  • Organising the first Tourism Challenges Forum
  • Founded the Tourism Tech Expo
  • Founded WWIN (Wanaka and Wakatipu Investor Network)
  • Brought Startup Weekend back to the District after a 5 year hiatus
  • Expanded and delivered ongoing founder education programmes
  • Launched Prospector, a 90-day pop–up collaboration space.
  • Established an MOU with Startup Dunedin and COIN South to facilitate better cooperation between South Island startup and investment organisers
  • Created a spearhead point of presence to visiting entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors wanting to connect with the Queenstown Lakes District

“In many ways, we are punching above our weight as a newly formed startup community, but there is still much work to do to get this ecosystem to its full potential,” Burnes said. “The roll-out of our work has just formally reached the first of a 5-year plan to establish a strong foundation on which to build. I look forward to working closely with whomever the board of trustees appoint to the leadership role to ensure we maintain the momentum we’ve built.”

The Trustees are beginning the recruitment process and will formally advertise the role in the next few weeks.

Individuals interested in being involved with the organisation should send an expression of interest to intheloop@startupqueenstownlakes.com.