The Flying the Fern podcast tells the stories of well-known New Zealand businesses delivering products and services that are made, grown or designed in New Zealand. Businesses that are carrying the official New Zealand FernMark, sharing their authenticity at home and abroad, and building New Zealand’s global reputation as a trusted origin of innovative, high quality products and services.

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01 ecostore

The realities of being an environmental pioneer

Guest: Pablo Kraus (CEO)

ecostore is a global pioneer in sustainable business. It has been making eco-friendly products since 1993 - well before it was popular - and was the first business to be accredited with the New Zealand FernMark.

ecostore has gone above and beyond to produce sustainable household cleaning, health and other products, exporting them around the world and helping to shape New Zealand’s clean, green reputation.

In this episode of Flying the Fern, host David Downs talks to ecostore CEO Pablo Kraus about:

  • Paving the way for eco-friendly businesses and values-driven consumerism
  • How being from New Zealand aligns with ecostore's purpose, and helps to sell products around the world
  • Why ecostore's values haven’t changed over the years, and how these values help to guide their decision making
  • How the business innovates, to develop and produce new products
  • The constant drive to do better

02 Ārepa

Brain food from natural New Zealand ingredients

Guest: Zac Robinson (Co-Founder and Co-CEO)

Ārepa started from a simple idea and has evolved into world-leading neuroscience, creating foods and drinks that support brain health and performance. Co-founders Zac Robinson and Angus Brown have grown the Ārepa range from scratch, and now have supply contracts across New Zealand and Australia. They’ve been pioneers in a cutting edge field with massive health benefits. 

In this episode of Flying the Fern, host David Downs talks to Zac about:

  • How they took the idea and made it into a business (including how they funded it)
  • How developing a world-leading product was only the beginning of the hard work
  • How they future-proofed their supply in the structure of the business
  • Why it’s so important to display their kiwi-ness
  • How they cracked the biggest supermarkets in Australia

03 Trust Codes

Helping modern producers tell their stories

Guest: Paul Ryan (CEO) and Emma Wheeler (Head of Strategy)

Trust Codes' business is about enabling consumers to get more information about the products they’re buying. At the same time, it allows producers to stand out on supermarket shelves by telling stories about product provenance, quality and credence.

Today’s consumers are making more and more values-driven decisions, but it’s hard to know which products stand up to their requirements. Trust Codes are scannable QR codes that allow consumers to see in-depth detail about products before they buy them. 

In this episode of Flying the Fern, host David Downs talks to Paul and Emma from Trust Codes about:

  • How Trust Codes protection actually works
  • How traceability, transparency and storytelling help producers to stand out
  • How Trust Codes is helping to tell New Zealand’s story to the world
  • The significance of face time when selling a product overseas
  • The future of data in consumerism

04 Jess’s Underground Kitchen

From cooking at home to an international business feeding thousands

Guest: Jess Daniell (Founder and Managing Director)

Jess’s Underground Kitchen (JUK) started as a favour between friends, and quickly escalated to feeding hundreds of people every week. Nine years on, JUK is making and delivering thousands of home cooked dinners around New Zealand, and frozen meals to supermarkets here and overseas.

Jess’s journey echoes typical kiwi values: making quality, fresh food with humility and authenticity, and innovating to do things in ways that suit both her and her customers.

In this episode of Flying the Fern, host David Downs talks to Jess about:

  • How JUK grew from a casual thing to a real business 
  • Her motto - do less, better by sticking to your core business 
  • Building an authentic brand 
  • How the New Zealand Fernmark is a symbol for everything JUK’s about – hard work, humility and passionately believing in what you’re doing
  • What hasn’t worked; what she’s learned and what she’d do differently 
  • Expanding into Australia 


Disclaimer: this episode was recorded prior to their announcement of closing the cafes and focusing on their frozen meal range

05 Book Me Bob

New Zealand’s fastest unicorn?

Guest: David Thompson

Book Me Bob is a revolutionary AI chatbot that’s changing the game in the hospitality world. Book Me Bob is available in a range of languages, can host thousands of conversations at the same time, and is so realistic that it’s often confused as being a real human.

The company was founded just before Covid, and has flourished despite the impact of the pandemic on tourism and hospitality. In fact, founder David Thompson is targeting unicorn status ($1 billion valuation) quicker than any other New Zealand company.

In this episode of Flying the Fern, host David Downs talks to David about:

  • Why Book Me Bob’s technology is so world leading
  • Starting with a bang - going to Bali hoping to get one contract, and ending up with 30
  • Developing a bot with genuine personality
  • Why New Zealanders are so well liked around the world
  • Finding new ways to apply Book Me Bob’s technology

06 Native Sparkling

Rewilding the world through sociability

Guest: Guy Hobson (Co-Founder)

Native Sparkling is New Zealand’s first hard seltzer, which was dubbed ‘Drink of the Summer’ by the New York Times in 2019. The product range is all low sugar, low carb and low calories. But it’s about way more than just the drinks. Native Sparkling have a genuine focus on conversation, including bird programmes and even environmental initiatives in their overseas markets.

In this episode of Flying the Fern, host David Downs talks to co-founder Guy Hobson about:

  • Company origins, making a drink they called ‘Moose Juice’ at university
  • Being a family business, with two brothers and a sister
  • Introducing a whole new product to the established alcohol industry
  • How Native Sparkling got their first sale in New Zealand, and how different it was when they went to Japan
  • How they’ve weaved in their conservation initiatives, and the impact it’s had

07 FarmIQ

Keeping New Zealand ahead by supporting farmers

Guest: Will Noble (CEO)

New Zealand farm systems are special, and today’s farmers are using FarmIQ to get the absolute best out of their farms. FarmIQ has created farm management and predictive modelling tools to give our farmers more data that they can use to make better decisions with.

Farm IQ is playing a key role in the important storytelling aspect of farming that allows us to showcase New Zealand produce as some of the best in the world.

In this episode of Flying the Fern, host David Downs talks to CEO Will Noble about:

  • How FarmIQ allows farmers to focus on actually farming
  • How technology helps to assess the impact of all farming’s variables in farming
  • How kiwi trailblazers have paved the way for other New Zealand technology companies to succeed
  • How FarmIQ underpins the success of New Zealand farming processes around the world