After five years at the helm of Waikato’s successful business incubator Soda Inc, Graham Gaylard is stepping down as Chair.

Gaylard, who has been Chair since 2014, resigns as Chair effective from end of December, but he will stay on as a board member until March next year.

Gaylard, who is also the Chief Executive of NetValue Limited and involved in numerous technology startups, is leaving his governance role at Soda Inc. to free up more time to spend supporting his family’s business interests.

“The Soda Inc. role has been incredibly rewarding, and it’s been exciting to see the company grow and gain not just regional, but now national recognition.  It’s the right time, after five years in the role, for Soda Inc. to have a change of Chair, and equally for me to personally free up some time supporting my two sons who are now running their own businesses.

“I’ll be sad to leave Soda, but I know it is in good shape financially and reputationally, and that is very satisfying.  The best thing about being part of the Soda journey is supporting the many start-up companies with their new ideas and new ways of thinking.”

Since Gaylard started in 2014, Soda Inc. has worked intensively with around 60 start-up companies, which in total have raised over $15 million and created more than 100 jobs.

He rates his other highlights with the company as successfully securing ongoing Callaghan Innovation funding, the expansion of Soda Inc. into the regions, seeing through the shareholding transition which resulted in Soda Inc. becoming a Wintec subsidiary company, and the move of Soda Inc. from the Meteor site to Wintec House, where it has grown its co-working offer to house more than 30 companies and over 130 co-workers.

“We are working with quality founders growing quality startup companies, and we have posted better outcomes for everyone involved over the years.  With great leadership and a solid, passionate team, we’ve been able to overhaul how we deliver our incubation programmes for the better. I can only see Soda Inc. growing from strength to strength.”

From January next year Rob Heebink, a current Soda Inc. board member, will take over as Interim Chair.  A recruitment process for a new board member will get underway soon.