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Ōtautahi Christchurch’s Seventy Million User Secret

Hands Up If You’ve Ever Used Lumin PDF?

You’d be joining over 70 million users globally who are using it to annotate, share and review documents digitally.

But did you know that this smart little tool was developed right here in Christchurch, by a University of Canterbury (UC) student?

How It Started

A decade ago Max Ferguson was studying Civil Engineering at UC while working with Downer in the post-earthquake rebuild during the holidays. After seeing a heap of inefficient document workflows, which he thought could be improved with digital software, Max wrote the original source code and within three weeks the genesis of LuminPDF was born.

After founding Lumin’s parent company, Nitrolabs, Max relocated to Silicon Valley and began his studies at Stanford University, where he completed his PhD and continued to develop and build on his initial concept of Lumin.

LuminPDF takes paper-based, laborious tasks, like signing contracts or highlighting phrases in an assignment and makes them digital. It’s used by educators, students and organisations globally.

Global from Day Dot

Nitrolabs has been built globally from day one. Since the company’s inception, Max has been based between New Zealand and the USA with the development team in Vietnam, led by one of Max’s USA connections. The support team is split between NZ and the Philippines, and the marketing team is based in the Ukraine and now New Zealand. Work gets done using online collaboration tools like Asana, Google Docs, Zoom and Jira.

Physical location doesn’t really matter to us. Once a company gets over that hurdle, they can hire the most talented people from anywhere in the world,” 

Max Ferguson

Being based in Christchurch

Max recently returned to Christchurch, pulled back by the people and the lifestyle. He’s been pleasantly surprised by how much the tech sector has grown since he’s been away and how active it is, although many of the companies and opportunities seem hidden from view, something he is passionate about changing so people can see the strong prospects themselves.

He didn’t set out to build a team in Christchurch, but said they employed a few people who made a huge impact on the company and has made it easy to expand from there.

They were world-class talent. You couldn’t find people that good elsewhere in the world. There’s a lot of untapped potential here in New Zealand and Christchurch.”

Max Ferguson

LuminPDF are continuing to grow the team here, especially in marketing and product roles. Many employees have lived in Auckland or overseas and moved back to Christchurch because they like the lifestyle. Max says it’s great to be able to offer a world-class role, from right here in Ōtautahi Christchurch.