Boxing promoter and Duco Events founder David Higgins says his motivation for going to university was more practical than academic.
“Growing up, things were quite tough at home financially. While I was still at school I decided that I would buy my mum a house and I knew that going to university was probably a necessary part of achieving that goal.”
Enrolling in a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1998 majoring in marketing and international business he says he did the degree without really knowing what he wanted to do with it.
“Some people go to university with a really clear idea of what they want to do when they finish. I wasn’t one of those people but I was always interested in business”
After graduating in 2002 and short stints working briefly in the manufacturing and business advisory sectors, David says he quickly decided he wasn’t suited to corporate life and decided instead to start his own business, Duco Events.
“I had no capital, no customers and obviously no experience at running my own business but I decided to jump in the deep end and take a risk.”
It was a risk that paid off. Since then David has played a leading role in establishing some of the Asia Pacific region’s most iconic sporting events and was a driving force behind creating the award-winning NRL Auckland Nines, guiding the project from concept through to a 90,000-ticket sell out in its first year.
He also played a pivotal role in establishing New Zealand’s pay per view sports television market. The 2009 David Tua versus Shane Cameron boxing match, which he organised, holds a world record for pay per view uptake as a percentage of population.
But the event came with its own set of risks.
“I woke up the morning of the fight knowing I had everything on the line and that I would be bankrupt if we didn’t achieve a phenomenal audience take up. As it turned out, it was a risk worth taking.”
Building an extensive network of relationships over the years has also allowed him to rub shoulders with some of the world’s leading celebrities and raise several million dollars for charitable causes hosting major speaking events that have included Sir Richard Branson, Andre Agassi, Al Gore and Sir Bob Geldof.
For someone who has learned to manage risk he says his biggest learning has been that every event starts as an idea and the thrill comes in watching it play out.
“It all starts on a whiteboard. Everything is broken down into steps and you figure it out as you go. The important thing is to think big and be fearless in your approach.”
Clearly he has applied the same formula in how own life. His mum now has a house of her own.