Summer Startup where are they now series #07: Luke Campbell and Lucy Turner

01 July 2019

UCE EY Summer Startup Programme scholarship recipients, Luke Campbell and Lucy Turner have had a whirlwind of a six months working on their tech startup, Vxt. This involved being selected as a Dream Believe Succeed Award finalist and receiving a NZBI grant. We caught up with Luke and Lucy to hear their thoughts on the Summer Startup Programme.

  • Luke and Lucy UCE Summer Startup participants

    UCE EY Summer Startup Programme 2018/19 participants, Lucy Turner and Luke Campbell.

Vxt is a smart assistant that converts user's voicemails to text and provides them with tools which save time and money by automating administrative tasks.

We talked to Vxt founders Luke Campbell and Lucy Turner about their progress, changes, and challenges since taking part in the 2018/19 UCE EY Summer Startup Programme.

What was your summer startup idea?

Luke: We started off with an idea for an app to help people who receive a lot of voicemails which would take a voicemail and transcribe it into text, which users could see in an app or as an email or text. We knew that there are many people, such as tradespeople, who receive more than 30 voicemails a week for their work, and that it can take hours to listen to them, take notes, and respond, and wanted to offer them a more efficient solution.

Sounds great! So when you began the Programme, how developed was your idea and where did you start with it?

Lucy: At the start of the Programme, we had thought of a name and really basic concept, but we didn't even know whether it was technically possible to do what we wanted to in New Zealand! 

Luke: We ended up having to change our name, because the domain for our original name, Chirp got taken!

Wow, so it really was just a concept. What are you up to now compared to what you what were doing at the start of the Programme?

Luke: We have a broader focus now, rather than just voicemail, so we have changed how we communicate the idea behind Vxt. We are also hoping to develop automated event scheduling, so if you get a voicemail that has dates and times in it, Vxt can suggest a calendar event for you, or, if the user already has something in their calendar at that time, Vxt can reply to the caller to let them know that time is already booked out.

What fears did you both have about applying for the Programme?

Luke: It seemed like an awesome opportunity to get to work full-time on this crazy idea we had, but I was really scared that I might end up wasting an entire summer on a business that was never going to succeed. I also thought it might be a bit embarrassing if I told all my friends that I was going to start a business and then it failed! Now I realise it wouldn’t have been a waste, even if I didn’t come out with a viable business, because you learn so much, have a lot of fun and meet great people. 

Lucy: I had just received an offer for an internship which I turned down, which was a risk, but I thought it would be cool to work on something with Luke while we had the chance.

And what would you tell someone considering applying for the Summer Startup Programme this year?

Luke: It is a fantastic opportunity - I think is a way better way to use your summer than doing a random internship. You also get to meet some amazing mentors and a network of other students doing interesting things. Plus, it signals to employers that you are willing to take risks on ideas, try new things, and learn. 

Lucy: It's also a good opportunity to practice being self-driven which is a really important skill. 

What was the most important thing you learnt from the Programme?

Luke: That is a really hard question -  I learned so many different things! I learned a lot about sales, marketing, public speaking and networking. Before getting involved in the Programme, I knew nothing about how to start a business, but know I would be confident in my ability to do so. 

Do you have any tips on how to craft a successful application?

Lucy: Come into the UCE and ask for some feedback on your application before you hand it in. Because the programme is such a fantastic opportunity, lots of people apply, so this will give you a better chance at getting chosen! But even if you think your idea is crazy and will never work, just give it a shot anyway, because there's nothing to lose. 

What was the highlight of the UCE Summer Startup Programme for you? 

Luke: In the fourth week of the Programme, we were starting to get really worried about the feasibility of our idea and had been questioning why all the telecommunication companies in New Zealand had stopped chasing visual voicemail. I saw that Stuart Sheriff, the CEO of 2degrees, was going to be speaking at an event down in Dunedin, and decided to spend 12 hours driving to go to one three-hour event in the hope I could ask him that question. Luckily, I met him, and lots of other people interested in Vxt. I’m glad I made that crazy decision - it could have been a waste of time, but it has led to us building a really strong relationship with 2degrees, who have been unbelievably helpful with mentoring us and helping develop our idea. We might even end up partnering with them!

To read more about Vxt, check out their website here.

For more information on the UCE Summer Startup Programme click here.

To register your interest in the UCE Summer Startup Programme email uce@canterbury.ac.nz.