2017

Fiona Ambler

Bachelor of Commerce (Information Systems & Marketing)

Charan Ashokraj

Master of Business Administration

Hugh Baird

Master of Business Management

Jacob Bignell

Bachelor of Commerce (Economics & Marketing)

Daniel Chan

Bachelor of Laws & Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Taxation)

Ben Cooper

Bachelor of Laws & Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing)

Jess Langtry

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting)

Michaela Lees

Bachelor of Commerce (Strategy and Entrepreneurship & International Business)

Jared McNicoll

Bachelor of Commerce (Operations and Supply Chain Management & Information Systems)

Josie Milton

Master of Engineering Management

Robbie Morrison

Bachelor of Laws (Honours) & Bachelor of Commerce (Information Systems)

Katherine Pearse

Bachelor of Laws & Bachelor of Commerce (International Business)

Isabelle Smith

Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Science (Geography & Environmental Science)

Brittany Stewart

Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours)

Logan Williams

Master of Business Administration

2016

"The first step is the hardest one – to get involved. Once you do that, Entre & UCE make the remaining steps of starting a business much easier, as they introduce you to networks and processes that you wouldn’t have otherwise known."

Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical and Process Engineering

Entré 85K 2016

  • Founder, dBCycle
  • Engineering and Food & Beverage Representative, UCSA

What business were you working on for the entre $85K competition?

I have been working on dBCycle, which is an alarmed bicycle lock that sends a notification to a users’ mobile phone when it has been tampered with. The inspiration for the product came when I noticed a high volume of posts on the UCSA noticeboard about people’s bikes going missing—everyday there would be a new post from someone who had had their bike stolen. This made me wonder how this kept happening, and what could be done to minimise the ongoing theft.

What stage is your business at, at the moment?

It is still a very young business and we have a basic prototype. We are focusing on developing the product and trying to get the prototype more marketable, because we have found that people want to see what it will actually look like and for it to be working fully before committing to purchase it. Once we have a working product, we will look at advertising more heavily. We may also look at crowdfunding and eventually look at mass production to sell across New Zealand and Australia.

What would you say to a student considering starting up their own venture?

Think about your day-to-day experiences, and if (and how) they could be improved through a new product or service. When it comes down to it, if you think that there are a lot of people who feel the same way as you, then there is your market. You need to find something that you are passionate about to maintain the drive to create something that solves these problems.

What is the best thing about having your own business?

Initially I only signed up for Entré because I wanted to learn how to start a business—that was my main desired outcome of the $85K Challenge. The best thing about having your own business is that you have complete direction and you can steer it wherever you want it to go.

Where to from here?

I have a job lined up at Todd Energy in New Plymouth for after I graduate. I would like to eventually end up in an executive role within a large engineering company or to get a job with Tesla Motors in America. For dBCycle, I will still work on the business after I start working full-time, and I would eventually like to see the business expand internationally. I will probably look at bringing more people in who can commit more time to the business. We have an offering quite different to that of our competitors so I think there is definitely opportunity to expand.

"I discovered that UCE and the people here are really willing to support you and it’s a very easy process to get involved. You don’t have to have an idea and can be at any stage in your entrepreneurial journey."

Graduate Diploma in Management
Bachelor of Industrial Engineering
Incubator Programme 2016

How did you first get involved with UCE?

I was taking a paper on Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management and the lecturer mentioned that there was an incubator at UC to help students grow their business ideas. At that point I didn’t know how serious it was and what stage you needed to be at to be able to participate. I was apprehensive about approaching anyone especially as I was unsure of how much of an impact it would have on my studies. This semester I decided to just take the leap and come and talk to someone about what I can do. I discovered that UCE and the people here are really willing to support you and it’s a very easy process to get involved. You don’t have to have an idea and can be at any stage in your entrepreneurial journey. You also have complete flexibility and can commit as much time to it as you want, it’s not compulsory and can fit it around your studies, work and home life – you just need to stay organised.

How have you found the Incubator Programme?

It has been very helpful. I have just come up with an idea for a venture so I have been getting a lot of help exploring my idea and accessing expertise. I have also received help making connections to the right people which has been great. My idea is to build an app that encourages kids to make healthy food choices in a fun and interactive way. I am a parent and I see the foods that kids like to put in their lunch boxes. Unfortunately a lot of them are processed foods that aren’t going to be healthy for them. I would like to be able to educate kids from a young age to build good eating habits and mitigate negative health consequences in the future.

What support does UCE offer you?

They provide you with a lot of tools and guide you through the process of identifying your customer and target market, defining the needs of your customer and the problem you are trying to address, and designing your product to match them. They provide you with a lot of networking opportunities which is really cool. I find that they are very supportive and always willing to give you their time if you need to talk about your venture. They are very friendly and approachable.

What would you say to students who don’t currently have a venture idea but are curious about startups and entrepreneurship?

You can benefit from the great resources and support here even if you don’t have an idea for a venture. There is nothing to lose and a lot to gain. It’s a really friendly environment and you don’t need to have a venture to get involved but there is so much that you can learn regardless. You also build a lot of relationships that will benefit your future career as well.

Are you working on anything else?

I am undertaking one of the 180 Degrees Consulting projects this semester. My team has been working with Satisfy Food Rescue which is a local organisation that works with food retailers and charities to take food that would otherwise be wasted and redirect it to food banks. We are undertaking an investigative research project to calculate their CO2 emissions.

What are you aspirations for the future?

I hope that my idea becomes a reality. I have applied for the Summer Startup Programme and am hoping that it will allow me to focus on my idea outside of study during the summer period. I would like for my idea to help lots of people locally and nationally.

"You could be striving for something other than just your degree and I think that it’s really important especially in terms of how much you mature and learn from the experience."

Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and Accounting
Incubator Programme 2016
entré 85K 2016

  • Founder, The Pegboard Company
  • Social Rep, University of Canterbury Rowing Club (UCRC)

What is The Pegboard Company?

The Pegboard Company specialises in crafting customisable shelving systems known as a pegboard. These are great for use in spaces such as living rooms, bedrooms and workshops to create more storage space. The pegboards themselves are wall mounted so they create additional storage space without compromising on floor space. The inspiration for The Pegboard Company came out of need. I was unable to find full-time work over summer that didn’t clash with rowing and summer school so I needed to find another way of generating income. I also like making things with my hands and I found something that I could make myself and that’s where the pegboard came from. I initially started selling through word-of-mouth, I showed some people my products who I thought would be interested and just started selling that way.

Where is The Pegboard Company now?

We are currently in the development stage. We are making and selling pretty steadily but we are looking at developing the brand to build more of a base around it. From there we are looking at trying to get the product into stores and expanding our product offering. I would like to use The Pegboard Company to create a Kiwi lifestyle brand. We have found that many countries have furniture that is quite identifiable to that particular region and culture, look at Scandinavia for example. I want to be able to create a brand and product that is distinctly Kiwi.

How has The Pegboard Company progressed by being in the Incubator Programme?

Since being in the Incubator Programme we have started to make more sales and build more of a tangible brand. I also think that we have become more professional. We get a lot of advice from the mentors and workshops which I find really help us to focus on one aspect of the business and nail it before we move forward. It’s great to have that guidance. The support around here is really good. Everyone is really positive about what you are doing while still giving you good constructive feedback. One of the things that I have found starting my own business is that you can always find people who think that what you are doing is great, but they aren’t able to offer you any feedback or make critiques which makes it hard for you to improve. UCE’s different, the people here don’t beat around the bush, they aren’t afraid to tell you how it is because they want to see you and your company grow.

What do you find interesting or cool about being an entrepreneur?

It’s something different. A lot of people my age are just focussed on university and finishing their degrees but through starting my own business I have learnt all these new skills that you don’t necessarily get in the classroom. I learnt a lot about the importance of networking, communication and time management. Doing something outside of university you realise how much time you actually have. You could be striving for something other than just your degree and I think that it’s really important especially in terms of how much you mature and learn from the experience.

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or getting involved in with UCE?

Just go for it. It’s a win-win because at the end of the day you have nothing to lose but everything to gain. Find something that you enjoy doing— chances are that if you enjoy it you are probably going to be good at it.

What are you aspirations for the future?

I would like for The Pegboard Company to become a Kiwi lifestyle icon and a brand that is recognisable. More personally, I would love to make it to the Olympics one day with my rowing. I was so inspired watching the Rio Olympics. I know it’s going to be a hard road to the top but you might as well dream big.

"The amount of resources that I am able to gain access to day-to-day are really useful as well as all of the connections that UCE are able to provide."

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

Incubator Programme 2016
Entré $85K 2016

  • Managing Director, Cultivate Waste

What are you working on in the Incubator Programme?

I am working on Cultivate Waste, a social enterprise that aims to make it easier for everyone to divert their food waste away from landfill. New Zealanders produce about $870 million worth of food waste each year, this is made worse by the fact that Christchurch doesn’t have an organic waste collection in the CBD. We are trying to address this problem by providing personalised food collection for establishments around the city and taking the waste we collect to be processed into compost. We work with Cultivate Christchurch Urban Farm who help us process the compost and then they use it to grow more produce.

Where is Cultivate Waste now and how has it progressed with the support of UCE?

We have a number of customers that we work with closely to improve and refine our systems that are in place. We update them regularly to show them how much waste they are able to divert away from landfill and we also give them reports on the how much compost we have produced from their waste as well as the resulting reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and water usage. At the moment we are trying to expand our services to other customers and this is the goal that we have set ourselves for the rest of the year. The support form UCE has been really helpful in helping us progress our business. There are days when there are things that I need a direct answer for and I am able to get that straight away by being in a place with experienced entrepreneurs. I find this to be really vital, especially for me being new to the business world. The amount of resources that I am able to gain access to day-to-day are really useful as well as all of the connections that UCE are able to provide.

How are you finding the Incubator programme and the support offered by UCE?

UCE offer a space to work in, which as a student is important because I can’t afford to go into an office space. I also get access to unlimited advice, mentorship and new connections that benefit me personally as well as my venture. The Incubator programme is going great, even considering that this is the first year that it is has officially been a programme. It has gained a lot of traction already in terms of interest from students and the number of ventures in the programme. I am excited to see how the businesses that come through the incubator and enter into bootcamp eventually become game changers in industry.

How did you find bootcamp?

Bootcamp was great. It was jam-packed with lots of information over just two days and the atmosphere was really fun with heaps of interaction between mentors and the participants. Plus the free food is always nice.

What do you find interesting or cool about being an entrepreneur?

I spend a lot of time managing relationships with customers, both present and future, as well as partners and sponsors. I love being able to be in a position where I am able to lead a team and know that whatever decisions we make have real impacts to our organisation as well as the community that we are involved in. I also enjoy being able to learn so much in such a short amount of time, things that I don’t learn in my degree. I have learn about the Lean Canvas, marketing, how to run a business and leadership skills – things that you don’t see in your typical BSci in Chemistry!

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or considering getting involved with UCE?

If you have an idea that you think is something that could be developed into a venture, then just go for it. UCE is a great place to start, there are people here who are really experienced and can teach you how to go from the idea stage to something that is ready to be tested and developed.

What are you aspirations for the future?

I would like to be able to make a lasting change in the Christchurch community. Having been involved in the community before and after the earthquake, I want to be able to say that I have been a part of something that is still growing. For Cultivate Waste, I would like to see the business become financially sustainable and become a global leader in facilitating consumers and growers to work together to eradicate the food waste.

Contact Information

Email: louis@cultivate.org.nz
Twitter: Venture

"The Centre for Entrepreneurship put you in touch with the right people that you otherwise wouldn’t meet."

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) in Photography

Summer Startup Programme 2015/16

  • Digital Creative Executive, Vodafone xone
  • Founder and Director, In Situ Photo Project

What are you working on in Summer Startup Programme?

Currently, there are no opportunities for Fine Arts graduates to showcase and exhibit their work in Christchurch. I have been working with ventures like Place in Time who are working on this amazing record that doesn’t get to be shown because there are no photographic spaces around the city. I want to change this.

So what is In Situ Photo Project?

In Situ Photo Project is a new not-for-profit organisation. We combine a dedicated photography gallery in the heart of Christchurch with an inclusive community engagement programme. We aim to attract and keep intelligent and talented individuals in Christchurch by expanding our cultural platform and providing opportunities for emerging artists.

How have you progressed by being a part of the Summer Startup Programme?

When I started I just had the idea of hopefully opening a gallery one day. Now I have been running the project space for over a year, we have curated and shown eight exhibitions, and we're working towards the opening of a space or spaces for a 2017 (and further) programme. On a daily basis I am in contact with artists, I am meeting business and networking connections, and I am writing about upcoming things that are happening.

How are you finding the Programme?

It’s really good. I have met a whole new friend group of amazing people. I feel like it has consumed my life but in the best way possible. The connections and the contacts that everyone seems to have makes moving forward in any venture so much easier.

What are you doing besides the Programme?

I am the Digital Creative Executive at Vodafone xone. In this role, the skills that I've gained through running the gallery prove to be incredibly transferable - instead of dealing with artists I deal with tech start-ups, instead of planning gallery openings I'm planning sessions for participants in our accelerator programme, and instead of applying for funding I am helping people consider investment. I also try to keep up my own photographic practice!

What are your plans for the future?

I hope that the gallery will become a permanent space within the Christchurch art scene. I would like it to be a job for someone, to employ people to contribute, as well as creating something that people keep wanting to come back to. I hope to foster relationships so that other spaces like this can be realised within Christchurch and New Zealand, particularly in the use of vacant space for creative organisations.

What is the most memorable moment from the Summer Startup Programme?

When you begin pitching your idea and you realise it’s the kind of thing that people get excited about – not just you. It is so exciting to have that support. It is really cool to realise that other people are passionate about what you are doing as well.

What support have you received from being in the Summer Startup Programme?

Contacts and connections. The Centre for Entrepreneurship put you in touch with the right people that you otherwise wouldn’t meet. They encourage you to be more confident in your own plans and ideas. You get to be around intelligent, like-minded people who want to do new and exciting things – it’s the best.

What advice do you have for someone looking to start their own venture?

Absolutely go for it. Surround yourself with people who are going to be excited on the days that you are not. Just take every chance that you get. I accepted some offers in the beginning because I just wanted things to be happening, but I had to turn them down later because I kept being offered better opportunities because of the progress I was making. I guess what I am trying to say is that you need to be willing to say yes to everything – you can always revise later. I would definitely recommend the Summer Startup Programme. My experience at UC has been world class and I would not change it for anything.

Contact Information

Email: mail@hannahwatkinson.net
Website: www.hannahwatkinson.net | www.ispp.nz
Facebook: Personal | Project
LinkedIn: Personal

"Entrepreneurs challenge the “success as usual” syndrome. They keep the big picture in mind and they challenge people to break with tradition to adopt better solutions."

Master of Education in e-Learning and Digital Technologies
Summer Startup Programme 2016/17

  • CEO, InSiteVR
  • Computer Science and Digital Technologies Teacher, Saint Kentigern College

What is InSiteVR and where did the inspiration come from?

Worldwide, health and safety legislation is changing to be more accountable, rigorous and robust. Most companies have a box ticking attitude to health and safety training through listening to boring power-point presentations, mumbling instructors, and reading verbose documents. I thought there was a much better way to do this for everyone through the power of Virtual Reality.

Where is InSiteVR now and how has it progressed over the summer?

We are currently building training simulations for the 8300 volunteer fire fighters up and down the country. These simulations are set to be released late April/May 2017. We are also building simulations for electricians.

How did you find being in the programme? What support did you get?

The Summer Startup Programme run by the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship is a perfect starting point to those wishing to start a business of their own. It was such a privilege to be a part of such a well run course. I learnt so much spending 10 weeks learning and connecting with people I would have never met otherwise. This programme both inspired me and boosted my confidence to launch my idea into a viable business. Thank you to Dr Rachel Wright, Michelle Panzer and the rest of the team at UCE for this very special experience.

What was your most memorable moment from the summer?

The day of our final presentations, held at Vodafone Innov8 in Tuam St, it was one of the most nerve-racking experiences. We had to present our business in only 2-3 minutes. But it really helped to refine my own ideas and gave me a new appreciation for the amount of work these pitches take.

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or getting involved with UCE?

Entrepreneurs with determination, drive and resilience often hold contrarian views running counter to the status quo; so you need to be someone who is willing to go against the grain. If you are someone who likes to take initiative and gets really excited about starting your own venture, then this programme is for you.

What do you find interesting or cool about being an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs challenge the “success as usual” syndrome. They keep the big picture in mind and they challenge people to break with tradition to adopt better solutions.

What are you aspirations for the future, both personally and for the business?

Long term, our mission is to make InSiteVR a global software company and a leader in virtual reality training applications. Short-term, I had the chance to be interviewed for Y Combinator for the winter 2015 batch with a virtual reality start-up with my brother, unfortunately we didn’t get through because VR was too new; hopefully with the consumer head-sets being released in 2016, YC will be more willing to take us on for Jan 2018.

"Being your own boss, working your own hours and being able to say that you are the founder of your own company makes it worth the hard work."

Bachelor of Engineering in Mechatronics
Summer Startup Programme 2016/17

  • Founder, Farm Sense

What is Farm Sense and where did the inspiration come from?

Growing up on the family farm I was exposed to how robotics can be used in farming and it was something that always held my interest. It was because of this that I decided to do a degree in mechatronics and when I was accepted into the Summer Startup Programme, I saw this as an opportunity to explore other uses of robotics on the farm. It was during the programme that I came up with the concept for Farm Sense which offers a drone based service for the location of wilding conifers.

Wildling conifers are an aggressive, invasive tree species that outcompetes native forests and makes land un-farmable. They currently cover 7% of New Zealand land, and in the next 20 years they are expected to cover 20% if nothing is done. Farm Sense provides a farm advisory and aerial photography service to help combat the threat of these trees. We send out a drone which takes aerial photos of the land which are then analysed and a GPS location for each tree is generated. This information is then returned to the client as a map which can then be taken to a helicopter service to go and spot spray each individual tree.

Where is Farm Sense and how has it progressed over the summer?

Coming into the programme I had a few ideas regarding how I could help improve the efficiency and safety on farms. After a whole lot of research I came across the problem that wildling conifers are causing and how little action was being taken to solve it. I then spent the next few weeks validating the problem, doing more research and talking to people in industry and visiting farms in Canterbury. I now have relationships with local farmers which I can then use for trailing my service.

How did you find being in the programme? What support did you get?

I really enjoyed the programme. I knew nothing about business when I came into it and I feel like I have gained sufficient knowledge and the confidence required to now go out and run Farm Sense. Rachel and Michelle were a huge help, the mentors were great, and I picked up some valuable business connections and insights throughout the 10 weeks. The most memorable part for me was at the Final Presentation evening when I finished my pitch and looked across the audience and could see how engaged the audience was and I felt like my passion for my business was shared by the audience.

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or getting involved with UCE?

Go for it! Don’t be afraid to jump into the startup scene, it’s never too late to have a go at starting your own business—just make sure that you do your research first. Being your own boss, working your own hours and being able to say that you are the founder of your own company makes it worth the hard work.

What are you aspirations for the future, both personally and for the business?

We are working on trials at the moment, once they are completed we will look to roll out our service across the Canterbury district and then look to expand nationally. Ideally I would like the business to continue to grow so that I will be able to work on it full-time once I complete my degree.

"Worst case scenario you make a bunch of mistakes and then learn what not to do next time. Just going through the process of starting and building something means that you learn a whole lot of skills that you never would have gained otherwise."

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechanical Engineering
Incubator Programme 2016
Entre $85K 2016
Summer Startup Programme 2016/17

  • Founder, Sonder Leather

What is Sonder Leather and where did the inspiration come from?

I actually fell off of a roof about a year ago and broke both legs. I couldn’t do much and was stuck in the house. One day the inspiration struck to start experimenting with making some items from leather. I have always liked making things with my hands and my Grandfather used to make saddles and owned a leather goods store in the North Island. I started with card wallets and friends and family soon started asking if they could buy them. I then started making custom sized belts with personalised embossing on the back of them which are my best seller to date. I thought that there could potentially be a market for them and over the course of last year started thinking that I could make something bigger out of my new found hobby. It has now evolved into a business which focuses on providing accessible luxury—primarily to young professionals going into their first jobs. It can be intimidating starting out on your first post-uni job, especially in some office environments where everyone else has nice clothes and watches. With Sonder leather, I am trying to make that kind of luxury accessible to everyone.

Where is Sonder Leather now and how have you progressed by being in the programme?

The business has been bootstrapped up until this point and I am trying to keep a low asset model focusing on efficiency. The website has been up and running for six months and I have experienced solid sales over this time. I have enough of a gauge of the market now to know what people want and what they are willing to pay for it so I am looking to expand the product range. I am also looking at streamlining processes and removing myself from some aspects of the business so that I can focus on other things. One particular areas is manufacturing—because the products are hand crafted, manufacturing is very labour intensive so if I can bring someone else in that would let me free up a lot of my time. I am also looking at automating areas of business that don’t directly add value, such as accounting. Going forward, it’s a case of solidifying the brand, implementing good customer life-cycle management, establishing relationships with stockists and getting a foothold in the New Zealand market so I can eventually move to Australia and beyond.

How are you finding being in the Incubator programme? What support do you get?

Sonder Leather is currently a one-man-band and it can be hard when you are working by yourself. With UCE, I have a sounding board for my ideas and people to go to and talk to about the challenges I am having. If I have any questions I can come in and there is always someone to talk to help me make my decisions or to come up with ideas that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

What do you find interesting or cool about being an entrepreneur?

The best part is having complete freedom to do whatever you deem appropriate for the business. Prior to starting this, I always had ideas of how a company could improve their online presence, packaging or other areas—now I have a company and get to make all of those decisions. I also enjoy the challenge of running my own business. Having to learn as you go is challenging but exciting and the quickest way to learn is often to make mistakes.

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or getting involved with UCE?

Don’t be scared of making mistakes. I have talked to lots of people over the last few years who have had these great ideas but the only thing holding them back is the fear of failure. Worst case scenario you make a bunch of mistakes and then learn what not to do next time. Just going through the process of starting and building something means that you learn a whole lot of skills that you never would have gained otherwise. You are never going to have a better time to do it than when you are young. Your appetite for risk should be sky high when you’re at this age—the cost for doing it later in life is just going to get higher.

What are you aspirations for the future?

In the last couple of years, I have realised that business is my real passion. I find nothing more exciting than small business. If possible, I would love to build businesses for the rest of my life. I would also like to find a way to tie in business with my background in engineering.

"You don’t have to wait to have that lightbulb moment to get involved. Just by putting your hand up you can go places that you might not have otherwise gone."

Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and Accounting
Bachelor of Laws

Incubator Programme 2016

  • CEO, Twise
  • Treasurer & Consulting Director, 180 Degrees Consulting (Canterbury)
  • Treasurer, Law for Change

What was your first experience with startups?

During high school I started a company called Media Cookie with some friends. Media Cookie offered film and web development services to local business and community groups. As my first venture into the startup world, I learnt a lot about what it takes to set up a company and run it. It was also my first experience doing my own thing.

What made you want to be involved in the startup space?

I guess from my experience with Media Cookie I have realised that I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing my own thing. There is such a great sense of achievement when you start with nothing and create something – when you start with just an idea and build it to the point where you make that first sale or acquire your first customer. Watching something that you have created grow and to see all of the pieces of the puzzle come together to get to the point where it could all work out is really exciting.

How did you get involved with UCE?

I talked to Michelle at the start of the year about my interest in entrepreneurship and how I have always aspired to doing my own thing, even though I didn’t have an idea for a business at that point. She encouraged me to get involved with the Centre for Entrepreneurship and eventually teamed me up with Louis from Cultivate Waste. Michelle matched my skills and expertise in accountancy and finance to Louis’s need for help managing his startup’s finances and it all started from there.

How have you progressed since then?

UCE had some free tickets for students to attend the Christchurch Startup Weekend and Michelle convinced me to participate despite my apprehensions. Startup Weekend turned out to be a pretty instrumental opportunity. It was through Startup Weekend that another project developed – Twise (short for time-wise). This project has gone through considerable development since Startup Weekend but we are working on turning it into something that we can go back to investors with. We have been very fortunate to have Ben Reid as a mentor to help us develop the project and our pitch, Ben is very keen to see it out there in the market.

Do you have any other projects that you are working on?

Startup Weekend also happened to be where I met Chris and talked about this other idea that I have had for quite some time. He has similar interests and we are in discussion about making it happen.
We are looking at setting up a company that invests in existing businesses based on a model incorporating set timeframes and a defined exit strategy. The opportunities in this domain are plentiful and I have found that many of these opportunities in New Zealand are underpinned by SMEs. I have also found that opportunities in this area are only increasing based on the changing demographic of our population. For example, adult children who don’t want to take over their parent’s businesses means there is an opportunity for someone else to come in. At the moment we are trying to collaborate and network with people who might be able to make it easier or more feasible. I currently have a couple of people on board and I am in talks about how we want to go about doing it. I’m not sure what’s going to happen yet, but positive noises have been made so I have my fingers crossed.

What do you enjoy about being involved with UCE?

Through UCE I am able to network with people in a similar position, doing similar things. It is great to meet other young people who are trying to achieve similar goals to you, even though you aren’t studying the same thing as them. I always feel comfortable coming in to the Centre and asking the people here for advice knowing that you aren’t going to be laughed at. It’s a very supportive environment and an invaluable resource for the university. I have met a number of high school students participating in the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) through volunteering at career fairs. They have asked about the Centre and it’s nice for them to know that they have somewhere to go when they arrive at UC.

What do you find interesting or cool about being an entrepreneur and being involved in the startup space?

The best part about being involved in the startup space is all of the people. The startup scene, particularly in Christchurch is made up of a small, cool group of people. You can only go to so many Coffee and Jam’s before you start to recognise everyone and make friends. In UCE, the mentors are from a huge range of backgrounds, all with ideas that can help you and your venture grow. The range of advice that you can get isn’t just applicable to whatever project you are working on either, it is the kind of advice that you can take with you for the rest of your career.

What would you say to students who don’t currently have a business idea but are curious about startups and entrepreneurship?

Don’t be afraid to talk to people who are already doing it. There are plenty of people around here that are happy to share their story, including current incubator students. You also shouldn’t get too hung up on worrying about having an idea. I know that I haven’t come up with the next Facebook, but by getting involved I have met people who have similar interests and as a result have built a team from there. You don’t have to wait to have that lightbulb moment to get involved. Just by putting your hand up you can go places that you might not have otherwise gone.

What are your aspirations for the future?

In the future I would like to be able to successfully run my own business. I have always liked the idea of having my own venture with the freedom to be able to make my own choices. I am a big fan of brick and mortar companies too and creating something that people can see. Ultimately, it would be nice to be able to get to a point in my career where I can say that I have built something that has had some benefit to society.

 

"Even if you aren’t looking to join a startup, the skills you gain and the people you meet are valuable for other areas of your life. It is well worth getting involved."

Bachelor of Science in Physics and Computer Science

Incubator Programme 2016

  • Co-Founder, Outside Apparel and NZ Hoodie Co.

How did you first get involved in the startup space?

My first business was Outside Apparel which I co-founded with my cousin in 2012 when we were still in high school. It was a menswear brand selling street wear targeted at young guys and selling the product online. I was only 16 at the time but we worked on it for a couple of years and then sold it in 2014. After that we moved onto our second business, NZ Hoodie Co.

What was NZ Hoodie Co.?

NZ Hoodie Co. was our second business which supplied custom garments to groups like university clubs, sports teams and schools. We took what we considered to be an old, inefficient industry and took a new approach by operating online. We worked on this while we were in our last year of high school, spending some time in the SODA office space in Hamilton. After we graduated we moved to Wanaka and worked there full-time growing the business. We sold it at the end of February 2016 so that we could come to Christchurch to start tertiary study.

What’s your plan now?

I am really interested in the tech sector and decided to come to university to learn as much as I could about fields that interest me. I was working towards a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechatronics but I have since changed to a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Computer Science. The idea is that what I learn through my degree I will be able to apply to future projects and businesses where my interests lie. I am particularly interested in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and through UCE have connected with a tech company advisor who shares my interests.

What is your involvement with UCE?

UCE are helping me make connections around Christchurch, particularly in areas that I want to go into after university. I have been to a number of their lunchtime sessions and get involved as much as I can. There is heaps of value in being involved, the networks that you grow with other students and people from industry are invaluable. The space itself is also insanely cool and having 24 hour access is great – I can’t say I was expecting anything like it when I moved here. I am always looking for new opportunities, new things to learn and experience, and new projects to get involved with and UCE seems to be a good place to be for all of those.

What would you say to students who don’t currently have a business idea but are curious about startups and entrepreneurship?

I highly recommend getting involved with UCE whether you have a project in mind or not. In a way it is almost more valuable if you don’t have an idea because it’s such a good space to find new ideas, get inspired, find out what’s going on and meet new people. Even if you aren’t looking to join a startup, the skills you gain and the people you meet are valuable for other areas of your life. It is well worth getting involved.

What is the Entrepreneurship Avenue Conference?

Entrepreneurship Avenue is the largest student entrepreneurship conference in Austria. There are supposed to be over 1000 people attending, most of which are students. The conference itself is designed to inspire and encourage students to get into entrepreneurship and start their own businesses. I also get to attend a workshop and visit co-working and incubator spaces while I am over there.

You must be excited, what do you hope to get out of it?

I’m very excited. I am not too sure what to expect or what we will be doing exactly while we are over there but I think that it will be an awesome experience. I have never been to Europe before and I am looking forward to checking out the entrepreneurial space in that part of the world. The networking opportunities will be hugely beneficial too – being able to meet like-minded, young people. I am sure I will learn lots, both from the conference and the people I meet. The startup and business culture is different over there so it will be interesting from that perspective. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"There are always people around that you can chat to about your ideas and test them out and get feedback ... The team are all very friendly and the facilities are great—definitely something students should take advantage of."

Bachelor of Science in Geography, Endorsed in Envornmental Science
Incubator Programme 2016

  • Founder, Course Compass
  • Web Developer, Catalyst IT
  • General Executive, GeogSoc
  • President and Environmental Officer, Canterbury University Tramping Club (CUTC)
  • Coordinator, Eco Club Network

How did you get involved with UCE?

A friend posted on social media about an event that UCE were hosting and this led me to discover their Facebook page. I got a feel for what they do and the types of events they run and decided to go in and talk to someone. I have been working on my business for the last three years alone and thought that the Incubator programme would be able to give me more resources and help to run the business. I had a meeting with Michelle and got signed up.

What do you think of UCE so far?

It’s a busy place with an array of events, speakers and interesting people to listen to and learn from. They have some great programmes available to students, like the Summer Startup Programme where you get a scholarship to go and work on your idea over summer. The physical space is great too and there are always people around that you can chat to about your ideas and test them out and get feedback. If you are considering getting involved then I recommend heading over and having a chat with someone to find out more. It can’t hurt to go and have a yarn and find out if your idea could be a flyer. The team are all very friendly and the facilities are great—definitely something students should take advantage of.

What venture are you working on in the Incubator Programme?

I am working on Course Compass which is an online subscription based package that helps high schools to manage their course information. It simplifies course management and allows information to be shared with students and parents. I originally developed the software when I was in high school as a part of my Year 13 technology project as I found out that the school was spending $10,000 a year on a very paper intensive process. After the initial design, I have redeveloped the software and opened it up to other schools. I currently have a few schools across the country on board, and ideally will have a few more in the near future.

What do you find interesting or cool about working on a startup?

You’re your own boss. You get to decide what you work on and how you go about doing it. Everything is up to you – you need to be very self-motivated! I like that I can work on something that centres on what I enjoy doing and what is important to me. My long term goal would be to work for myself and be able to make an income from it.

What are you aspirations for the future?

I am doing my Master of Science in Geography next year. I am also looking at growing the business to expand product offerings. The goal is to build a web development company selling services and a range of products above and beyond Course Compass. I see Course Compass as the spring board that will allow me to get there. Ultimately I want to find a way to combine my interests in geography and computers, such as through mapping geospatial data (such as conservation, transport and health). I have already been working on a project for Kea Conservation Trust that is in this space, which is an exciting NZ first citizen science project.

 

"Being in the Summer Startup Programme was one of the best summers that I have had. Not only in terms of developing my business but also meeting so many people, making lots of new friends and new connections that will be useful for the future."

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Chemical and Process Engineering

Summer Startup Programme 2013/14 and 2015/16

  • Founder, Peak to Plateau
  • Administrative Support at UC Centre for Entrepreneurship

So you have been in the Summer Startup Programme before?

Yes I was in the programme over the summer of 2013 and 2014. I was working on My Five Meals which aimed to bring a low-cost version of My Food Bag by delivering recipes and ingredients to customers every week.

What were you working on this time around?

This time I worked on Peak to Plateau which is a high performance outdoor clothing company. I source yak wool from the Tibetan plateau as yak wool is warmer, softer and more breathable than Merino. It also provides a viable source of income for the yak herders.

Where did the inspiration come for your new idea?

I went travelling in 2015 for three months in Mongolia and Central Asia. I spent some time while I was there living with yak herders and found out about yak wool and its properties. I found it surprising that it wasn’t being used in the manufacture of garments despite it being a good fibre for outdoor clothing. I also discovered that the herders were relying on cashmere from goats as their main source of income rather than utilising the yak wool too. After my time with the yak herders I went to Singapore and applied for the Summer Startup Programme and started researching and developing product ideas. I also spent some time finding manufacturers before coming back to New Zealand and going into the Summer Startup Programme.

How did the Summer Startup Programme help you with your business?

Being in the Summer Startup Programme made me more accountable and gave me the funds to get the initial product development done. I also found having so many speakers and mentors come through has helped a lot with fine tuning the way I do things. My presentation skills have also improved significantly.

What support does UCE and the Summer Startup Programme offer you?

I would have to say that the funding was the main thing. In addition to that, because I was working on my business myself, being in the programme and being surrounded by likeminded people on a daily basis really helped. I found it to be incredibly motivating being around people who are all working on a business too. There is also a little bit of healthy competition—when you see other people doing well it only pushes you to do better. You also have access to heaps of mentors and business people who have experience because they have been where you are and can give you advice and an outside perspective on your business. It is easy to fall in love with your own idea but a fresh perspective is really helpful.

What is your most memorable moment from the Summer Startup Programme?

I would have to say the final presentation day and being in the top 10. I actually really enjoyed being questioned by the judges at the end as I could see the result of all my preparation and hard work.

What advice would you give to a student considering applying for the Summer Startup Programme?

Being in the Summer Startup Programme was one of the best summers that I have had. Not only in terms of developing my business but also meeting so many people, making lots of new friends and new connections that will be useful for the future. A lot of opportunities arise from it that go well beyond the ten or so weeks of the programme. However, I would only recommend doing it if it is something that you are actually committed to. You will get a lot more out of it if it is something that you genuinely want to do, rather than because you have nothing else planned for the summer. It takes more than an idea to start a business so you need to be committed to putting in some hard work too.

What are you doing now?

I am still working on Peak to Plateau, I have just had my first run of product arrive. I also work giving administrative assistance to UCE around my classes and working on my business. I am really enjoying being involved in the UCE events rather than just being a guest. I find that I am able to build a better connection with the people who come to speak and mentor. On the side I am also helping Mum start up her own cosmetics company.

How does your day-to-day compare to when you were in the Summer Startup Programme?

In the Summer Startup Programme I spent most of my time on product development, working with manufacturers, practicing pitching and listening to speakers. Now my focus has shifted to marketing and preparing for Kickstarter, looking for people to test and promote my product, managing social media and developing the website. At UCE I help out with events and write stories for the newsletter and the UCE blog.

What do you like most about being an entrepreneur and working on Peak to Plateau?

I enjoy being able to do different things everyday rather than just repeating the same thing all the time. One of the most interesting things for me has been working with overseas manufacturers and suppliers.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I want Peak to Plateau to be the leading, or biggest yak wool outdoor company and to be well-known around the world for its quality and sustainability

Contact Information

Website: www.peaktoplateau.com
Facebook | Instagram

"Being a project student, as opposed to working on my own business, meant that I experienced the Programme a little differently to the other students. I found it to be a great balance of giving me dedicated time to work on the Banqer project while also being able to benefit from all the resources that the Programme provided such as workshops and mentoring."

Bachelor of Science in Physics and Computer Science
GovHack 2016
Summer Startup 2016/17

  • Contractor, Banqer
  • Founder, SimpleNode

How did you get involved with UCE?

Getting involved can lead to so many more opportunities. Halfway through last year I participated in the GovHack competition where I worked in a team to use open data from the Christchurch City Council to produce something cool that would benefit the city, with a prototype made in a weekend. That was my first interaction with UCE and where I met Michelle. Michelle then approached me towards the end of my exams to say that there was a project available with Banqer and that they needed a competent web developer. Banqer then sponsored my participation in the Summer Startup Programme so that I could work on the project.

What did the project involve?

I worked to introduce a credit scores module to the Banqer platform. This was a new module—sponsored by Equifax—that they were planning for a while. The intent of the module was to emulate how credit scores work in reality but in a kid friendly way. Students using the platform receive a credit score which is influenced by their financial decision making and behaviour, just like a real credit score. They can take out a personal loan or borrow money from their teacher and if they make successful repayments their credit score goes up. I finished the development of the module early and then started work on a Partner Dashboard to enable Banqer’s New Zealand sponsor KiwiBank to see how their sponsorship is working.

Where is the project now?

Both the credit score module and KiwiBank Partner Dashboard are now finished. I stopped working with Banqer for a couple of months after the Summer Startup Programme but started back with them in April. I have since gone on to develop a Sponsor Dashboard for Banqer’s Australian partner Netwealth. I have also helped to launch the service in the US, the UK and open it up to other International users. I am currently working on a sizable project aimed at parents, giving them an opportunity to use Banqer as well.

What do you find interesting or cool about your work?

Working with Banqer, I know that the work that I am doing has a real impact. I get to help create an educational experience for over 30,000 primary school kids which gives a real purpose to my work. I have always found building practical things very satisfying and the web development that I do solves problems and builds tools in a very hands on way. I get to apply a whole bunch of knowledge and make something out of it.

How did you find the Programme?

Being a project student, as opposed to working on my own business, meant that I experienced the Programme a little differently to the other students. I found it to be a great balance of giving me dedicated time to work on the Banqer project while also being able to benefit from all the resources that the Programme provided such as workshops and mentoring. The Lean Canvas and business planning I found to be particularly useful and to have a very practical application. The learnings that I gained will help me with my own business and any future endeavours.

What is your most memorable moment from the summer?

I would have to say my final presentation in front of the judges. Some of the Banqer team came down to support me and they thought that it went really smoothly—it was a really nice way to wrap up the programme.

Have you worked on any other projects?

I have owned and operated my own small business, SimpleNode since I was in high school. It originally started in 2012 as a Minecraft server hosting business which soon evolved into Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting. We have served about 2000 clients all around the world, working just me and one other person. It’s been going steady for five years now and is a great source of passive income.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I am currently in my second year of study and while I continue to complete my studies I will also continue with my web development work. I have also applied for a Google Internship over the next summer. Post-study I intend to pursue career options that stem from computer science.

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Summer Startup 2016/17

  • Co-Fouder, Minimise

What is your venture and where did the inspiration come from?

Minimise is a health and safety software package designed to simplify Health & Safety inspections. I initially came into the Summer Programme with another idea but when I saw what Shilo (co-founder) was trying to achieve, I came on board, as I thought that I could help.

Where is Minimise now and how has it progressed over the summer?

In the initial stages, we worked to clarify the problem based on our own experiences in the workplace and then went to industry to validate our idea and to develop and refine our system. I have stepped back, but Shilo is continuing to undertake development of the software in partnership with other invested stakeholders.

How did you find being in the programme? What support did you get?

I found the programme to be extremely rewarding. It was very fast paced but developed my understanding of entrepreneurship and business in a way that I had never considered before. As an engineering student, I had touched on business before, but not to the extent that I had over the summer. The support I have received from the UCE team and the industry mentors made me question the way you can launch a business and get support for an idea. I definitely feel more confident that any other ventures I am involved with will be able to get a lot further with the knowledge and skills that I received from the programme.

What was your most memorable moment from the summer?

The final pitch, where I presented in front of the industry panel and the other students from the programme, was really memorable as all of the work that we had done over the ten weeks was captured in just a few moments. When I was up there, I felt that what we had been working on really resonated with the people in the audience. There is something powerful about putting your idea out there and having others understand where you are coming from, even if they have no experience working in that space.
Another memorable moment was talking to the ventures team in the Vodafone xone programme and having our idea resonate with them. It was interesting to get their perspective, as they are that much further along in the startup process. Getting their feedback on what challenges we might face later on, was also invaluable. It was also great to hear what they thought about our business, what areas they liked, and where we could improve.

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or getting involved with UCE?

It is very easy to underestimate how many unknowns you are going to have. Any opportunity that will connect you with the startup community—such as getting involved with UCE—will give you a bunch of skills, knowledge, and contacts that will help you achieve your goal that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

What do you find interesting or cool about being an entrepreneur?

The reason that I decided to study engineering was because I was interested in identifying unmet needs or problems, and to come up with solutions for them in a way that would have a positive impact on the world. Entrepreneurship is the most realistic tool to actually achieve lasting change. Finding innovative ways to do things that haven’t been done before, being able to guide that with your own creativity, and design skills, is really rewarding. It’s quite fulfilling to be able to look back at a new business or product that satisfies an unmet need and know that you grew it yourself.

What are you aspirations for the future, both personally?

Ultimately, my passion is innovation in engineering. I am finishing my studies at the end of this year and I am keeping my eye out for a really interesting engineering related startup or venture idea that I can get involved with and help get off the ground.

 

2015

"It made a big difference being able to work on the business full-time over the summer rather than having to seek employment elsewhere."

Master of Engineering in Management
Master of International Security (Massey)
Bachelor of Commerce in Management Science

Summer Startup Programme 2015/16
Entré $85K Challenge 2015

  • Managing Director, Little Yellow Bird

What were you working on in the Summer Startup Programme?

I was working on Little Yellow Bird which is a corporate uniform brand. We provide customisable, ethically make apparel to different businesses and then connect them with a community development project in a developing country. I was also working on my MEM thesis alongside the programme and was able to integrate my thesis with the work that I was doing with my business. I ended up doing my thesis on market validation for Little Yellow Bird.

How did Little Yellow Bird start?

Little Yellow Bird started off as an idea that I submitted to the entre $85K Challenge last year. We won the Sustainability and Social Enterprise award. After that I headed over to India looking for factories to produce our products and scoping potential sponsorship projects. When I got back I headed into the Summer Startup Programme.

How did your business change being in the programme?

The business has moved to focus more on corporate customers rather than also offering retail. We have WooHoo NZ Tax Refunds on board now and also have some good leads with other business that we are working on at the moment. Overall the programme was really beneficial and it was good to work in the UCE space surrounded by other like-minded people so you can bounce ideas around and have that support.

What do you do on a day to day basis?

I am responsible for managing production runs of our business shirts. I also talk with clients about their requirements for upcoming orders, manage accounts, pitch to potential clients and network to try and generate leads or seek advice.

What do you enjoy about being your own boss?

I really like the flexibility of it, but I think the coolest thing about what we do is the people that we sponsor. You can easily see the impact that we are making on their lives just by providing them with work and support.

Where do you want Little Yellow Bird to progress?

I would like to take Little Yellow Bird international. It would be really great to also develop some of our own community development programmes in India and other developing countries. Later on in the year we are going to head over to San Francisco to Kiwi Landing Pad. There we hope to sell to US businesses and establish new networks with companies.

What were you doing before the programme?

I have previously been a Logistics Officer in the New Zealand Airforce. My job there involved acting as supply chain manager for maritime air operations. I managed a team of people that looked after aeronautical equipment that was essential in the maintenance of aircraft.

What was your most memorable moment from the summer?

I would have to say winning the BNZ Startup Alley Competition then presenting in Webstock. I am not sure how we would have gone if we didn’t have the support of UCE to help us refine our pitch before the competition.

What was BNZ Startup Alley and Webstock like?

It was really good. We got great exposure to lots of different people from different industries and we got to listen to some really incredible speakers.

What other support has UCE offered you?

The biggest thing would probably be the financial support of the Summer Startup Scholarship. It made a big difference being able to work on the business full-time over the summer rather than having to seek employment elsewhere. There were also networks to take advantage of and there were always workshops and presenters which were really helpful. Rachel is also really good for her constructive criticism.

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or considering applying for the Summer Startup Programme?

Just do it. I can’t see any drawbacks to just giving it a go. Even if you don’t have an idea for your own business or project, there are so many ideas that are generated in the UCE environment that it is just a really valuable space to be in.

Contact Information

Email: info@littleyellowbird.co.nz
Website: www.littleyellowbird.co.nz
Facebook: Venture
Twitter: Personal
LinkedIn: Personal

"Being here you get a better understanding of what it’s like to start a business and the difficulties trying to maintain and grow it."

Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Arts in Māori and Indigenous Studies (Minor in Te Reo Māori)

Summer Startup Programme 2015/16

  • Project Lead, Kaiapoi Pā Rejuvenation Plan
  • Research Assistant, Lexington Legal

What are you working on in the Summer Startup Programme?

I am working on a rejuvenation plan for the Kaiapoi Pā. I was approached about the land as many people visit the site but leave feeling underwhelmed. There is concern that the land does not get the respect it deserves, given its cultural and historical significance. My job is to come up with a way that we can give the site more integrity and to get people to understand and see the site the same way that we do. We want people to be able to connect with the site and its history.

Why is the Kaiapoi Pā so significant?

The Kaiapoi Pā site was established around the year 1700 by Ngai Tahu chiefs settling from the North Island. The site became the central hub for over 1000 Ngai Tahu people, but more importantly it was the final resting place for a lot of those people. The site was under siege for three months in 1831 when Te Rauparaha and his northern followers came down killing many in battle and taking those who could not flee as slaves. These people were returned in 1834 by the son of Te Rauparaha seeking forgiveness and peace was established. In 1898 Reverend Canon Stack erected a 28 foot high structure to commemorate the deaths of those who lived there. This structure was the tallest structure in New Zealand until 1920.

At what stage is your project at the moment?

I am in the process of creating a road map of how we will go about achieving our goals, getting funding and engagement. Funding is the last thing that I am working on at the moment and once that is finished I will have a full strategy that can be carried out by the trustee of the site who I am working with. He will work with historians, artists and other people to get the project underway.

What does a typical day at UCE look like for you?

Very busy! There is a lot of things that I need to look into from a legal standpoint. Because the land we want to develop is heritage land it has its own archaeological value so things like the Resource Management Act come into play. I have to research into processes we need to go through before we start work and disrupt the land. We need to get consent from the Heritage New Zealand and I also need to find out about funding for the project. I have found lots of funding out there but need to determine which ones are appropriate for different aspects of the project.

How are you finding the Summer Startup Programme?

Awesome, it has been really cool to be here. Last year I went through a pretty tough time personally but I found a lot of support here. I have made a lot of really good friends and have grown as a person – particularly in my own confidence. UCE is such a supportive environment. Some people find their projects harder than others but we all want each other to do well. I think it has been a really good experience and I am really glad that I did this course. It has also been really helpful learning about business. We have so many guest lecturers and I always walk away seeing business for what it is really about – the people. I can put faces to local and national businesses now. Being here you get a better understanding of what it’s like to start a business and the difficulties trying to maintain and grow it. I have a new appreciation for business people now.

Where do you want your project to go?

I am hoping that this project will create a snowball effect that will eventuate into something bigger. The work that we are doing isn’t an individual project, it is something that we need to get a lot of people to come on board with. I hope that the site will be something that everyone will be proud of for generations to come – that’s why it’s so important. So many people connect with the land from different backgrounds and ethnicities. It needs to get the respect that it deserves.

What are you doing besides the Summer Startup Programme?

I am getting ready for my move up to Hamilton where I will pursue the next stage of my learning journey. I am not much of a planner, I do what I enjoy that I hope I will be able to use in my future. I have enrolled in a full immersion Māori programme at the University of Waikato. I think the programme will allow me to grow and gain more skills that I will be able to use later in life.

What has your most memorable moment in the Programme been?

I would have to say pitching in front of everyone. I love public speaking. I have participated in mooting with the School of Law through my studies and I was lucky enough to moot in front of Justice Whata of the High Court in 2014. In the Summer Startup Programme, you have to present in front of a panel of judges from industry and UC. They come at you with lots of different questions and you have to think on your feet. My first practice pitch was terrible, but with practice and a lot of touching up I walked away from my final presentation knowing that I had given my best pitch. You have an opportunity to rise up to the challenge and do well. I guess it comes back to what you want to get out of the programme.

What support does UCE offer you?

Rachel is really helpful. I have had a lot of breakthroughs in my project because she helped me expand my thinking when I was thinking too narrow. The other students are really supportive as well. Everyone is there for you both for your project and on a personal level.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start up with own venture or applying for the Summer Startup Programme?

Make sure that you are working on a project that you are proud of and that you are prepared to put the effort into. It really is a lot of work and you have to put so much into it. You have to make sure you are doing something that you are passionate about and that starting your own business is not just for the money. If you have something that you are passionate about then go for it. I recommend the Summer Startup Programme. There is a wealth of knowledge in UCE and you get to learn from people that have done it before. You can pick up a book but to talk to people who have been there and learn from their own experiences – that is the best way to learn.

"The Centre for Entrepreneurship put you in touch with the right people that you otherwise wouldn’t meet."

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) in Photography

Summer Startup Programme 2015/16

  • Digital Creative Executive, Vodafone xone
  • Founder and Director, In Situ Photo Project

What are you working on in Summer Startup Programme?

Currently, there are no opportunities for Fine Arts graduates to showcase and exhibit their work in Christchurch. I have been working with ventures like Place in Time who are working on this amazing record that doesn’t get to be shown because there are no photographic spaces around the city. I want to change this.

So what is In Situ Photo Project?

In Situ Photo Project is a new not-for-profit organisation. We combine a dedicated photography gallery in the heart of Christchurch with an inclusive community engagement programme. We aim to attract and keep intelligent and talented individuals in Christchurch by expanding our cultural platform and providing opportunities for emerging artists.

How have you progressed by being a part of the Summer Startup Programme?

When I started I just had the idea of hopefully opening a gallery one day. Now I have been running the project space for over a year, we have curated and shown eight exhibitions, and we're working towards the opening of a space or spaces for a 2017 (and further) programme. On a daily basis I am in contact with artists, I am meeting business and networking connections, and I am writing about upcoming things that are happening.

How are you finding the Programme?

It’s really good. I have met a whole new friend group of amazing people. I feel like it has consumed my life but in the best way possible. The connections and the contacts that everyone seems to have makes moving forward in any venture so much easier.

What are you doing besides the Programme?

I am the Digital Creative Executive at Vodafone xone. In this role, the skills that I've gained through running the gallery prove to be incredibly transferable - instead of dealing with artists I deal with tech start-ups, instead of planning gallery openings I'm planning sessions for participants in our accelerator programme, and instead of applying for funding I am helping people consider investment. I also try to keep up my own photographic practice!

What are your plans for the future?

I hope that the gallery will become a permanent space within the Christchurch art scene. I would like it to be a job for someone, to employ people to contribute, as well as creating something that people keep wanting to come back to. I hope to foster relationships so that other spaces like this can be realised within Christchurch and New Zealand, particularly in the use of vacant space for creative organisations.

What is the most memorable moment from the Summer Startup Programme?

When you begin pitching your idea and you realise it’s the kind of thing that people get excited about – not just you. It is so exciting to have that support. It is really cool to realise that other people are passionate about what you are doing as well.

What support have you received from being in the Summer Startup Programme?

Contacts and connections. The Centre for Entrepreneurship put you in touch with the right people that you otherwise wouldn’t meet. They encourage you to be more confident in your own plans and ideas. You get to be around intelligent, like-minded people who want to do new and exciting things – it’s the best.

What advice do you have for someone looking to start their own venture?

Absolutely go for it. Surround yourself with people who are going to be excited on the days that you are not. Just take every chance that you get. I accepted some offers in the beginning because I just wanted things to be happening, but I had to turn them down later because I kept being offered better opportunities because of the progress I was making. I guess what I am trying to say is that you need to be willing to say yes to everything – you can always revise later. I would definitely recommend the Summer Startup Programme. My experience at UC has been world class and I would not change it for anything.

Contact Information

Email: mail@hannahwatkinson.net
Website: www.hannahwatkinson.net | www.ispp.nz
Facebook: Personal | Project
LinkedIn: Personal

"I encourage every student who has any entrepreneurial spark to do it because it is definitely worth it. Even if your business doesn’t work out in the end, at least you gave it a go and you will gain insight on what to do differently next time."

Bachelor of Commerce in Strategy & Entrepreneurship and Management

Summer Startup Programme 2015/16, Entré $85K Challenge 2015

  • Owner Operator, TipRun

What is TipRun?

TipRun is a full service rubbish removal company. We offer door to dump service for all types of rubbish across the greater Christchurch area. We can take green waste, recycling, furniture and appliances, and general waste. By doing this, we aim to divert waste away from landfill by recycling, donating and reselling.

How did you progress by being in the Summer Startup Programme?

Prior to the Summer Startup Programme is was a runner up in the entré $85K Challenge. When I initially came into the Programme, everything I did was pretty ad hoc and the services was less polished. Working through the programme everything became a lot more streamlined and everything is running more smoothly. A lot of what I learned came from the speakers and the tips and tricks they shared have been invaluable and I would have struggled to find that insight anywhere else. UCE is really good at bringing all of that together.

What does a typical day look like for you?

When I was in the Summer Startup Programme I spent most of my time organising jobs with clients, and working on establishing my business. I was in the Centre a lot and working less often but it was good to be in that environment working with everyone else, bouncing ideas of others and making friends. Now I am working a lot more, I spend most of my time out on jobs and am usually found at the dump or the scrap yard. I meet with clients, carry out work and answer calls and emails. I am at UC every now and then but I am generally always out and about doing a job somewhere.

What do you like most about your job?

I get to meet people from all walks of life. Some of the stuff I find on jobs is pretty exciting too, I have found an old pokie machine and a duke box. I find a lot of antiques too, there is a lot of cool stuff that comes up.

What are you aspirations for the future?

I would like for TipRun to grow and remain sustainable. I am eventually going to look at franchising or differentiating horizontally, I want to find ways that we can improve waste management and recycling in Christchurch through the rebuild.

How did you find the Summer Startup Programme?

It was awesome. It was a pretty invaluable experience. I learnt so much over the ten weeks of the programme and what I learnt has had more practical applications than I ever would have expected. I made some really good connections and hopefully some life-long friends.

What is your most memorable moment from the Programme?

There are too many! Having lots of speakers was great and a really good learning opportunity. It wasn’t just the educational/business side that I enjoyed but also the social side—playing Ping Pong and the UCE Christmas Party was great. There was never a dull moment in UCE.

What support did UCE offer you?

UCE and being in the Programme put me in touch with lots of different mentors that helped me fast-track where I wanted to go with my business. We had 24/7 access to facilities—especially printing which was really handy for invoicing and stuff like that. There was also always someone around to give you feedback for your idea, no matter how crazy it is.

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or considering applying for the Summer Startup Programme?

I encourage every student who has any entrepreneurial spark to do it because it is definitely worth it. Even if your business doesn’t work out in the end, at least you gave it a go and you will gain insight on what to do differently next time. I would say that it was the most well-spent summer that I ever had.

Contact Information

Website: www.tiprun.co.nz
Email: info@tiprun.co.nz
Facebook: Project
YouTube: Project

"The Summer Startup Programme provided mentoring and exposure to influential business people in the Christchurch and New Zealand entrepreneurial ecosystem. This exposure would have been unachievable working on a venture by ourselves."

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechatronics

Summer Startup Programme 2015/16
Entré $85K Challenge 2015

  • CEO, Wireless Guard

What do you enjoy about being an entrepreneur?

Everything is always changing, you are doing different tasks every day. It’s very different to your usual graduate role as I am the one in charge of the team and we as a team decide where we go and what happens. It is really cool to be able to be a spokesperson for something.

What were you working on in the Summer Startup Programme?

We were working on Wireless Guard and developing a small, low cost, retrofitable home security device. The product we developed helps individuals to keep track of their home security and whether or not doors and windows are closed and/or unlocked. Over the summer we were aiming to get to minimal viable product by the end of the programme. We spent a lot of time figuring out how to support the business in the market, sorting out distribution channels, business models and strategic partners.

How did you find the Summer Startup Programme?

It was good. UCE provided an environment where we were constantly surrounded by like-minded people who helped shape our personal development. The Summer Startup Programme provided mentoring and exposure to influential business people in the Christchurch and New Zealand entrepreneurial ecosystem. This exposure would have been unachievable working on a venture by ourselves.

What was your most memorable moment from the Summer Startup Programme?

The other people in the programme provided an amazingt summer. It was awesome to be around people all working towards similar goals within the business context but also from a social perspective, it was a great way to spend a summer. Having dinner with Rod Carr after winning the final pitching was pretty memorable too.

What advice would you give to someone considering starting up their own venture or applying for the Summer Startup Programme?

Dive in. Make sure that you leverage all possible resources that are available to you. UCE provides you with office space, mentorship, speakers and networking and is really supportive of entrepreneurship even at the undergraduate level. You have fewer restrictions while you are younger and the risks aren’t as great so give it a go. Life is always more fun when you’re the boss anyway.

How did Wireless Guard progress by being in the programme and where are you now?

We won the entré $85K Challenge in 2015 and we had a full working prototype. Through participating in the Summer Startup Programme, we gained a provisional patent, came first in the UCE pitching at the end of the programme, placed third at BNZ Startup Alley, gained entry to and completed Lightning Lab Digital in Auckland and now we have just entered Vodafone Xone back here in Christchurch.

What was BNZ Startup Alley and Lightning Lab Digital like?

BNZ Startup Alley and Webstock provided us a chance to pitch our business and product to a large audience. This provided us with further validation and peer assessment and it also gave us an opportunity to do a large amount of networking with people in the New Zealand digital space. The more people you know in the industry you are working in, the better off you are. Coming out of BNZ Startup Alley we also got flights to San Francisco and a connection to Kiwi Landing Pad.

Since then Wireless Guard has been over to the US to discuss our product with key players in the connected home market. This has helped direct our go to market strategy.

As for Lightning Lab, this allowed us to focus purely on Wireless Guard inside a 3 month programme. The most valuable part was the exposure to Auckland business ecosystem. Through Lightning Lab we were able to:

  • Set up advisory board
  • Build connections with NZ service partners
  • Build relationships with international companies through these connections

What are your aspirations for the future?

Wireless Guard is dedicated to increasing preventative security tools and their availability to households in the 21st century. This is performed by providing products and solutions to allow consumer facing automation platforms to seamlessly adopt preventative security measures. The overall effect is an increase in peace of mind and security cover provided to households by the connected home ecosystem. Over and beyond Hatch, Wireless Guard intends to continue pushing the boundaries of security cover for homes, and individuals.

Contact Information

Email: contact@wirelessguard.co.nz
Website: www.wirelessguard.co.nz
Facebook: Venture
Twitter: Venture
LinkedIn: Venture

"Being in the Summer Startup Programme was one of the best summers that I have had. Not only in terms of developing my business but also meeting so many people, making lots of new friends and new connections that will be useful for the future."

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Chemical and Process Engineering

Summer Startup Programme 2013/14 and 2015/16

  • Founder, Peak to Plateau
  • Administrative Support at UC Centre for Entrepreneurship

So you have been in the Summer Startup Programme before?

Yes I was in the programme over the summer of 2013 and 2014. I was working on My Five Meals which aimed to bring a low-cost version of My Food Bag by delivering recipes and ingredients to customers every week.

What were you working on this time around?

This time I worked on Peak to Plateau which is a high performance outdoor clothing company. I source yak wool from the Tibetan plateau as yak wool is warmer, softer and more breathable than Merino. It also provides a viable source of income for the yak herders.

Where did the inspiration come for your new idea?

I went travelling in 2015 for three months in Mongolia and Central Asia. I spent some time while I was there living with yak herders and found out about yak wool and its properties. I found it surprising that it wasn’t being used in the manufacture of garments despite it being a good fibre for outdoor clothing. I also discovered that the herders were relying on cashmere from goats as their main source of income rather than utilising the yak wool too. After my time with the yak herders I went to Singapore and applied for the Summer Startup Programme and started researching and developing product ideas. I also spent some time finding manufacturers before coming back to New Zealand and going into the Summer Startup Programme.

How did the Summer Startup Programme help you with your business?

Being in the Summer Startup Programme made me more accountable and gave me the funds to get the initial product development done. I also found having so many speakers and mentors come through has helped a lot with fine tuning the way I do things. My presentation skills have also improved significantly.

What support does UCE and the Summer Startup Programme offer you?

I would have to say that the funding was the main thing. In addition to that, because I was working on my business myself, being in the programme and being surrounded by likeminded people on a daily basis really helped. I found it to be incredibly motivating being around people who are all working on a business too. There is also a little bit of healthy competition—when you see other people doing well it only pushes you to do better. You also have access to heaps of mentors and business people who have experience because they have been where you are and can give you advice and an outside perspective on your business. It is easy to fall in love with your own idea but a fresh perspective is really helpful.

What is your most memorable moment from the Summer Startup Programme?

I would have to say the final presentation day and being in the top 10. I actually really enjoyed being questioned by the judges at the end as I could see the result of all my preparation and hard work.

What advice would you give to a student considering applying for the Summer Startup Programme?

Being in the Summer Startup Programme was one of the best summers that I have had. Not only in terms of developing my business but also meeting so many people, making lots of new friends and new connections that will be useful for the future. A lot of opportunities arise from it that go well beyond the ten or so weeks of the programme. However, I would only recommend doing it if it is something that you are actually committed to. You will get a lot more out of it if it is something that you genuinely want to do, rather than because you have nothing else planned for the summer. It takes more than an idea to start a business so you need to be committed to putting in some hard work too.

What are you doing now?

I am still working on Peak to Plateau, I have just had my first run of product arrive. I also work giving administrative assistance to UCE around my classes and working on my business. I am really enjoying being involved in the UCE events rather than just being a guest. I find that I am able to build a better connection with the people who come to speak and mentor. On the side I am also helping Mum start up her own cosmetics company.

How does your day-to-day compare to when you were in the Summer Startup Programme?

In the Summer Startup Programme I spent most of my time on product development, working with manufacturers, practicing pitching and listening to speakers. Now my focus has shifted to marketing and preparing for Kickstarter, looking for people to test and promote my product, managing social media and developing the website. At UCE I help out with events and write stories for the newsletter and the UCE blog.

What do you like most about being an entrepreneur and working on Peak to Plateau?

I enjoy being able to do different things everyday rather than just repeating the same thing all the time. One of the most interesting things for me has been working with overseas manufacturers and suppliers.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I want Peak to Plateau to be the leading, or biggest yak wool outdoor company and to be well-known around the world for its quality and sustainability

Contact Information

Website: www.peaktoplateau.com
Facebook | Instagram

"It’s just really interesting being surrounded by such a diverse, intelligent group of people who are solving problems that you never even realise existed."

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Chemical and Process Engineering
PhD in Flash Pyrolysis of Biomass for Renewable Chemical Production

Incubator Programme 2016
Summer Startup Programme 2015/16

How did you find the 2015/16 UCE Summer Startup Programme?

I thought that it was very useful in giving me a good overview and understanding of everything that goes behind taking something from an idea to a real business. I learned a lot about the overarching structure of entrepreneurship and it was great go to all the workshops and seminars and meet people from the local business community.

What were you working on in the 2015/16 Summer Startup Programme?

I was working on Sunflower Camping, a three day campsite located on private land to accommodate the overflow of Rhythm and Vines festival goers in Gisborne. Essentially another camping ground closed down and there was not enough accommodation for the volume of visitors to the region over the festival period so we stepped in. Despite a successful first year and selling out, we are unable to reopen for the coming season. The land since then has been redeveloped and the other co-founder has since moved from Gisborne.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on a new business – a hand driven espresso machine. I was approached by a fellow coffee enthusiast who came up with the idea and asked me if I wanted to jump on board as I had previously bought a lot of coffee from him. Though I am mainly working on the business side of things, using what I learnt from last summer, I am also using my background in engineering to help with the design and build stages

Where is the business at the moment?

We are just producing our second prototype at the moment. I told my partner about my experience from the Summer Programme last year and convinced him that we should apply. In anticipation of finding out whether or not we get into this year’s programme we are trying to do as much of the tangible work as we can before the programme starts so that we can hit the ground running.

What do you find interesting or cool about being involved in the startup space?

I like being surrounded by the people here – everyone is doing something different but can also relate to your venture and what you’re going through. Everybody is really driven and committed to their own ventures and they put so much work into them which makes a really positive atmosphere. It’s just really interesting being surrounded by such a diverse, intelligent group of people who are solving problems that you never even realise existed.

What support does UCE offer you?

UCE is a place to come and discuss my ideas or anything that pops up in the entrepreneurial world, which is exactly what happened with the coffee machine project. I never would have known where to go to get support for the venture if I hadn’t done the Summer Programme last year. It has really given me a place to come with all those questions and know that there is always someone to ask. Coming from an engineering background with no experience in business, it’s really cool to have that avenue so close.

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or getting involved with UCE?

Just take advantage of the opportunity and do it. Don’t over think it, if you have a strong passion for your idea then you are going to leave really happy, having learned a lot in the process – more than you ever would have doing it alone. You will be surprised how many people relate to you and how a passing comment from someone in the Centre is just what you need to help you get on your way.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I am aiming to finish my PhD next year and then perhaps take a well needed break! Eventually I would like to try and merge my engineering background with what I have learned through the Centre and start my own business. My interest are in renewable energy/sustainable consultancy, so perhaps I will build something in that space.

"The networking opportunities and connections that you gain from being in the programme are invaluable. We are able to find out exactly who we need to contact to help us figure out how to keep the venture going."

Master of Commerce in Taxation & Accounting
Bachelor of Commerce in Taxation & Accounting

Summer Startup Programme 2015/16

  • Co-Founder, Health Logistics

What are you working on in the Summer Startup Programme?

I have come on board to help Courtney with Health Logistics which she started in the Programme in 2014/15. She needed someone with the financial knowledge and skills for budgeting and managing finances, I guess I was the logical choice.

So what is Health Logistics?

Health Logistics is aimed at increasing the availability of disability equipment. Our research has shown that there are over 60,000 New Zealanders who don’t have access to the equipment that they need. Health Logistics is a pick-up and delivery service that will benefit patients by increasing the availability of this equipment.

How have you progressed by being a part of the Summer Startup Programme?

The venture has progressed a lot since being in the Summer Startup Programme this summer. We have changed the approach we are taking and have pivoted our strategy. We are now addressing the same problem the venture was initially, but we are taking a different approach. We were looking at creating an equipment library, but now we are focusing on improving on what is already available. Instead of buying new equipment, we are working to better utilise the equipment that has already been purchased by DHBs.

How are you finding the Summer Startup Programme?

It is good. We have met heaps of different people. Just the other day we set up a meeting with one of the guest speakers that came in and presented to all of the students. The programme has offered lots of opportunities for making connections and networking by exposing you to lots of local business people and entrepreneurs. The talks are always interesting – you are listening to real industry experts.

What does a typical day in UCE look like for you?

We do a lot of work on market validation for our venture. We basically do a lot of research and learn as much as we can about the sectors that we want to operate in. We use that to prepare proposals for local entities that we want to work with. We also work on our business plan. If we can do the planning well then we can make it easier to get the venture going.

What are you doing besides the Summer Startup Programme?

I am a Accountant at Mathieson Chartered Accountants. I do general tax compliance work, provide business advisory services, and do GST and tax returns. Because I am working for quite a small firm, the things I do on a day to day basis vary a lot. One day I could be working on a GST return and the next I could be doing an information memorandum for an investment proposal. I also studying towards an MCom in Taxation.

What do you think you will do your thesis on?

My thesis seeks to explore look-through companies (LTCs) from a tax practitioners’ perspective. Specifically, LTCs will be compared with their predecessors, loss-attributing qualifying companies (LAQCs), in order to evaluate the efficacy of New Zealand’s closely held company regimes.

What are your plans for the future?

We are trying to establish a pilot programme for Health Logistics. I think the main thing for us to do right now is determine if it is financially feasible and then if it is, roll it out on a bigger scale. I would definitely consider working on the venture full-time if it took off.

What is the most memorable moment so far?

Getting into Unreasonable Labs. We only really did it because Rachel let us know about it and then helped with our application. If we weren’t in the Summer Startup Programme we probably wouldn’t have hear about it and wouldn’t have considered applying for it. It was Unreasonable Labs that helped us pivot and redirect the venture in a better direction.

What was Unreasonable Labs like?

If was really full on. It was five days full-time and it was really intense. Every single day was jam packed full of activities. In that one week where we were in the programme, we probably made a months’ worth of progress.

What support have you gotten from being in UCE?

The networking opportunities and connections that you gain from being in the UCE are invaluable. We are able to find out exactly who we need to contact to help us figure out how to keep the venture going. Sometimes when we have hit a wall we have reached out through the UCE network and someone has helped us figure out how we can move forward and make our path clearer.

What advice would you give someone looking to start their own venture?

Fall in love with your problem, not your solution. We were too stuck thinking about the solution that we were missing other opportunities and potential solutions. Once we changed our focus to the problem we found better and different solutions. You need to take a more holistic view and look at what you are doing as a whole. Once everything was put into perspective we found much better ideas.

"Without UCE I never would have pursued running my own business. It would have been something that I would have always wanted to do but probably never would have gotten around to as I don’t think I would have known how."

Bachelor of Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Laws

Summer Startup Programme 2014/15 and 2015/16

  • Co-Founder, Health Logistics

 

So you have been in the Summer Startup Programme before?

Yes I was in the programme last summer working on a disability equipment library. The aim was to source equipment and loan it out for a much smaller fee. At the end I worked out that it wasn’t viable without a large investment.

What are you working on this time?

I really wanted to continue developing my initial venture but this time we are taking a different approach. The core of our venture focusses on helping a lot of people who currently go without disability equipment. Our esearch shows that people struggle to get access due to time and financial constraints. There are also problems where equipment isn’t returned and that means that there is less equipment available for others to use. Because of this, we have pivoted from our initial idea to a pick-up and delivery service for disability equipment - Health Logistics. I also got Harry on board to be a part of my team because he has the business knowledge that I felt the venture needed.

How does the programme this year compare to last time?

It is really different. Last time I was completely new to entrepreneurship and business. I think the environment in the Centre for Entrepreneurship is really different – in a good way. Having people like Rudolf come in is really helpful and interesting. Last time we didn’t have external guests come to talk and I think having speakers from industry makes a big difference.

How have you progressed by being a part of the Summer Startup Programme?

When we came into the programme we were focusing on providing people with access to disability equipment but we have progressed a lot since then. Now we are hoping to get a pilot programme to test if our idea will work and how.

How are you finding the Summer Startup Programme?

It’s really good. I like all the speakers. I don’t have a business mind, so I have learned about a lot of things that I wouldn’t have otherwise known if I hadn’t come into the programme. I am enjoying being in the Centre for Entrepreneurship, last year when I was in the programme we were just in this one room. The new environment is really good.

What does a typical day in UCE look like for you?

A lot of my time is spent on the business plan and market validation. I am also constantly meeting with people, people who have come in as guest speakers and offered their time to the students here. This whole programme has just been one big learning experience for all of us, most of what we are doing is new to a lot of people. You have to get used to having to change and adapt so that you can keep your venture going and progressing.

What are you doing besides the Summer Startup Programme?

I coordinate the volunteers for the Prison Information Service which I got into through The Howard League and Community Law. I go into the local prisons and work with the inmates who have submitted an issue that they need help with. I go and interview them, takeaway the facts and conduct research into the issue. Then I go back and provide them with the information.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like our venture to grow. I think that it could move into providing a service for all of the District Health Boards around the country and private hospitals. I am enjoying the business and entrepreneurial side now even though my interests are mainly in criminal law. I think that at the heart of it, I really like the idea of advocacy and advocating for people who can’t. I guess that that is essentially what we are trying to do with our venture and what I want to do in my career.

What is the most memorable moment so far?

Probably getting into Unreasonable Labs. Rachel is really good at letting students know about any opportunities, both internal and external to UC. Rachel helped us with our application and after going through a selection process we got in.

What was Unreasonable Labs like?

It was pretty amazing, Unreasonable Labs was a hyper accelerator. We had so much work packed into five days, we were able to test a lot of our assumptions and pivot with our idea and steer it into a better direction.

What support have you gotten from being in the Summer Startup Programme?

Lots. I don’t think I ever would have done anything that I have without someone like Rachel to offer support and feedback. I think that without the programme I never would have pursued running my own business. It would have been something that I would have always wanted to do but probably never would have gotten around to as I don’t think I would have known how.

What advice do you have for someone looking to start their own venture?

Make sure that you have a team. It can get quite lonely doing it by yourself, it helps to have other people and their expertise and ideas. The Summer Startup Programme is the coolest way to spend your summer. You learn so much and if at the end of the day your idea doesn’t work you will walk away with a wealth of knowledge.

 

"I was introduced to lots of business people who came into the centre to deliver presentations and run workshops. I found it really valuable having access to those people and being able to learn from their business and life experiences."

Bachelor of Commerce in Strategy & Entrepreneurship and Business Economics
Electrical Apprenticeship (ETITO)

Summer Startup Programme 2015/16, Entré $85K Challenge 2015

  • Chief Executive Officer, VoltCuffs

 

What is VoltCuffs?

VoltCuffs are a wrist worn electrical hazard safety device. They continuously monitor for live voltage and automatically alert the user when their hands are in dangerous proximity to hazards, such as live wires, so that a serious accident can be avoided. The device also records all of this information so that it can be analysed and used for improving safety practices and work place procedures.

How did you progress from an idea to being in the Summer Startup Programme?

I was invited to the entré $85K Challenge awards evening in 2014 and was motivated by the event to submit my own idea and turn it into a business. I quit my job and enrolled in a BCom at the start of 2015 so that I could be eligible for the competition. The $85K competition was an incredible learning experience and taught me the skils I needed to start turning my idea into a business. I ended up coming second equal which came with some outstanding prizes which went a long way towards continuing development of my business. From there I applied for the Summer Startup Programme which gave me the opportunity to carry on working on my business over the summer break.

What did a typical day look like for you in the Summer Startup Programme?

I spent most of my time at UCE attending presentations from guest speakers and carrying out work for VoltCuffs. This included setting up meetings, catching up with mentors, communicating with my CTO, creating drafts for designers, discussing ideas and concepts with other students in the programme and also having regular ping-pong breaks.

What support did UCE give you?

Being a part of the UCE Summer Startup Programme I was able to gain mentoring from experienced people like Rachel. I was introduced to lots of business people who came into the centre to deliver presentations and run workshops. I found it really valuable having access to those people and being able to learn from their business and life experiences. The scholarship money meant that I didn’t have to get a summer job to pay the rent so that I was able to fully focus on VoltCuffs.

What is your most memorable moment from the Summer Startup Programme?

Definitely the opening ceremony at the end of the Summer Startup Programme and being one of the finalists to present to everyone. I also enjoyed the speakers over the Programme, they made a pretty big impression and provided a great example of the success to be gained from putting in the hard work to create a viable business.

Where is VoltCuffs now?

We are just about to start our fist small scale production run which will get field tested by twenty local electrical workers in Canterbury. If everything goes well, we can start taking pre-orders and we will be looking for investment so that we can start full scale production and expand the business.

What are you plans for the future?

I would like to get VoltCuffs to the stage where we can sell our product all around the world and for it to be a proven factor in preventing injuries and accidents in the construction workplace. I want it to be a viable and sustainable business that I can continue to grow and develop. I have also been chosen to be one of two students attending Entrepreneurship Avenue in Vienna this year.

What is the Entrepreneurship Avenue Conference?

Entrepreneurship Avenue is the largest student entrepreneurship conference in Austria. There are supposed to be over 1000 people attending, most of which are students. The conference itself is designed to inspire and encourage students to get into entrepreneurship and start their own businesses. I also get to attend a workshop and visit co-working and incubator spaces while I am over there.

You must be excited, what do you hope to get out of it?

Very. This is a really awesome opportunity and I am really looking forward to being in such an amazing environment. I will get to learn first-hand about the start-ups that are coming out of Europe and get insight into what start-ups are doing in that part of the world and what separates the successful ones from the rest. I will be exposed to high levels of expertise in the start-up and entrepreneurship space. I think that it will be a pretty intense, high energy and fast paced experience which is what you would expect from a conference full of entrepreneurs. I imagine there will be a lot to take in but I would like to come away having made a whole lot of new friends from all over Europe that are just as passionate about business as I am.

What advice would you give to someone considering starting a venture or applying for the Summer Startup Programme?

Make the most of the time that you have in the Programme and take advantage of all the experience that is around you. Talk to as many people as possible as they can provide you with valuable insight, fresh perspectives and business knowledge that can really help you start up. Sometimes just talking to an industry expert can give you an indication of whether you are on track and can also give you new ideas for ways to evolve your business to get it to where it needs to be to find success.

Lastly, what do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?

I get to create a new product that could save lives, time and money for an entire industry. I also get to meet some impressive people that have been down the road less travelled and can share their unique experience from the amazing life that successful entrepreneurs create for themselves.

"It was really good to be in a space with so many out-of-the-box thinkers that all have these totally different perspectives, degrees, ages and ways of thinking. UCE is a great space for growth."

Bachelor of Speach and Language Pathology (Honours)

Summer Startup Programme 2015/16

  • Founder, Ability Platter

 

What project were you working on in the Summer Startup Programme?

I spent the summer working on Ability Platter. Ability Platter aims to connect people with impairments to businesses that can meet their needs. Ability Platter is a social enterprise where companies pay a subscription each year and their customers can provide feedback about their business based on suitability for people with impairments. I want to make it easier for these people to access opportunities and services in New Zealand and to help them to find passion and purpose.

Where did inspiration for this project come from?

My sister was born with spina bifida. Life has been hard for her, it’s difficult to find accessible services like educators, sports teams, places to go and things to do. Currently there isn’t anything that helps this so I thought that I might be able to make it better. I started thinking about my degree and how I could incorporate that so I started looking at all impairments, not just mobility. I found it interesting that previously I hadn’t considered even half of what people might go through on a day-to-day basis and how hard life can be for some people. Now I find it hard to convince other people about the huge issues that people with impairments face.

What did a typical day look like for you in the Summer Startup Programme?

Most days I would come into the Centre, work through emails, study and do some research. A lot of what I did focused on validation which was hard due to most businesses shutting down over the Christmas break so it took a few weeks before people got back to me. The momentum really picked up at the end though and I ended up getting a meeting with the CDHB.

What are your aspirations for the future?

If nothing else, I hope that I can help to create awareness around impairments. Ultimately the goal of the project is to help people with disabilities gain access to jobs, sports, social outings, cultural activities and education.

Where is your project now and how did it progress by being in the Programme?

It has taken a back seat to finishing my honours degree at the moment. However, I'm exploring potential ways to integrate this into a masters degree possibly for next year. There are lots of decisions to be made in the next six months so it should be an interesting journey!

How did you find the Programme?

Awesome. It was really good to be in a space with so many out-of-the-box thinkers that all have these totally different perspectives, degrees, ages and ways of thinking. UCE is a great space for growth. Having speakers come and talk about success and failures was really integral to the programme too. Ultimately it was a really cool way to meet new people and make new friends.

What is your most memorable moment from the summer?

I really loved the final pitch presentations. It was great to see what everyone went through over the few months we were together and then see them come out at the end and the progress that they made. I was really proud of everyone. I was also glad when I got to do my pitch too.

What support did UCE offer you?

I got all kinds of support which I found helpful. I got a lot of direction which meant that when I got stuck or didn’t know what to do next Rachel would be around to provide new directions, ideas and suggestions. Having speakers come in and talk was also great and having them available to talk one-on-one too. They were able to help me find other contacts and offer advice and pathways forward. There were days when you questioned if it is even worth continuing, but you have that support surrounding you that reminds you that what you are doing is important.

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or considering applying for Summer Startup Programme?

Definitely do it. It’s the best summer ‘job’ you could get really. When you are young, coming into the startup scene, the Programmes is a really good opportunity to have access to. Later in life you might want to do something but won’t necessarily have the support structures around you, so it’s good to give it a go while you can.

 

"We were also able to meet with some of the speakers on an individual basis to get help, talking to someone who has done what you are about to do can make a real difference."

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechatronics

Summer Startup Programme 2015/16
Entré $85K Challenge 2015

  • CTO, Wireless Guard

 

What were you working on in the Summer Startup Programme?

We were working on Wireless Guard which is a smart security product. Essentially, it detects whether a door or window is locked, unlocked, closed or open and communicates that to your smart devices. My role as Chief Technology Officer means that I oversee all the technical development of our products. At the moment this mainly involves embedded hardware and working on software design.

How did Wireless Guard progress by being in the programme?

In 2015 we won the entré $85K Challenge, but at that stage we just had an idea and a working prototype. Getting into the Summer Startup Programme is what really launched us forward. We spent a lot of time focusing on trying to get the project perfect. Now we have realised that we are better off putting our effort into getting the product usable for our customers so that we can get it to market. Once we have done that we can then look at perfecting all of the small details, increasing usability, and making updates and developments.

Where is Wireless Guard at the moment?

We are currently in Auckland where we will be for three or four months while we are in the Lightning Lab Digital Programme. I would like to see our product go to market, which at this stage is looking to be in November this year. After that I think we will focus on growing the company and look into other products.

How did you find the Summer Startup Programme?

It was good. I learnt a lot, particularly with regards to the business side of things. I spent most of the time meeting lots of people and working on road maps for where we want the project to go. All of the talks were really helpful and give you a different perspective on your business. We were also able to meet with some of the speakers on an individual basis to get help, talking to someone who has done what you are about to do can make a real difference. Rachel has been a huge help and getting the scholarship was very helpful so that I could concentrate on the business over the summer rather than working elsewhere. Going to BNZ Startup Alley and getting into Lightning Lab at the end of it too was pretty amazing.

What was BNZ Startup Alley like?

It was pretty good. We participated in the BNZ Startup Alley competition and placed third. We won a trip to San Francisco later in the year after Lightning Lab. We also got to present at the Webstock Conference. Webstock is more of a web community and we are more engineering. Regardless, it was really interesting getting to go into that space and seeing what people in that area expect, learn about good design practice and that kind of thing from their perspective. I think what we learnt will be helpful in the future if we need to move into the web space.

What advice would you give to someone considering starting up their own venture or applying for the Summer Startup Programme?

Have a talk to someone who has done the programme before. I think that doing this would help you figure out what you are going to do when you get into the programme so that you can hit the ground running. Also work out a plan and start setting up meetings as quickly as you can. Talking to people is really helpful. Just be mindful to take each piece of advice as a grain of salt as too much advice can be overwhelming and at the end of the day it is your project. It does all seem to come together at the end though – even if it doesn’t feel like it will some days.

Contact Information

Email: contact@wirelessguard.co.nz
Website: www.wirelessguard.co.nz
Facebook: Venture
Twitter: Venture
LinkedIn: Venture

Ngāti Whawhakia, Ngāti te Wehi, Ngāti Punjabi, Ngāti Pākehā

"The programme was inclusive from a cultural standpoint – I believe multiculturalism is vital for basic human interaction, cross-pollination of ideas and innovation."

Bachelor of Science in Management Science
Masters in Engineering Management
PhD in Māori Entrepreneurship

Bootcamp 2016
Summer Startup Programme 2015/16
Entré $75K Challenge 2013

  • CEO, Kōkewa Ventures
  • Project Coordinator, Te Tapuae O Rehua

 

How did you find the Summer Startup Programme?

I found it hugely helpful. The programme was inclusive from a cultural standpoint – I believe multiculturalism is vital for basic human interaction, cross-pollination of ideas and innovation. I dabble in both the for-profit and social enterprise spaces, so it was great to spend time with a range of very diverse experts. Many of the guest speakers offered thought provoking presentations and I found myself questioning and testing their ‘way of doing’ with my own values. This reaffirmed for me that not every investor or mentor is going to be a good fit for you or your business, and that’s ok. It was really important for me to feel comfortable about where I come from, the things that drive me and how that influences what I do in business.

What project were you working on in the Summer Startup Programme and how did it help?

My agenda was multifaceted. I was here on behalf of Yoga in Schools, as a student of entrepreneurship and generally enterprising individual and. We were able to bounce ideas off experts to ensure that we covered all bases and that the business was ready to go to market in term 1. We got a lot of value out of information relating to IP protection, small business accounting and potential avenues for funding/investment. Making sure that we could answer all of the hard questions Rachel would fire at us was unbelievably helpful. We pulled together a lean business model and strategy which has proven invaluable when bidding for investment. Pitch practice was really effective not just for overcoming public speaking fears, but also for simplifying or removing all the ‘noise’ from conversations and proposals. Overall, I think the UCE summer programme helped the business to progress simply by having someone available to answer questions around the legalities of business.

Where is Yoga in Schools now?

Yoga in Schools is going strong. The programme is currently being implemented in seven schools and Letesha’s expertise is being requested from kura all over New Zealand. Yoga in Schools is about to launch a Yoga Warriors initiative which will reach out to whānau in Ōtautahi. These classes facilitate an intergenerational learning environment, allowing parents, grandparents and children to prioritise and engage in physical, mental and spiritual exercise together.

What is your most memorable moment from the Programme?

Definitely the final pitch. I am not the greatest public speaker and I was very nervous, but the support leading up to that final day and the satisfaction I felt after was unforgettable.

What advice would you give to other Māori students considering starting up their own venture or considering applying for the Summer Startup Programme?

Give it a go. Be confident in who you are and the values that you hold. I don’t think it matters too much whether your motivations for business are for-profit or not, by being part of this kind of learning environment you pick up skills and life lessons for navigating the future of enterprise. UCE is hugely supportive and diverse, and it was quite evident from the others that were part of the programme that social enterprise is on the rise. There’s something really powerful about having a social purpose drive your business and it was neat to see this being embraced by the majority.

What are you working on now?

I have been wanting to set up my own business for a while now. Back in 2013 I was an entré finalist for something totally different. In the meanwhile I’ve kept busy and waited for the stars to align, that is opportunity recognition, resource availability, and personal interest to build a business. So, Kōkewa Ventures is up and running, and I also have a job. I am still involved with Yoga in Schools here and there and am working on my PhD too. Kōkewa Ventures allows me to practice what I research in the context of my own business. I feel it gives me more credibility in the business world as a student/academic and vice versa.

What is Kōkewa Ventures?

Kōkewa Ventures provides Māori business facilitation and strategic support. Kōkewa is a spin off from my research on the social context of Māori entrepreneurship where I have been investigating the networks and support systems that are required for Māori enterprise to do well. It is hugely rewarding working with other Māori businesses in the region.

What do you find interesting or cool about what you do?

I find it interesting that we undervalue the innovation potential locked at the nexus of culture and technology but I think the opportunities that come from that are pretty cool. I think I’m lucky - I get to work with some cool people on some mean projects solving some wicked problems.

What did you do with entré in 2013?

TempME was a business idea that intended to align temp workers and individuals with spare time with odd jobs around Christchurch. We got into the Top 10 Qualifiers in what was then the $75K Challenge. We decided not to pursue the business idea and put our energy into other opportunities (more information).

What does a typical day look like for you?

As a PhD student, kaimahi and an entrepreneur I’ve had to learn to manage my time, which I admit I’m still not very good at. No two days are ever the same, and that suits me. Building and maintaining relationships with other organisations in the community is probably the most consistent activity.

So you are also employed, on top of everything else that you are doing?

Yes, as kaimahi at Te Tapuae o Rehua my role is to improve Māori ICT outcomes through collaborative action. This involves connecting and facilitating community and iwi-led initiatives, mobilising and focusing community resources, aligning ICT initiatives with tribal aspirations as well as pathway planning for Māori into STEM subjects, and ICT qualifications, employment and enterprise.

What other jobs have you had previously?

I guess I have always been one to float between jobs. Recently I did some research and tutor work with the suave Maui Labs team and management department. Prior to that I worked in the oil and gas, and manufacturing sectors to put my Masters and Bachelor qualifications into practice; and in another life I was an RA and a waitress.

What are you aspirations for the future?

First and foremost, I want to finish my thesis. I think my partner and supervisors would be proud to hear me say that. I have ambitions to grow the technical arm of Kōkewa and facilitate the creation of pathways for Māori into ICT.

Contact Information

LinkedIn

"Working with someone else can be a blessing and a curse. It is great to have someone to bounce ideas off of but you need to recognise your own strengths and skills while also knowing what areas of the business you need help with."

Master of Commerce in Management
Graduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Ara)
Bachelor of Sustainability and Outdoor Education (Ara)

Incubator Programme 2016
Summer Startup Programme 2015/16

  • Co-Founder of Snap Shot Me
  • Co-Founder of SMART Consulting
  • Project Director of 180 Degrees Consulting 2017

 

Tell us a little bit about your background and previous experience.

During my time at Ara I was heavily involved in a number of student clubs and initiatives. I was the Co-Chair of the Student Council, Founder of the Ara Outdoor Leisure Club, Founder of the Ara Sustainability Club, and had an advisory role on the Health and Safety Committee. I was also involved in the development of the Strategy for the Ara Foundation Business Outreach Programme. I was part of the workshops and discussions they ran with government, council and businesses. They were trying to determine how to match what’s good for students (e.g. leadership development and work experience) with what’s good for businesses (e.g. influencing the next generation of leaders, giving back to the community). The ultimate goal was to identify students who showed strong leadership potential and place them in local businesses that were identified as having an interest in developing these types of students.

What project were you working on in the Summer Startup Programme 2015/16?

I was working on SMART Consulting, a consultancy firm that aims to build capacity for small businesses to implement sustainability practices. The inspiration for SMART Consulting mainly came from my family history. Growing up, my father ran his own business management consulting firm. It made sense for me to give it a go too and he has been a mentor from the start. I am also really passionate about sustainability. It’s a growing industry and it is receiving more and more recognition for its importance and the need to understand it.

Where is SMART Consulting now?

Last summer the business was focused on applying sustainability practices at an employee level with training and evaluation systems. We have since found that organisations are more interested in having a framework of “what is it and how do we implement it” in relation to their business and desired direction. Because of this we have decided to focus more on helping businesses to be strategic with their sustainability practices by providing them with the frameworks and processes they need. For me, the purpose of SMART Consulting is about getting experience to build a portfolio of projects for the future. These days when you finish your qualification and apply for jobs, employers are looking for graduates who also have work experience, but it’s often difficult to get relevant work experience while you’re studying. SMART Consulting is my way of getting both.

What project are you working on now?

As well as SMART Consulting, I am also working on Snap Shot Me. Snap Shot Me is a co-creation tool for curating time lapse imagery of tourist destinations. We have set up six stands around the country since July 2015 including Tasman Glacier, Mueller Lake, Hooker Valley and some Christchurch tourist hotspots. The signs prompt visitors to use the built-in camera stand and take a photo of the landscape. We then collate those images and put them all together to create a time-lapse for each location. We want to use Snap Shot Me as a means of increasing awareness of environmental issues while promoting the New Zealand landscape and how drastically it changes over the seasons. Visitors can use the imagery to identify areas of the country that they want to visit and see what it might look like at the time of their trip. DOC are backing our project and let us retro fit our camera stands to their existing site signage.

What are you plans for Snap Shot Me?

The process of collating and uploading images at the moment is a manual one. Despite all of our engagement to date being organic (no marketing or promotion has taken place), we are getting to the point where we can’t keep up with usage and need to upgrade the site so more processes can be automated. I have met with the CEO of Computer Concepts Limited and he likes our idea so much that he is helping us develop our business model. As well as automating processes, we would like to link in with other tourism organisations so that the website becomes a platform for visitors to be able to plan other aspects of their trip such as activities, accommodation and dining. Ultimately we want to provide a platform for discovering new adventures and then sharing those experiences online. We would like contributors to be able to see how a location has changed since they were last there and also to be offered recommendations on where they might like to travel based on where they have been.

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or considering getting involved with UCE?

Make sure that you are able to commit to the project—especially in terms of the time you have available. Also, working with someone else can be a blessing and a curse. It is great to have someone to bounce ideas off of but you need to recognise your own strengths and skills while also knowing what areas of the business you need help with.

What do you find interesting or cool about being an entrepreneur?

I think Christchurch is at the point now where there are some really cool projects and ventures emerging. Though we still have a long way to go in terms of the rebuild, the entrepreneurial ecosystem is growing. I think we need to have clarity around why businesses are being supported – are we supporting them for the purpose of the Christchurch rebuild or because we want to see businesses grow for their own sake. I don’t think there is currently a general consensus regarding this.

What are your aspirations for the future?

With SMART Consulting, I am trying to gain as much experience and connections as I can in the short term before heading overseas. Next year I am off to Helsinki, Finland to conduct research for my master’s thesis. My thesis is looking at implementation strategies for sustainability practices. Finland is considered to be the best in the world at sustainability so I may as well learn from the best. Ideally I will have one of more firms to work with while I am over there and look at how they deal with their clients. We would also like to implement Snap Shot Me overseas. Finland is a small country with drastic seasonal change too, so this will be an opportunity to explore taking the business over there.

2014

"Without UCE I never would have pursued running my own business. It would have been something that I would have always wanted to do but probably never would have gotten around to as I don’t think I would have known how."

Bachelor of Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Laws

Summer Startup Programme 2014/15 and 2015/16

  • Co-Founder, Health Logistics

So you have been in the Summer Startup Programme before?

Yes I was in the programme last summer working on a disability equipment library. The aim was to source equipment and loan it out for a much smaller fee. At the end I worked out that it wasn’t viable without a large investment.

What are you working on this time?

I really wanted to continue developing my initial venture but this time we are taking a different approach. The core of our venture focusses on helping a lot of people who currently go without disability equipment. Our esearch shows that people struggle to get access due to time and financial constraints. There are also problems where equipment isn’t returned and that means that there is less equipment available for others to use. Because of this, we have pivoted from our initial idea to a pick-up and delivery service for disability equipment - Health Logistics. I also got Harry on board to be a part of my team because he has the business knowledge that I felt the venture needed.

How does the programme this year compare to last time?

It is really different. Last time I was completely new to entrepreneurship and business. I think the environment in the Centre for Entrepreneurship is really different – in a good way. Having people like Rudolf come in is really helpful and interesting. Last time we didn’t have external guests come to talk and I think having speakers from industry makes a big difference.

How have you progressed by being a part of the Summer Startup Programme?

When we came into the programme we were focusing on providing people with access to disability equipment but we have progressed a lot since then. Now we are hoping to get a pilot programme to test if our idea will work and how.

How are you finding the Summer Startup Programme?

It’s really good. I like all the speakers. I don’t have a business mind, so I have learned about a lot of things that I wouldn’t have otherwise known if I hadn’t come into the programme. I am enjoying being in the Centre for Entrepreneurship, last year when I was in the programme we were just in this one room. The new environment is really good.

What does a typical day in UCE look like for you?

A lot of my time is spent on the business plan and market validation. I am also constantly meeting with people, people who have come in as guest speakers and offered their time to the students here. This whole programme has just been one big learning experience for all of us, most of what we are doing is new to a lot of people. You have to get used to having to change and adapt so that you can keep your venture going and progressing.

What are you doing besides the Summer Startup Programme?

I coordinate the volunteers for the Prison Information Service which I got into through The Howard League and Community Law. I go into the local prisons and work with the inmates who have submitted an issue that they need help with. I go and interview them, take away the facts and conduct research into the issue. Then I go back and provide them with the information.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like our venture to grow. I think that it could move into providing a service for all of the District Health Boards around the country and private hospitals. I am enjoying the business and entrepreneurial side now even though my interests are mainly in criminal law. I think that at the heart of it, I really like the idea of advocacy and advocating for people who can’t. I guess that that is essentially what we are trying to do with our venture and what I want to do in my career.

What is the most memorable moment so far?

Probably getting into Unreasonable Labs. Rachel is really good at letting students know about any opportunities, both internal and external to UC. Rachel helped us with our application and after going through a selection process we got in.

What was Unreasonable Labs like?

It was pretty amazing, Unreasonable Labs was a hyper accelerator. We had so much work packed into five days, we were able to test a lot of our assumptions and pivot with our idea and steer it into a better direction.

What support have you gotten from being in the Summer Startup Programme?

Lots. I don’t think I ever would have done anything that I have without someone like Rachel to offer support and feedback. I think that without the programme I never would have pursued running my own business. It would have been something that I would have always wanted to do but probably never would have gotten around to as I don’t think I would have known how.

What advice do you have for someone looking to start their own venture?

Make sure that you have a team. It can get quite lonely doing it by yourself, it helps to have other people and their expertise and ideas. The Summer Startup Programme is the coolest way to spend your summer. You learn so much and if at the end of the day your idea doesn’t work you will walk away with a wealth of knowledge.

 

2013

"Having this space available is really amazing. It makes a big difference to working on a venture on your own at home or in the library."

Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Commerce in Taxation & Accounting

Summer Startup Programme 2013/14

  • Entré Apps Challenge 2013
  • Sales Director, Little Yellow Bird

What were you doing when you were in the Summer Startup Programme?

I was in the Summer Startup Programme two years ago with Suggestion Box. I won the entré Apps Challenge in 2013 and continued to work on it over that summer. Suggestion Box was an application that provided a platform for any user to give feedback or make a suggestions to any business around them. It replaced the archaic paper based suggestion boxes. At the end of each month, businesses would receive a report with the suggestions that they had received through the app.

What other projects have you worked on since then?

After my work on Suggestion Box I created another web based application – Candidate with the goal of getting youth engaged in the 2014 elections. Candidate was based on the popular app Tinder, but instead of finding a future husband or wife, users were matched with a political party based on their preference of policies. The progress I made with Candidate was only possible because of Rachel’s support and access to resources. Otherwise it would have been near impossible while studying full-time to get the app up and running.

How did Candidate come about?

There was a campaign called Shoulder Tap which was run by Derek Handley in order to find a new right hand man or woman. The top 100 applicants had to submit a video about solving a certain problem in New Zealand. The issue I wanted to address was that youth weren’t voting and my solution was Candidate. I didn’t become Derek’s right hand woman, but I won a $10,000 grant to get Candidate off the ground. The money and resources also went to establishing the Virgin Voter Collective.

What are you doing now?

I am working as the Director of Sales for Little Yellow Bird, one of the ventures in this year’s Summer Startup Programme. I am responsible for building relationships with new customers and maintaining those we have with existing customers. Because Little Yellow Bird is a start-up, there are currently only two of us on board. This means that we both have to do a bit of everything so I also manage our social media, marketing, website and also product design and looking into new sales channels (online).

How did you get involved with Little Yellow Bird?

I started off the summer working as a Programme Assistant for the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship. Building an inclusive, bubbling environment is really important in any co-working space so that’s what I spent my summer doing. I worked to create a community, help students with their ventures, organise and run social events, activities and organise guest speakers. It was through my job at UCE that I met Samantha Jones and go on board with Little Yellow Bird.

What is Little Yellow Bird?

Little Yellow Bird is a supplier of sustainable and ethically made uniforms. Our uniforms are high quality, customisable and made in Fair Trade factories using organic cotton and sustainable materials. Our current factory is based in Bangalore, India. We also connect our customers with a developing community project and provide them with regular updates which they can then share with their employees and customers.

What do you find the most interesting about your role in Little Yellow Bird?

Working in the start-up world is super exciting. Anything can happen on any given day. You don’t know how the day is going to pan out when you turn up in the morning. There are a lot of highs and also some lows – you just never know what you will get each day.

Where is Little Yellow Bird now?

Little Yellow Bird started with Samantha Jones and another woman. After participating in the entré $85K Challenge, Sam came into the Summer Startup Programme. Now, we are close to heading off to Lightning Lab XX in Wellington in March which will allow us both to work on the venture full-time.

How does your experience with the Summer Startup Programme compare to the programme now?

Last time was amazing but with the new UC Centre for Entrepreneurship, the programme is bigger and better. There is more space and guest speakers. The only thing that has been constant has been Rachel Wright.

How are you finding the UCE environment?

Being around people who are all working on start-ups is surprisingly helpful. You can discuss ideas with each other and utilise your collective resources. Rachel Wright has been a mentor for all of us and we are lucky to have access to her knowledge and advice. Her realty is just what any founder needs.

What is your most memorable moment over the summer?

Becoming a finalist at the BNZ Start-Up Alley and getting into Lightning Lab XX has been awesome. We never would have even applied if we hadn’t been in the Centre. Presentation Day was also pretty awesome, seeing all of the students’ work on display at the end of a good nine weeks of hard work was amazing.

What was BNZ Start-Up Alley?

BNZ Start-Up Alley is a part of the Webstock Conference in Wellington. Six start-ups in the technology or social enterprise space were selected as finalists and went to Wellington to pitch to a panel of judges. We were awarded first place and have received $20,000 and return flights to San Francisco to attend the Kiwi Landing Pad programme. We also get legal and accounting help from BNZ and Buddle Findlay.

What is Kiwi Landing Pad?

Kiwi Landing Pad is really just a step up from the Summer Startup Programme. It aims to help selected high growth New Zealand technology companies establish and grow their business in the USA. We will head there later in the year after we attend Lightning Lab and visit India to scope more Fair Trade factories and organic cotton farms.

What support does UCE offer you?

Having this space available is really amazing. It makes a big difference to working on a venture on your own at home or in the library. It’s a completely different environment and Rachel’s support has been invaluable. Without UCE, I never would have met Sam.

What advice would you give to a student considering starting up their own venture or considering applying for the Summer Startup Programme?

Do it. Make sure that you are always taking a step back and looking at what you are doing from an outsider’s point of view to gain some perspective. Reassess and make sure that what you are doing is what you actually want to do. Passion is key to any start-up or business being successful.

What do you have planned for the future?

I intent to always be involved with Little Yellow Bird in some way. Over the next few years we want to get it to the position where it is the biggest sustainable uniform provider in the world. I want to continue working with companies that have a social bottom line. I enjoy working on different start-ups and helping businesses become more socially conscious, increase their corporate social responsibility and increase their social impact.

Contact Information

Email: info@littleyellowbird.co.nz
Website: www.littleyellowbird.co.nz
Facebook: Venture
Twitter: Personal
LinkedIn: Personal

"Being in the Summer Startup Programme was one of the best summers that I have had. Not only in terms of developing my business but also meeting so many people, making lots of new friends and new connections that will be useful for the future."

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Chemical and Process Engineering

Summer Startup Programme 2013/14 and 2015/16

  • Founder, Peak to Plateau
  • Administrative Support at UC Centre for Entrepreneurship

So you have been in the Summer Startup Programme before?

Yes I was in the programme over the summer of 2013 and 2014. I was working on My Five Meals which aimed to bring a low-cost version of My Food Bag by delivering recipes and ingredients to customers every week.

What were you working on this time around?

This time I worked on Peak to Plateau which is a high performance outdoor clothing company. I source yak wool from the Tibetan plateau as yak wool is warmer, softer and more breathable than Merino. It also provides a viable source of income for the yak herders.

Where did the inspiration come for your new idea?

I went travelling in 2015 for three months in Mongolia and Central Asia. I spent some time while I was there living with yak herders and found out about yak wool and its properties. I found it surprising that it wasn’t being used in the manufacture of garments despite it being a good fibre for outdoor clothing. I also discovered that the herders were relying on cashmere from goats as their main source of income rather than utilising the yak wool too. After my time with the yak herders I went to Singapore and applied for the Summer Startup Programme and started researching and developing product ideas. I also spent some time finding manufacturers before coming back to New Zealand and going into the Summer Startup Programme.

How did the Summer Startup Programme help you with your business?

Being in the Summer Startup Programme made me more accountable and gave me the funds to get the initial product development done. I also found having so many speakers and mentors come through has helped a lot with fine tuning the way I do things. My presentation skills have also improved significantly.

What support does UCE and the Summer Startup Programme offer you?

I would have to say that the funding was the main thing. In addition to that, because I was working on my business myself, being in the programme and being surrounded by likeminded people on a daily basis really helped. I found it to be incredibly motivating being around people who are all working on a business too. There is also a little bit of healthy competition—when you see other people doing well it only pushes you to do better. You also have access to heaps of mentors and business people who have experience because they have been where you are and can give you advice and an outside perspective on your business. It is easy to fall in love with your own idea but a fresh perspective is really helpful.

What is your most memorable moment from the Summer Startup Programme?

I would have to say the final presentation day and being in the top 10. I actually really enjoyed being questioned by the judges at the end as I could see the result of all my preparation and hard work.

What advice would you give to a student considering applying for the Summer Startup Programme?

Being in the Summer Startup Programme was one of the best summers that I have had. Not only in terms of developing my business but also meeting so many people, making lots of new friends and new connections that will be useful for the future. A lot of opportunities arise from it that go well beyond the ten or so weeks of the programme. However, I would only recommend doing it if it is something that you are actually committed to. You will get a lot more out of it if it is something that you genuinely want to do, rather than because you have nothing else planned for the summer. It takes more than an idea to start a business so you need to be committed to putting in some hard work too.

What are you doing now?

I am still working on Peak to Plateau, I have just had my first run of product arrive. I also work giving administrative assistance to UCE around my classes and working on my business. I am really enjoying being involved in the UCE events rather than just being a guest. I find that I am able to build a better connection with the people who come to speak and mentor. On the side I am also helping Mum start up her own cosmetics company.

How does your day-to-day compare to when you were in the Summer Startup Programme?

In the Summer Startup Programme I spent most of my time on product development, working with manufacturers, practicing pitching and listening to speakers. Now my focus has shifted to marketing and preparing for Kickstarter, looking for people to test and promote my product, managing social media and developing the website. At UCE I help out with events and write stories for the newsletter and the UCE blog.

What do you like most about being an entrepreneur and working on Peak to Plateau?

I enjoy being able to do different things everyday rather than just repeating the same thing all the time. One of the most interesting things for me has been working with overseas manufacturers and suppliers.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I want Peak to Plateau to be the leading, or biggest yak wool outdoor company and to be well-known around the world for its quality and sustainability

Contact Information

Website: www.peaktoplateau.com
Facebook | Instagram

"The Summer Startup Programme was a perfect stepping stone from the entré competition and allowed us to work on the venture full time over the summer"

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Civil Engineering
Master of Engineering Management

Summer Startup Programme 2013/14
Entré $75K 2013

  • Founder, Glassjar

What are you doing now?

I work with early stage technology startups in both New Zealand and the US.

What was Glassjar?

The version of Glassjar that we developed at UC was a web app to manage the expenses in a collective flat account. We won the PwC Most Market Ready Venture and Best Pitch award in the 2013 Entré $75K Challenge.

How did the Summer Startup Programme prepare you for what you are doing now?

I worked on Glassjar as part of the initial Summer Startup Programme in 2013. It was a perfect stepping stone from the entré competition and allowed us to work on the venture full time over the summer.

What is your most memorable moment from the Summer Startup Programme?

The community of other startups that formed during the program was really beneficial. Additionally, the ability to learn from Rachel Wright and other mentors from the Canterbury ecosystem was a key benefit. Having that access to a quality educators and mentors is a really significant feature of the programme.

So you think the Summer Startup Programme is important?

Yes. The combination of entre, Summer Startup Programme and the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship all work to form a really productive early stage ecosystem on campus. The Summer Startup Programme is particularly beneficial as it affords students the opportunity to work on their ventures full time.

What support did UCE offer you?

The program allows you to work on your startup full time, in a supportive environment with heaps of additional resources. The network of other startups is really valuable as too are the connections with the Canterbury startup ecosystem.

What advice do you have for students looking to start their own venture?

I would definitely encourage them to apply to be part of UCE. Beyond that I would simply say ‘make sure that you are building something that people actually want to use’.

What have you been doing since the Summer Startup Programme?

At the end of the Summer Startup Program we were accepted into the Lightning Lab accelerator program in Wellington. This program was hugely beneficial and set us up to expand the business into the United States. In late 2014 we applied for, and gained entry into, Y Combinator, an early stage seed fund based in Silicon Valley.

What is Y Combinator and how did you get involved?

Y Combinator is an early stage seed fund that has backed over 800 startups including Reddit, Stripe, AirBnB and DropBox. Similar to Lightning Lab is it a 3 month long program that propels teams forward. We were the first New Zealand company to be accepted into the programme which we completed in 2015.

 

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