'I have developed a real passion for entrepreneurship over the last few years at uni...'
Studying towards a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Physics
Already having launched his own business enterprise Vxt while at university, Luke’s career as an entrepreneur is off to an amazing start.
Vxt is a smart assistant for small business owners that converts voicemail messages into text to help businesses cut out the time needed to listen and take notes from their voicemails. The company is also developing features such as automated calendar scheduling, among other things.
‘It’s been an absolutely fantastic experience. Running an early stage company is an extremely varied job so it’s pretty rare that any two days are alike,’ he says.
Luke and co-founder Lucy Turner first started Vxt with help from the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship Summer Startup Programme. Vxt has gone on to grow in numbers and client base, and also won the entré 85K Startup Challenge.
‘None of our successes would have been possible without UCE. There’s no other university in New Zealand with a community like it,’ he says. ‘My co-founder Lucy and I each won a UC Innovators’ Summer Start-Up Scholarship and we can’t wait to get stuck in over summer alongside heaps of other students.’
Entrepreneurship has been the name of the game since Luke first started at UC, having been involved in a number of student clubs and projects throughout his degree.
From his first year, Luke helped start the UC branch of Amnesty International, a non-profit that campaigns for human rights across the globe.
‘Leading the club as president for two years and being a part of the clubs community was a fantastic experience you can’t really get anywhere else in New Zealand. As a club we raised thousands of dollars for local charities, and I ended up receiving a UCSA Blues Award for my contributions to the community.
‘Because of my work with Amnesty International I was also selected as a Global Emerging Leader and a New Zealand delegate to the 2018 Emerging Leaders’ Peace Summit at the United Nations in Thailand. It was an amazing experience and something I would have never been exposed to if I didn’t get involved with clubs.’
Even his degree studies are an innovative combination of science and business. With a long-held passion for physics and astronomy, inspired by the likes of astronomer and science personality Carl Sagan, Luke felt it natural to go towards a Science degree majoring in Physics at UC.
He went on to discover his Economics major after some first year elective courses.
‘I usually get told that my degree choice is pretty odd or unique. However, the way I see it, Economics and Physics go really well together,’ he says.
‘Economics at a high level is a study of the way humans make decisions, and Physics covers the natural side of things. In an average week I could go from thinking about how the incentives in our economy effect the decisions we make, to how millions of neutrinos generated inside of our sun flow through the human body every day. I find with studying both I get the best of both worlds in terms of what they cover.’
His advanced Economics courses were especially beneficial for developing his business skills towards founding Vxt. Luke fondly remembers the real-world group projects of ECON 310, and completing an internship creating an economic report on the social enterprise sector with ChristchurchNZ, through ECON 390.
‘I hadn’t been exposed to anything like it before and really liked the hands on approach of doing research that had a real impact outside of academia. These courses and my experience on a bunch of club execs helped prepare me for starting my own business.’
It’s easy to say that Luke has thoroughly enjoyed being at UC, particularly the student community to build social connections, support, and leadership experience, as well as the campus itself.
‘All of the fresh new buildings and facilities are great from a student’s perspective. In fact, I was one of the first students inside of the Ernest Rutherford building when it first opened. On top of that, there are so many trees and gardens around campus to check out and get your mood up when you need a break.’
Having to go through corrective spinal surgery for scoliosis as a teenager meant Luke also made a lot of use of the Equity and Disability Service (EDS) with study and exam planning, which helped him succeed further.
After all of his experiences during study, Luke strongly advises other students embrace opportunities that come their way that wouldn’t normally happen outside of university.
‘Give everything you’re interested in a go, because you never know what opportunities will show themselves when you keep an open mind,’ he says.
‘Most of all, don’t underestimate yourself. You’d be surprised what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. For me, I was worried about studying Physics because I didn’t excel in high school, but I’ve managed to do alright and I’m sure you will too!’
Now continuing onto his business career, Luke is excited for life after university and the future of Vxt.
‘I have developed a real passion for entrepreneurship over the last few years at uni and I’m keen to keep at it after I graduate,’ he says.