Luke. Science.

Tell us about the business you’ve started!

It’s an app called Vxt that turns voice messages into texts, so people can check their messages more easily. It came about through my involvement with UCE, the Centre for Entrepreneurship. I did a few of their competitions and took a start-up course, which got me in the mindset of thinking about problems and how to solve them. Now we have thousands of users all over New Zealand and interest from some of the largest companies in the country.

How did UCE help transform your idea into a business?

I was lucky enough to receive a summer start-up scholarship with my co-founder. We spent a year working on it and now have five employees, not including ourselves. With UCE’s support we raised $100,000 of funding. The startup ecosystem in Christchurch is hugely supportive and the people at UC are super helpful. We’ve had our first subscriber come on board, so it’s all go now!

What do you enjoy most about studying at UC?

I love courses where you can see the impact of what you learn, quickly. Even just applying a statistical model to a real business is really exciting to me. For one of my courses I helped to develop an economic report on the social enterprise sector for ChristchurchNZ. The applied learning here is a lot of fun and it’s great doing things that have a purpose outside of academia.

What else has kept you busy at UC?

I helped start and led a UC branch of Amnesty International and I’ve been involved with the Students' Space Association. Being part of the clubs community has been a fantastic experience. I’ve helped to raise thousands of dollars, received an award for my contribution and had lots of leadership experience. The support and connections you get through the clubs at UC is unparalleled.

"For people wanting to get involved in startups, I think UC is by far the best university in New Zealand."

Have you changed a little or a lot since coming here?

I’ve grown immensely. I wasn’t a great student in high school and failed every paper in my first semester. But I made friends with people who excel at study and learned from them. The lecturers here are fantastic too. They tell you what you need to know, and if you’re going through a rough time they’re really understanding. Since my first year I’ve learned a lot and I haven’t failed a paper since!

Would you recommend UC – and why?

Absolutely, there are so many great things that are unique to UC. The trees, the centralised campus and the community. UCE is one of the best organisations I’ve seen anywhere in the country for entrepreneurship. Students from any area can jump in and put their minds to work. For people wanting to get involved in startups, I think UC is by far the best university in New Zealand.

What’s the key to getting the most out of UC?

Try things. I’ve got involved in all different aspects of UC to figure out what I like the most. From the courses to the club culture, the range of things you can try is phenomenal. UC is a really good place to figure out what you want to do, and then go ahead and do it.