Turning coffee into water
Nick Baillie is a BizDojo Co.Space resident working as a graphic designer for Threaded magazine. In his line of work coffee can be hard to part with, so why give it up?
“I used to be a barista, and saw so many people who were addicted to coffee. One guy would have up to nine a day! But it got me thinking about how lucky we are to have access to such a luxury, when a lot of people don’t even have access to clean and safe drinking water.”
In his last year at Uni, Nick relied on coffee and energy drinks to keep him going on a daily basis, so he decided to go cold turkey and donate all the money he would normally spend on caffeine to a fundraising initiative. Seeing an obvious link between coffee and water (both liquids) he thought what better charity to support than one that is simply trying to give people a better standard of life.
Now in his second year of embarking on a coffee-free journey, Nick is somewhat more relaxed this time around. He knows the caffeine withdrawals will come, and then go. He knows that what he is doing is for the greater good, and most of all, he knows it’s a small price to pay.
So you do the math. $5 will give you a bit of a buzz for a couple of hours. Ho Hum. $1000 will give 20 people access to clean water. Woo hoo!!
BizDojo + Gold Coast Co Spaces
The Gold Coast has long been a mecca for tourists, with its sandy white beaches, laid back lifestyle and a plethora of accommodation options for all budgets - since the late1950s, it had been all the GC needed to survive, prosper and grow.
But since the global financial crisis, recession and unprecedented unemployment (even for the lucky country), life became pretty hard for a city that had to that time solely relied upon its good looks and party hard attitude.
With peak hour services between the Gold Coast and Brisbane grimly labelled the ‘Bombay Express’ by its commuters, you get a pretty good idea of the current status quo. And with the number of people making the 80km journey every day (whether by train, bus or car) growing exponentially over the past five years, the time has come for the Government and local business leaders to take a long hard look at the situation.
The fact is most of the jobs are in Brisbane, but people want to live on the Gold Coast because of the attraction points mentioned above. Residential developments have continued to inch closer to Brisbane, where people can still say they live ‘down on the coast’, but are in fact half way between Surfers Paradise and downtown Brissy.
However on closer inspection and review, there are three significant points that make this the wrong way to work, aside from the obvious public transport issues.
1. Distance – it cripples the Australian economy.
2. Commuting – makes the cities inefficient, reduces liveability, and increases transport costs.
3. Siloed workforce – which impedes collaboration and business innovation.
So now, with these problems identified, action is required. And last month BizDojo partners Nick Shewring and Jonah Merchant were invited to Southport’s Co Spaces to give the Dojo perspective on the challenges and opportunities in the nascent area of teleworking.
As a part of Co Spaces Open Week, Nick and Jonah spoke about their learnings from creating New Zealand’s longest-running and leading co-working network, as well as offering their perspective on activation and growth opportunities for Co Spaces and similar ventures in the region.
Off the back of these conversations, BizDojo and Co Spaces are thrilled to announce an official partnership agreement, which will enable our respective residents to work Trans-Tasman when required. Through continued discussions and working together, we’re hoping to not only work together actively, but also enable our residents to set up key business relationships with each other.
Co Spaces founder Ben Howe said his plan to a find global partner who shared a similar business outlook was achieved when he met Nick in March at the Australian Coworking Conference in Melbourne.
“We were both struck with how aligned the vision of our co-working spaces were. This, combined with the obvious strategic link between Queensland and Auckland, made the opportunity to partner really exciting for us.”
While Co Spaces is a relatively new venture, and co-working is yet to really take off in Queensland, Nick and Jonah are confident that such an unique environment could be incredibly valuable for businesses both on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane.
Jonah explains “there really is a great opportunity to find success here. While commuting is a common occurrence for many city workers, the situation for people on the Gold Coast is definitely quite distinctive.”
The commuting issue also affects the region’s economy on a deeper level, because it is taking a huge chunk of the population away from the local amenities and services for a majority of the week. The benefits of teleworking are therefore threefold – creating positive impacts for the employer, employee and local community.
For employers, co-working reduces the need for expensive CBD office space, provides greater access to people and skills, creates an ‘employer of choice’, and positions staff for improved productivity. For employees, it means they can work from ‘anywhere’ and achieve a better work/life balance.
It’s important to note that the concept isn’t about being able to work from home, but at a communal space that is much closer to home. It fosters the sharing of ideas, collaboration, informal training, networking and supports the move towards activity based working (the premise that no employee ‘owns’ or has an assigned work station).
Thankfully, the Queensland state government are right behind the initiative that promotes teleworking for people who live on the Gold Coast but currently commute to Brisbane. The opportunity for co-working and collaborative business hubs for the GC is just too hard to ignore and the benefits are already evident.
But like any new idea, it might take some convincing, coaxing and coercing to really get things buzzing around the co working scene on the Coast. And until then, the BizDojo and Co Spaces will continue to champion what they are doing on a local and international scale.
Lightning Lab's Demo Day - NZ's Startup Scene Is Growing Up
By Nick Shewring
With the first intake of Lightning Lab’s accelerator programme now successfully behind us, the next phase is going to be vital for the ongoing evolution of New Zealand’s startup ecosystem from wobbly toddler to confident teenager. Luckily, the future’s looking bright if the feedback from last week’s Demo Day is anything to go by.
The calibre and polished deliveries of the nine startup’s pitches was top-notch and to be frank they were some of the best I’ve seen in New Zealand to date. All of the companies had, at a minimum, comprehensive prototypes or betas and most have smashed their early milestones out of the park - doubly impressive to see.
As a high profile event within the NZ startup space, there was intense curiosity and interest from all sides; and there’s no question - the nine businesses pitched were certainly credible, scalable and unique. Standouts for me were LearnKo (an online tutorial service), Publons (crowdsourced peer review), and WIP (video editing workflow management) - all great examples of startups with real global potential.
And the great thing is, almost everyone else attending was as enthusiastic about Demo Day as I was. While what can be reported publicly is limited, some of the businesses have already achieved paying customers in their 12 weeks within the programme, no mean feat for anyone just starting out.
It’s fair to say, I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief that the day proved to be a hit. Lightning Lab is our first national digital startup accelerator, and it was important for all of us in the ecosystem, independent of the participants on the day, that this programme deliver on its promise.
General consensus was the fog in Wellington last week – preventing flights home for out-of-towners until the next day – was a blessing in disguise by Mother Nature. It allowed the participants, angel investors, incubators, government stakeholders and all of us from the start-up community to bond over a few beverages, and as most people know, the pub is generally where the truth comes out.
SmallWorlds co-founder Mitch Olson, said in his keynote that there was a palpable sense that the Demo Day was actually more than just a launching point for the nine start-ups – that it felt like a turning point for the New Zealand ecosystem, finally maturing and coming together to realise its potential. Maybe it will be the day we all look back on and say that it really was the first image of seeing it growing up.
So what’s next? I think it’s clear that Demo Day is not where the hard work finishes for the teams, but where the real grind now begins. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the results from the day continue to be positive ones. The presentations were good, the participants are optimistic about the Lightning Lab programme, but now it comes down to funding rounds being closed with angel investors as the next tick of success.
Outside of the investment question, there’s also action required of us all in the Kiwi start up community, who prior to Demo Day, had still been existing a little bit disparately around the country. Instead of regional agendas, we all need to take it further and deliver on the goodwill and promise we experienced at Demo Day. The ecosystem and community need to keep focused on proactively working together, collaborating on ideas and projects, so that we take this great base that Lightning Lab has established and use it as a platform to grow and activate acceleration opportunities across the board. Bring it on I say!
Rest in Pets is brought to life!
Rest in Pets is the creation of Jane and Mat who want to provide pet owners the world over with a better way of saying goodbye to their purr-ecious friends with the consideration that, especially for children, an old box from dads garage will not do.
Whether it was Harold Hamster, Ronald Rat, or Kitty Whisker-Huggins who wriggled their way into your heart, isn’t it fitting that they get a burial just as special as they were to you and your family? (But don’t worry, no life insurance is required to cover the cost of a furry friend funeral).
Jane and Mat have created a package of products which they think are perfect to have on hand when the time comes to farewell a pet. From different sized biodegradable caskets (or an urn) to a keepsake photo frame and temporary grave marker, all the products allow for personalisation.
We certainly have our paws crossed that it is going to be as successful as previously funded projects MoMug, Exocomics and of course most recently OpusFresh who smashed their target in the first 18 hours of the project launch.
With a penchant for packaging and a pretty impressive background in the world of packaging design, working with some of the best in the business, a box is never just ‘a box’ to Mat. He owns his own business - THINK packaging and you could say that he approaches all of his projects with a ‘thinking outside the box’ attitude.
Jane, described as the bricks and mortar of Rest in Pets, is always on hand to support with the creative side of things as well as making the sensible business decisions and, on occasion, cracking the whip.
Looking to have $11,000 pledged by Sunday the 23rd of June, Jane and Mat are at twelve percent of their target after only two days so we are definitely predicting great things for this product. Go Jane and Mat!
For more information on the BizDojo’s Kickstarter for Kiwis Channel, contact Phil Williams on email@example.com
Auckland Startup Weekend Arrives Full to Capacity
All great business ideas start somewhere small. However, the length of time it takes to get an idea to market means a lot of concepts never get off the ground.
But thanks to Auckland Startup Weekend, potential new companies were able to make headway into the business world through 54 hours of frenzied activity involving prototype creation, perfecting ‘the pitch’, and learning a substantial amount from expert business mentors.
Phil Williams from The Biz Dojo spent some time at the event over the weekend as a mentor. He thinks that the Startup format is interesting because it really forces people into validating their idea in an incredibly short space of time. He also enjoys how it allows for a couple of real business gems to be created and even for the ones that don’t make it it’s still a great experience.
“I love how it brings together a wide range of people, from corporate folk to start up day jobbers and entrepreneurs, which really gets all the creative and technical ‘juices’ flowing. It generates such a buzz around entrepreneur-ship, which can only be good for New Zealand.”
And for the winners of the weekend, ArriveSupplied, the future destination of their concept is looking bright. Initially targeting the international tourist market in New Zealand (around 200,000 people per annum) ArriveSupplied offers different packages that are delivered to tourist’s rooms. From the beach box, to the baby box, business box and local experience box, ArriveSupplied want to offer people the ability to order essential arrival items, delivered straight to their accommodation. It takes all the hassle out of locating those items themselves.
As the pitch coach for ArriveSupplied, Phil was thrilled to assist such a well prepared team.
“It was easy to work with a group whose product was already well thought out, they had already done a lot of planning and had many boxes ticked. It was just about shaping the presentation so the judges could tell how much work had been done, as well as telling story in a compelling manner.”
Phil is looking forward to seeing ArriveSupplied’s progress post Startup Weekend, when the team use their prize of ten free days at The Biz Dojo premises.
Team Selecta, an app for organising sports teams and players by ranking, positions they play and availability, was the runner-up. The People’s Choice award went to Wedding Advisors, an app and website designed as a one stop shop for wedding supplier listings, that could also be peer reviewed.
With 115 participants and mentors, 40 ideas pitched, 12 teams formed and the event attracting interest from twice as many people as were able to attend, another Startup weekend is already on the cards and you can register here.
RadioLIVE were at Startup Weekend and they recorded an hour long programme from the event which you can listen to here.
Thirsty Thursdays? No! First Thursdays.
If there was ever a better reason needed to spend time at the Biz Dojo, apart from hanging out with a bunch of totally rad peeps, it would be that right on our doorstep is the First Thursdays Festival. Actually this time around we invited it in to our home and sat it down for a good catch up over a cup of tea and slice of pie.
From live tattooing, to a plethora of musicians and artists, DJ’s, street performers and everything in between, there t’was never a dull moment on K’Road from 6pm Thursday till mum called us in for dinner on Sunday.
And yes, of course we were right in amongst it - in fact our very own Biz Dojo residents Dandy & Co put on a pretty ‘out of this world’ experience with their Pearshaped Party in the Garden which you can check out here; vimeo.com/65574723
We also hosted the awesome pop up venue PedalPixal, who brought along their experimental two wheeled Makey Makey Meanderer where pedalling participants got to take some pretty epic journeys around the world without having to go very far at all (no mind altering substances required).
We certainly can’t wait for the next one, and as soon as the date is announced, we recommend putting that bad boy in your calendar A-SAP.
Keep an eye out here for news; www.firstthursdays.co.nz
Lightning Lab strikes Auckland
Ahead of its Demo Day next week, New Zealand’s first digital start-up accelerator Lightning Lab touched down in our Auckland pop-up event space with some tips on how to ensure accelerator success.
With a wide range of the local startup community in attendance, including new Auckland accelerator Hopscale and angel investors Sparkbox, around 60 participants were able to get valuable insight with where people go wrong, and then get back on the right track, when it comes to the growth of accelerator initiatives here in the land of the long white cloud. And almost no one knows as much about how accelerators can triumph over those ‘start-up hiccups’ than Laura Reitel, the former programme manager for US-based accelerator Techstars who was invited over to New Zealand by Lightning Lab founding partner, Wellington’s Creative HQ. (Lightning Lab is NZ’s only member of the Global Accelerator Network, established by Techstars and with 50 particpating accelerator programmes globally).
Reitel’s main point that hit home for the Dojo team: the minute an application is submitted to an accelerator programme, the individual or team needs to be drumming up interest and activity around their concept.
“Most people just apply then wait for an answer but the acceptance stage takes two and a half months. If you’re just sitting on your idea, you’re not the people to do what you’re saying. Create a website or start collecting some signups, start a blog and get an audience around your product.”
Nick Churchouse, Venture Manager at Creative HQ, also got in amongst the discussion using some real life experiences of how the current intake is managing the accelerator process.
“In the first four weeks the Lightning Lab teams got hammered by mentors. Everyone has a different opinion and they all have their advice, but you have to pick what works for you and your team.”
Lightning Lab has certainly been an exciting venture for the BizDojo to be supporting, with co-founder Nick Shewring also acting as a mentor for the programme. We are definitely looking forward to seeing what fantastic new businesses will emerge from next Wednesday’s Demo Day at Te Papa in Wellington - watch this space!
Meet Tana Mitchell!
Meet Tana Mitchell, BizDojo resident and design strategist sharing her recent work for Quirky.
If you’re new to Quirky, it’s a high profile New York based start-up paving the way for people to bring their product ideas to life. Quirky positions itself as making invention possible and it does this by utilising a 400K strong community of inventors, expert product designers, financing, engineering, distribution, and legal expertise.
In a recent move, Quirky partnered with GE in an effort to inspire its inventors to be innovative. Inventors will now get access to thousands of GE’s patents, and new products designed through the partnership will be branded ‘Wink’.
Prior to the partnership, Tana was brought on board by Creative Director Viresh Chopra to assist the internal team build the Quirky brand. To help give the team a boost of creativity, a huge office space was hired out overlooking Times Square. Tana recalls that the ultimate challenge was “to create a single identity to cover an extremely broad, multifaceted and ever changing company.”
One month later, the team’s ideas had been translated into a visual solution. “We had completely covered the walls of this office space,” says Tana. Through agile development, constant questioning, and live evaluations every night, they created a new design language for Quirky products, enabling them to carry personalised stamps submitted by the inventor.
In order to explain Quirky’s new design direction to its community of inventors, Tana contacted animation and visualisation expert Han Law from the BizDojo to put together an animated video, instrumental in the re-branding of Quirky.
Check out also this great behind-the-scenes look at the making of the new identity (some language NSFW). Ten points for those who spot Tana in some of the shots :)
Tana is one of many Kiwi designers around the world doing amazing things. No business card. No website. All word of mouth. But not for long, her website is coming, so watch this space.
Haaaaave you met Pepper?
Pepper Curry is the new Community Assistant at BizDojo Wellington, and is excited to be here helping out with events and streamlining day-to-day operations! She has a background in fine arts, as well as being a live performance VJ with audio-reactive programming skills. She brings with her a variety of other skills including graphic design, iOS device repair, and knitting.
Pepper was born in Auckland, but has been living in the States for the vast majority of her life, in such exotic locales as Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, and most recently…the glorious San Francisco. She’s cultivated a great working knowledge of startup culture from working with Apple retail, and also can roll a mean burrito if you’re hungry.
She has a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts, with a focus in performance art and installations. She spends her free time gardening with her partner, Peter, knitting like a boss, and working on a zine that may or may not ever get published.
Since moving to Wellington, Pepper had been looking for the right place to work, and was inspired and excited by the amazing culture of innovation and creativity in the city:
“I had been looking for a company that aligns with my desire to create alongside innovators, as well as being a part of something that was more collective and collaborative than hierarchical. BizDojo seems like the perfect place for both of these things! I am excited to be a facilitator for the creative aspect of business, and to form connections with New Zealand’s best and brightest,” Pepper says.
Han Law, 3D animation and visualisation at Pixel Push
Han’s background spans 10 years in 3D animation and design, includes TV series background production and television commercials in his home country of Malaysia.
Up until 2012, Han was a contractor for architectural visualisation. After taking some time off in South America, he decided to use his skills to create Pixel Push, and relocated to New Zealand about 5 years ago.
For Han, travelling to New Zealand was an unplanned shift from KL, a big city with lots of development. “The hustle and bustle is a bit much to take. Auckland is a city too but has it’s own pace”.
Han’s business is currently split into two work streams. One is 3D visualisation and animation, the other motion graphics and design. He wants more commercials, and more graphical infomercials because “it’s more fun and exciting.”
Reflecting on the past, Han says: “Last year I was securing work that paid the bills. This year I want to work on projects that I really enjoy and use my skills to their best use.” For Pixel Push “Hopefully I’ll be able to take on someone and expand the company!”
For Han the dynamics at the Dojo have been different to an ordinary company. “The Dojo plays a big part in my work. Before the Dojo, I was just working from home… Problem was, I couldn’t switch off. Over here, people can offer each other support and skills, meeting like minded people and look for new opportunities. People here are so driven, they are always looking for ways to collaborate.”
“Through the dojo, I’ve been talking about multiple areas for collaboration with other members. There are always potential ventures to be found!”
Han loves Auckland, and is the Dojo’s nearest thing to a Pro Surfer. He’s always up for a session if the waves are good… and even does pre work runs. If you’re keen, grab your board and drop him a line!