The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: Wellington Local, Silvia Zuur of chalkle — July 7, 2013

Interview: Wellington Local, Silvia Zuur of chalkle

Recently Wellington Ambassador Kim Anderson sat down with the founders of chalkle°, a community education organisation, their conversation went deep into the power of collective knowledge.

I will safely assume that many of us have a list somewhere, whether it is a mental or physical list, of what we would like to learn if we ever had the time or money. However learning is always an investment, and for time-poor and cash-strapped modern folk, further education beyond formal schooling can often be a stretch too far. But it doesn’t stop you from wanting it, and this is what chalkle° founders Silvia Zuur and Linc Gasking discussed over a coffee in Wellington in July 2012. From this they built chalkle°, an alternative education source that not only strives to make education more accessible to everyone, but to also strengthen local communities at the same time. I sat down with Silvia Zuur to talk about the chalkle° vision, its growth and future goals.

Photo supplied by Chalkle

Firstly, how did you come up with the name chalkle°?

Chalkle has two naming contexts. First of all blackboards and chalk, and then street art, where the pavement becomes the blackboard, and which is our main design inspiration. It’s all about expressing creativity. Our tagline (six degrees of education – represented by the small circle next to ‘chalkle°’) is because we believe there is six degrees of separation, or education, between people, and that you can find all the education you need within your community.

What was the dream for chalkle° starting out?

I guess for me it was enabling everyone in every community to take their learning into their own hands. To be able to curate their own education – and to have choice and possibility as to what they want to learn in their own life-long learning path. We wanted to provide them with those opportunities.

The knowledge is in the community and we wanted to tap into what is already there. We are really just connecting the people who need to be connected.

In three words, how would you describe chalkle° classes?

Can I give you four? We have four Principles – Strengthening community, Learning, Accessible, Collaborative – and this is what we strive for in all our classes.

 So how do chalkle° classes work?

There are two main parts. First you, as a Chalkler, can just sign up – there are no membership fees and limited barriers to entry. You just need access to a computer, and then you can get notified about classes that come up which match your interests. We try to make it easy for you to be a part of.

For you to be a teacher, you just get in touch with us, we send you a form, and we see what you wish to share. We have a whole spectrum of teachers, from beginners to well-seasoned professionals. The latter tend to be more independent and don’t need that much support to get started, but people who aren’t used to it may need help with finding a venue for their class, figuring out how much to charge, how to shape their class, and those are all services that we provide. We try to make certain that it’s possible for everyone to have the chance of teaching.

Photo supplied by Chalkle

Building on that, why is collaboration so important for chalkle°?

I think there are two layers. First of all we’ve really identified with the Collaborative Consumption movement, but secondly collaboration comes core to what I do in terms of how I work. I go into every working relationship trying to find out where’s the win-win, and sometimes not just the win-win, but the win-win-win-win-win. I’m always trying to find how one plus one can equal more than two.

So there is an element of social good in chalkle°. Speaking of Collaborative Consumption, there seems to have been a shift towards businesses and organisations being more socially and community minded – have you noticed a similar shift and do you think it’s attributable to anything?

I think people are starting to realise that competition is not the answer, so therefore that begs the question what does collaboration look like in the business world. As individuals, especially in the West, we’re quite ego-centric – it’s all about the individual. But then you start to see how that can create disenfranchised people – they feel isolated. People are starting to realise, or at least I hope they are starting to wake up, to the fact that if they know their neighbours, there is a personal benefit as well as a societal benefit. AirBnB is a classic example – ten years ago we might not have done that, but we’ve gotten up to a point that we trust people coming through. I think we’re still very naïve about it, but I’m excited to see how it develops, for example things around reputation and online trust. And that’s really important for chalkle° – we’re building an offline community – we happen to be using technology and online systems as a way to connect everyone, but it’s all so that we can strengthen the face-to-face community.

Photo supplied by Chalkle

You and Linc (co-founder) met at Enspiral. Has continuing to work in this space had a big impact?

Oh it’s what’s made chalkle°. I describe Enspiral as an eco-system or a nursery – that growing, nurturing image. Practically, it’s the fact that we have lawyers and accountants in the same space, combined with people who have ridiculous amounts of start-up experience. Those are the hard skills, and then you have the soft skills – everyone out there is creating something, and so there are those emotional connections and work relevance. For example, our Horowhenua chalkle° channel connection was made through an Enspiral connection. Perhaps the value comes because we’re all creating something new…in this work you’re constantly trying to convince people out in the world that what you’re doing is awesome, and sometimes having people who have your back just means that you can thrive.

What are your next steps for chalkle°?

I hope that chalkle° can enable more communities to collaborate and explore their learning. Practically what that looks like now is that we’re really interested in working with more communities around New Zealand. We’re keen for people to get in touch if they have an idea – if there’s a community centre, library, local council, or a trust – we’re really interested in partners who share our values and want to collaborate. I hope Wellington continues to thrive and grow – we’re organising two conferences in the next couple of months…the UX Design Day on the 10th October and we’re helping to organise Social Enterprise Week in mid-August.


About our ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Kim Anderson. Kim is a Design kid from Wellington who loves crazy ideas and gizmos and has a complicated relationship with the internet. Say hi on Twitter @_kim_anderson or on her blog

Event Review: Startup Weekend Auckland — May 19, 2013

Event Review: Startup Weekend Auckland

On Wednesday the 16 of May Deirdre Dawson from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Auckland went along to the Startup Weekend Auckland event. 

Photo Credit: Janine Barr
Photo Credit: Janine Barr

Hipsters, Hackers and Hustlers Unite

Auckland recently hosted its third annual Startup Weekend at the Emirates Building in Wynyard Quarter. Startup Weekends began in Seattle in 2010 with a vision of ‘inspiring change in entrepreneurs’. It seems to have worked with over 110 countries having adopted the frenetic event and this being Auckland’s third such event.

2013 saw close to 80 attendees who classed themselves either as hackers, hipsters or hustlers otherwise know as programmers, designers or those skilled in other areas of ‘non-technical’ business.

All participants are encouraged to pitch a new idea – the guise being to create something from scratch. An excited, nervous energy lingered around the room as people lined up to wow the audience with a 60-second pitch. From here, it was an organic selection process whereby those with the strongest ideas and most persuasive leaders shone.  Within 90 minutes of the pitching session, all teams were formed and the game was on.

Photo Credit: Janine Barr
Photo Credit: Janine Barr

The next two days were then spent conceptualizing, formulating, planning, validating, designing and in some cases, launching a new business. Mentors volunteered their time to assist with the curly questions, playing a massive role in the development of ideas. The fact that these experts in their field willingly give up their time and energy is a fantastic indicator of the thriving Startup scene here in Aotearoa.

Final pitches were on Sunday night in front of a panel of four judges all of whom are well respected in the business community. Teams had five minutes to share their workings from the weekend and convince the panel why their business would succeed. A high caliber of ideas were taken from conception and into the real world over the weekend, with an average of a third of them expected to still be operating in three months.

Startup Weekends are an excellent event for entrepreneurs of all flavours. Often misunderstood by their boundless optimism and never-ending torrent of ideas, events like this create a nurturing environment where everyone is welcomed to the start-up family. Those interested should get it quick for the next event scheduled in November.

For more information about the event, winners, judges and general hype, check out

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Deirdre Dawson. While she is currently working on the startup, Rentaholic, her background includes steering Disruptv gallery as the business manager of the multi faceted creative company  which specialised in large scale murals, graphic design, event management and graffiti workshops. 

Interview: Auckland Locals, Jade Tang and Eddy Helm — January 21, 2013

Interview: Auckland Locals, Jade Tang and Eddy Helm

This week, The Fetch Auckland’s Curator, Kim Lesch, had a chat with Eddy Helm and Jade Tang, social entrepreneurs. Infamous for helping build Auckland into a creative, community driven hub, Jade and Eddy spoke with Kim about all the projects they run, including CreativeMornings Auckland, their agency Curative, and the Kitchen, a socially responsible co-working space.

Jade Tang and Eddy Helm
Jade Tang and Eddy Helm

Why does community factor so heavily in your work?

After voluntarily running yMedia, an initiative that matched tertiary students, community organisations and the creative industries for mutual benefit, we could see that the area of greatest need was in empowering community organisations to have a voice and ensuring that their causes are acknowledged and supported.

We are passionate about the principles and practice of social enterprise; essentially that a strong community leads to a strong economy. Hence, our social business and creative agency, Curative was born with the goal of enabling community communication. Through this, we work alongside community groups, not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises to help bring clarity and focus to their organisations, align teams of people around a clear purpose and ultimately enable people to work together to achieve extraordinary things.

Our outputs are varied and include everything from websites and social media to design, copy-writing, fundraising and event management. We apply co-design and facilitated creative thinking to all of our work, and involve the community each project serves in the solutions that we prepare. By doing this, we believe that we can produce the most effective outcomes. For us, it’s about teaching and empowering, so that community groups can embrace and own their communication, and build genuine relationships with their supporters.

What is the Kitchen? What makes it different from other co-working spaces?

We work out of The Kitchen, a co-working space for changemakers; which hosts a number of businesses and organisations who work for more than profit.

Each group has a focus on social or environmental growth and development, and the people that we share the space with can all relate to the work that we’re doing. It’s fantastic to share a space with people who have similar dreams and ambitions for the world we live in, but have a completely different set of experience and expertise; we have scientists, urban planners, engineers, teachers, psychologists, and the list goes on.

As a creative agency, we’re spoilt to have this depth of viewpoints so readily available. The conversations we have are amazing, and it helps to make our work so much more richer and considered.


How long have you been working together?

We met in 2009 as part of the yMedia crew, which we both took a leadership role in running. We formed a strong bond pretty immediately, and always had a huge respect for the way we each approached the work we were doing.

However, as a voluntary project that was incredibly demanding on time and energy, we had to acknowledge that it wasn’t sustainable, and took a break in 2011. While we were trying to figure out how to move yMedia forward we realised, over a glass of wine, that we really just wanted to work together, and all we needed to do was determine how. So in the months that followed, we shaped Curative into a workable model, and we’re thrilled to have just celebrated our first birthday.

It’s been so great to take the relationship that started in a voluntary capacity, and test its strength. We’re so lucky to have found complimentary skills and shared values in one another, and our friendship has only grown stronger as our business grows.


What characteristics do you look for in collaborators?

For us, it’s less about skills and more about attitude and values.

We’re currently looking to hire two paid interns, and there is a lot of fresh, young, hungry talent out there, so we’ve had to think really hard about what we’re looking for. We really want to work with people who are ‘yes people’, who believe that anything is possible, will give anything a go, who truly care about others and can see the value in the work that we do. Of course creativity, problem solving, design and writing all come into the mix, but ultimately whoever we work with needs to be a doer.

What’s on the cards for Curative in 2013?

2012 was about proving to ourselves that we could do it, so we took on every project that came our way, no matter how big or small. It allowed us to build a really varied, interesting and worthy portfolio, which we are incredibly proud of and that really showcases our capability.

It also started to show us what works and what doesn’t. So 2013, is about sharpening things up even more; about being more selective in the work we take on, but still being able to offer help, guidance and advice to anybody that asks for it. It will be a year of growth with a few extra bodies joining the Curative team, and ultimately it will be another year of learning. The day we stop learning is the day we’ll stop doing what we’re doing.

CreativeMorningsAKL-team 2012

CreativeMornings Auckland – how and when did it start? Have you been to many overseas?

CreativeMornings is really Jade’s pet project.

When Curative was still just the seed of an idea, Jade was working a number of different contracts, including We Can Create 2011 (a creative art + design conference). This work ignited her passion for supporting and connecting creative professionals, and having watched the work of @SwissMiss in New York, she decided the time was right to bring CreativeMornings to Auckland. So the first event was held in October 2011.

When we started Curative, we both agreed that we needed to continue running and hosting the events. We knew it would be important for us to stay well connected to the creative community to help fuel our own work, and we really believe in practicing what we preach, and nurturing our own community.

Jade was lucky enough to attend a CreativeMornings when in London (for a Curative client project, with British Council NZ), and Kaan has been to one in Melbourne. We love being part of the global network, and we’d love to get to all of the chapters… But perhaps not this year!

Why do you love Auckland? What are your favourite spots

I guess what we love about Auckland is that there is always something happening. Being part of business, community, and the creative industries means that there are always lots of events, conferences, workshops, professional development, and even parties to go to. We love to meet new people and hear new perspectives on things, so living in a multi-cultural city full of diversity is the best place for us to be.

Favourite spots… There are so many! The Curative crew spend a lot of time in Ponsonby, and we’d have to say that The Kitchen is one of our favourite places, it’s always busy and full of interesting people. We also love to hang out with our friends at Movers & Shakers in their giant inflatable brain. We’re big fans of Q Theatre, The Basement and The Civic, and try to get to shows and plays when we can.  We love to eat out with friends at the many cafe’s and restaurants and often take recommendations from the lovely ladies at Gather and Hunt. And of course we love all of the great venues and cafes that play host to CreativeMornings Auckland.

Thanks Jade and Eddy! 

Kim Lesch is the Auckland Curator of the Fetch. She loves lunch, The Strand, and the unstoppable doughnuts at Little & Friday. Find and follow her on Twitter: @kim_lesch

Interview: SF local (by way of NZ), Catherine Robinson — December 9, 2012

Interview: SF local (by way of NZ), Catherine Robinson

This week, Auckland Curator Kim Lesch chats with Catherine Robinson, Director of Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco. Hailing from Manaia in South Taranaki, Catherine was part of the founding group at Xero and also at Aptimize,  and has lived in Seattle for seven years before recently moving to SF. She talked about how Kiwi Landing Pad (KLP) helps startups succeed and how important communities are to the startup ecosystem no matter where you are based.

Catherine Robinson

How did you end up in San Fran, working at Kiwi Landing Pad?

I moved to San Francisco after Aptimize was acquired by NASDAQ listed Riverbed Technology in late 2011. Previous to this, I was part of the founding team at Xero in early 2006. I left Xero to join ActionThis, an online project management tool which we pivoted in late 2008 to become Aptimize.

I joined as the Director of Kiwi Landing Pad in September 2012. This is the second time I have lived in the US. I lived in Seattle for seven years before returning to Wellington in 2005.

What does the Kiwi Landing Pad do to help Kiwi start ups? 

We help selected high growth New Zealand technology companies establish and grow their business in the USA. We do this through three key things:

  • A desk – get off the plane, take a seat and get started
  • An internet connection – no social security card, or US credit history required, we have all the core services a startup needs to start doing business
  • A social connection – the most important element. Companies need to quickly establish relationships and we have built a curated community of advisors, seasoned and experienced entrepreneurs, investors and companies at similar stages of growth

KLP Foyer

What are the biggest differences between Kiwi and American culture?

In business, I think of the US as 50 individual states – there are different time zones, levels of business formality, laws etc. to consider in each state. It’s important to understand and rationalize this as it can help make the transition easier because it helps to focus on one or two key geographical and cultural locations. The SF Bay Area for example has 8m people and a GDP of more than US $500 billion and the PST time zone makes the actual time only three hours difference during daylight saving.

For me there are three key differences between Kiwis and Americans:

  • Confidence: Americans believe their startup will be successful and that failure helps to build successes. They have the confidence to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and go at it again

Collaboration: The markets here are big and working with other companies through partnerships, building sales channels, marketing strategies are the most effective and efficient way to break through

  • Communication: Be concise, clear and straight up. Americans are very good at communicating what they want and they expect the same from you. No ums, yeah-nah-yeah’s or mumbling

What are your top three pieces of advice for those thinking about heading to the states with their startup?

Think in terms of building an ecosystem. Can you partner with companies in your market or where you share the same customer base? Can you leverage their partnerships and relationships? What about resellers? Co-marketing initiatives?

Marketing always works – but sometimes people confuse this with getting the levers and strategies wrong. Tweak, measure, pivot and constantly invest in ongoing initiatives until you get the formula that works for your business.

Always be prepared to pitch – a coffee is never just a coffee and catch up about the weather. Every meeting is a potential sale or opportunity.

Who do you feel you’ve helped the most? What made them successful?

Each company and entrepreneur is different; we customize the level of support to what people need. David White, CEO of IndieReign came over as part of a joint initiative between KLP and the Ministry of Business and Innovation. David spent one month here in KLP. He consciously worked hard at his pitch and focused on achieving his key objectives. We helped to accelerate IndieReign’s growth into the American market. David gained highly skilled advisors and secured partnerships that put him well ahead of schedule.

We did a case study of his time at KLP and it makes compelling reading because it is about doing the simple things right. Click this link to read the IndieReign case study.


What does the Kiwi Landing Pad hope to achieve in 2013? 

2013 is going to be a huge year for us.  We have been here for 18 months and we’re expanding our premises, making our network and services stronger and helping kiwi companies find opportunities and successes.

What are your five favorite spots in San Francisco?

  • The top of Twin Peaks, my pick for the best view of the San Francisco Bay Area.  As you walk to the top, the city, valleys and mountain ranges open up in front of you.
  • Magnolia Pub & Brewery where they brew the beer underneath the bar, sell growlers of their finest ale and serve it with pig ears and aioli.
  • Union Square for shopping, people watching and ice skating in winter.
  • Elite Audio Café for great coffee: they have perfected the art of flat whites and their latte art is spectacular.
  • Marlowe is an institution in SoMa and is owned by a very talented kiwi named Anna Weinberg.  Mmm Brussels sprout chips.

Thanks for chatting to The Fetch, Catherine! 

Interview: Auckland local, Anna Rose Kerr — November 25, 2012

Interview: Auckland local, Anna Rose Kerr

Auckland Curator Kim Lesch recently had a chat with Auckland local Anna Rose Kerr. Anna is a co-founder of Nerd Soirèe, a monthly meetup created for women who love the internet. She is also an advertising veteran, curious traveller, accomplished dinner party host, and a part of the digital team at Saatchi & Saatchi in Auckland. 

Anna Rose Kerr
Anna Rose Kerr

What are your five favorite things about Auckland? What makes this city a great place to live?

1. The diversity of the landscape, we have farms, beaches, mountains, islands and even a wee bit of metropolitan life in the middle. I grew up in a very clean, green Auckland – we had a vegetable garden and chickens out the back of our Ponsonby villa – and at that time we were seen as one of the cleanest, greenest cities in the world. We need to work at regaining that title.

2. It’s a really small community so most people you meet here are connected to you in some way.

That makes networking events a whole lot less awkward, because everyone just assumes you’re a friend of a friend.

3. We do have some pretty great ads, which makes it a pretty great place to live if that’s your profession.

4.  I’ve always been fascinated by history. While Auckland doesn’t have very much of it I do like that most of our place names are very descriptive of how they came to be. I made an iPhone app a while back, which translates NZ place names for those who don’t speak Te Reo so you can find out the story behind the place you’re in. Auckland also played a huge part in the worldwide women’s suffrage movement. I don’t think we do enough to celebrate the achievements of those women, but every time I visit the Auckland Art Gallery I visit the commemorative fountain across the road, and leave white camellias there if I can.

5. I love Britomart, which is where I live. I remember when this place was absolutely desolate a few years back, and a group of passionate, young Aucklanders have completely turned that around. There are several great restaurants and bars as well as communal working places attracting startups and creative businesses to the area. For me this is an example of how much potential Auckland has, and how that can be fulfilled if we can convince our smart young ones to stick around for bit.

How did you end up in advertising and what do you love about it?

I wanted to work in advertising when I was a very young child. I saw the famous Saatchi & Saatchi geese ad on TV and knew the building in Parnell, I thought they must have a lot of important people working inside. When I was 16 I wrote a very nice letter to them and managed to get work experience there, and now after a few years of advertising I’m back there again.

Brands are realising that instead of telling people to like them, they should just become more likeable. This makes my job really fun.

Essentially we work out what our clients can do to help or entertain people, and do it. I also benefit from working for the best boss in the world.

The Nerd Soirèe Crew, from left: Alex Waskiewicz, Alice Hawke, Anna Rose Kerr, and Jen Flitter. Not pictured: Laura Justice.

Tell me a little bit of background on Nerd Soiree and what goals you gals have.

We like to think of ourselves as a “social network” in real life, it’s an opportunity for women who love all things nerdy to come and meet new friends. And we’re fortunate enough to have some kind sponsors who buy us drinks! Our goal is to create a community of women who can look to each other for support as their careers progress. We have developers, bloggers, tweeters, designers, creatives, marketers and all sorts who come along, and we’re connected by our love for (or in some cases addiction to) the internet.

We’ve been doing this every month since February 2012 and visit different venues every month. If you’d like to come along, we meet on the 15th of every month and you can check our FacebookTwitterTumblr or join our mailing list for updates on where we’ll be. We’d love to meet you!

What led you to the decision to make it only for ladies?

Jen Flitter has always been very passionate about Nerd Soiree being ladies only, and using our community to help more young girls become interested in technology. It’s not about women taking over digital industries it’s just about getting the gender balance a bit closer to 50/50! There are plenty of open technology events which men can go to, and usually end up dominating, so we don’t feel like they’re missing out. One of the major benefits of having a female only environment is people are a lot more comfortable and open, so strangers become friends a lot quicker. It also means that we can do fun girly things like host an event in a lingerie store!

What groups would you suggest to others to enable them to be part of their local communities? International as well as NZ based would be great.

Obviously if you’re a woman you should come along to Nerd Soiree! Girl Geek Dinners has recently rebooted in Auckland and they are running events with interesting female speakers. We love what they’re doing, and in 2013 we hope to join forces on a couple of projects to help females get ahead in their careers. Watch this space!

Internationally, I think SheSays is really valuable. Only 3% of advertising creative directors are women, so their focus is making that number a lot higher by giving women the skills they need to get ahead in advertising, as well as changing perceptions in the industry.

As you can tell I’m really passionate about creating more opportunities for skilled women, but there are plenty of other inspirational events in Auckland that I enjoy going to; Gather, TEDX and Semi Permanent are among those. Just be friendly when you see someone standing on their own and you’re bound to make new friends!

Thanks for chatting to The Fetch, Anna Rose! 

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