The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: Auckland Locals, Rowan Yeoman and Alan Froggatt — June 2, 2013

Interview: Auckland Locals, Rowan Yeoman and Alan Froggatt

This week our community ambassador Kate Montgomery interviews New Zealand Startup Weekend organizers Rowan Yeoman and Alan Froggatt. Follow Kate on Twitter via @katemontgom.

Rowan Yeoman and Alan Froggatt

Alan Froggatt and Rowan Yeoman are two of the principal organisers for Startup weekend in New Zealand. Startup weekend is a 54-hour event run over (surprise!) a weekend, where startup enthusiasts form teams, build products and launch startups.

Alan and Rowan are understandably psyched about Startup Weekend and why it’s so important to the current and next generation of entrepreneurs in New Zealand and globally. The Fetch chatted to them about how they got involved, working under pressure, and why everyone should go to startup weekend.

You both come from entrepreneurial backgrounds. How did you get involved with Start Up weekend?

Rowan: I attended one of the first New Zealand weekends, and got really excited about being part of it. I had so much fun and met lots of people – and those of us who were really into what Startup Weekend was about stuck around and became organisers.

Alan: I knew one of the organisers and went along to an event for the pitches, then ended up staying for the whole weekend as a mentor and joined from there.

What’s great about Startup Weekend?

R: It’s a new way of operating – nimble, lean, you’ve got to understand your customers/users and market test your ideas in a really short space of time. And it’s fun.

A: You get the ability to interface with everyone there. Mentors, organisers, other attendees. It’s an awesome opportunity and an awesome atmosphere. Yes, you’re put through a tough experience but that compression builds a really swift kind of mastery.

Who should consider going to Startup Weekend?

R: Startup weekend can be for anyone. The experience is really different for everyone. We’ve had 14 year olds come along and come third, people at university or who’ve just graduated, business veterans, serial entrepreneurs, struggling writers. Everyone gets a different experience. People face hard challenges and they really value the experience – even if it’s hard at the time.

Why should people go to Start Up weekend?

A: Firstly, it’s great for networking. There’s also a high learning curve, high pressure and you have to figure things out as you go along. There’s an underlying shift in the way you have to work, in how quickly you make things, break things, how you engage with people you don’t even know. It’s a different way of collaborating and working for the majority of people that come along.

R: People learn things about their business from people who do different jobs from them. A salesperson sits with a designer and talks about user experience and finds they have a whole new way of talking about their product with their customers.

You’re not going to agree with everyone, or sometimes you’re market validating something you came up with half an hour before. Leaning in to your fear makes you better at dealing with it. In business and in life.

We’ve had teams implode. And it’s great to see how people learn very quickly to deal with that and work through it. And that’s what the mentors are there for, to help.

What can people expect to learn?

A: To learn how to fail, and fail fast. And be ok with failing. Failure is only truly failure if you take nothing from it for future endeavours. You have a new surface area from failing, you know that much more about what works or what doesn’t, what customers want or don’t.

You learn that everyone has a valid point of view – startup weekend is all about learning to ask questions instead of knowing answers. It’s not about doing what you think you know. It’s about being agile – businesses can’t afford to spend 2 years working on a business case anymore – the competition will beat them. So they need to learn to be faster, to make it, put it out there then iterate as they go.

R: You can’t back out, or procrastinate. You have to get it done. They’re great skills for life. In the chaos of Startup Weekend you learn resilience and you’re working towards a purpose. You’re also learning to be responsive. You come face to face with your confidence and while it can be confronting, you’re also in it with other people, and you can learn how to get immediate help, from your team and mentors, you get to communicate and work through things.

Any final words?

R: Come along for 54 hours – you don’t have to want to change the world, you can just want to learn about business. And yourself.

Editor’s note: The next Startup Weekend Auckland is going to be held on November 22, sign up for more info here.

About our Ambassador // Kate Montgomery is a copywriter-for-hire and wannabe web developer. She balances copious internetting with yoga, tea and vintage crime novels. She retweets other people’s funnies @katemontgom.


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. 

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