The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Event Review: Lightning Lab’s DEMO Day — May 19, 2013

Event Review: Lightning Lab’s DEMO Day

On Wednesday the 15 of May Katherine Field from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Wellington went along to the first Lightning Lab DEMO day event. 

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Photo Credit: @wedophotography

Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to squeeze into the much-anticipated Lightning Lab Demo Day at Te Papa in Wellington. The hype surrounding the finale of the country’s first digital accelerator programme had made tickets hard to come by, as organisers tried to make sure the most important guests – the angel investors – got in the door.

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After weeding through 80 applications earlier this year, nine teams were selected for the Lab and were propelled through a 90-day boot camp of intensive validation and mentoring, before being thrust in front of New Zealand’s investor community.

Here’s a 30 second breakdown of the startups:

LearnKo – a platform for native English speakers to interact with and teach Asian English language students.

Adeez – Targeted lead-generation platform for mobile advertising.

Teamisto – Making sports-club sponsorship spend worthwhile.

Publons – A public peer-review platform that enables academics to gain reputation for their reviews.

WIP – A new way to share and review work-in-progress videos.

Questo – Applications that allow museums, zoos and other attractions to engage with their visitors.

Expander – Utilising QR codes to track products in order to combat counterfeiting.

KidsGoMobile – Online platform that gives parents greater visibility over their children’s smartphone use.

Promoki – Social media advertising that doesn’t look or feel like advertising

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The event was entertaining and fast-paced, and the presentations were impressive. Weeks of having their pitches re-worked and re-hashed over and over again did wonders for these teams. With a head-mentor providing an insightful and heart-felt introduction, each team’s representative emerged (complete with annoying corporate title) to strut their stuff and make their case for investment.

Two keynote speakers, oddly both from the online social gaming scene, provided a break from the onslaught of pitches.  Mitch Olson from SmallWorlds was engaging as he spoke about collaboration and the ecosystem of innovative business in New Zealand. Fresh from the announcement of the closure of MiniMonos virtual world, Melissa Clark-Reynolds talked about the recent event and shared her experiences from her participation in Springboard, the UK accelerator programme.

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At the end of the day, media and general riff-raff were kicked out politely as the investors were ushered into a room for some wheeling and dealing with the teams.  Although not everybody was signing on the dotted line, it was an opportunity to have serious conversations – sans tyre-kickers.

The after-party kicked off at Mac’s Brewery once the important discussions were complete. The teams, investors and supporters, some who were happily stranded in Wellington by some serious fog, celebrated the culmination of months of hard work and Lightning Lab’s successful maiden voyage.

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Behind the hype, this was a serious investment round. There was no winner, no grand prize, no trips to Silicon Valley or celebrity judging panel. The teams I spoke to were counting their success in number of business cards. However, they all acknowledged the real winners would be decided over the weeks to come, when hangovers fade and pen is put to paper.

About our Ambassador // Katherine Field is one helluva busy lady. In between holding down the fort as the Community Manager at the BizDojo, she is also back at university and helping to coordinate Startup Weekend Wellington. Find her on twitter as @kathfromwelly

Event Review: Pecha Kucha in Auckland — May 5, 2013

Event Review: Pecha Kucha in Auckland

On Wednesday the 23 of April Deirdre Dawson from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Auckland went along to the Pecha Kucha event that was held in the Iron Bank building on K’Road. 

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Jules Turner I Performance and Photography I Monster Beauty touches a sensibility

Pecha Kucha Auckland #35

The delightfully named Pecha Kucha, has been fascinating creative folk in Aotearoa for the last six years. Pecha Kucha is a semi-regular event designed to bring together creatives across a number of disciplines to speak about their practice. The format is fantastic, fresh and energetic, with anywhere from eight to fourteen speakers, presenting 20 slides and speaking on each for only 20 seconds.

Originating in Tokyo the first Pecha Kucha was held in 2003 but now adds to the creative architecture of 643 cities around the world. Luka Hinse is the curator of the events here in Auckland and first came across Pecha Kucha when he was working as a designer in Tokyo.

Tuesday’s event held at the Biz Dojo on K Road introduced the audience to eleven speakers; ranging from performance artists, a body builder, designers, architects, digital strategists, writers, and even an historian. Check www.pechakucha.co.nz for details of all the speakers from the night.

Sonia Pivac was one of my highlights. The founder of Deaf Radio she gave us a crash course in NZ Sign Language. Sonia may be deaf but I would definitely rate her as one of the strongest speakers there. It was a wonderful touch to have all speakers syncro-translated for the hearing impaired.

Edward Bennett, the K Rd historian also captivated all with his speech titled ‘Unbuilt Auckland’. Who knew at one stage Auckland was proposed to have two Town Halls or a giant statue of Christ on Bastion Point? You can learn more about the history of K Road on his free Heritage Walks. K Road also kindly sponsors the event when in its locale.

I would highly recommend this event in the future. At a cost of $10 it’s a small price to pay for the inspiration guaranteed to flow hearing such a variety of passionate speakers.

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. 

Event Review: Capital, constraints and crowdfunding — April 27, 2013

Event Review: Capital, constraints and crowdfunding

On Wednesday the 23 of April Kim Anderson from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Wellington went along to the Capital, Constraints and Crowdfunding event that was hosted by Buddle Findlay law firm. 

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Donning my best pair of ripped skinny jeans and a raggedy jumper, I headed to the offices of Buddle Findlay for a seminar focused on the New Zealand start-up scene. Finding myself among a small but decently sized audience of largely well-dressed professionals, I began to wonder if I was in over my head as a design student. Luckily my fears were abated as Sacha Judd carried out her presentation.  Judd, a partner at Buddle Findlay, was engaging, to the point, and most importantly, plain speaking in her presentation.

As a lawyer and a regular advisor and investor in start-ups, Judd knows her stuff. Judd highlighted a number of points throughout the seminar. She emphasized initial priorities for start-up founders, tips for becoming investment ready, and tricks for negotiating the challenges of raising capital.

Running just below the hour mark, Judd packed in a hefty amount of advice and pointers for start-up founders to consider. In particular she mentioned the potential benefits of publicly listing your company to garner capital, wisely choosing the best time to widen your footprint in the US (and why doing so at the wrong time could cause unnecessary headaches!), as well as some of the legal side of doing business (contracts, fine print, and more contracts).

As a veritable newbie I was struck by how many things there are to consider in starting a company, and that’s just within the New Zealand tax and legal system, let alone the decision to expand overseas. If the opportunity arises, I would absolutely recommend this event for any budding or established start-up founder, if only to hear from a knowledgeable individual with a fresh perspective.

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: Launchpad Conference 2013 — April 22, 2013

Event Review: Launchpad Conference 2013

On Thursday 18 and Friday 19 of April Anna Rose Kerr from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in London went along to the Launchpad 2013 conference which was hosted by Nacue

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More conferences should be hosted in bars. That’s the main outtake I had from the Launchpad 2013 conference, which was held last week at The Light Bar in London.

When I arrived on Thursday morning there were warm croissants and fruit lining the tables of the bar and a bunch of sharply dressed kids milling around somewhat awkwardly. @GoodChillHuntin and I were perhaps the only people to read the memo that morning about dressing comfortably, and he tweeted:

 Still funny when students at startup events are more formally dressed than the CEO’s, that they want to be hired by. #Launchpad2013

The premise of the conference was to teach students and recent graduates how to either create their own start-up or get a job in one.  The two days contained a mix of product demos, interviews, panels and workshops. Nacue, who organised the conference, need to be highly commended for the calibre and diversity of the speakers.

So what did Launchpad attendees learn about how to launch a career in a start-up?

Know your product before you start selling.

This may sound obvious, but you need to be able to clearly articulate what you are selling. If you don’t understand software make sure you hire someone that does. Although the Maker’s Academy will tell you that you can learn HTML in less than five minutes, so there’s really no excuse.

Fail fast, but learn from your mistakes even faster.

Rather than building something you’re “passionate about” build something that people actually want. How do you know what your audience wants? You release something quickly, look at the data and then improve. Heather Russell of Rinkya gave one of the most inspiring talks of the conference and said to grow as a person you have to do the things you hate.

So you like dating men or women who are on the same intellectual level as you? Try something different!

This of course applies to your business as well, we all learn by doing things we’re not good at. MindCandy founder Michael Acton-Smith reminded everyone that it’s ok to fail, as long as you’re succeeding more often than not.

Surround yourself with the best people.

Finding a co-founder, great staff, mentors, investors and eventually customers all comes down to the networks you build. Time and time again speakers brought up the importance of having a co-founder who balances you out. A successful business has someone who can build and someone who can sell.

Made by Many ran a very engaging session where the audience was split into groups to create a profitable business that could help people find co-founders, mentors or investors. I tried (and failed) to create a female only group to tackle mentorship, however ended up in a mixed group and our idea was “speed-dating for co-founders”. Most groups came up with very similar ideas, which goes to show the best way to build your network is still to go out to events and physically meet people.

Personally I think that’s why it was so great having this conference in a bar. Remember all the kids in suits awkwardly standing around when I arrived? When I left on Friday evening those same attendees were exchanging ideas and email addresses over drinks in the beer garden. The perfect way to find someone to help grow your start-up. I look forward to seeing what these young entrepreneurs are inspired to create.

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Anna Rose Kerr. She’s a creative who’s just moved to London to be amoungst the best in advertising and technology. You can find Anna Rose on Twitter, Tumblr and the rest with the username annarosekerr.

Event Review: YOW! Keynote – Mike Lee — December 10, 2012

Event Review: YOW! Keynote – Mike Lee

YOW Mike Lee keynote

What: The evening keynote with Mike Lee, as part of YOW! Australian Developer Conference 2012 in Sydney
Over Heard: “You can’t know what you don’t know. You know?”

I always preach about how I often find the most inspiration when I attend events beyond my industry.  Last week’s YOW! Keynote with Mike Lee was no exception. While Mike’s background is a products engineer and developer, his keynote message had little to do with the technicalities his current work. Rather he spoke on some themes and topics that are relevant not just to someone who identifies as a developer, but rather anyone who has reflected on the meaning of their life work.

A former Apple employee, Mike spoke about how their used to be an urban legend at the company that Steve Jobs once fired an employee on the spot who couldn’t answer the question of what he was working on. It was something that haunted Mike and made him constantly think about his role and purpose at the company. He practiced his one min elevator pitch, so that if he was ever stopped and asked what he was working on – he wouldn’t miss the opportunity to answer. While that day never came, the fact that Mike (and probably several other employees) were so accountable for their mission at the company was a powerful idea.  The power of being focused and to have an idea of what you’re actually doing is important.

Mike also touched on the importance of constantly being forced out of our comfort zones. While we might be fooled into thinking that our brain is constantly lighting up and creating, it actually filters us. We are tricked into seeing less even through these filters of the brain even when it’s right in front of us. This is part of the reason that Mike believes that people who are successful in business are ones who constantly challenge themselves to be uncomfortable.

We are building a future that none of us want.

As builders and engineers helping to shape the future, we can’t help but feel responsible for what we create shared Mike. He shared that he worries a lot about the world and nature and all of its problems we’ve created by inhabiting it. Mike also shared that he hopes his purpose and one min purpose or “why” to life is about giving knowledge to others. He wants to tempt them with information.

I’m just doing my job. Those would be the last words of our humanity.

Just doing our jobs is not enough, but rather we should look to have meaning in our lives. The idea of constantly being ready to give the elevator pitch of our purpose when given the opportunity – a lesson that is valuable no matter what industry you work in.

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