Every year Kea’s Inspire Days helps hundreds of Kiwis by putting our best and brightest on stage to tell their stories. This year was no exception. Ambassador Deirdre Dawson attended the event this year and walked out the door with a real spring in her step.
Inspire – From Surviving to Thriving
‘New Zealand being on the cusp of something big’ was the recurring theme of the Inspire 2013 event. Hosted by KEA and AUT, it boasted some of our finest leaders currently excelling on the worldwide stage.
The speakers were indeed inspirational, from scientists to systems analysts, young to old, with a strong female contingent taking the stage. It was thoughtfully noted that Maori and Pacific Island speakers were missing from the line-up and would no doubt be changing in the future. Speakers included:
Key points to take us from ‘surviving to thriving,’ reiterated by numerous speakers, included the need to drop the “she’ll be right attitude,” we can do better! However to nurturing the innovative “no.8 wire” beliefs Kiwis are so famous for will lead us to success in the future.
The audience was encouraged to be courageous and confident in sharing their stories, and to keep asking the impossible questions.
From a business perspective we look at overseas markets and the most exciting element is the size of the market. And we head off suitcase in hand ready to sell to a market often 100+ times our local domestic market but, our sales and marketing collateral are often based on what has worked in New Zealand. Succeeding offshore is being able to adapt to the market, fast. – Catherine Robinson, Kiwi Landing Pad
It was brilliant to hear from Catherine Robinson who spoke about the Kiwi Landing Pad in SoMa, San Francisco. This area is home to 8000 startups within a 2km block and is the bricks and mortar space for Kiwi tech companies wanting a piece of the American Pie. Read more about Cat’s talk here.
Thanks KEA. There was certainly a buzz and sense of pride in the air as people emerged from the auditorium. Guests walked away feeling taller, part of something a lot larger and indeed inspired.
About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Deirdre Dawson. While she is currently working on the person to person rental startup Rentaholic, her varied background includes being an official Ambassador for Kohu Road ice cream, Business Manager for Disruptiv Graffiti Collective including Disrupt Magazine and Disrupt Gallery and teaching in Japan.
This week our community ambassador Katherine Field interviews Anna Guenther, the founder New Zealand’s crowdfunding startup, PledgeMe. Follow Anna and the PledgeMe team on Twitter via @pledgeme.
As the driving force behind PledgeMe, New Zealand’s crowdfunding platform for creative projects, Anna Guenther is one of Wellington’s golden girls. Passionate about building resilient creative communities – online and offline – she’s found herself as somewhat of a beacon of hope for creatives at that awkward junction where art meets financial reality.
Since their inception in 2011, PledgeMe has helped to raise over one million dollars in pledges – recently celebrating this success with three consecutive parties on one street in Wellington, complete with puppets re-enacting Pulp Fiction, fairy bread and a complimentary walking-bus to ferry guests.
Anna joined me to chat about all things crowdfunding, the end of bootstrapping and her potential career as a rock-star.
Congratulations on reaching a major milestone of raising $1,000,000 in pledges. What is the next big goal on the horizon?
One billion dollars? But, no, honestly – we’re aiming for one hundred million in the first five years. So, one million is great – but now we need to multiply that by a hundred!
You’ve recently jumped ship to work on PledgeMe full-time. How big a decision was this and what were the major considerations for you and the business before taking this step?
It was a massive decision, but one a long time coming. I’ve had some really smart people telling me that you can’t be half committed…. and, that’s right.
If you’re in start up world there really comes a time when you just have to jump.
For us, it was realising that there really was a huge market in New Zealand – hitting the one-million-dollar mark proved this to us – and that it was time to focus.
How does PledgeMe set itself apart from similar models such as Kickstarter and the new local addition to the scene, Boosted?
We see ourselves as a local version of the mighty Kickstarter. Having a New Zealand focus means that we’re not just an online platform, but also an offline community. People see that what they’re giving is making a difference locally -and that’s important.
We also see the rewards side of what we do as enabling creatives to be entrepreneurial. It’s a new model, not reinventing the patron model of old, and we think that’s pretty powerful.
It’s insider tips time! What are your top three nuggets of advice for prospective crowdfunding campaigns?
I think the three golden nuggets would be:
– Pitch your project (and you) well. People need to see you in it, and understand why the funds are going to help make it happen.
– Have a video. Really. Videos make you at least 117% more likely to get funded.
– Rewards are rewarding. People don’t want begging, they want value. So show them what you’ll give in return – and make it a mix of physical and experiential.
What does the future of crowdfunding look like in New Zealand?
I think crowdfunding is the next BIG thing. It’s a tool to give the crowd the power to decide what’s cool and what isn’t, what deserves to be funded to happen (and what doesn’t). The power of distributed decision-making is so 2013.
At PledgeMe’s ‘Thanks-a-Million’ celebration, you partook in some impressive crowd surfing! Are you a closet rock-star? Or is there another creative outlet up your sleeve?
More like a reluctant rock-star! I thought I was a bit of a fashionista back in the day, but now I’m just a massive supporter of the creative critters out there trying to do their thing. I’m really just a geeky fan of everyone!
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
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.
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.
CreativeMornings Auckland – how and when did it start? Have you been to many overseas?
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
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.
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.
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 Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr 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!
For upcoming events, subscribe to and check the latest The Fetch in Auckland.
The Lightning Lab has just launched in Wellington – what does it hope to achieve and what does it do for digital startups?
Lightning Lab is an intensive three-month accelerator programme designed to give small teams with great ideas (and in interesting markets) the best launch possible in growing into a serious high-growth venture able to compete on the world stage. It is a combination seed investment fund and mentor-led program where we give teams of founders the essential 4Cs of early stage entrepreneurship:
We invest up to $18K into teams of up to three founders in exchange for 8% equity in their venture. We then push New Zealand’s best- and some international world class- mentorship through them to accelerate those ventures to the next level, and at lightning-speed. With our growing onshore- and offshore- networks, this means startups can build these ventures much faster and with much better support than going alone or bootstrapping themselves.
In our opinion, Lightning Lab fills a vital hole in both the tech startup ecosystem which will allow New Zealand startups to ‘level-up’ to be ready to compete with similar startups in better-connected, better-financed, and more supportive marketplaces such as Silicon Valley.
You’ve just moved to Wellington from Auckland – is the startup scene different between the two cities?
Yes and no. The most noticeable difference is there’s a feeling of energy and community around the Wellington startup scene, which, given its geography, allows it to seem more cohesive than Auckland with many things within walking-distance of each other.
In my experience there’s actually quite a bit happening in Auckland, but it’s often under the radar, decentralised, and not well-published. This is changing however: ATEED have really started getting interested in this early-stage space and are now regulars at my local Auckland startup events – intersect this with their Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct project and it feels like Auckland is really starting to pull it all together.
I also say there’s not differences in that both ecosystems suffer the same problems – visibility and access to resources and mentors, and a clear path from idea to execution and funding. As Brad Feld writes in his latest book, Startup Communities, the startup ecosystem is really created by entrepreneurs, and fed into by other organisations. With time and focus being the two most important assets for any startup, you naturally find that entrepreneurs are too busy to self-organise without lots of support from these feeders. Events like StartupWeekend have been great to help boost this early ecosystem, but before Lightning Lab, there’s always been the question of what next after StartupWeekend?
One of my goals is to make Lightning Lab a focal point to share resources back into the ecosystem. It’s this multi-generational and cyclic growth that will really fuel our ecosystem to be sustainable and easily accessible to drive future economic growth in the sector.
Will you be hosting events at the Lightning Lab?
Absolutely. As you can probably tell, my wider personal goals for getting involved so deeply in the Lightning Lab is to build a top-quality tech startup ecosystem in New Zealand and this includes everything that happens outside and around the accelerator programme as well as inside.
Having come from the UK, I don’t just mean in Wellington either; Lightning Lab presents an opportunity to reboot the Tech Startup ecosystem nationwide and I hope with Lightning Lab leading by example, this will give NZ startups a renewed focus on execution and clearer pathways offshore and faster. The pricetags for many events supposedly targeting entrepreneurs are actually entrepreneur-unfriendly, so us hosting affordable or free community events are key to building an inclusive and open ecosystem.
What kind of opportunities are available to get involved?
Our mentor-led model of acceleration is based on the same model that internationally-acclaimed accelerator TechStars uses (we are in-fact NZ’s only partner as part of their Global Accelerator Network), and thus the actual running of this programme is pretty lean. As part of our educational objectives of seeding what we’re doing back into the community, we actually use an internship model to help with the actual programme operations. This allows younger incoming students with an interest in entrepreneurship to get direct first-hand experience of the ins-and-outs of what it takes to run a startup team and learning by proxy from our mentors. We also have a number of paid positions which are for more experienced people in the community – these ‘co-founders-in-residence’ work part time on our payroll for the exclusive benefit of our teams, allowing them to bootstrap their own team-building stage until they find the right engineering, marketing, and design talent. We are yet to recruit both full teams so several opportunities still exist to get directly involved in this way – if this sounds like you, contact Sam Bonney, our programme manager for more details.
The other main opportunity for involvement is on the mentoring-side. Whilst we have over 60 mentors across New Zealand and International involved, we’re still building that list to include other great technology minds across several sectors and skillsets. If you do know someone who has had some success in the tech field and wants to give back to help other budding entrepreneurs, we’ll be more than happy to have a talk and find ways to include them into our programme if there’s a fit.
What other NZ wide startup communities can you recommend?
There are not many nationwide communities servicing the early stage startup market in NZ, which is why it’s been so hard to establish something in Auckland. Although a few Auckland entrepreneurs have recently setup an active Facebook group called ‘NZ Tech Startup Ecosystem‘ which is getting some good traction as a place where startups hangout and help each other. Other than this there’s plenty of local startup communities that can be found on Meetup.com – including the Auckland Tech Startups group that I run, and groups down in Wellington like Hackers and Founders, and Lean Startup Wellington. Perhaps the StartupDigest mailing list is a good place to start if other entrepreneurs are looking for where the local community resources are near them.
[Editor’s note -> this is precisely why we’ve launched The Fetch in New Zealand! To bring all of the above resources together in one easy-to-read biweekly email digest. Subscribe for free @ http://thefetch.com.]
The Lightning Lab application deadline is December 5. They are holding information evenings all over New Zealand from November 22 – stay tuned to The Fetch to discover when an event is on in your area and check out their website.
About our curator // Kim Lesch is the curator for Auckland. You can find her on Twitter here: @kim_lesch.