Crowdfunding and Entrepreneurship - Anna Guenther of PledgeMe - Startup Dunedin Podcast #003

Crowdfunding and Entrepreneurship - Anna Guenther of PledgeMe - Startup Dunedin Podcast #003

Anna Guenther is the founder of crowdfunding platform PledgeMe.

She joined Angus on an audio version of the podcast and shared some of her journey including: 

- Why Anna chose "Chief Bubbleblower" as her title.

- How PledgeMe responded when their transaction provider shut them down with no notice

-The commonalities of successful crowdfunding campaigns "The three C's"

Startup Weekend Dunedin 2019 Winners - Team Less - Startup Dunedin Podcast Episode #002

Startup Weekend Dunedin 2019 Winners - Team Less - Startup Dunedin Podcast Episode #002

Angus sat down with winning Startup Weekend team, team Less 2 days after they won Startup Weekend Dunedin 2019. 

Team Less have developed an eco-friendly cleaning solution that drastically reduces plastic waste.  On the podcast Sophia and Matthew share their Startup Weekend journey including why they got involved, the highs and lows of the weekend, the progress they made and where to from here. 

Paper Not Foil - The Dunedin Startup Changing Salons Everywhere

Paper Not Foil - The Dunedin Startup Changing Salons Everywhere

Paper Not Foil is a Dunedin based startup tackling aluminium waste, one salon at a time. Their sustainable alternative is made of construction waste stone and is reusable, recyclable, compostable and saves you money. This week we sit down with Paper Not Foil co-founder, Amanda Buckingham.

Introducing Donna Hall - Bridging the Gap Between Corporate and Startup

Introducing Donna Hall - Bridging the Gap Between Corporate and Startup

Donna Hall has spent her time in Dunedin straddling the gap between two worlds. As a Manager in the Polson Higgs Advisory team, Donna spent her working day in the corporate world, learning about and using business information systems to solve corporate business issues. In her evenings and weekends, Donna flourished in the startup world, facilitating Co.Starters and organising and running Startup Weekends.

This week we sit down to hear what Donna has learned on her journey, and why she made the jump, with both feet, into the startup world.

Kaffelogic - The Dunedin Coffee-tech Startup Taking on The World

Kaffelogic - The Dunedin Coffee-tech Startup Taking on The World

Kaffelogic spreads the joy of roasting your own coffee beans. They combine sophisticated software with elegant design to make the best 100g-batch coffee roasters in the world. This week we sit down with Kaffelogic founder, Chris Hilder.

Singapore… Slinging into Startups! Tech in Asia Conference 2018


Post written by Tim Oliver, CEO - InvestaMatch

We were lucky enough to be invited by Startup Dunedin to join a delegation from Dunedin to attend the Tech in Asia Conference in Singapore.

The conference was a collection of up and coming tech startups in the Singaporean region, venture capital groups, existing businesses in the tech space and speakers from global tech giants.

It wasn't only about showcasing the startup businesses looking for investors, there were investor speed dating sessions, networking sessions, specialised business round-tables and three stages of back-to-back seminars covering everything from Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Influencer Marketing, Sales Cycles, Recruitment, B2B, B2C, Legislation, Machine Learning, Hyper-Liquidity, Intelligent Transportation, Bootstrapping and Growth Stage Funding

If we didn’t know what any of the above meant before the trip… we sure do now!

What an experience! I honestly believe that from the conversations, learning and connections I made in the two days attending the conference, I’ve gained a 15% increase in intelligence… at least! (…not that the baseline was all that high to start with…).

We were also given a tour of the spaces (an entire city block!) that the Singaporean government have designated to the support and encouragement of startup businesses. This was literally a city block of buildings 4-5 stories high, full of startup businesses and the supporting services that they all need to get off the ground and succeed… all paid for by the government.

What did I learn…? Obviously, the Singaporeans see the value of tech startups and their potential to contribute to the economy in a big way. In a world where manufacturing, labour intensive and ‘middle man’ jobs are increasingly being lost to advances in technology, the Singaporean government are investing in the businesses that are creating jobs in the technology sector. 

New Zealand needs to learn from Singapore – not only about the technology sector, but in the outright recognition and acceptance that things are changing. We need to make sure that NZ businesses and workers are prepared for what’s around the corner. I encourage everyone to learn about the technology that surrounds them and how technology is going to affect businesses, jobs and lives.

Recognition and massive thanks to Startup Dunedin, especially Casey Davies-Bell, Scott Mason and Sarah Ramsay, along with Aleks Dahlberg from Kitt – all fantastic travel companions and champions of the City of Dunedin NZ.

Pikaado Launches in Dunedin


Dunedin is the launching pad for a new skill-share website;

Pikaado is the creation of two local women Kate Gray and Burcu Cakmak and allows people to list profiles for workshops or experiences. The platform aims to be a new arm to the gig-economy, providing a new income stream for individuals and a marketing channel for small businesses.

"Dunedin is stuffed full of creative people doing interesting things, but they are hard to find. We wanted to build a central place to connect with these people, and to create lots of new things to do here in Dunedin” said Kate Gray. "We also felt that while Dunedin is a great place to live, it can be difficult to find part time work which fits around existing commitments. Pikaado offers people a flexible way to make money using their skills and hobbies. We also hope to provide small business people a new way of marketing themselves, and a way for community organisations to fund-raise.”

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Pikaado envisions that small businesses and start-ups will utilize the platform to fortify their brand and connect with the local market. “We are speaking to business owners who are either B2C’s or B2B’s who target small local businesses. Pikaado is like a free form of advertising as anyone can post a profile on the site. Workshops also get your target market in the door, and you can use this as a method of increasing your client base” said Ms Gray. “As well as this, people are using the site to test a business idea, to see if there would be a local market in a low risk way. Right now some of our workshops are people’s first steps towards a business” added Ms Cakmak.

There are nearly 80 different workshops listed on Pikaado at the moment with more being posted every week. There are arts and crafts like stained glass making and printmaking, as well as ethnic food workshops like Turkish street food and Indonesian banana leaf wrapped rice. Gardening and DIY are also popular on the site- but there really is something for everyone- from fly fishing to zombie apocalypse makeovers.

“Prices on the workshop range from in the hundreds, to free- people can charge what they want” said cofounder Burcu Cakmak. “We even have a lady in MacAndrew Bay offering to teach Kombucha making with a take-home starter for non-monetary exchange- so you can offer to bake a cake or do some weeding and attend the workshop- it is really fun”

Pikaado has started in Dunedin, but aims to take the business to other cities in New Zealand. “Dunedin has been a fantastic place to launch” said Ms Gray. “The community is amazingly supportive of new ideas and start-ups in general. Organisations have been really helpful, the council has been great, even private businesses- Petridish for example has been incredibly generous.”

Pikaado hopes that Dunedin will embrace the concept, and that through the site there will be more to do around town in a more connected community. Their web address is - there is lots on in Dunedin- go and take a look!



Interview: Next Farm with Aaron Furrer PART 1


Angus Pauley sits down with the technical manager of the forward thinking agriculture company, Next Farm

Can you give a brief elevator pitch on Next Farm?

Next Farm is a water and effluent management company. The effluent product is something that we currently have, it's an existing product, and that irrigation control product is something that we're in the process of developing. The whole purpose of these are streamlining the labor input and just making farm efficiencies better while adding environmental stewardship as that becomes an ever increasing, not necessarily concern but point of importance as we move forward. If you like, I can give you a brief rundown of our history?

That'd be great

It all started 2014/2015, I came on board January 2016. The guy that came up with the idea that had these frustrations; he worked on a dairy farm outside of Oamaru but came down to Dunedin, to try to work with the Polytech and get some different grants and funding, and that went horribly wrong for him.

At that point, he got in touch with Hadyen Court here in town. He owns 104 Bond Street, New Zealand Heritage Properties down there. He took over and that's when Next Farm was actually registered. It was Farmlinc Systems before, I believe was the name. Anyway, Next Farm got registered. Hayden Cawte started trying to shape things up and they found a contractor to start developing the product. Hayden Cawte obviously had his own company to run as well, so wasn't fully dedicated to it. He found a group of investors to put a bid in, in the beginning to just pay for product development type stuff, keep things ticking along.

Then it would have been, I think, January ... January 2016, Hayden got busy with his stuff, so that meant they needed someone else that could have a bit more focus on the business. I just arrived in New Zealand in November 2016. I'd been here a couple of months, and I went over to a test farm in Central where they were trialing one of the prototypes that didn't end up working. It was a bit of a flop over there, and so I got more involved since then, and kinda took on, actually, shaping the business up and getting the accounts in order and starting a bank account and doing all those things that it takes to actually create a business' processes and systems.

We scaled back testing from the 325 units that we had just to small groups of 20 to start working through things with the contractor and then that, actually that contractor stopped doing contract work, so we were in limbo for a little bit, and then started working with Callaghan Innovation with their radio lab in Wellington and got a grant through them. 

It's been taking off since then.

Where did you move to NZ from? 

From Washington state. Dunedin's a big city for me. My hometown was 15,000 people. I grew up on a small family farm just outside of town. Although, I did go to uni down near Silicon Valley there, so I definitely got a bit of the big city vibe down there too.

So how do people currently solve the problem Next Farm solves?

There are a couple different methods to do it. One of the main irrigation installers that we've been working with, how they do it and many other farms I've seen; they've repurposed residential irrigation timers. They've got a little LCD screen on them and a couple of buttons.

...if we’re talking about some hill, country stations, you’ve got 300 to 1000 different units out there, you’ve got batteries you have to change every year, there’s quite a bit of time drift in these devices as well, so you may have programmed them all, which takes a considerable amount of time.

What you do is you put in the days that you want them to turn on, the times you want them to turn on and what time you want them to turn off. You set that at the beginning of the season, and that ticks along for through entire season. That's how it's currently being done. Those products work great in a residential setting when you have, maybe five to 10 that you're controlling. They're on the side of your house. They're easy to go out and adjust. But if we're talking about some hill, country stations, you've got 300 to 1000 different units out there, you've got batteries you have to change every year, there's quite a bit of time drift in these devices as well, so you may have programmed them all, which takes a considerable amount of time. You programmed them all to run five sprinklers at any one time, but with time drift, by the end of the season you may have eight to 10 going at different times, because some get slow, some get faster, and they all do it at different rates.

That's quite a big problem currently, and they're reprogrammed and a lot of times have new batteries put in every year, so it's incredibly labor intensive just to do that component of it, but on top of that, once you have those times set, they're set for the season. You can go out and adjust them, time consuming, but there's no easy way just to pause them if rain's coming, or if you have stock on a paddock you can't easily pause that one paddock and then start it again, or easily adjust the time for a one-off type irrigation job.

A lot of times they can, obviously, shut the whole system down. Mostly that's going to be draining the entire irrigation system and then they have to fill back the water so they've got to charge it again, and they do have pressure releases to let the air out, but still often air will build up in the lines. Obviously, as the water flows in that pressurizes and that can blow valves and sprinkler heads completely off the posts and into hundreds of pieces. 

It sounds incredibly time consuming? 

I was talking to one of the guys at the company a little while ago and it took, I think there were three guys and it took them two or three days to reprogram just 325 units, so that was just one property. They have many properties that they have to go do this on with more units than that. It's not an efficient or effective way to do it currently. There are, obviously, it works to get water on the field, but there are better ways to do it.

What is the most frustrating part of building a digital product? 

The most frustrating part is getting it almost working and having problems pop up that don't pop up on a regular basis, as can sometimes be the case in technology. If the stars align just right it decides not to work, but sometimes it can work and you can't always repeat those faults that you find.

I'd say just in general the difficult part about developing this how we're doing it because Callaghan's based in Wellington and we're down here in Dunedin and our test site's over in Alexandra, is it's difficult to do that real world in situ testing, and we've had problems with that, where you test it, they test it in the lab, I've tested in the office. Everything's worked great, and then I've taken the data into the field and well, nothing worked at all. It's like, "Hang on. Where'd we go wrong?" Because we didn't have any hitches up until this point. 

Is there a part of the product development you particularly enjoy? 

The most rewarding part has just been development, Next Farm's development, knowing where we were at when I first got introduced to it and that was a test of prototypes and it was a huge flop. Now we're here. We've purchased the Efflu Track product. We have cashflow from that.

Obviously we haven't fully launched our irrigation controller, but we're making more steps in that direction. It's rewarding just to see how far we've come, to see cash coming in. It'll be even more rewarding when we actually launch the irrigation control product and we see them picking away out in the field.

Not that it hasn't been worth it up to this point, but that's when we'll all sit down and have a drink and celebrate together.






Student Developer Rolling with Dunedin-based Startup Kitt

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Angus Pauley interviews IT student, developer and Distiller resident; Scott Finnigan.

Scott is a second year Bachelor of IT student at Otago Polytechnic who works for the property software startup, Kitt. Today he shares his learning experiences between University and the practical work experience of being in a Startup. 

Tell us about your role at Kitt.

I’m a developer.

Kitt is built on the Angular 4 Javascript framework. I work on the front-end stuff with Aleks (Founder & Developer) and Sam (Founder & Designer). Eugene (Marketing) works on the business side of stuff and David (Developer) works on the back-end stuff.

I also spend way too much time fixing spelling and grammar. Sam if you are reading this please get a spell-checker!

What is your favourite part about working for a startup?

Kitt is the only startup I’ve ever worked for, but I like being on the team. It’s a nice experience; having a group of people you are working on something with. It feels more like a group project at university than a job, but more like a job than a group project. It probably helps that I knew all of the guys to some extent before I joined. It’s also super good to get experience working on a team developing something.

What is your least favourite part of working for a startup? Is there something you find particularly frustrating?

Well it’s never going to be as secure as a regular job. Plus the hours are all over the place sometimes, but that’s just the nature of these kind of things. I really enjoy my job and only really get frustrated when I see Sam has once again spelt “example” as “examle”.

How has getting involved in the Dunedin startup scene changed your trajectory?

It's definitely switched my main focus to web development. Prior to working at Kitt I was headed towards application development. I’m not complaining though, I’ve already learnt a bunch under Aleks’ watchful/beady eyes and it has really refreshed my perspective on web stuff in general.

I still can’t style anything to save my life though. Luckily, Sam does a good job at making things look nice.

After seeing what David has been doing on the backend, building our entire API himself, I’m kinda curious to look into that side of things in the future.

Is it true you get paid in Pepsi?

Pepsi Max actually. Aleks bought 24 cans under the pre-tense of paying me with them, but really he just wants an excuse to have it sitting around the office space so he can sneakily drink them when he thinks no-one is looking.

I have yet to drink a single one. I give it a month before Aleks has a noticeable Pepsi gut.

If you were to look at your skill set before and after working for Kitt, would you say there are any new skills you have acquired or any old skills you have sharpened through your work?

Definitely. This is my first time working on a project of this size; our codebase is huge and it was pretty overwhelming trying to navigate through it all when I first joined the team.

I feel like I’ve learned a lot about working in a team and collaborating with other developers on something. I mentioned before that it has made me focus a lot more on my web development skills, which didn't used to be my strength.

I’ve also learnt quite a bit about the startup scene and how things work just by talking to others at The Distiller. There are several very different start-ups here, all of which seem to face their own unique problems and challenges.

Do you find your work with Kitt clashes with study? How do you manage this? 

I started working for Kitt after last year’s study had ended, so I don’t really know. I won't be able to work the hours I currently do, but we’re preparing for our closed beta launch right now so there’s quite a lot of stuff to do. I guess I’ll find out in February!

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Have any of your opinions about work changed after working for Kitt?

I don’t hate open-plan offices anymore. I always thought it would be distracting and impossible to concentrate on coding, but it’s never really been an issue, and it helps me stay on task since everyone can see if I’m working or not. It’s also way easier to quickly ask someone something if they’re just across the room from you.

I still wouldn’t work at Google though, I don’t know how they ever get anything done with all of the stuff they seem to do in their offices. I went to a talk by Google at the University last year thinking it would be useful as an aspiring developer, but they just talked about their offices and the activities they do there for an hour.

Why did you choose to work with Kitt?

I’ve known Aleks for 11 years now and we’ve been flatting together for the last two years. He’s taught me web development stuff on and off over the last year or so, and in December he asked me if I wanted a job helping them get ready for launch. I was only working part-time as a cleaner so I had the spare time, and I knew that any development experience will be invaluable later on.

I also knew Sam, David and Eugene before I joined, although I am yet to meet David and Sam in person.

What is on your horizon in the next few years?

I want to finish study. I have one more year left at Otago Polytechnic and then I’m done. I also want to sort out my partner’s NZ Visa, and now that they have changed the rules it might require a move.

Other than that I don’t have any obvious plans. It’s hard to say how Kitt fits in due to the volatile nature of startups, but I enjoy working with the team so if they want me to stay on in the future then I’m in.




Resident Showcase: Price Insight with Anton Hughes


Angus Pauley interviews co-founder of Price Insight, Anton Hughes.

Price Insight is a pioneer in Explainable Artificial Intelligence in finance. For many traders and investors several hours research is required before making each trade. Price Insight saves traders time by finding and delivering trading opportunities in real time via our mobile app. 

Are there any thought leaders in AI you would recommend people read/listen up on?

There is so much happening in the AI field. Its hard to suggest a single thought leader.

What is a common misconception or something which people often get wrong about AI? Is there a piece of bad advice you hear often?

The main misconception is in thinking that AI is close to human level intelligence. While AI research and development is rapidly progressing we are still a long way from this level of intelligence.

How do you feel about the doomsday prophecies of AI (a la Skynet)?

That is a very interesting question. For people who are not working with AI they often think of Terminator like scenarios. Or perhaps worry about losing their job to AI. These concerns are real and are being discussed. AI is still very early in its development. However - even at this early stage there are risks. Samsung, for example, famous as a mobile phone manufacturer, also manufactures an autonomously fired gun - it can detect and decide to shoot people.

The risks of AI are real. Fortunately there are organizations working to contain these risks. The UN has opened a center specifically around monitoring the risks of AI from rogue states and organized crime. Also Elon Musk has founded the OpenAI project in an effort to bring about safe AI.

Is there a particular application of AI outside of financial investment that you are particularly excited about? Or a particular application of AI you seem to talk to others more than any other?

One of the biggest developments in biotech is CRISPR/Cas9 which makes gene editing much easier and cheaper than previous approaches. Machine Learning and Artifical Intelligence is being applied to CRISPR/Cas9 with the aim of significantly advancing the area of gene editing. This could potentially bring about some really mind boggling developments.

What were you doing before Price Insight? 

Prior to Price Insight I co-founded another fintech startup. And before that I was working in for a bank in Scandinavia, in both the business and technology related areas of the bank.

Was there a particular moment of frustration or an a-ha moment in which you came up with the idea for Price Insight? What was that moment like?

There was not one - but many - moments of both frustration and eureka. Founding a startup is an rollercoaster ride made up of 100s of these moments.

How large is the Price Insight team? How did you meet your team?

Besides myself there are 6 others including AI experts, data scientists, researchers and software engineers.

If you could recruit one famous person to Price Insight right now, who would you recruit? Why? 

That's an interesting question. There are plenty of smart minds that have helped develop AI. But I dont know how these people are to work with. I dont know how they would fit in with the team. Also, typically software, and AI developers are a team effort. So if I could recruit a team it would be Deepmind guys. This is the group who developed AlphaGo, the AI that beat the world Go champion.

Did you have a particular moment or group of moments at FoundX that you tend to remember when you look back on the night?

No one single moment. I would say most memorable aspect of the evening was the strong community spirit of the night. It was great to sense, and be part of, the growing Dunedin startup community.

How do people currently solve the problem, Price Insight solves? 

Typically active traders and investors will spend several hours analysing market data looking for trading opportunities. Price Insight finds trading opportunities using various AI methods, such as Reinforcement Learning. We also provide an explanation for the opportunities that we discover. Simply put, we save investors a of time.

What is the most frustrating part of building a digital product?

Marketing. Its incredibly hard to get awareness.

If you could time-travel – what advice would you give yourself about starting Price insight? 

Meditate more.

Do you have a strange habit or something you do which you consider absurd/odd? For example I always touch the outside of a plane for good luck before flying.

I also do that!

Finally, If you could put anything on a billboard that would be seen by millions of people, what would you choose?

This -

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Startup Showcase: InvestaMatch with Tim Oliver

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Angus Pauley Interviews Tim Oliver from Investamatch on his mission of connecting investors and entrepreneurs at scale. 

InvestaMatch helps businesses to achieve their goals by allowing them to promote their need to ‘Investors’ who have the resources to help, whether those resources are money, advice or key industry knowledge and relationships. When businesses are looking to grow, diversify or if they are looking to sell up immediately or over a period of succession, InvestaMatch promotes the need of the business with their membership of Investors on the InvestaMatch platform. If an Investor wants to know more about the opportunity, the Investor initiates contact with the business.

What were you doing before Investamatch?

I was and still am a mortgage and insurance advisor. I've got my own business in Dunedin, First Mortgages NZ and Oliver Financial Planning Ltd. And so, we help first home buyers to get lending from the banks and sort out their Kiwisaver so that's the deposits and the home start grants, and help people to go through the process of buying and house, and life and health and covering mortgage protection covers.

Was there a particular a-ha moment in which you came up with the idea for InvestaMatch?

The idea that was actually presented to me by Sarah at Immersion who was doing work for the co-owners. They asked to me to come on board to be the face of the business and to be the business development manager. 

Who's part of the InvestaMatch team?

Sarah, myself and also Nathan. They're more the marketing department. We've got our legal advice as well. I've also got an admin person help me on the occasion as well. It's really kind of four people directly involved.


If you could recruit anyone to the InvestaMatch team tomorrow, who would you choose?

I'm interested in Nadia Lim, she's got good experience and good profile. She's a young person, people know her and I think there's probably a level of trust that's associated with New Zealand businesses, New Zealand startups.

I feel like she's been there, done that and I quite like her as a business person. What they've done; she knows how to push something to succeed and how to innovate. We're talking about a whole industry; she's changing the way people eat and how people shop. I just really like the general feeling of what they're doing and I suppose the entrepreneurship of their concept with how they've gone about it.

Tell us about your FoundX Startup Showcase experience?

Foundx was put in front of me by Sarah and I did some of my own research online. Startup Dunedin has come up with a great concept in the showcase. It puts the guys who have the experience and the cash, and the know-how, directly in front of everyone which is perfect.

That's what Investamatch is looking to do, just on a much bigger scale. We'll be using Foundx as a spring board and using our contacts from then, over the next few weeks. 

Plus Dean Hall was really good. It's probably crucial for ongoing events to have someone that is open and candid and quite a likeable type of person to get up and speak. Dean demystified what he really does; there's no magic about it, he makes video games. Makes video games that, people like to play. The growth of Rocketwerkz and the story behind it was great. 

How do people currently solve the problem that InvestaMatch solves?

Crowdfunding or they put the opportunity onto TradeMe, at least in a business selling type of scenario. Then there's word of mouth, through advisors, accountants, lawyers or investment guys; any kind of business and buyers might have a ... database of clients that are looking to invest or have opportunities to invest with. It's quite an insular type of scenario. 

What's the toughest part of building a digital product?

Just the cost of getting it up and running.

I'm a relationships guy. I can talk to people, get an understanding, help them with their problems. Not knowing the ins and out of the's frustrating but I mean that's not for everyone. So yeah, probably comes back to the cost of getting things set up and doing it properly. But if you want to, anything worth doing is worth doing properly. It's not really begrudging it but it's just one of those things you need to do before you see any cash coming in.

What advice would you give a startup getting involved in an area that can have tricky legislation?

Get good advice. Get good advice and take good advice.

Understand where your value is within that industry. That could change, the more you learn about the industry, the more that you understand the industry, the more you'll be able to recognize where the opportunities are. It's just about finding where your value is and being able to innovate to solve those problems and to be able give more value in that industry.

Do you have any odd habits?

I'm a very, very early riser. People ask me what time I get up and I tell 'em I'm up at 4:00am. I get sideways looks and gasps at that, incredulity, disbelief.

Maybe my girlfriend might tell you something different but I couldn't; that would be the worst or the strangest one.

If you could put anything on a billboard that would be seen by millions of people what would you choose?

It's all about being grateful. Just be grateful for what you have. Just be grateful for your family, be grateful for your friends, and be grateful for your health. I wake up every morning and just make sure I give thanks for the people around me and what I've got in my life. If you're grateful then that goes up, outwards and if you can project gratitude, then you're gonna get it back.




Guest Piece: Put Six Strangers in a Room and See What Happens

An entrepreneurial story on the Sino-NZ model By April Henderson and Jane Armour-Raudon


In November 2017, three Otago Polytechnic students; Jane Armour-Raudon, Evelyn Araujo Hodson and April Henderson won a fully funded experience to Tianjin China. They were selected through a New Zealand wide competition for individuals with an innovation mindset and entrepreneurial attitude, to experience a unique, cross cultural, innovation and entrepreneur student workshop.

The Sino-New Zealand Modern Vocational Education Development Forum is a result of the Strategic Education Partnership between China and New Zealand and facilitated by the Waikato Institute of Technology.

This year’s forum focussed on innovation and entrepreneurship. The student workshop was the practical outcome of Chinese and New Zealand delegates discussing innovation in vocational education at a scholarly level.

The winning New Zealand students worked alongside three winning Chinese students by first pitching their winning one-page business plans in a workshop, facilitated by entrepreneur Theresa Brady. Each idea was discussed and challenged. Feedback was given to help the group clarify each business proposition. On day two the group chose one of the business ideas to further develop and present at the conclusion of the conference.

Day three started with a group presentation of the workshopped business idea to over 200 New Zealand and Chinese delegates. This was followed by responses to both the business plan and the workshop outcomes, from the head of Sino-New Zealand vocational training at Tianjin Vocational Technical College and Erin Wansbrough CEO of SODA Inc.

The forum concluded with a Q+A session, run by Marc Doesburg of Otago Polytechnic, focusing on individual's learning outcomes and how they plan to integrate these learnings in their own business ventures.

Once back on New Zealand soil, the students were asked to reflect on their individual experiences.

The forum really opened my eyes. I learnt so much about business solutions, creation, sustainability and innovation.
— Evelyn
I learnt more expansive thinking around my business idea and gained valuable insights into my target market.
— Jane
I gained so much insight and inspiration from everyone involved. One of the goals I wanted to achieve while there was to get some connections that I could get in touch with once I graduate, and I achieved this!
— April

The goal of the Sino-NZ model is to strengthen collaboration between New Zealand and China. All six students agreed: “We have strengthened our cultural business understanding through overcoming differences and challenges to collaborate together to present a cohesive business model”.


Article by April Henderson and Jane Armour-Raudon

Want to find out more? Contact Jane at

Resident Showcase: Casey Davies-Bell

Angus Pauley interviews fellow Startup Dunedin Community manager Casey Davies-Bell.

How did you come across The Distiller?
I first came across the The Distiller after attending the 2015 Startup Weekend. I didn’t even know we had co-working spaces in Dunedin at that point and had been working from a friends garage that leaked!

When I first came in 3 years ago, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Back then there were a couple of people that used it but for the most part it was empty. I was made to feel welcome by the then community manager Jason Beck and quickly become friends with the other residents. I remember thinking it was pretty awesome to have an actual office building to work on my idea.

Do you follow a particular process when you meet a new Start-up? What does that process look like?
Often the first move is to get them to come into the Distiller for coffee, or on a 31 degree Dunner Stunner like today, a cold glass of water. I like to meet face to face to hear them out and listen to their idea first, as well as get a feeling for them as a person.

I find this important for a couple reasons - people come in at all different shapes with ideas at all different stages. There is no one size fits all solution so it’s important to listen and give help based on their unique situation. Usually the most valuable next move is a relevant connection, introduction to tools like the Lean Canvas, covering upcoming events, or making them feel welcome to use the free co-working space.

Coming to the Distiller for the first conversation is non-committal and an easy way for someone to feel out the environment and network directly with other entrepreneurs and Do’ers. Fittingly, we usually conclude with a tour of the Distiller and introductions to the other residents.

What’s the most common mistake you see in an early stage start-up?
There are two.

The first is feeling it is imperative to be secretive and coy about sharing the idea incase someone pinches it. The reality is you are significantly more likely to fail due to the execution whether you don't understand the market or have an internal breakdown in your team. The more help you can get the more you stack the odds in your favor. Of course there are exceptions like ideas that need a patent, but they are few and far between.

The second is ‘project creep’ - wanting to start big. Startups are usually under resourced so it is important to be strategic about what you pursue first. It’s not to say you shouldn’t have big aspirations, but starting small and acting now can’t be stressed enough. Startups don’t starve from ideas, they drown in them. You really want to build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and take it from the assumption you are almost certainly going to be wrong on some logic you have - and that is okay. The goal should then be to test your assumptions in the real market and scale what works.

Is there part of your job you find particularly enjoyable? 
One of my favorite parts is getting to meet and hopefully help people working on all sorts of different projects. I get a kick out of trying to join the dots and find solutions for problems. In particular I really like commercial ideas that try and solve global problems - I see enterprise as a powerful vehicle for change, good or bad, and we have the power to make it good.


What is one thing you wish you had more time for?
I really want to get back into surfing. I snapped my board a while ago and haven’t made the time to get back into it. St Clair and Black Head are my go to spots.

What 2-3 books have most profoundly affected your life in recent memory?
‘Zero to One’ by Peter Thiel is a must read for any startup. ‘The E Myth Revisited’ by Michael E. Gerber is also great for any small business. My favorite for sure is ‘Elon Musk - Tesla, SpaceX and the quest for a fantastic future’ by Ashlee Vance.

What Startup Dunedin event are you most excited for in 2018 or have talked about most to other people?
Definitely Startup Weekend. It’s amazing to watch people exceed their own expectations of what they are capable of in such a short time. Also the opportunity for connecting with other entrepreneurs and leaders in the space in a single event is arguably second to none.

Do you have a strange habit, or something which you do that even you, yourself, consider absurd or odd?
I enjoy working from the Distiller so much that I actually have an alarm to tell me to go home at 7pm! Of course I have been known to ignore this from time to time.

And finally Casey DaviesBell, who is your favourite co-worker?
Well I certainly have a lot in common with Angus, including our birthday!