Introducing Startup Dunedin's New Team Member: Rachel Butler

Rachel (centre) with the Mimicry Tech Team at Mahuki Glamactic Showcase in Wellington

Rachel (centre) with the Mimicry Tech Team at Mahuki Glamactic Showcase in Wellington

Rachel Butler is the new Audacious Programme Manager - supporting all University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic students with their ideas and startup businesses.

What were you doing before Audacious?

I worked for Venture Southland in Invercargill. We supported community, events, tourism and business for the region. Everything from buskers festivals, getting Prince Harry to the pub quiz on Stewart Island, to looking at the future of work and labour market. Very diverse projects and a lot of passion.

How did you get involved in the startup scene?

As a Regional Business Partner for NZTE in Southland. The startups were always my favourite to work with because of their utter dedication - juggling multiple aspects of their day-to-day for the relentless pursuit of their idea.

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Why did you apply for the Audacious role?

I love learning and the cool, niche things that come from being in a University and Polytechnic city. The ideas, the lectures and the momentum that the startup scene has here. I couldn’t resist becoming a part of it.

What is the most common mistake or misconception you see early stage startups make?

Thinking too small.

Ask more! Everyone started somewhere and most of those people will happily give you half an hour of their time. Buy everyone coffee and always follow up with a thank you.

Working in the startup world can mean working hard and long hours. How do you keep on top of it all?

Exercise is huge for my mental health. Balancing a new job and a startup means that I haven’t been great at prioritising that. Do as I say, not as I do. Get fresh air. Get out. Even 15 minutes a day. Set teeny tiny manageable health goals. Eat your greens. Surround yourself with people that will take care of you when you need it.

Have you run your own startup before?

I’ve just completed the Te Papa culture-tech accelerator programme, Mahuki. I’m a co-founder of Mimicry Tech which has built a story-telling experience that captures the serendipity of discovering artworks and artifacts from the digitisation of our museums. We are particularly passionate about protecting and celebrating the stories that lie within our regions.

How did you come up with the idea for Mimicry Tech?

We actually fell in love with a problem (the Southland museum closed and Project Ark was digitalising regional collections) which meant we weren’t attached to a particular solution. Mimicry Tech was born from talking to anyone we could get in front of. We asked what their frustrations were and built a solution around that. Mostly though, we just like building cool things.

What has been the biggest challenge for Mimicry Tech?

Commuting as a team, balancing our full time jobs with our startup and the accelerator programme and ALL of the messenger notifications (not remote-working best practice).

You’ve been with the Startup Dunedin team for over 6 weeks now. How have you found it?

Cliche but so far it’s all good. This city has tonnes of innovation, a sincere belief in the future of their startups and so many incredible female leaders!

If you could recruit one famous person to the Startup Dunedin team right now, who would you recruit? Why?

Probably Michelle Dickinson, Nanogirl. She’s incredibly well connected, she’s incredibly cool and she just gets stuff done. Plus, she supports getting more women into tech.

What Dunedin startup event are you most excited for in 2019?

Startup Weekend. If you’re not a little bit uncomfortable, you’re probably not growing. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, what your experience is or what you’re interests are - you’ll definitely learn something.

Do you have strange habits 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’m pretty terrible at falling asleep without an audiobook.

Rachel (Left) and Angus (Right) at the Mahuki Showcase earlier this month.

Rachel (Left) and Angus (Right) at the Mahuki Showcase earlier this month.

Favourite current Startup Dunedin staff member?

Ha. Trick question. There is currently just Angus who is asking these questions (but still, Angus).

Any final words?

Audacious is a super powerful vehicle. It straddles University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic and taps into both. If you are studying, or you know someone studying, encourage them to find out more or, even better, sit down with a few friends, a few beers, and ask; if you could solve one problem you see in the world, what would it be?