Resident Showcases

The Distiller Resident Showcase: Kitt with Aleks Dahlberg

Aleks Dahlberh - Co-founder of property management software, Kitt.

Aleks Dahlberh - Co-founder of property management software, Kitt.

Angus Pauley interviews "Co-founder and Dark lord Sauron"  of Kitt; Aleks Dahlberg, on everything from AI to the heart warming speeches of Bernard Hill and Viggo Mortense.

Kitt is property management software which simplifies property management for landlords and investors. They make communicating with tenants, maintenance, expenses, tracking rent and finances easy and inexpensive. Kitt is built on top of an AI driven banking API and harnesses leading automation software which allows them to do it all.

What were you doing before Kitt

Kitt has been multiple things. It actually started off as a product called Venturestay (or Wonderstay, you decide), which was sort of similar, but for landlords who rent specifically to working-tourists. It turned into a similar platform called Stayrs. However, after we became more serious and met with serious people - we saw the problem vividly and pivoted to Kitt.

Before that?

Previously I made a bunch of not-so-great web products that didn’t do much, and ran another web-design/graphic company to keep myself afloat. I also did another ‘start-up’ called Haggle with Kitt’s current CTO, David, back in 2014 (I think). That didn’t really go anywhere. 

And before that?

Before start-ups I was up to no good; just being a piece of work really. I knew I always wanted to run my own companies but delayed it to focus on causing trouble.


Was there an 'a-ha' moment in which you came up with the idea for Kitt? 

There was no ‘a-ha’ moment. I don’t even remember starting it. The first I thing I remember is Sam and I building it. That’s all I recall.

How did you come across The Distiller?

I first heard of The Distiller after Startup Weekend 2015. I came in a couple of times, but I didn't make much use of it then, which was probably unwise since the last 6 months here have been great!

What does the start of your day look like at The Distiller

I set up my laptop and then go through scribbles I made on a piece of paper the night before; reading my thoughts and to-dos. Then I remember I've already written them in my note book and procede to make a coffee.

How do people currently solve the problems Kitt solves?
Through either a pad and paper (which I am not against at all), or by using property agencies which are probably on average 500% more expensive than Kitt per month. 

How did you plan those initial conversations with landlords and property investors? Do people generally fear AI, or have you found it a good talking point?
To be honest when we first started talking to people, we winged it. Eventually, we knew what to talk about. 

In regards to AI: People like hearing the acronym AI, that’s all I’ve noticed.

How did you meet your team for Kitt
Good question.

Sam, I went to Highschool with. He was the only person I knew who did any web stuff outside of school. Naturally, we developed a bond.

David, I met through the PC game Counterstrike. We were in the same server and I asked if anyone knew how to code. Eventually, I got to know him.

Eugene, I met when I was working for someone else. He came in for a job interview. I met up with him afterwards and convinced him to work for me instead (for no money).

Scott, I have been friends with since highschool. He’s my flatmate now and is contracting to do some minor coding as well as clean up our messy front-end.

If you could recruit one famous person to the Kitt team, who would you recruit and why?

Probably Bernard Hill or Viggo Mortensen to give us heart warming, motivational speeches from The Lord of the Rings adapted to fit Kitt.

Something like the below:

This explains the second language listed on your Linkedin Profile. 
Correct! Sindarin is one of the Elven languages in Tolkien’s Arda (Lord of The Rings). 

@aleksdahlberg - Gram 1

@aleksdahlberg - Gram 1

You have an impressive Instagram boasting over 4000 followers. We've cherry picked a couple of images for you to give some more context to - can you explain these grams?
I post images on Unsplash and they often get posted elsewhere - that's where most of my followers have come from.

The first one (top left) is Seane (my girlfriend) contemplating a triple back-flip off of the rock at Tunnel Beach fully clothed - which is impressive.

@aleksdahlberg - Gram 2

@aleksdahlberg - Gram 2

The second (bottom left) is a piece of ice I found at Mackenzie that had scratches in it resembling the outline of the mountains in the foreground.

What would you caption this article when we share it on Instagram to make it go viral?
“Please don’t let this go viral” - post the question as well.

What’s next on the horizon for Kitt?
We are launching sometime in January. We're also raising funds again in the next few months.

And finally, if you could put anything on a billboard what would you choose? 
Some glue, so someone can attach some advertising to it.





The Distiller Resident Showcase: FilmQuest - Pennie Hunt and Stefan Roesch


Every year, around 60 million people are inspired by TV and Movies when choosing their travel destination. Being passionate film fans, Distiller-residents Pennie Hunt and Stefan Roesch recently launched FilmQuest, a film tourism site showcasing the world's iconic film locations

Stefan’s background is in destination marketing and market research, while Pennie is a writer and filmmaker. "We have found that this right brain – left brain combination works really well for us as a team."


FilmQuest is a film-inspired travel site that features iconic film locations, film tourism experiences and stories about people and places seen on screen. We also consult destinations on how to benefit from film tourism. Some of our consulting work includes film tourism projects and marketing campaigns in Jordan (The Martian), Northern Ireland (Game of Thrones) and the Republic of Ireland (Star Wars - The Last Jedi).

How did you come across The Distiller?

We first heard about The Distiller at a start-up event in town. That was in January 2017.


How do you start your day at The Distiller?

Stefan: I make sure that I have two essentials with me: the adaptor for my German laptop (it’s nine years old and the battery is stuffed) and my reading glasses, which I had to start using about two years ago. Forgetting either of those means going all the way back home to Port Chalmers… It usually doesn’t happen anymore.

Pennie: With a 10-week-old baby I’m working from home at the moment, but the drill is the same nevertheless. I write down my to do’s for the day, and being the procrastinator I am, I start with the easiest first. It makes me feel productive!            


How do you choose locations for FilmQuest

We only feature film locations that are accessible, recognisable and have a story to tell. As with experiences, they need to be of top quality which means they have to fulfil certain criteria to feature on FilmQuest. Ultimately, we showcase places and people that have a story to tell.


Where is the next location FilmQuest is going to visit?

In January, we will visit some locations in and around Queenstown and participate in a couple of film location tours. Stefan is also going on a helicopter flight with Alfie Speight one of the world’s most experienced aerial filming pilots. From May 2018, we plan to tour a number of European countries, in collaboration with the European Film Commissions Network EUFCN.


What movie/TV series did you watch most during your childhood?

Stefan: I grew up in Germany and we all loved the US-series The Fall Guy with Lee Majors. It screened between 1981 and 1986. Strangely enough, it was never popular in the States. And then there was Star Wars, of course. I still remember the day when my babysitter smuggled me into the theatre to watch The Return of the Jedi. I was seven years old at the time – and immediately captivated by the magical world that George Lucas had created.

Pennie: As a child of the 80’s I was hooked on all the TV classics – MacGyver, Knight Rider, The Dukes of Hazard. One of my favourite childhood movies was Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with the wonderful Gene Wilder. I still adore that film. Those Oompa Loompas!


What recent films/TV series would you recommend to other people?

Stefan: I would say Gomorrha, which is an Italian TV series about the mafia in Naples. It’s based on the book with the same name by Roberto Saviano who published his work in 2006. After the book was released, the Camorra announced to kill him with a car bomb. Saviano had to go incognito and has been running from the Mafia ever since. I also enjoyed a German mini-series called The Same Sky, which is set in West Berlin during the Cold War. And I love the documentary The Barklay Marathons. It’s wonderfully quirky. And then there is Narcos, a Netflix production about the drug lords in Colombia.

Pennie: I loved Netflix’s Anne with an E. It is based on the Anne of Green Gables books, but has been updated for a modern audience. It is so beautifully cast, and the production values are incredible. I’m also pretty obsessed with House of Cards and the Danish/Swedish crime series The Bridge


What film location have you talked about most with other people?

Stefan: That would be Chott el-Jerid in Tunisia. It’s the largest salt pan in the Sahara Desert – and the home of Luke Skywalker in the very first Star Wars movie from 1977. The famed igloo-shaped dome of Luke’s home was recreated in 2002 for Attack of the Clones and left behind by the film crew. It’s a true pilgrimage site for fans from all over the world.

Pennie: Cape Campbell in Marlborough, the location for The Light Between Oceans. The movie itself was far too melodramatic for my taste, but the location is truly out of this world. It goes to show you don’t have to be a fan of the film to love a location.


Have there been any locations you have loved on screen but haven't been as enthralled with in person?

Stefan: It’s all about the thrill of standing at a film location so – no.

Pennie: If I travel to a location I want to be able to truly experience it. Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland was one of the signature locations in The Da Vinci Code. When we turned up there the carpark was full of coaches and the place was literally teeming with tourists. Add to that the fact that renovations on the chapel were being undertaken, and we couldn’t even see half of it. That was very disappointing indeed.


Are there any common mistakes cities or governments make in trying to get the most out of their film locations? 

The most common mistake is to not make use of the opportunities generated by film productions in the first place. This happens for several reasons. Sometimes, the responsible tourism bodies are not aware of the benefits of film tourism. And in other cases, tourism managers are too sceptical to invest. But most of the time, tourism marketers simply don’t have the expertise in the area. This is where we come into play.


What is something you consider absurd that you do? 

Stefan: I have an absurd obsession with check lists. This could have to do with my German genes, perhaps. Anyway, I find it quite useful in order to prioritise my day. For me, it really works.

Pennie: I have probably checked out every cookbook in the Port Chalmers library. I find reading recipes (and sometimes cooking them) so grounding and relaxing.


Finally, If you could put anything on a billboard what would you choose?

Stefan: Free education for everyone.

Pennie: Does it spark joy?

Author: Angus Pauley



The Distiller Resident Showcase: Thomas Weidling

Thomas Weidling - Audacious

Thomas Weidling - Audacious


Thomas studied at the International School of Geneva and has enjoyed a recent career change from banking to managing Audacious, the Otago programme for student startups.


Audacious is a two round business programme run for Otago Polytechnic and University of Otago students. 

Round One is about exploring business problems and solutions. It involves putting together a team, analysing ideas and beginning to communicate your story. 

Round Two has workshops covering topics including business plans, finding finance, and legal issues. Challengers submit a detailed business plan and pitch their idea to the judges in the Dragon's Den.

"Audacious is about being brave enough to take the path less travelled. It is about starting a business, being your own boss, taking a risk, doing what you love and just maybe leaving your mark on the world." - Audacious Website

How did you come across The Distiller and how long have you been a part of the space?

My first visit was to join Varsha and Stephanie, my wife, in the second floor meeting room. It was a good place to meet and discuss business in a discrete place.

How do you start your day when you arrive at The Distiller?

I say Hello to everyone first of all. I start rather late every morning so there are always people there ahead of me. After that I'll unlock my office and get onto work. 

What 3 Audacious businesses have you talked to others about the most? 

PocketSmith, Jason Leong (2008); Education Perfect, Craig Smith (2007) and  Gobelet, Ryan Everton (2012). 

The first two show how far you can go on an idea started in Audacious, and Ryan to prove you can win with an idea many would naively consider “basic”.

What is the weirdest/most absurd idea to come through Audacious?

I don’t know about all ideas ever presented to Audacious but the weirdest winner was Louise Corcoran who in 2010 won Audacious with the idea of constructing the first Southern Hemisphere bob sleigh track! Unfortunately, it was never realised.

Whos is your ideal guest speaker for Audacious? You get to have them over for dinner after.

Elon Musk, the remarkable inventor and creator of Tesla, SpaceX and numerous other StartUps.

What makes you feel most relieved after a day's work?

It depends on the season! Now it’s such a pleasure to get outside and enjoy the good weather. In winter getting home to my dogs relieves the daily pressure.

What is something you consider absurd that you love to do?

I touch rocks at the end of the St Clair/St Kilda beach when I go for walks and I touch the enormous Macrocarpa tree at the top of Ross Creek.

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

Live and Let live.

Author: Angus Pauley



Resident Showcase: Angus Pauley

Angus Pauley - Credit: Kat Hill Photography

Angus Pauley - Credit: Kat Hill Photography

An Interview with Startup Dunedin's marketing coordinator, Angus Pauley, about everything from Starting-up to cold showers. 

Angus Pauley is the marketing coordinator for Startup Dunedin. He is the youngest resident of the Distiller and will graduate next week with an arts degree majoring in Psychology. This week he sat down and gave us some insight into his life and journey at The Distiller. 

How did you come across The Distiller and how long have you been a part of the space?

I didn't stumble across Dunedin's startup scene until my final year of University. I was lucky enough to be selected for Venture Up and spent most of my 2016/17 summer holiday building a disruptive digital marketing business with four other co-founders. Venture Up was hosted at AUT in Auckland and run by the Wellington-based CreativeHQ. When I came back to Otago I was looking for a co-working space that shared the same vibes as the accelerator and the then named "Startup Space" fit the bill. To be fair, I think the natural SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) of Startup Dunedin helped a fair bit!

What was your first visit like?

I came in for a fifteen minute chat with Casey to see if it was a good fit. That fifteen minute chat quickly turned into a well-over-an-hour chat. Needless to say we hit it off and I haven't looked back since. 

How do you start your day when you arrive at the Distiller?

I used to be quite strict on using Tim Ferriss style time management as I was trying to juggle business with full-time study and part-time work. This meant starting my day by carefully prioritising my to-do list and aiming to get the top two or three things done before I went to my first lecture of the day.

Now that I'm full time with Startup Dunedin I still do the same prioritising but will usually look after a couple of things within the Distiller first.

What book(s) have you gifted most to other people?

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F@#$ by Mark Manson. It really cuts through the BS and came to me during an important time in my life. It focuses on integrity, but in a very unorthodox way. It is anti-self-help - very raw and very honest. 

What makes you feel most relieved after a day's work?

It's a cliché but, exercise. Whether I go for a run, play some footy or head to the gym; it always gets rid of tension. I've actually just started playing twilight cricket on a Monday night with some of the lads from work. I've never looked forward to Mondays so much!

What purchase of $100 or less has most impacted your life most in the last 12 months? 

I'll cheat a little bit and say my flight to Auckland to my best friend's 21st. It was a small gathering of family and friends and I was really happy I could be a part of it. 

If it had to be a physical product then I would say the Honey/Apple Cider Vinegar/Cinnamon I started buying 4 months ago. Even as a psych grad I can't exactly identify the mechanisms this concoction works on but I've slept like a rock ever since I started drinking it. 

What is something you consider absurd that you love to do?

Anyone that has met me at The Distiller will know I'm big on cold showers. I absolutely love them and I can't leave the shower without having it all the way cold for at least a minute or two. If you're sceptical on the benefits I would recommend reading the research papers or at least looking up Wim Hof

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

"By definition, not everyone can be exceptional. And that's okay. Start anyway."

I'm mostly riffing off of the book question with this one. Sometimes it takes moving your attention away from being bigger, faster and stronger, to remember how to enjoy life now - and in a paradoxical way that can often get you to your goals faster.

...can you tell I took some Philosophy papers? 


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