Collider Talks #14 | What do Wellington Founders need to succeed?

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We asked attendees at the Collider Launch last week three questions. We were on a mission to find out; 1. What Founders in Wellington need to succeed, 2. The best business advice they’d ever received and 3. What Wellingtonian they would want to take for a chinwag over coffee. In true Founder flair we got some pretty wild responses and also some #FounderGoals keys to success.  

1. What do Wellington Founders need?

While Money was a hot topic right across the board other important things mentioned were support, love, collaboration and community.

Being a founder can be a lonely time and there’s nothing like someone being right there with you going through the same struggles. It also means having someone to high five you because you were able to pay your power bill that week.

Along with a supportive community full of highfives, guidance and advice from Founders who have “been there, done that” was high on the list. Who better to learn from than the people who have already been evicted 3 or 4 times and had to pay their staff rather than have a hot shower at home. Then to meet them for a coffee and see them not smelling too bad is a true testament that you can make it work and not to give up just because things feel pretty scary right now.

2. What’s the best business advice you’ve received?

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Again money is a burning topic with lots of ‘Don’t be afraid of the Zeros’ and ‘No Mates Rates’. It’s clear that in order to succeed you can’t ignore the bank.

Other advice relates more personally to being a Founder; “Keep who you are authentic and consistent in everything you do because that’s why you are the Founder.

Theres also the focus on taking the support you need, although at times it may not be comfortable, it will hopefully keep you sane along your Founder's path.

3. If you could pick the brain of one Wellingtonian over a coffee, who would you choose?

We asked this question as one of the best things about doing business in Wellington is how connected everyone is. We were curious to know who local business owners would love to meet in the city.

As expected the answers were scattered across this section with the likes of the Founders of Fix and Fogg to Whittakers (and their connections with Nigella). The only common theme was people wanting to meet with "Social Influencers". With social media marketing being what it is these days it’s no wonder everyone’s asking how to connect with their customers through free marketing channels. 

Then we get to the odd ones...."Patrick Gower, on how he's so passionate about the news? And "The next PM? Ohhh who will it be?".

We also asked BizDojo Co-founder; Nick Shewring and Wellington Mayor Justin Lester the same questions. You can watch their responses here.


This information will be used to help us with shaping a programme that is designed by founders for founders. Find out more about the Collider Cohort here.

Collider Talks #12 | Phase 3 of the programme; we're focusing on the human.

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It may seem like only yesterday, but it was two years ago when the Wellington City Council partnered with BizDojo to create a Wellington based tech hub; a neutral space for innovation in the city. Since this time, the programme has brought together the power of 9,595 humans who have connected at 309 learning opportunities, networking events, business development and support initiatives.

This year will be bigger than ever before
— Nick Shewring | BizDojo Co-founder
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The next phase for Collider will see a shift in focus from the company to the human. We’re talking about the time poor, support strapped founder. Through extensive surveys, workshops and conversations with our Collider and BizDojo communities we've recognised a gap in ongoing support for founders of businesses in Wellington.

And our answer to this gap? The Founders Central Programme.

Collider 2017/18 will drill down into meaningful support and activity for people who have founded businesses in Wellington, with an emphasis on supporting their growth.

Collider Founders Central is a multi layered programme of support for business operators, comprising of digital learning and content, opportunities for in-person development and the creation of a ‘Collider Cohort’, enabling more hands-on support for a group of growth focussed businesses.

The programme focuses on a variety of topics including;
- How to structure your businesses for future growth.
- Getting ready for investment.
- Leadership skills and building your brand
- Wellness in the workplace and mental health care for business owners.

Founders Central is a rally cry for our vision of healthy, productive founders who are able to work through the stresses of entrepreneurship and creativity and come out the other side with both a successful business but also a successful life.

Our vision is a New Zealand populated by empowered founders and supported by the innovation ecosystem. As New Zealand’s only national coworking and collaboration provider, we see BizDojo playing a key role in achieving this.
— Nick Shewring
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The Collider Cohort will create a tight-knit group of founders who will receive more intensive support whilst on their growth journey.

We will take the learnings from the Cohort and put them into a programme for founders across Wellington. A data-tracking component will create a longitudinal study of participants, tracking success and impact long after graduating the Collider Founders Central Programme.

Collider Founders Central is the first outlay of the Founders Central programme, a series of programming devised by BizDojo to help amplify the rate of success for New Zealand’s founders. Something that BizDojo is very passionate about.

You can check out more about the upcoming 2017/18 Collider Cohort criteria here.

 

Collider Talks #11 | Lets Understand The Blockchain

Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ether. They all sound like words of another language to the ears of someone who struggles with making the surround sound on her TV work - that would be me. 

Since I work in the Wellington BizDojo each day, it hasn't been hard to miss the overwhelming interest in Blockchain, Ethereum and all the other fun tech phrases that accompany them. One of our largest coworking teams; 3Months are at the forefront of this technology, and Collider hosts the very popular Blockchain Wellington Meetup each month. 

From what I can tell some people love this new technology and some people are skeptical about how long it will last. Either way, I figure it's time to try and understand what all the fuss is about.

This is a very simplified but digestible introduction to what Blockchain, Bitcoin and Ethereum are all about -  just so you can impress your friends at parties. 

 

Blockchain

The birth of the Blockchain is somewhat of a mystery. It was first created in 2008 by an anonymous group or figure called Satoshi Nakamoto, who then disappeared never to been heard or seen of again, kinda like your left sock. 

What "Satoshi Nakamoto" created was the ability for people to log money transactions online via a decentralised database. These transactions are grouped together to create blocks of information (pretty much a financial ledger) and a bunch of these blocks create a chain, wallah! - The Blockchain.

The beauty of having this decentralised database is that it can be accessed by and contributed to by anyone with an internet connection. The Blockchain isn't owned by anyone and the blocks are created through the help of "Miners" all over the world, think super super smart people with fancy computer set ups... potentially wearing hard hats. But we'll come back to them.

In the meantime here's a 2 minute run down on why this Blockchain technology is pretty exciting;

Bitcoin

So we've got our decentralised digital ledger (Blockchain) which is great for storing transactions. What is needed now is a form of online currency which can give value to those transactions. This is where we need our new friend, Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a digital currency so can't be held in your hand or lost down the side of the couch, it exists only online.

There is only 21 Million Bitcoin available and the "real world" price of a Bitcoin changes depending on how many people are participating in it's trade on The Blockchain. Right now, 1 Bitcoin will cost you $3,832.43 NZD, so it's pretty valuable.

You can either buy and sell bitcoin via an online exchange such as "Xapo", or you can earn Bitcoin online by essentially being the smartest person online. So, back to our "Miners", who may or may not wear hard hats. These people are the ones who "mine" or earn Bitcoin. 

In order to understand how they mine Bitcoin, it will help to understand how a Bitcoin transaction (which is the same as an online banking transaction) is turned into a Block and added to the Blockchain. 

Every 10 minutes, all the Bitcoin transactions that were submitted to the Blockchain during that 10 minute timeframe are compiled and Miners are tasked with encoding them all into a lovely looking Block while also competing to complete a very difficult algorithm.

The first Miner to complete their Block and solve the algorithm wins 12.5 Bitcoin!

It's kind of like a game for super geniuses, but it's really the backbone of what makes the Blockchain so safe and trusted.

Before a Miner is awarded "supreme winner" of being the first person to solve the puzzle and create the new block, all the other Miners have to agree that they're correct. This means if there is an error or something looks dodgy, the other Miners will call foul and that Block will be rejected. This is the end of money fraud as we know it!

The other beauty of these safe and secure transactions is that there is no bank or middleman to facilitate the Bitcoin transaction, making it a universal currency with much lower transaction fees. Sounds like the money of the future if you ask me. 

Enjoy this 1.5 minute video on how the Bitcoin can be used and how it will disrupt a lot of industries.

Ethereum

The last thing we need to get our head around is Ethereum. The Blockchain is great, we know that now. But it's pretty limited in what it can do. Since the Blockchain was designed to just record Bitcoin transactions, it can't be programmed to do other cool stuff too. Well luckily Vitalik Buterin realised the potential here and created a whole new platform based on the Blockchain, but cooler. 

Etherum and Ether (works like Bitcoin) were created in 2015 and in turn, an innovation playground was born. Etherum allows you to give the information (records, transactions etc) loaded onto the blocks some instructions. These instructions have also been dubbed as "Smart Contracts". 

So instead of just creating a transaction that states "I give Sally (5) Ether", you can say I will give Sally 3 Ether but only if she gives 3 of her Ether to Richard by October 1st 2017 and only if Richard is still alive when this happens.

In order for this rather strange transaction to make sense the Smart Contract needs to be coded to include all the variables, such as the ability to register a death notice about Richard... Sorry Rich.  

So there you have it. A very brief and simplified introduction to the Blockchain, Bitcoin and Ethereum. If you wish to continue down this path there is still much to learn, and I recommend coming along to the next Wellington Blockchain Meetup, which has a habit of selling out very fast. 

Also if you're a developer wanting to know more about how you could code for the Blockchain, come along to this talk by the ICT Graduate School happening this week!

 

Caitlin is BizDojo Wellington and Collider's MarComs lady, who since writing this piece has mastered the surround sound on her TV. Great success. 

 

 

Collider Talks #10 | Get Pitch Perfect

TechWeek brought a flurry of tech demo shows, international speakers and all the insights your brain can handle. For the Wellington BizDojo, it also brought "Dojo Dragons",  a practice pitch event where companies could pitch and gain valuable feedback from two "Dragons".

The Dragons themselves came in the form of Greg Sitters and Ken Erskine, investors and co-founders at 88Kiwis. To gain some quick pitch tips we nabbed some time with Ken as well as BizDojo's own co-founder Nick Shewring.

If you need to get your pitch perfect, the video below delivers tips and tricks from an investor and seasoned pitcher;

Collider Connects #20 | Building Tech Communities in Wellington

The technology industry in Wellington is booming, and to keep it this way we need to focus on building, fostering and leading community around the sector. 

In order to address this, we ran a three-day immersive course organised and facilitated by Hack Miramar's Mike Riversdale. 

Registration sizes were kept small to ensure quality and attendees came from all forms of technical walks of life. What they all had in common was the desire to know more about building and fostering community in Wellington's tech industry. 

My “why to do this?”: to arm community leaders (tech or not) with the tools to ensure their passions last more than they do. To enable people to take the “make a difference” spark and not just light a fire but grow a movement and make a difference outside their immediate circles, to give their community a chance of surviving them.
— Mike Riversdale | Organiser and Facilitator of "It's not about you".

If you missed out on a ticket, GovWorks co-founder, Aimee Whitcroft attended the sessions and has written a worth reading Blog on the topic; "Better Community Organising, Pt 1". 

You can also listen to some of the attendee's thoughts from the week and why building community is so important to them via the audio below:

Collider Talks #9 | Pop Your Bubble

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There’s a reason why Billionaire and serial Entrepreneur Elon Musk says you should never stop seeking feedback when building and growing your business.

Speaking and collaborating with people to develop your business is a very powerful tool that shouldn’t be underestimated.

As a Founder of a small business it's very easy to get trapped in a bubble when you lack a sounding board in the form of a partner or mentor. We believe it’s vital to pop that bubble and seek out connections with others to ensure you’re moving on with your business problems.

Meet Jo Constable. Jo is a regular at Collider events and as she operates her business from home, she sees the value in getting out and collaborating with other innovative individuals.

Jo has been running her very successful graphic design business, Hoi Polloi, for 20 years and has worked with big companies such as Fonterra, Fletcher building and Gareth Morgan Investments.

Two years ago Jo made the decision to start a new business and she sought out connections with others to help her with this journey.

“When you’re working on your own you get tunnel vision, which is why it’s important to get out and go to events”.

 

It is the connections you form with others, and the ways you collaborate with those connections, that will help you grow your business to new levels.

Jo has collaborated with two of our Collider facilitators to help her develop her new business venture.  

“For two years I had been mulling over how my new business venture and my current one would work together. It was as if a magic light bulb had been switched on. I have been in business for over 20 years and the insights were so refreshing!”

 

From Jo’s collaborations, she’s discovered the true essence of her new business in the form of a tagline, and she’s comfortable with how her two businesses will co-exist.

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Jo’s new business focuses on getting artwork into unconventional places. Jo says she sees art everywhere, even where you’d expect it the least, like a car park. We loved this idea, and if you’re planning on coming to a Collider event this month you’ll see some of Jo’s creative genius first hand, hanging up in our Event Space.

Collider Talks #10 | Spotlight on TWICE

BizDojo Wellington is lucky to have TWICE podcast recorded here.

BizDojo Wellington is lucky to have TWICE podcast recorded here.

TWICE [aka. two weeks in creative endeavour] podcast has come a long way from the very first recording (which was never published) of four people awkwardly standing in a room sharing one microphone - and that’s all due to the passion and sincere dedication of David Binstead.

David is a self-described ‘Marketer For Good’, and founded TWICE in 2015 as he had a curiosity for the power of audio and how it could support people, organisations and companies striving to achieve positive outcomes from and for New Zealand.

TWICE podcast runs for about 60 delicious minutes, and serves up a frank, entertaining and insightful conversation with two guests in the form of founders, enterprisers, creatives and innovators.

In the nature of having twice the goodness, BizDojo and Collider are very proud and excited to formalise their support for this creative endeavour; giving a voice to everyday Kiwis doing awesome things.

David has just published his 44th episode and I sat down with him for a quick 5 questions to find out more about his journey.

First thing’s first, do you have a favourite episode?

Episode 9 would have to be a standout episode for me. It was with Glen Pickering, Director at the World Buskers Festival and Catarina Gutierrez, ex Startup Activator at Ministry of Awesome. Glen cut loose with so many swear words that we had to mark the episode as “explicit”.

We spent the whole time laughing, and it was then that I thought; There’s something here. There’s real value to both what people have to share, and the passion with which they’re saying it.

 

Of course I’m going to ask, what’s been the worst episode?

(Laughs)... yes, and it’s very embarrassing. I recorded three pilot episodes before publishing the first one (3rd pilot) in September 2015. I couldn’t bring myself to putting any of them online but was ‘encouraged’ into it by my Christchurch co-host Jaya. I had smooth talked our way into using a recording studio for the first pilot, but with no seats we had to stand, we couldn’t drink the beers, and the recording gear didn’t sync with ours. It was a disaster.

So there’s beer in every episode, how did that come to be?

The beer started as a bribe. I figured it was the best way to get guests to come along and get them talking. Now, I receive support from Wellington independent craft brewers, including Garage Project, who occasionally supply beers for upcoming episodes. Cheers George and our other refreshment supporters!

Do you have any words for podcast skeptics?

Technology has conditioned our attention spans to be very short. If there’s a secret sauce for podcasts it’s that they’re mono-sensual - only using one of your senses in a world of over-stimulation. Listen to a podcast episode and it transports you into the heart of a really intimate conversation, all while walking your dog, or on your daily commute.

Podcasts are simply digital radio shows, democratised so that ‘anyone’ can publish a show about anything. They are a beautiful, light format that auto-updates in your pocket (and ears), with thousands to choose from on any subject, topic or area of interest. What better place to learn, be inspired and entertained than anywhere!

What does the future of TWICE look like?

I am beyond stoked to receive support from Nick and the team at BizDojo and Collider Wellington. Their sponsorship puts the show on a sustainable footing, where before it was firmly a bootstrapped and time-consuming ‘passion’ project.

The show has started re-broadcasting (without the beer segments - boo!) on terrestrial radio via Wellington Access Radio 106.1FM. I’m intending to record episodes at the Social Enterprise World Forum in September, and ongoing behind the scenes work will culminate in featuring some ‘hard to reach’ guests in the coming months.

Other people I am genuinely humbled by, and which I want to acknowledge:

Firstly, our loyal listeners from around New Zealand and across the world.

Secondly, our guests who freely give their time to share stories and journeys to now on their missions to do good for wider society. All for a couple sips of craft beer.

Thirdly, a growing roster of co-hosts and volunteers who have given their time and perspectives to helping reveal the best from our guests.

And last but very much not least, a loyal crew of Patreon supporters/listeners who help offset some of the episode digital hosting costs: www.patreon.com/twicepodcast


Connect with the awesomeness of TWICE and David Binstead by jumping on these social links:

TWICE Website

TWICE Twitter

TWICE Facebook

TWICE Instagram

Collider Talks #8 | Spotlight on Ruth McDavitt

Whether you’re new to Wellington’s tech scene or you’ve been around for awhile, you will have heard of Summer of Tech and the superhuman that is Ruth McDavitt.

Collider is all about making smart connections amongst Wellingtonians and the businesses they build, and Ruth is a top connector. 

By day, Ruth is the CEO of Summer of Tech, a non-profit programme where she has spent the last 11 years finding, growing and matching New Zealand’s tech talent with awesome job opportunities in the Wellington area. By night she supports local tech events and is one of the organisers of the inspirational Women Founders Meetup, sponsored through the Collider programme.

Ruth has been a valuable member of the Wellington BizDojo community for over a year now, and in that time she’s helped its Residents evolve their teams by connecting them with fresh tech talent.

An example of her fine work can be seen in the ever expanding, Properly. Properly is a management tool for people who have rental properties, and when they decided to move to Wellington from San Francisco, they knew they were going to need to hire local talent to grow their team.

Before we arrived in Wellington I called a bunch of CTOs from some big tech companies in the city and asked what was the best way to locate tech talent. They all told me to talk to Ruth.
— Stefan Raffeiner |Product and Engineering Lead
Sid Bardiya (Designer) & Hyojin Jung (Web Developer) Joined Properly through SoT

Sid Bardiya (Designer) & Hyojin Jung (Web Developer) Joined Properly through SoT

Properly moved their team of three into the Wellington BizDojo and through the Summer of Tech programme they hired six full-time team members to fill their design, IOS, web and test positions.

Stefan said that the whole hiring process was so easy, Properly will definitely be doing it again this year.

Firstly Ruth, what attracted you to join Summer of Tech (SoT)?
I was drawn to SoT by the passion and drive from the tech industry determined to help tech students and graduates find work. Back then, there was a core group of dedicated volunteers working on the programme, and they all had this no-nonsense ‘just get it done’ attitude. I also loved that businesses in Wellington were working together to fix a problem and were keen and willing to hire recent graduates.

How important is it to have SoT on Wellington’s tech scene?
Very. For one it helps our valuable Graduates stay in the city as they have high visibility of what their opportunities are after study. A big problem for students while they’re studying is seeing where they fit into the job market. SoT connects them with some really cool local companies that they might not normally hear about.

What advice would you give to graduates looking for tech work in the city?
Getting a job as a newbie can appear hard and I recommend to not get disheartened. Check out local events and get your network on, it will be harder if you’re a natural introvert. Also if you’re looking to re-train to get more industry relevant skills I highly recommend checking out the Wellington ICT Graduate School and Enspiral Dev Academy.

What’s on the horizon for SoT?
Two things - they’re really exciting!

The first sees us going beyond Summer, opening the programme beyond our traditional summer holiday period. It benefits students looking for part-time work throughout the year while they’re studying, or for students who graduate mid-year.

The second is going beyond Tech, with Summer of Biz.  This is just like Summer of Tech but for Marketing and Human Resources students and graduates. We’re working with industry leaders to help students and grads get the right skills and find summer work.

The Women Founders Meetup (formerly Female Founders) was established in 2012 and has built up a vibrant and committed community of Women in Wellington, who are all keen to share and learn start-up and leadership lessons. The Meetup has seen both local and international speakers share their wisdom on topics ranging from building a personal brand to international patents. While the group is focussed on Women, the Meetup is open for men to attend as well.

Ruth is one of the founding members of the Meetup, and along with Zheng Li, Mandy Simpson and Vicky Upton, organise the monthly Meetup at the BizDojo.

What is the main objective of the Women Founders meetup?
The whole point of Women Founders is to connect with each other. The Meetup provides a space for Women who have founded companies to share and support each other.

What advice would you give women looking to start a business?
Find a good mentor. It helps a lot to talk to people who have been there done that as you can always learn from others.

Well, there’s no doubt, Ruth, that you’re a busy lady. What drives you to work so hard?
To be honest, I thrive on helping people and being connected. I love making these mutually beneficial connections where both the student and employer are happy…

...I also get pretty big FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)



Caitlin Mackay is the MarComms person for BizDojo Wellington and ColliderWgtn. Before she started her job here she heard from many people "Oh Ruth McDavitt works there!", and now Caitlin aspires to be as connected as Ruth... it might take some time. 

Don't Just Be A Founder, Be A Leader.

As a Manager, Steve Jobs was reported as being a bit shit.

Being a founder (regardless of how amazing your company is) doesn’t automatically make you an effective leader. In fact, often the characteristics needed for founders and entrepreneurs are not always going to be beneficial for leading and developing a team.

According to Business Insider, the wildly charismatic Steve Jobs was a successful CEO, not because of his leadership but for his gift for predicting the markets and building creative teams. However, Steve did employ many great managers who were more emotionally stable and focused on developing Apple’s amazing people.

For many founders of growing businesses the ability to hire amazing leaders is a wee while off, this is why it’s important to gain the skills to effectively lead your team from day one.

This year, Collider is excited to be hosting the LX programme designed by leadership developer and business activation coach, Julie Treanor. The LX programme has been crafted for all types of leaders, but with CEO’s and founders in mind and will explore how to lead and manage amongst the ambiguity, uncertainty, complexity, paradox and doubt that characterises the entrepreneurial working world today.

This programme will cover six topics over the year, with opportunities after each session to take part an LX Café, where you can savour one Wellington’s favourite caffeinated brew and take part in leadership discussions with others.

The six themes of the LX programme are:

March - Audacity

April - Agility

May - Humility

June - Flow

July - Ingenuity

August - Progress

Each session will have facilitated conversation, creative thinking backed by sound leadership principles/concepts will examine the nature and dynamics of leadership and spur new thinking to answer the challenges and frustrations that that leaders face every day.

The LX programme is completely free and while it’s been designed as an entire programme, you’re more than welcome to pick and choose which sessions to attend. We will also be holding a leadership retreat in November which will bring beautifully bring the LX programme’s teaching together. As an incentive to keep on top of your leadership development, this retreat will be free for anyone who has attended all six sessions.

Sign ups are officially open to the first session taking place on the 15th of March; “LX Programme, Session 1: Audacity"