The Collider programme - three years of connection, collaboration and convergence!

The first three years

In November 2015 Wellington City Council (WCC) and BizDojo partnered to create a space where everyone from technologists to coders, designers and social entrepreneurs, can come together; and a programme of activity to connect and support business and personal growth.

The number of humans working from our space at BizDojo Tory Street has consistently grown from 108 at the end of 2015 to 440 working from both our Tory Street site and our new Market Lane site. During this time we have seen much business growth and success with alumni like Wipster, Method and Mevo and current residents including Taska, PosBoss and Blockchain Labs. The startup, tech and innovation scene is very much thriving in Wellington.

Our programme of support has provided a range connection and learning opportunities for people doing business in Wellington. Over three years, we hosted 473 activations attended by over 15,000 people! Highlights from our activation programme included: the ‘Step up’ mentor programme developed and delivered in partnership with Xero; and the ‘Founders Night’ series with speakers like Justin Dry from VinoMofo and Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart.

 Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart discuss their journey with Twenty-Seven Names at the Collider Founders Night.

Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart discuss their journey with Twenty-Seven Names at the Collider Founders Night.

All this would not have been possible without the support of WCC, which included a repayable grant to fast-track expansion of our Tory Street site. Full repayment of this grant was made earlier this year - a full year ahead of schedule.


What’s next

The Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA), on behalf of WCC are now undertaking a review of investment in economic growth, while this is underway so further investment will be made.

At BizDojo we are supportive of this review, we want to know that the support we provide is making an impact and isn’t a duplication of activity. We are taking some time out to reflect on and review the last three years. We hope to come back strong in 2019 with a programme of support for the founders of high growth potential businesses. BizDojo will continue to sponsor several event series (such as Startup Grind and Creative Mornings) and meetups (such as PHP User Group and Blockchain Wellington) that will be hosted across our two Wellington sites.


Collider to date in a snapshot

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Behind the scenes of Collider #6: All good things must come to an end: Collision Labs

You may recall way back in March we put a call out to Welly startups who have established a viable business (but aren’t currently in the position to pay for a coworking membership) and have committed to making a go of it, are keen to connect with a coworking community and keen to get the inside word on and easy access to our Collider events.

In April we welcomed our Collision Labs crew to BizDojo Tory Street - we started off as 12 rad humans working on 5 epic startups and we grew to 14. We set them free in the Dojo, immersing them in our community activations, gave them the inside word on Collider events, and connected them with the right people.

It was so great watching the founders connect - it was almost instant as they had so much in common! From exploring Asian markets, to partnering with corporates, to having awkward sales conversations they all had questions to ask and skills to share. Mid-way through the three month pilot we went out for dinner and it was one of the most lively and educational dinners I have been to in ages! I felt like Anna Paquin in that movie ‘Fly Away Home’. And just like in that movie, eventually the Collision Labs experiment came to an end and they had to leave… (two teams will be staying on in the Dojo though, so that’s awesome!)


We caught up with the crew and here’s what they had to say about their time in the BizDojo
 

What progress have you made since entering Collison Labs? Do you have any wins to share with us?

Katy from Town Square - “I went on a market discovery trip to the Philippines through the Asia NZ Foundation, which was pretty awesome and now we've got them on our shortlist of potential expansion countries. Also, we've implemented machine learning in beta and are ramping that up which is pretty cool.”

Excio were finalists in the Wellington Gold Awards “Emerging Gold - Products” category.


Did you make any connections in the Dojo? If so, we'd love to hear about them.

Miranda & Jacinta met Dave Binstead from Twice Podcast and Jacinta featured on one of his recent shows.

Others found that just being around other like-minded entrepreneurs and founders helped with problem-solving, getting new ideas and making connections.


Any hot tips you want to pass on to early stage-ups?

"Get organised early on! Establishing a rhythm while you're trying to fit in life is important… it helps establish when you can step away from your startup to enjoy life and have time for family, friends, exercise and having a break." - Jacinta and Miranda from Dignity 

"Talk to everyone about your idea, you never know who might be able to help."- Katy from Town Square  


Where to from now? What does the future hold any exciting things on the horizon?

Miranda & Jacinta are in growth mode focussing on growing their impact from 8% of high schools across New Zealand to 20% by the end of the year as well as releasing an Impact Report to publish our findings about period poverty in New Zealand. To achieve this they’ll also grow their team and are currently looking for a Marketing and Communications Manager.

Town Square are “steaming ahead with expanding on our product and the machine learning side of things, plus we're looking at raising an investment round soon, so watch this space!”


We’ll continue to share updates and wins from the crew on our social channels (they’re in this for life now), we’ll catch up again in a few months and I can’t wait to see what this awesome bunch does next.

Founder Next Door - Q&A with Twenty Seven Names.

Thank you to all who attended our first 'Founder Next Door' event at the stunning Twenty Seven Names studio. A special thanks to both Anjali & Rachel for taking the time to share your journey, stories, & learnings with other Wellington founders & local business owners. 

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We caught up with both Rachel and Anjali post event for a quick yarn and recap, check the videos below! 

How is working in fashion different today than from when you started out?

What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?

How has your work evolved since you began your own label?

What advice would you give to young designers & individuals who are starting out?

Avoiding burnout. What are your personal top tips for maintaining a healthy work life balance?

Why Wellington? 

Again thank you to both Anjali and Rachel for such an awesome event and evening we couldn't of wished for a better start for our 'Founder Next Door' series! 

Founder Next Door continued with Gabe Davidson, co-founder of the Wellington Chocolate Factory. 

We're stoked to kick off our second in series Founders Next Door event with Gabe Davidson co-founder of the Wellington Chocolate Factory. Gabe will get gritty about making the move from coffee beans to cocoa beans, getting started in the chocolate trade, growing and then scaling a great brand and building a business with values at its core. There will be chances for you to ask questions, and get advice from someone that has been there and done that!

We expect to cover:

• Starting out, and scaling up
• A boutique approach
• Why Wellington?
• Value-based business
• What the future holds
• Founder truth bombs

When and where.

26th July 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm at the Wellington Chocolate Factory, 5 Eva Street Wellington. 

RSVP your golden ticket here! 🍫

 

The Final Exchange.

A look into Mark Antony's Artist in Residence.

Mark Antony's artist in residency has officially come to an end. Last Friday Mark presented his work and learnings in front of friends, family and Dojo residents at BizDojo Market Lane, the building the foundations of his project are based upon. Over the course of nine weeks, Mark interpreted and interrupted the memories of individuals who have had a connection with the John Chambers Building.

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Marks artist in residency started as soon as the doors first opened at BizDojo Market Lane, Mark spent Thursday afternoons between the social and active workstations working alongside the growing BizDojo community.  We caught up with Mark after the presentation and chatted about what he had uncovered, what he had learned and what's next for the project. 

Tell us where the idea for the Lost Futures of Exchange came about?

The Lost Futures Exchange is a project I am running through 2018 to gather stories, dreams, and remembrances of places in the central area of Wellington. This is an evolution of the Ghosting About project I did for my masters’ study at Massey University. 

My initial idea was to be based out of an old shop somewhere on Cuba Steet. My intentions were to get a wide range of people to come through and share their personal stories and memories of the space. I successfully pitched the idea to the Urban Dream Brokerage and they set me up with a mentor, Leo Jean Peters. 

During the initial development stages and conversations with UDB and Leo, the project flipped 180 degrees with me going into a newly established space and having an internal audience. That being the John Chambers building the new home to the BizDojo and their community. 

What do memories mean to you and your work? 

For me, memory has a disruptive influence on the architecture and spaces we occupy. I use the term ‘ghosting’ as my framework to look through windows, peer into the past and imagine the future that never was. My interpretation of ghosting means I am here now but reacting to the contexts of my memories. For example, I see signs for places that no longer exist, recall other usages of spaces, different road layouts, and people I talked to that are no longer here.

What challenges did you face during the project? 

The process I took for the Lost Futures Exchange was problematic in a good sense. I put myself in an uncomfortable situation and had to learn how to push past my comfort zone. Talking to people, starting conversations and trying to get something personal from them, a story, a dream, a remembrance was one of the hardest parts of a project I have ever had to do! I found that the method of working was great for generating ideas and finding out others perspectives and as a result, it has grown my confidence as a creative. 

A timeline of events uncovered by Mark.

Early 1900’s. The building was constructed in 1918 for John Chambers and Son, an engineering firm. Preparatory work on the site had begun in 1915 when a permit was issued for the construction of the foundations. The Wellington building was intended to be a warehouse, workshop, and offices and the construction of what is essentially an industrial building on the periphery of Wellington’s commercial zone was a statement of considerable confidence on behalf of the business. The ultimate fortunes of the company are not known, but they remained in the building (at least partially) until the early 1940s.

Mid 1900’s. The building suffered earthquake damage and had to be repaired by 1943. Air New Zealand had offices and a cargo store in this building from 1966.

Late 1900’s. The space was outfitted with offices for the NZ film commission in 1993. In 1995 Rialto cinemas took space on the ground floor and had 3 cinemas constructed.

2000’s. At the beginning of 2009 Rialto cinemas closed for the construction of a hotel and apartments that never happened. Xero entered into a nine-year lease in April 2012 with BizDojo taking over the lease in late 2017. 

The Final Exchange, what's next for the project?

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Mark has left the model behind after his residency and invites all who come through the space to add their futures, lost futures, and pasts by physically drawing and writing on the model itself. 

Tech for Noobs - Post TechWeek18 series round-up.

'Tech for Noobs' - Post TechWeek18 series round-up.

TechWeek18 is officially over and what a week it was! Over the course of nine days, oragnizers around the country hosted over 500 kick ass-events catering to all ages and interests. Here at Collider, we wanted to raise the bar on our efforts last year by hosting our very own #twnz18 special series - 'Tech for Noobs'.

After studying our post-event surveys from last years TechWeek events we came across a common theme. While people loved having access to so much tech and innovation content, some events required a deeper understanding of tech. So a sort of ‘1-0-1’ series was suggested and the Tech for Noobs series was born. The lunchtime series was designed to give participants the down-low on various types of tech with a focus on practical application, we've all heard of SEO and Agile but what exactly is it and how can it be utilized to benefit your business?

The series was widely accepted and our new event space at BizDojo Market Lane was cranking! It was great to see so many new faces in the mix, over 60% of all attendees were at their first Collider event. We want to thank all who attended and gave us feedback on the series, and a special thanks to all three of our incredible speakers for taking the time to share your knowledge and expertise. 

Missed out this time? Below are our quick-fire takeaways from each event! 

Understanding Open Source Software.

About the Speaker:

Nate McCall has over 19 years of server side systems and software development experience. He is a Vice President at the Apache Software Foundation, where he is a committer on several projects and the current PMC Chair for Apache Cassandra.

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"The term "Open Source" refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible. Open Source Software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance." - opensource.com

Nate McCall's Top reasons: What are the benefits of Open Source Software? 


1) Lower development and maintenance costs.
2) Removal of vendor lock-in.
3) Try* before you buy!
4) Modify, fix or extend to fit your needs #customize.

The Open Source community facilitates conversation & human interaction by fostering collaboration which in result promotes learning! - Nate McCall.


SEO, what even is it?

About the speaker: 

Morgan Armitage is a digital marketing consultant at Metro Marketing, a Tauranga based marketing agency. Her specialty is in AdWords, Analytics, and SEO.

What is SEO? Morgan Armitage

In noob terms, Search Engine Optimisation is the process of enhancing your website to improve where you rank in the organic results to increase the amount of traffic coming to your website.

When a user enters a query into Google the following takes place: 

1. Google analyses the words
2. Finds relevant websites/web pages
3. Uses the PageRank algorithm to rank the results
4. Considers the context of the search
5. Returns a results page (SERP)
 
S.E.R.P = Search Engine Reuslts Page. 

So how do I do it? (This is the good stuff).

1. Identify keywords & key phrases a.k.a keyword research. Keyword research is about discovering the most commonly searched words and phrases relating to your product/service.

2. Content. Now you have decided on your keywords and key phrases, you can integrate them into your content. When the PageRank algorithm scans your website it can identify you have included them. This helps to improve your relevance to those keywords.

*Don't overload your content with keywords to appeal to search engines. Your content needs to make sense to a person! 

3. Heading tags. Heading tags are defined by a snippet of code. As it sounds, they are used to create headings within your content.
Heading tags run from H1 - H6. H1 tags are the most important followed by H2, H3, H4 etc. H1 tags should be used as the page title

*Golden rule! Only ONE H1 tag per page

Why Heading Tags are important. For search engines, they help to identify important content and'explain' what the page is about. For users,  it also helps to identify important content and break up content making it easier to read.

4. Compress those images. Compressing images makes the file smaller and faster to load.

5. Image titles & alt tags. Use titles and alt tags to describe images on your website. Search engines read titles and alt tags when they scan a website. Therefore we want to include target keywords to improve your relevance.

6. Meta titles and meta descriptions. The aim with meta titles & meta descriptions is to make them relevant and appealing to users, this is what 'draws' them to your listing on a results page. 

7. Third Party Listings and backlinks. A backlink is when one website links to another, it really is as easy as it sounds! 

An Introduction to Agile.

About the speaker: 

Nick White is an Agile and Product management coach at Nomad8, a boutique Agile consultancy.

Nick helps teams create tech products and services that their customers love. He guides Agile teams through forming and owning a clear, worthy vision, setting smart goals they believe in, and running targeted, quick-learning experiments that show what their customers value most.

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What is Agile in a nutshell? 

1. Working in small sprints or chunks
2. Being adaptable to feedback
3. Collaborate in small, cross-functional teams.

Facts.

1. It is impossible to gather all the requirements for a project at the beginning.  
2. Whatever requirements you do gather are guaranteed to change.
3. There will always be more to do than time and money will allow. 

The four Agile values.

1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
2. Working functional software over comprehensive documentation.
3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. 
4. Responding to change over following a plan.

"Agile is like making a Risotto, It's all about what you add to the basic method" - Nick White.
 

 


 

Twenty Seven Names on ethical fashion and why the plan on staying proudly 'Made in New Zealand'.

The original post was crafted by local Wellington blogger Lucy Revill, founder of The Residents. A special thanks to Lucy for letting us share!

View the original piece on The Residents.

Introducing Founders' Next Door - A Collider series designed to take you behind the scenes of your fave Welly brands! We kick off the series with Wellington-based fashion label Twenty Seven Names.  

Who are Twenty Seven Names? 

The brains behind this iconic New Zealand fashion brand are friends and business partners, Anjali Stewart and Rachel Easting. Like Thelma and Louise or Romy and Michelle, this dynamic duo is the true gold standard for BFF’s, meeting at primary school, attending the same high school together, studying in the same university town before starting a business together. Now, along with growing their label from strength to strength, they’ve even had little ones around a similar time. Honestly, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit their tight-knit friend-coupling didn’t make me a little emerald-green-eyed!

How did they get here?

Rach and Anjali were both born and raised in Wellington. “We both went to Karori Normal Primary School and then we both went to Wellington Girls College” Rachel explains as we sit together on a long floral couch in their workroom. “We’ve been friends for a long time!”

How did their friendship begin? I ask. Anjali replies: “We met playing a game of tag around 6 years old – the sort of tag where once you get tagged there is a pack of people tagging everyone. At our primary school, it was called ‘Black Panther’. Rachel and I got paired up because Rachel was a fast runner and I was a good hider. We won that particular game.”

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While they may have taken out the Karori Tag Title, the pair were in different classes up until the age of 10. “We weren’t best friends straight away” Rachel explains. “Over the years, we both grew up together and were into whatever the other was into.”

After finishing Wellington Girls High School, Rachel decided she wanted to study fine arts and Anjali wanted to study fashion. “We looked at the places which were available to study in the 2000’s, and we decided to go and study in Dunedin because both our brother and sister were there and Otago Polytechnic had a really good arts' school and a really good design school.” In 2002, they migrated from Poneke to the deep south of Otago.

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Rachel and Anjali began the journey of their label at university making clothes just for fun. “We made T-shirts and hoodies. Our friends really liked what we’d made so we started making clothes for them too. When I [Anjali] finished school, Rachel still had a year to go of her fine arts degree. At the same time, a friend opened a store in Dunedin selling clothes. So, as a side project, I stayed in Dunedin and we made a small run of T-Shirts, Hoodies and Sweaters. One thing led to another and then we started the brand in Dunedin. We moved back up to Wellington and started to supply to more stores.”

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The pair’s lives became that of travelling salesmen, bundling in the car and travelling around New Zealand to sell their wares. “Back then, when it was the 2000’s fashion retail scene, you’d have an appointment at a store, or you’d cold call them,” explains Anjali. “We’d show them our 11 items and explain they could have them in 6 months time if they ordered them from us. It was really different from how we would go about things now, but back then the climate was REALLY different. That’s how we started.”

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What was the 2000's fashion scene like in New Zealand? How has it changed to today in the mid-2010's?

“It was so buoyant!” says Anjali. “The economy was so strong before the global financial crisis.” Rachel echoes her statement. “There were so many brands starting up at that time,” she says. “We started a really similar time to ten other New Zealand labels that are now really well established. There are not really that many which have come through from that point. It’s become so much harder to start a fashion business in New Zealand.”

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Another feature of the fashion scene in the mid-2000’s which has changed to today is that back then there were far more multi-brand boutiques throughout New Zealand, some of which have had their spaces filled with large international chain stores (as a teenager in the mid-2000’s, I remember this well). “Multi-brand boutiques used to be this whole THING. Lots have now closed. We were quite young and were starting at a really different time” laments Anjali.

What are the highlights of Twenty Seven Names?

Rachel and Anjali willingly admit they’ve been “really lucky”. Within a year of starting their business, they were catapulted into the spotlight. “We entered a competition really early on – Deutz Fashion Ambassador in 2006,” the pair explain. “After ending up as finalists, Twenty-Seven Names debuted at New Zealand Fashion Week with 3 outfits we’d ourselves. Amazingly we met fashion writer, Stacey Gregg – she was the biggest thing in fashion back then. She introduced us to Showroom 22’s owner, Murray Bevan – and we are still with him to this very day.”

Opening their Vivian Street flagship store is another highlight they agree on. “When you are stocked in other people’s stores, you can never really show it the way you imagined you would” Rachel explains. “…and in its entirety, as well” Anjali adds. Now, Wellingtonians can browse their line the way they imagined they would.

In 2010 the pair also had a photographic exhibition and gallery exhibition of Rachel’s drawings in Redfern, Sydney. “That was one of the collections which we really, really, REALLY were behind” enthuses Anjali. “That line sold into Japan and Asos. The line we’ve just done, ‘Leave no stone unturned’ is a homage to everything we’ve been trying to say up until now. There are so many happy moments we’re so proud of.”

What things have the pair made to be a more ethical fashion label? 

While Twenty-Seven Names don’t market themselves overtly as an ethical fashion label, you’d be surprised at the amount of thought these two entrepreneurs put into making sure their label treads as lightly on the world as they can. Rachel explains that with every single garment, there are decisions along the way that are relevant to how they make their clothes more mindfully. They do this in three key ways:

1.     They’re Staunchly Made In New Zealand (and Will Continue To Be)

 “From the very beginning,” Rachel says. “we’ve been staunchly made in New Zealand. Many brands start as being made in New Zealand, but understandably want to grow. They know that at a certain point they’ll need to go offshore. For us, we want to grow and develop in our own timeframe. We definitely want to be New Zealand made.”

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Anjali agrees “If that means we have to be a smaller business, we can’t offer the same margins and be stocked at certain places, the that is a sacrifice we are willing to made to protect our ethical standpoint of being New Zealand made.”

There is another less obvious, yet highly important, reason why Twenty-Seven Names staying made in New Zealand helps to grow future fashion businesses in New Zealand. They help to keep all important manufacturing skills here. Anjali explains: “As a more established brand, we need to help create a precedent for manufacturers to help other small brands be manufactured here. If there isn’t an industry in New Zealand, other small brands can’t start - they can’t go to a Chinese manufacturer and say ‘Can you make five of these?’ The company simply won’t do it! Even more so, if we move offshore manufacturers won’t make 5 of something either because it can’t support them without a proper bulk of work coming through. There will be no industry here if people don’t actively support it.”

2.     They Use Up Excess Fabric From Suppliers As A Core Part Of Their Range

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Twenty-Seven Names also buy fabric offcuts from bulk fabric suppliers, who have extra fabric which would otherwise be thrown away. “We make a choice to use up waste fabric rather than using new fabric, to get a more exclusive run of a piece from a collection” Rachel explains. “We’ll look to those wholesalers first and try and, as a small manufacturer, try to base our collection around the excess of other fabrics,” Anjali says. “If someone tells us they only have 500 m of fabric, we go ‘OK, we can work within that’. We’ll only make 5 things and make to order on those.”

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3.     They Avoid Harmful Chemicals and Processes & Work With Other Suppliers Who Care Too

In all other areas, Twenty-Seven Names try and source fabrics that have a smaller environmental impact. “We try and keep down our use of fabrics where the processes are harmful to the environment,” Rachel says. “Our suppliers, for example, our silk supplier overseas who we’ve been working with for many years now, are really careful about what factories they’re working with now. It is nice to know that companies like this know their provenance about where it comes from so we don’t have to fly to the factory. Sadly, New Zealand doesn’t have any of the mills it used to. We had to get wool made in Italy because it doesn’t exist in New Zealand anymore.”

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What should New Zealand women look for in clothes?

“Longevity,” says Rachel, “I’m a huge advocate for clothes that you wear, and you wear a lot. I hate making clothes that are too frivolous or would date really quickly. I love the idea of buying a jacket that you could wear every single day for five years, until it wore out. You might not wear it as much, and it would last even longer. I think that looking at the quality of the fabric is very important; choosing something with life in it rather than something you wear a few times and then throw away.” They also say to look at the cost of what you are buying. “The price of something is indicative of the fact something has gone wrong. If something costs $10, why does it cost that?”

They also say to buy second hand or vintage is another great way to explore style and reduce environmental impact. “Buying older items, like leather jackets or accessories, bring newer items to life.”

Why Wellington? 

Twenty-Seven Names isn’t leaving Wellington anytime soon. “The support we have here is amazing. Our families and friends are here. Our partners are here” says Rachel. “We couldn’t just up and leave. It is also nice not to be as distracted by the scene the way we could be in Auckland. We live in a bubble and get the work done.” Rachel loves that she can walk from her home into work, just 4km out of the city. “It’s like, where else could you live in the world where you can walk into a city as compact as Wellington!”

Sum up!

Ethical fashion can be seen as a loaded term. But it can be as simple as buying locally made clothes, like Twenty-Seven Names. Personally, I’ve always loved buying locally made clothes. I’ve been a huge fan of Wellington Designers and New Zealand designers all my life. Now, more than ever when it feels like everyone is wearing the same Asos off the shoulder top, it is important to think a bit more about how you’re voting with your wallet and the greater impact that spending more on good clothes has, from Wellington to across the globe.

Collider Founders' Next Door with Twenty Seven Names.

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What matters to you can matter to many, but how do you take your values and build that into your point of difference? 

Join us at the Twenty Seven Names studio on Ghuznee Street to hear from Anjali Stewart & Rachel Easting, the duo behind local fashion label. In the fickle land of fashion, Anjali and Rachel Easting have created a distinct brand with a loyal following and stockists. So what happens behind the scenes?

Tickets are limeted and it's first in first serve so get in quick! 
Grab your ticket and read more about the event here. 

Founders Journal - Jaemen, Richard & Cazna of SimplyFi

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The elevator pitch, and introduction to SimplyFi — what is it and who’s it for?

SimplyFi is an application that helps Private Collectors catalogue and manage their collections, giving them the ability to share their collections and stories with institutions all around the world. We simplify cataloguing for private collectors, incentivizes quality provenance building and streamline curator workflow.

We create an ecosystem of trust, security, and efficiency so more stories and collection items can be shared and appreciated the world over.

The founding story, where and when did it all begin?

The journey started with our experience at Te Papa. We had heard about the Mahuki business accelerator and decided to apply! We looked at the problems being faced by Te Papa and the industry as a whole. We identified the problem that best fit our personal professional background and experience.

What’s a typical day like at SimplyFi?

A typical day at SimplyFi is interesting to think about and our teams’ dynamics may differ from the usual start-up! First of all, we’re a family and we live with one another. The day often begins at the breakfast table (for those who haven’t had to rush out). There is a lot of outreach trying to breach the secure networks of Private Collectors and Curators, lot’s of time spent on the phone or in email threads. BizDojo acts as a central home base for us all, a place of work and focus.

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We’re stoked to have you apart of Collision Labs, what do you hope to get out of the programme?

We’re so excited to be a part of the programme and we hope to make friends with the rest of the community. Being new to Wellington, we are still finding our feet here and would love to rub shoulders with others here ‘fighting the good fight.’

How are you finding coworking? What have been your favourite moments so far?

Coworking has been amazing! We have been blessed to share experiences and lessons with some of the others humans in the Dojo, we’re looking forward to tapping into the diverse range of expertise and getting amongst the community events.

Startup life ain’t easy! What have been some key learnings since you started the journey?

Short and sweet — Passion carries you when Money cannot. So being passionate about what you’re doing is the real secret sauce to start-up life!

What’s on the horizon for SimplyFi — what are you guys working towards?

We are looking to consult with some people who know a little about blockchain development as we lean closer and closer towards building our very first MVP.

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Anything you like to add?

We’re a shy bunch at first but we are a team of characters with a wide array of interests & skills between us all! Please feel free to come by and speak with our team. We need more Wellington/Start-up/BizDojo friends. Yes, we’re from Auckland but try not to hold that against us!

Founders Night Insights, Nic Gibbens CEO at PaperKite.

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Nic founded PaperKite in 2010 and has gone from running the company in its first year on close to no income to multi-million dollar business today. PaperKite has built some of New Zealand’s most successful apps with heavy hitting clients such as Air New Zealand, BP, NZ Rugby, Coca-cola, and MetService just to name a few. Also, for any beer lovers out there, you would have experienced their world class ingenuity first hand if you attended Beervana and downloaded the interactive app.

The beginnings of Paperkite, where did it all begin?

I started PaperKite in March 2010. Really it was the culmination of a huge number of factors that all came together so vividly for me that I really had no choice but to quit my job working for ANZ and to go out on my own.

 I had spent 10 years working for large companies where I was a small cog in an enormous machine and over those years I saw that these companies were built with enormous redundancy. Their job was to be stable and as such, I felt I could have fallen off a cliff and there wouldn’t have even been the faintest ripple of impact on the company.

I watched people vying for position and being pushed into roles that were unsuitable for them and realised that the values and culture of these companies didn’t align with mine and ultimately, even though I was very well paid, I really wasn’t happy or fulfilled.

Then in 2007, Apple released the iPhone and I was immediately smitten. As soon as they became available on eBay I ordered one to be delivered to NZ and I’ll never forget the experience of opening the packaging and it being charged ready for use, its hard to remember now, but this really was exceptional at the time! When the App Store was opened a year later I was fascinated by the business model that became available overnight. 

Suddenly someone could create an App and have it available to people all around the world in a few days without all the traditional distribution logistics, packaging and all the rest that was the norm for software sales at the time.

When the National Bank decided to build the first banking app in the Southern Hemisphere I made sure I got onto the project team. The app was a great success and formed some crucial thinking that went on to become ANZ goMoney. Many at the company seemed to think it was all a bit of a techy gimmick and thought hardly anyone would use it but I was enthralled about the practical implications of it, such a vast improvement on text-based banking.

By early 2010 I was thinking of little else and one day as I was driving over the Rimutakas I realised I wanted to create an App for myself. There was a lot of unprecedented ‘overnight’ successes springing up on the store and I thought that it would be amazing to develop some of my ideas into practical realities. As I drove I reflected on the genius behind the App Store, the iPhone, the new iPad and I started to glimpse the ecosystem that Apple was creating and it stunned me. Here was a brand new market where whole new businesses could be born and create enormous value from single people up to massive companies, all working in this brand new ecosystem. At that moment I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and I HAD to get involved, not doing so was just far too scary. 

Here was a brand new medium that I was simply fascinated in that I was sure would change the world and I could become an expert in it if I put my mind to it.

Ultimately I wanted the chance to build a company where I could feel of value, where I could have the pleasure of creating amazing things and being paid to do so. I wanted to create a business where I could work with like-minded people who were as excited by the opportunities that mobile presented as I was. I wanted to be challenged and to be able to work for something I truly believed in. PaperKite was my opportunity to achieve all these things and in the end, I didn’t really have a choice, once I’d thought of it I couldn’t not do it.

The transition from 9–5 stability to running a startup, what are the standout lessons learnt?

Well in the early days it felt extraordinary to have the time and opportunity to work flat out on something I was so excited about. There is always something you can be doing to improve your business and I really relished the feeling of making a tangible impact both on the company itself and the products I was creating for my clients with every single thing I did. It was amazingly liberating and I realised I’d barely been engaging my intellect for years, it felt almost illicit it was so much fun! When your hobby/passion is the same thing as your job it’s amazing how much you can enjoy every minute.

I carried on working at ANZ for the first few months after I had started the company, finishing at 5:30 and then racing home to work through the night. To be honest it was a sad reflection on my previous role that I could do two jobs without any noticeable difference in my performance! In the end, I was getting pretty worn out and later in 2010 when I felt I had enough clients to support me without my day job salary, I left my job to concentrate full-time on PaperKite. By waiting those few months I felt I’d validated the market and felt the risk of going full time was one I’d happily accept.

As it turned out, all 3 of the clients I thought were in the bag vanished on me just after I went full time and it was a pretty scary time as Christmas rolled around. My initial optimism was pretty badly dented as I realised that just working hard and having a dream might not be enough if the market wasn’t ready. That being said, it made me ask myself if I was really just playing startup or if this was what I wanted my life to be. Of course, the answer was a resounding hell yeah so I just doubled down on my efforts and pulled back on my expenditure as much as I could as I waited for the companies I was talking to come through. I carried on working as hard as I could and learnt some hard lessons on how to get my message out and who to work with whilst living on noodles…day in and day out. With a total income of $16,000 in the first 12 months, I wasn’t exactly rolling in cash but I’d genuinely never felt so happy and fulfilled in my work.

Building upon your strong company culture, what are PaperKite’s company core values?

Everyone at PaperKite has the same underlying drive: to build incredible products for our clients. Every role contributes to this aim and our company’s Purpose and BHAG speak to this desire. Our Leadership Team are currently working hard to refine our core values into coherent, specific statements but the broad concepts are as follows:

  • Don’t f**k the customer! Always build the best outcome for the end user.
  • Together. Be Smart, Hungry and Humble.
  • Ask why. If you don’t understand it you can’t build it.
  • Be the change you seek. Continual improvement is our natural state.
  • Constructive Conflict. Always be brave enough to tell the kind truth.

We are so fortunate to be where we are when we are. Mobile is changing the world in so many ways and PaperKite has an incredible opportunity to build products of incredible value for the companies we work with and the customers they are providing for. One of my favourite poems is Ode by Arthur Shaughnessy where he talks of art and how it is the world’s creators who shape and define the world in which we live. The incredible line “We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams” sums up the opportunity that we have at PaperKite. Every time we are engaged by a client we have the opportunity to imagine what might be and the skills to turn those dreams into realities. Each App and product we create should raise the bar and make a difference in the lives of the people who use it. It is my hope that this, in turn, will encourage others to aim higher in what they build and ultimately push us all forwards.

Avoiding Burnout. What are your personal top tips for maintaining a healthy work-life balance?

Unfortunately, I’ve had to read everything I can find on this topic as it is a very real problem that I’ve had to deal with on many occasions. If you can find someone who has a real and practical solution to this please let me know as I haven’t got it right yet!

The truth of it is that running your own business is, in a very literal sense, as close to an addiction as anything I have ever experienced. It is very hard to recognise that you are racing towards burnout until suddenly, one day, you look up and notice you haven’t really smiled for a long time and you would rather just hide in bed for the day or perhaps many, many days. When that happens you can find yourself making things worse by beating yourself up about it as you can’t really understand what is wrong with you. It is a really lonely place that is hard to firstly acknowledge and secondly to come to terms with. Building your way back up and out is hard and takes more time than you ever think it will so it’s extremely difficult not to try and ignore it and keep going. You feel you have no right to feel like you do. You worry about the company as you would a child and fear that not being there for it will lead to it being harmed. You feel you have to be the fearless unassailable leader that nothing can overcome.

 Of course, in reality, you are a just a normal person who is living with constant stress and fear for years at a time and in the end this burns you out if you can’t find ways to deal with it.

I have made some serious decisions to help me minimise these occasions by moving my whole family over to the Wairarapa where I have actual physical separation from work as well as space to breathe and relax. One day a week I work from home and try not to deal too heavily with the operations of the business and instead I read books by others who have run businesses or listen to podcasts as I mow the lawn! Taking this day a week has become vital for me and allows me to be far more effective for the other four days I am in the office as well as allowing me to be more present with my family at the weekends. 

I’ve recently signed up to Headspace, a guided meditation App and I’ve been impressed with its effectiveness. Trying to find time in my day where I can meditate is not natural to me yet but I hope to improve if I keep working at it. If this is the magic bullet I’ll be sure to let you know!

Get the full story

Founders Night w PaperKite’s Nic Gibbens #Techweek Edition.

Nic will be giving frank and open insights on what it has been like to build the PaperKite brand and the 22 strong team who come to PaperKite each day to work their magic.

Nic’s talk will conclude with a super informal fireside chat with BizDojo Co-founder, Jonah Merchant. This is a great opportunity to ask Nic any burning questions you might have.

RSVP your Founder Night ticket here!

Mark Antony — The Lost Futures of Exchange project so far.

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Collider Creative Series artist in residence Mark Antony held an ‘Each One Teach One’ last week to further discuss his project in greater detail with BizDojo’s Market Lane community. Mark used this time to dive deeper into the interpersonal connections of the Market Lane space, it was super interesting to find out more about such a historic building which has been in operation one hundred years this year!

The Lost Futures of Exchange 

The Lost Futures Exchange is a project I am starting in 2018 to gather stories, dreams and remembrances of place in the central area of Wellington. This is an evolution of the Ghosting About project I did for my masters’ study. I will collect and interpret and possibly interrupt the memories of the public who are engaging with my project

Futures: The myriad of possibilities that could happen from this point.

Lost Futures: Futures that never came to pass.

Exchange: Coming together to pass between. We are here to gain from one another, each one teach one.

 The planning stages, exploring the building through the power of Google Maps. 

The planning stages, exploring the building through the power of Google Maps. 

Each One Teach One, the exchange. 

Marks intentions were to find out what futures the Market Lane residents have in front of them. The following questions were openly discussed during the workshop; 

What can you tell me about how you ended up here? 

Is this the first time you have had an association with this building? 

What various futures could come about because of you being in this space? 

What ghosts travel with you?

In return Mark’s gift in this exchange was that he would inform the participants what he had uncovered about The John Chambers building so far. 

I want you to learn about this place from me. Our futures are informed by our pasts, what have we brought with us, who have we brought with us and what ghosts we carry. Our futures are also informed by the things that never quite happened in our pasts, that misunderstanding that lost you an important relationship, that bus you missed that meant you didn’t get there on time, the time you had two options in front of you and you could only choose one. The nostalgia that crushes us. The things that didn’t happen, the “what if’s?” pull and push us forwards. — Mark Antony.

The story so far, a timeline of events. 

Early 1900’s. The building was constructed in 1918 for John Chambers and Son, an engineering firm. Preparatory work on the site had begun in 1915 when a permit was issued for the construction of the foundations. The Wellington building was intended to be a warehouse, workshop, and offices and the construction of what is essentially an industrial building on the periphery of Wellington’s commercial zone was a statement of considerable confidence on behalf of the business. The ultimate fortunes of the company are not known, but they remained in the building (at least partially) until the early 1940s.

Mid 1900’s. The building suffered earthquake damage and had to be repaired 1943. Air New Zealand had offices and a cargo store in this building from 1966.

Late 1900’s. The space was outfitted with offices for the NZ film commission in 1993. In 1995 Rialto cinemas took space on the ground floor and had 3 cinemas constructed.

2000’s. At the beginning of 2009 Rialto cinemas closed for the construction of a hotel and apartments that never happened. Xero entered into a nine-year lease in April 2012 with BizDojo taking over the lease in late 2017. 

This week marks the halfway point for the Lost Futures of Exchange project. Mark has uncovered a diverse range of memories and insights from the wider Wellington BizDojo community and has a notebook full of stories. He has now begun the task of crafting these stories into a physical form and during his last drop-in session at the Dojo, he started creating! We can’t wait to see this creation come to life over the coming weeks so be sure to keep an eye out on our socials or go find Mark yourself and check out the build in person. 

 Mark will be crafting a model out of cardboard & balsa wood as well as incorporating a digital aspect with the use of mini LCD displays.  

Mark will be crafting a model out of cardboard & balsa wood as well as incorporating a digital aspect with the use of mini LCD displays.  

Mark will be at BizDojo Market Lane from 1:00 pm every Thursday.

Founder Journal, Jacinta & Miranda — Dignity.

About the founders.

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Jacinta

Jacinta grew up in Feilding and completed a Bachelor of Commerce at Victoria University in 2016. She now works as a Business Development Manager at Invoxy and on Dignity as one of the co-founders. A passionate entrepreneur ready to embrace the future of work through skills in sales, entrepreneurship, event management, public speaking, and time management.

Her strong belief in female empowerment is shown with the founding of the social enterprise Dignity for working women and helping schools girls in need. An experienced Council Member with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry.

Miranda

Miranda, born and raised in Christchurch, currently juggles Dignity and working full time as a social marketing consultant for Flinch Marketing. Miranda got into purposeful work due to her love for mixing creativity, business, and social good. Flinch is currently working with UNESCO on a global comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) advocacy campaign in developing countries. This campaign highlights the importance of healthy relationships, gender, sexual consent as well as de-stigmatising puberty and sex. Working on both Flinch and Dignity has allowed Miranda to gain an understanding of the importance of having an open cultural rhetoric on issues surrounding gender and puberty. As many other Wellington ladies, Miranda has developed an obsession with earrings of all shapes and sizes

The elevator pitch, an introduction to Dignity as a brand and product.

Dignity is a social enterprise that sells tampons and pads to business to support their female staff in the workplace whilst also giving the equivalent away to high school students who are lacking access. Jacinta (22) and Miranda (23) are directors of Dignity, with one casual employee. They are currently selling our product to Flick Electric, Xero, ANZ, and Cigna. They support 25 schools across Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch and plan to continue growing!

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The startup story, how did you get started and what sparked the initial concept?

Miranda was still a student and Jacinta had just finished university when Dignity started. We both didn’t have anything to do over the summer so we joined the Victoria University Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

Going into the Bootcamp we knew we wanted to make sanitary items accessible to all females in New Zealand after seeing media coverage on period poverty (girls who were missing out education due to a lack of access to sanitary items). This was a hugely emotional issue for us and as young women with motivation, we felt we had the opportunity to do something.

So we researched what we could do! After initial testing we found out a few things:

1. Women felt a sense of unfairness that they had to pay $15,000 over their lifetime for sanitary items while men didn’t.
2. There is a growing trend for workplaces to invest in initiatives that support diversity and employee wellbeing.
3. Social enterprises, such as ‘eat my lunch’ were becoming successful.

So we decided to start Dignity. After selling to our first customers we found that feedback was really supportive and we were having a genuine impact on both women in the workplace and girls in school.

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When did you kick things off?

We started the Bootcamp in November 2016 and have been trading for a year (May 2018).

What have been the standout learnings so far?

It’s ok to not know what you’re doing. No one does! 

There are constant ups and downs when running a business, but the people you meet and the personal impact you have on the world is what keeps you going.

You both hold down full-time jobs whilst working on Dignity, what are some tips you’d pass on to startups in similar stages?

Use all the great software that is currently available to help balance everything and stay organised. As Jacinta works in the software industry she is constantly finding tech solutions for some problems that can arise when trying to juggle everything.

However, the most important thing is to make sure we are constantly communicating and looking out for each other. It’s an oldy but a goody. as It’s really important to not only stay on top of what is happening in the business but to communicate about how we are both going in all areas of our lives. Running a business has constant ups and downs and to make it through tough times in the business we need to take care of ourselves outside of it too.

What do you hope to get out of Collision Labs?

A place to meet and hang out with like-minded individuals that we can learn from and grow friendships with! We did our best work at the BizDojo during the Bootcamp and are so excited to be in the buzzing environment again! We’ve already gone to some of the events and want to participate as much as we can!

What’s on the horizon for Dignity?

Our vision is to get all business in New Zealand to supply tampons and pads to their staff. We hope to do this by onboarding 10 corporate customers and to be in 30 schools in the near future. 

Anything you like to add? 

Watch this space! Keep a sharp eye on our socials, exciting things are coming. 

Check out Dignity on Twitter & Facebook.