Lenz is zooming around the North Island and stopping by in Tauranga on Friday 13th November to roll up his mentor's sleeves and get Tauranga entrepreneurs on their way to launching new businesses at Tauranga Startup Weekend.
Tell us a bit about your adventures in the entrepreneurial world so far.
I started in the Startup world around the first .com bubble, end of the 90s. Not directly in a startup but mopping up after the bubble bursted, employing those again that left half a year earlier to work for fast growing portal companies. A bit later I helped build a fast growing startup myself and have never stopped working in fast paced small companies. I moved to New Zealand in 2007 and co-founded iwantmyname in 2008. To fund that I started a consulting company called springtimesoft and both are successful businesses in their own right today.
What are the elements of starting up a business that get you most excited?
Taking an assumption and iterating over it till we hit that spot where customers see enough value to start caring. The first bug reports, the moments where they start yelling at you that stuff is not how they think it should be. That is the moment where I know we are on track, we have passion, we have customers that care and that want us to become better. The other thing I am very excited about is building a team that likes to work on things and get along with each other. In my view the idea is a way to build a team that cares about similar things and that helps build a team that will deliver an amazing product. Building teams is for me a one of the goals of running companies.
What is the most important thing that you think entrepreneurs should know?
The number one advice I give to everyone is "passion". If you don't do it because you love it, then don't do it. Running a company is a lot of work and will have a massive impact on your life so do something that does not feel like work, do something you feel very strongly about. That way the impact on your life will be a positive one. Even on a bad day you can look back and feel good about it because you care about your passion.
How can you help Tauranga Startup Weekend participants?
I have been to many Startup Weekends and love working with teams. I normally make sure that everyone has a good time and leaves with a sense of achievement on Sunday. There are times during the weekend where emotions boil over, team dynamics get in the way of actually achieving something or someone simply needs a hug. I am there to make sure these things are not overlooked :) I also have a strong technical background and am a generalist with a large network that I put to use at many Startup Weekends.
Why should someone who has been thinking about a business idea go to Tauranga Startup Weekend?
Startup Weekend is the most sheltered environment you can dream of to get a taste on how your idea could develop if you had a team. I have met so many people that told me on a Sunday night that they just had a life changing experience. Many of them pop up later in startups or just do their jobs in a different way, and that can be anywhere, from Government to the B&B around the corner. Attending Startup Weekend is in my view not only about building a business, it is an intensive weekends crash course in team building, lean methodologies and asking for and receiving mentorship. It is also a networking event where you learn to know the people you need to make your idea a reality.