It was an honor and pleasure for several coworkers and I to be involved in hosting a Chamber of Commerce BA5 event at one of Tauranga’s coworking spaces, Ignition, last year.

We planned the evening to be a lot like our coworking day-to-day, make it an event that would create real connections, and viewed it as an opportunity to add value to all the professional people in the room.

Coworking is a style of work. It involves a shared working environment and independent, yet often complimentary, activities of the people working in it. Unlike in a typical office environment, co-workers are usually not employed or contracted by the same organisation or clients.

Typically coworking is an attractive option to work-at-home professionals, freelancers, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently and connect to their HQ via the internet. But it’s not just about businesses starting up and young people working in a ‘funky’ space.

Coworking is a social gathering of a group of people with diverse skills and resources who although working independently, share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happens from working with like-minded talented people in the same space.

It is not only about the physical space, but about establishing the co-working community, no matter the age or stage of the people working inside them. There are coworking spaces springing up all over Tauranga. Over the coming weeks Venture Centre will bring you the stories of some of the people who are working in them.

Look out for those stories, and in the interim take the opportunity to follow this link and come and find out about the spaces and people working together inside them for yourself.


Sitting next to talent

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How does it feel sitting where you are right now? Are you comfortable? Is it an inspiring space? Do you have all the resources you need? Are you set for success?

If you are, well done! You are one of the lucky ones.

For the rest of us its time to move, to take a step outside our comfort zone and find a new place to sit, to work, to succeed.

But where? How do you choose where to sit next?

Here’s a suggestion – choose the seat right next to someone really talented. Someone who demonstrates their expertise, who loves what they do and shows the signs of success. Position yourself next to bright young things and successful established professionals who actively pursue sustainable success.

Sit next to talent. Do it regularly, listen and learn – there is no better seat to sit in.

Months of intense collaborative work by local entrepreneurial leaders has paid off as Minister Steven Joyce announced today the launch of New Zealand Central North Island first technology incubator.

After a rigorous assessment process and final recommendations from an independent panel, the Callaghan Innovation Board approved the application from WNT Ventures, a Tauranga, Bay of Plenty based organisation, formed specifically to respond to the opportunity.

WNT Ventures combines the talents, skills, knowledge and considerable resources of four of Tauranga’s most innovative organisations. Wharf 42, Newnham Park, Titanium Industry Development Association (TiDA), and Quayside Holdings, the investment arm of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. They came together to put their combined capabilities – commercialising ICT, primary sector, manufacturing from metal powders – into one winning combination.

Minister Joyce said today the “collaboration bodes well for developing and growing new companies in our high tech sector, which is crucial to growing our economy. If we can work smarter across industries and improve our access to innovation we will have a competitive edge in this dynamic and challenging sector.”

The Incubator Support Programme from Callaghan Innovation will deliver support and funding to WNT Ventures’ technology-focused incubator, a privately owned business focusing on commercialising complex intellectual property.

WNT’s bid is a huge win for the three-quarters of million New Zealanders in the Central North Island and it will benefit New Zealand as a whole. The bid has received immense support from the entrepreneurial community, particularly in Tauranga, Hamilton and Waikato, and is key to the long-term vision of success co-created by the people who live and work here.

“We’ve got to drive and get young people in here, we’ve got to drive innovation in here, we’ve got to really drive this community to be successful,” said Steven Saunders, CEO of Newnham Park in recent interview about his own work as an Angel Investor. The WNT incubator is a very real demonstration of this drive which Peter Wren-Hilton of Wharf 42, and Ian McCrae of TiDA share.

With this degree of focused energy, investment of capital, hard-won knowledge gained through experience from mature entrepreneurs, and support from Callaghan Innovation, the opportunity to grow globally successful ventures from the enterprising community in the centre of New Zealand has today become considerably greater.

The following post from Sharronn Harris, of Matua, is taken from her presentation to the local Toastmasters group, of which she is a member. Toastmasters Tauranga meets on Thursday mornings at 7am at Alimento Cafe, 2nd Avenue, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

What’s happening in my city – Tauranga Moana?

Having had opportunity to spend some real time in Tauranga in the last few months, I’ve found I have fresh eyes on a well-known place.

There are many things happening in our city and I decided it’s time to take a look and attend, or explore, some of the events happening here.

This exploration has had mixed results. I have found myself entertained, amongst hundreds of bantering women, at a fashion fundraiser. At a business womens network event, I found some inspiration and connection with ladies evaluating (critiquing?) some well-respected visiting speakers.

I also attended a presentation at our Toi Toi Tauranga Art Gallery last month which challenged me to think about the future, my own, Tauranga’s and New Zealand’s.

"Get off the Grass - Kickstarting our Innovation Economy” was a free event which bought Professor Shaun Hendy to Tauranga to deliver, in person, the results of his research.

Over 100 people attended which seemed a reasonable crowd for a Friday evening and a serious, academic-sounding subject matter.

The fact the event promoted its aim as an opportunity to get an answer to the conundrum "Why do New Zealanders work harder, yet earn less”, was undoubtedly a draw card.

Professor Shaun Hendy has many titles after his name and in 2012 was the winner of the Prime Ministers Science Media Communication Prize. I’d previously not known of the existence of this prize, but will watch out for future winners.

The Professor certainly captured my attention early on in the evening with the statement: “New Zealanders work harder and earn less than most other people in the developed world.”

It was a statement that bore repeating, and I will repeat it here too!  “NZ'ers work harder and earn less than most other people in the developed world.”

The evenings presentation was based on the book Get Off The Grass, in which Hendy and Sir Paul Callaghan advocate building nationwide communities of innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses to allow New Zealand to grow its economy more rapidly.

Both the book and the presentation were based on research which shows while New Zealand was comparable with Scandinavian countries (such as Denmark and Finland) in the 70’s it has lost parity over ensuing years. By continuing to foster priorities around primary industries – milk being our biggest earner our country is at risk from a critical issue – decades in which New Zealand has underinvested in both public and private sector technological research and innovation.

Take aways I noted down from the event were;

- We need to start capitalising on our smarts, not just our sheep
- We need to start harnessing communications technology, science and innovation
- We need to figure out how to export knowledge
- How connectivity and collaboration play a key role in determining rates of innovation and economic growth
- If New Zealand is to grow its economy more rapidly, it must overcome its small size and low population density to build a nationwide community of innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses.

Most important to me were the messages aimed at catching New Zealand up with the countries that lure our young people away:

- we need to learn to operate and innovate as if we were a city of four million people
- we need to start taking technology and science seriously
- we need to start seeing ourselves as people of learning, not just of the land
- we need to put our money where our mouths are and learn to live off knowledge, rather than nature.

This lecture left me believing that New Zealand needs us all – everyone single one of us – to contribute if we are going to secure a prosperous future. Also, potentially, retirement will go out the window if we can find a way to collaborate in a way that uses the wisdom and knowledge of our ageing population too.

It seems we need to work with what we have, develop and then export the smarts – the very same stuff that this nation was founded on.

What made the evenings presentation more poignant was the launch of “Venture Centre”. A local initiative which has an aim of being a place online for “people finding people, and idea’s finding ideas”.

The team behind the initiative are committed to the kind of collaboration and investment that Professor Hendy suggests. They believe passionate, talented people who love what they do, create great families, jobs, companies and solutions to the world’s problems and can increase our city's, in fact our countries, prosperity, together.

Professor Hendy is an active participant in this critical national debate on how we are to become a more wealthy and healthy country and made a welcome and timely contribution on a local level here in Tauranga. The people who have launched Venture Centre are applying Hendy’s research  for our ongoing benefit.

My fresh eyes see many new opportunities opening up for young and old(er) here in Tauranga. It’s an exciting time to be exploring!

Co-working is a powerful movement.

It sits alongside many new trends.

The trend towards a collaborative economy where solutions are sourced from a collaboration of individuals with particular specialties, making their unique contribution to projects as and when they are required.

The trend towards working ‘in the cloud’, on information, applications and using systems and communication platforms accessed via the internet.

And the trend towards specialisation, where so called ’T’ shaped people work to develop a unique depth of expertise in one particular area or skills with a particular set of tools, and just enough ‘general knowledge’ to know where their specialty can add maximum value.

While this is not dissimilar to the way small businesses and sole-agents (who used to be called sole-traders) or freelancers have always operated, the addition of co-working and collaboration spaces to the working lives of these individuals and small groups has brought significant advantage.

They bring the dual benefits of network effects and synergy. They have the potential to make the people who chose to make co-working spaces the centre of their operations out perform those who chose to work from home, alone.

The network effect that one user of a product or service has on the value of that product to other people is obvious when talent co-locates. Synergy – the ability of a group of people to outperform even its best individual member – can make sense and a big difference in terms of outcomes, increasing the prosperity and impact of small businesses and sole agents on the customers they service.

Want to know more about coworking in Tauranga? Contact these local innovative inspirational places.

Launching a business enterprise isn’t a simple thing. To start you need the desire and the drive. Guts and determination are next, along with a willingness to do the work. Ideally before, but if not, very soon after you launch your venture you realise it, and you, require support too.

You might need a helping hand to do the bits you don’t do well. The services of an accountant or designer for instance. And you’ll definitely need support from customers to buy what you sell.

Less obvious, in the early stages, is harnessing the collective intelligence of the people around you who are already in the process of building enterprises. Taking time to learn from their experiences – successes and failures – hear about the tools they use to make decisions, choose strategies, plan tactics, and how to use them.

It sounds complicated and time consuming, particularly when you’re knee deep in work which must be done right away. But it could be one of the most valuable supports you can acquire for your enterprise, and have a long-term effect on your success.

Paul Slatin, CEO of Speech Council, based in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand – a business conceived and launched at Tauranga’s Startup Weekend in 2013 – had an opportunity to harness local knowledge through prizes he won at the event.

Paul took advantage of fee-free time from local accountancy and legal services. He also took a place on bootcamp the first iteration of what is now known as the Instigator programme.

"I attended bootcamp in Tauranga, starting in October 2013. Tina Jennen, Venture Manager of 'Plenty of Innovation’ for Enterprise Angels led the initial sessions” says Paul.

"It consolidated a lot of the learning I received during the market validation and prototype development phases we went through at Startup Weekend and it gave me some clear concise templates for the work we needed to do next.”

"The Road Map approach, and practical application of a very broad variety of planning and testing tools have bought me to a confident position from which I can talk to investors and stakeholders on the “why”, the “what” and the “how” of the online business model we are pursuing."

"The programme also opened the opportunity for me to have regular and focused interaction with entrepreneurs and mentors from around the region. It helped me to more fully appreciate that no matter the technological or human nature of a business, solutions to the core challenges will only be found through a disciplined approach to my commercialisation efforts."

"I benefited from the important focus on physical resources and tools but the connections, the learnings, and commitments to self, and the business journey, were as valuable if not more so."

Paul lists the following top five things he got out of his Instigator experience:

- An initial positioning statement and value proposition
- A strategy to succeed at commercialisation
- Priorities identified and training on how to find and sell to early adopter customers
- Actionable tools and templates
- Access to contacts and resources

Instigator, the new name for bootcamp, is powered by the Central North Island’s largest Investor Group, Enterprise Angels along with Wharf42, New Zealand’s first Incubator in partnership with Silicon Valley's Plug and Play.

To apply for a place for yourself and take advantage of local knowledge, or just find out more, here’s your link.


Don't tell anyone!

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The Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, in 2014 has well and truly engaged in a world-wide movement. Co-working and collaboration have been seen as buzz words, part of an American inspired ‘craze’, to some people until very recently. Today they are a very real and vital part of the working lives of a growing number of professionals in the Bay.

Shared work-spaces such as Ignition and Studio 64 in Tauranga, The Junction in Mount Manganui and Flair space in Rotorua bring sole-agents, freelancers and remote-workers together to share attractive, flexible city working environments, the company of other professionals – motivating each other and meeting new people in the process.

Collaboration spaces such as Newnham Park Tech Precinct, in Te Puna and Basestation Communication and Technology Space in Durham Street, Tauranga bring more established businesses and similar individuals together who share complimentary skills to intentionally share technology, resources, knowledge and projects to support new business creation.

If you are looking for a way to grow your income, your capabilities and your opportunities for success and haven’t already checked out co-working and collaboration in the Bay of Plenty then now is a good time to do so. But make sure you do it sooner rather than later. When the rest of the world realises that you can have all the benefits of co-working, collaboration and live in our beautiful Bay to boot, everyone will want to live, learn, work and succeed here.


VentureCentre v1.1

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This weekend marked an exciting first-next-step in Venture Centre' s development. As you can see we have added events, co-working and collaborative work space listings, social and content channels to the site.

So what does this exactly mean? Well it means that if you’ve been one of those people who have been asking for one place to go which has all the professional learning opportunities – courses, seminars, workshops, programmes, events – that happen and places for you to work which are available all over the Bay in one place – now you have it!

It also means together we can create and share content with and from the amazing people who work in Tauranga, the Bay of Plenty, and across the Central North Island of New Zealand.  We can roll it out in a way which is timely, easy to find and to connect to – with contributors lining up to provide new learning opportunities and information about happenings at our co-working, collaborative spaces in the coming months.

So how will this affect you? Well, you can now keep up to date on prosperity building information and connections on the site and Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ & Facebook. So there’s no excuse not to know what’s going on in the Bay.

The only downside is that we haven’t been able to add all the functionality we’ve been asked to add yet! But that means there’s plenty to look forward to.

Exciting times ahead!

Shaun HendyMany more than the 100 people who confirmed their registration came together on Friday 9th May to get answers to the conudrum "Why do New Zealanders work harder, yet earn less. Professor Shaun Hendy, BSc(Hons) Massey, PhD Alberta, FRSNZ, winner of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication prize, discussed the implications of his research for New Zealand’s economy.

Prof. Hendy's presentation and his recent book "Get off the Grass" argues that the key to changing our return on effort and improving our economic growth is developing innovative, high-tech niche markets. Not relying on our primary industries.

There was standing room only available at this, the Venture Centre's inaugural 'innovation kickstarter' event. A wide cross section of our enterprising community showed their interest in innovation collaboration, technology and prosperity by choosing to attend.

Quotes from participants:

'Great evening, I thought I knew about collaboration, I know I have more to learn'

'Incredible seeing how many people collaborated on creating those products, we need to do some work to build cross-skilled teams like that'

'I'm impressed with the amount of business activity and support in Tauranga. I had no idea that all this was happening, I will be coming back'

'I think the advice at the end – drop the fluffy sheep and landscapes, start advertising we are smart – is well overdue'

'A stylish event, we should have more of these'

'Really enjoyed the presentation from Shaun, lots of value and a fantastic venue!'

'Lovely to have a glass of wine and listen to intelligent, well thought out presenter'

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