What do you want from us?

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“What are you looking for from graduates?” is the question Tauranga IT students set out to answer by inviting IT professionals to ‘say it like it is’ at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic last Friday.

Organised around soft drinks and pizzas by Jeffrey Kranenburg, IITP (Institute of IT Professionals) Student Committee Chair, at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, the thirty or so participants took the event as an opportunity to dive into thinking about the value of their qualifications beyond their course.

Tauranga Startup weekend provides an authentic learning opportunity and Avonmore Tauranga recognises the value of learning by doing as second to none.

Avonmore student Jason Edgecombe returned from Tauranga Careers and Business Expo earlier this month inspired to put his budding IT business to the test by attending Tauranga Startup weekend.

Tauranga’s entrepreneurs and angels collaborated to bring a special event to Tauranga this Thursday evening.

Claudia Batten on a visit to New Zealand from her current home in Boulder, Colorado connected with around thirty engaged members of the Bay of Plenty’s startup eco-system to share her experiences and insights around starting, scaling, squiggling and trust.

Tauranga Tech founder and internet entrepreneur Ben Rickard explains why a vote for him is a vote to invest in the Bay’s tech sector.

This year residents of the Bay of Plenty’s growing technology community will have the opportunity to vote for one of their own.  Ben Rickard, internet entrepreneur and founder of the www.taurangatech.co.nz website has been nominated as the UnitedFuture party’s candidate for Bay of Plenty.  He has also been ranked 5th on their list.
“One of the reasons I decided to stand for parliament is so that I can help to support and accelerate the growth this region’s tech sector is experiencing.  I’m passionate about the Bay, I grew up here and am now raising my own family here.”  
A successful tech sector will bring further investment and high paying jobs to the region.  Perhaps even more importantly for the longer term, it will encourage entrepreneurs, innovators and forward thinkers to relocate here, bringing their ideas and dynamism to reinvigorate our economy and our communities.
“The Bay has some fantastic selling points for high tech business owners looking for somewhere to base their operations, including our wonderful outdoor lifestyle and climate.  We’ll also soon have our own university campus, supplementing our existing pool of high quality IT graduates.  Additionally, there is good access to venture capital here, through established groups such as Enterprise Angels, as well as through the Silicon Valley connections of Wharf42. Initiatives such as Wharf42’s Plug & Play Technology Incubator and VentureCentre’s Instigator programme show the investment that is going in to encourage tech entrepreneurs here."
“Personally, I’m involved in helping organise this year’s Tauranga Startup Weekend, during which participants take an idea, then build the team and the plan to launch it into the market, all in just 54 hours. I believe that investment at this level will return real economic benefits to the Bay and I want to bring this message to parliament. This is why I am running for election in the Bay of Plenty electorate."
Startup Weekend is a great way for aspiring entrepreneurs to find out if their startup ideas are viable, build scalable companies to solve real world problems.   Tauranga Startup Weekend is being held on 7-9thNovember at the new basestation co-working space.  Visit www.tauranga.startupweekend.org to find out more about how you can participate.

Floods and powerful gusts have swept across New Zealand this winter, conditions which have caused many kiwis to retreat indoors, hibernate or seek high dry ground.

Yet since winter started in the Central North Island, we’ve been extremely fortunate to experience a flood of new opportunities which have set a powerful wind at our backs to create a very bright, prosperous future.

In just over a month we’ve seen the launch of:

– Waikato Uni’s Agritech fund alongside a new Waikato Agricultural Hub, a co-operation between nine institutions;

– SODA's founder-focused incubator model in Hamilton, funded by Callaghan Innovation to support entrepreneurs behind early-stage, high growth potential ventures; and,

– WNT Ventures winning Callaghan support for a high-tech incubator based in Tauranga to commercialise problem-solving research with global potential.

Taken together these three initiatives put the Central North Island 'on the map' as a centre for ventures in New Zealand. All three exemplify the collaborative approach the region is well known for.

The University of Waikato's agri-tech innovation initiatives support the institutions strategy for a 'connected University' focused on adding value to key sectors. Prof. Alister Jones announced their model for engagement will "make it easier for industry to engage with the University”.  And to prove the point ,Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford made the announcement to a crowd of over 200 key agribusiness stakeholders.

The University’s new fund and hub will make best use one of the largest concentrations of agribusiness, agritechnology and agriservice companies in the country according to Professor Jones and is based on co-operation between nine institutions. Together they will make the most of Waikato’s formidable mix of educational and research resource and expertise.

Over in Hamilton, consistent conditions are predicted with the continuation of Callaghan Innovation's support of SODA's founder focused entrepreneurship services. “We are in the business of supporting people who start and build high-growth early-stage businesses and who have the vision and courage to take an idea and invest into making it a business reality," said Vanessa Clark, SODA’s acting CEO.

"Whether the people are recent graduates, scientists, employees or founders of existing businesses, SODA is here to offer them a variety of support services from entry level workshops and events to intensive incubation and growth programmes” says Clark. SODA will continue to build key partnerships with people and organisations in the Waikato, New Zealand and around the world that are on a mission to grow NZ Inc.

And the outlook for the Bay of Plenty brightened significantly with the third entrepreneurial front to sweep through. The announcement of WNT Ventures’ technology-focused incubator, a new entity operating with a market-based, profit-driven focus to establish and nurture businesses based particularly on complex technologies derived from research and development.

WNT Ventures incubator, a collaboration between four future focused organisations based in Tauranga will identify suitable intellectual property (IP) protected idea or technology that may not have an associated entrepreneur. It will then work to build a team around the intellectual property, building up a venture to the stage where it is attractive to angel or venture capital investors.

A fund, a hub, founder focused services, pathways to commercialisation including education, industry and entrepreneurial collaboration, plus capital and resources – right now the forecast is good for venture-growing activities in the Central North Island.


Build your business team

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As business owners, of all sizes, we’re often compelled to go it alone, stick with what we know, keep to our immediate network.

Often we see it as part of being a ‘real’ New Zealander, after all, we’re original and unique, “self-made” men and women, are we not? We’ve done what it takes to get where we are, made the necessary sacrifices.

For many of us, business has become a carefully-orchestrated game of stretching immediately available resources and sticking with the tried and true methods we’ve used for years.

Calling in extra help would be like cheating or failing… right?

People might think we’re not capable?

Not so.

In fact, growing your network, connecting with new resources that can help you launch, improve, change, is not only one of the easiest ways to prevent burnout yourself, it’s also one of the best ways to grow your business as a whole.

If running a business is a game, then consider it a team sport – and the skills of networking and delegation are the best power-ups available.

In fact, it would be a mistake not connect, bring new people, from businesses and organisation’s with skills, resources and services to help you win, on to your team....

This Tuesday Tauranga Maori Business Association are hosting an evening to introduce you and make a connections with some valuable team players here in Tauranga.

You will get an introduction to what they do, specifically what to look for, what services you either can’t or don’t want to do that they can help you with.

Finding and making new connections can be a nerve-wracking process. TMBA’s event this Tuesday 22nd will make the process less anxiety-inducing – you’ll know what and who to look for.

The main presenter, Tina Jennen, from Enterprise Angels will give you an overview of the services, products, resources, and partners they work with to help you answer questions like;

* Is my idea worth turning into a business?
* What do I need to do to turn my idea into a business?
* How do I get investment for growing my business?
* Who can I connect with help me with all this?

In addition TMBA member Carla Beazley (Rythmz Dance Co) and Andrew Coker (Priority One) will also present.

You don’t have to be a member of Tauranga Maori Business Association to come to the evening but numbers are strictly limited so please RSVP to info@tmba.org.nz

The evening begins at 5.30pm, Ignition Co-Working Space, Ground Floor, 29 Grey Street, Tauranga.

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.

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