Wrapping up a successful summer

Published Feb 21, 2020

The ninth annual Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp wrapped up with a special event on Wednesday 19 February, showcasing not only the diverse and interesting ideas the students had been working to turn into viable businesses, but also highlighting the often unexpected paths their journeys had taken them on.

“We support failure as a method of learning,” says Emily Sullivan, Bootcamp Programme Manager and Wellington UniVentures’ Student Entrepreneurship Manager. “As teams work to validate their initial ideas, they sometimes find that there is either no market—or a different one—and they have to pivot and change direction, or refocus on a completely different idea. Bootcamp supports them through that process in a safer space than they would experience in a ‘real world’ situation.”

Team Warrant of Health were one of the first teams to change direction, moving away from the idea of a health and safety app to focus instead on normalising healthy living among men. The team’s online platform allows people who care about the health of the men in their lives to gift them with wellbeing experiences and education—from float pods or massages, right through to life coaching.

“The market validation process showed us that if you want to effect change in men, the best way to do that is to target the people close to them,” says Jordan Lankshear.

Another team to switch away from their initial idea and focus on improving the health of others was Team Fireball. The team’s holistic approach emphases the four pillars of good health—physical, spiritual, mental/emotional and social engagement—which they plan to deliver through a series of health and fitness bootcamps held at Victoria University of Wellington’s Recreation Centre.

While Sameer Vithal’s team—Satisfy Curiosity—stayed true to their original idea of using technology to connect people for social good, they discovered a new market during their Bootcamp journey.

The team’s peer-to-peer digital platform connects people wanting to learn a hobby or skill with those who have the ability to teach it, in a face-to-face interaction—providing the opportunity for tutors to earn an income by passing on their skills to the people who want to learn them.

Team Digitise knew from the start that they wanted to rid the world of paper receipts—90% of which end up in the rubbish bin. But after interviewing many different stakeholders, they discovered a new problem: business people or employees who keep receipts for tax or reimbursement purposes face an arduous process to store and reconcile those receipts. In response, the team is developing a two-step system that uses technology to collect and reconcile digital receipts in a way that makes expense claims a breeze.

International education is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, but for some new students, the culture shock can be overwhelming says Tân Nguyễn from Vietnam, who understands the experience first-hand. Wanting to improve the experience, Tân developed Tripblo, a tour service that introduces students and their parents to the wonders of Wellington and, ultimately, New Zealand.

Tukiri Tini had already combined his talent for creating traditional whakairo (wood carvings) with Kāmaia Takuira-Mita’s passion for design and business administration to run a business—Toi Whakairo—and they wowed the crowd at the showcase with the delivery of their pitch.

The pair utilised their Bootcamp experience to explore how they could add a sustainable and ethical range of kākahu (clothing) to their product range, and investigate options for opening a physical store in Wellington.  They launched their kākahu brand Ara, and made their first sales of hoodies and tote bags before Christmas.

Their first pop-up store ran on the 20th and 21st of February with the support of Te Puni Kokiri as a direct result of the connections made through the Bootcamp programme. The store showcased both their own work, and the work of other māori designers and artists.

Steven Almond is also turning his passion into a business—Marzipan Design. The industrial designer has developed an award-winning, sustainable sofa that won’t end up in the landfill as it is durable, repairable, adaptable, and recyclable. During his market validation research at Bootcamp, Steven discovered that architects and businesses value sustainability for commercial fitouts, and is targeting these markets first as a result. His pathway to market focuses on licensing the design to high-end manufacturers who are already operating in this space, where it can complement and enhance their current range.

Emily says the evening marked the end of another successful summer of Bootcamp. “As always, we are so thankful for the support and incredible generosity of partners: Chapman-Tripp, Deloitte Private, Accenture and Humankind. We feel so privileged that our Bootcamp teams get to work with such experienced mentors and advisors.”

Keep an eye on the website for details on the next intake.