Longer term we need to organically produce our own entrepreneurs and create the conditions for their success.
Specifically we need more entrepreneurial thinkers and people with founder mindsets versus self-employed or small businesses owners (who usually start businesses with no differentiation compared to existing businesses). Entrepreneurs and founders think differently, starting with big visions and aiming for high-growth and global change from day one — these are the people we need to be farming en-masse to help us create and weather the future.
Whilst we've already started this at small scale, goal 6 is focussed on 'shifting gears' to create the critical mass required for 'engineered serendipity' to happen without intervention and at scale.
Whilst we've already done a lot to encourage the growth of the startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand, it is ultimately sub-scale, because New Zealand is sub-scale. Many in the startup community feel that we have reached the limits of our own efforts, existing primarily on sponsorship, sweat equity, and goodwill, and now risk cannibalizing each other's efforts without further top-down support and intevention.
Therefore, the Start NZ Up action plan consists of a number of intentionally high-level policy-level recommendations, which, if thoughtfully impemented, would have significant impact on the development of the startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand. The specific recommendations for this goal are presented below.
Create a national founder wellness support network and programmes to create more resilient and capable entrepreneurs, counteracting the huge demographic of 72% of entrepreneurs who have mental health issues and who rarely seek support.
Fund existing entrepreneurship clubs and founder education programmes within universities to allow those outside of entrepreneurial degrees to gather, cross-pollinate, and support each other to create startups.
Create/fund/support national startup education programmes, funding students and retraining workers to learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial mindset, encouraging a more skilled workforce to create/join startups.
Create a STEAM startup scholarship to encourage high performing STEAM students to form or join a startup within the first 3 years of graduation.
Create a Start NZ Up Future Fund - a grant programme providing $5K - $15K (e.g. $5K for up to 3 ventures over 5 years) for anyone in NZ to start a business with support and mentoring from a business mentor. This makes it easy for anyone to start a new business, encourages a culture of entrepreneurship, and supports the fact that the second or third venture often leads to success.
Whilst this isn't an exhaustive list of initiatives, any one of these, if thoughtfully implemented, could have significant impact on our entrepreneurial economy in NZ.
Some of our partners may have already started this work on the ground - view the list of those, or add your details to the list, below.
To create a more vibrant and entrepreneurial economy in New Zealand isn't just the job of one person or organisation, it will require the collective efforts of a team of 5 million people to play their part.
It is clear, however, that parts of this action plan requires policy change, and whilst that is a continuing conversation, it's useful to reflect on those people and organisations on the ground who are already doing this work.
If you're working towards one or more of these goals, please consider listing yourself or your organisation as a partner for the goals using the form below. Our current partners specifically working on this goal, are shown below.
With a commitment to motivation and teamwork, Chip has been the Acting CEO for Spider Tracks, Director of Online Advancement Solutions (OAS) Limited, Director for Primesoft, Executive Director for Comteq Solutions Ltd, CEO for Flow Software Ltd., and is a senior management advisor to over 70 early stage growth companies. He has been a private investor in twelve businesses.
Contact: Chip Dawson
We have invested almost $1m over the past 15 year on the Velocity Innovation Challenge Business Planning Competition and the other programmes from the Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) (www.velocity.auckland.ac.nz).
We also run the Stanford Ignite Programme where selected students from around the world attend a 3-month start-up MBA at Stanford in Silicon Valley.
Contact: Will Charles
With an growing pipeline of projects coming out of the research at Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington UniVentures focuses on developing entrepreneurial talent alongside the development of ideas. We create well-rounded, capable people and highly developed, and well-protected ideas.
Contact: Emily Sullivan
ZeroPoint Ventures is a local and international network of entrepreneurs, accelerator managers, and investors who partner with startups and growing companies to re-engineer their organisations for long-term, sustainable growth, and impact.
In 2011, members of our team launched Startup Weekend, a global not-for-profit throughout New Zealand. Startup Weekend is a fast-paced, short form, experiential innovation programme allowing first-time founders across New Zealand to consider entrepreneurship as a career path.
In 2013, members of our team designed and led Lightning Lab, New Zealand’s first and leading investment accelerator, leading a national vision to speed up globally scalable technology ventures from NZ helping seed a generation of entrepreneurs who hadn't considered entrepreneurship before.
In 2015, we continued developing new models of entrepreneurship to inspire entrepreneurs who wanted to create 'zebras' rather than 'unicorns' by developing entrepreneurship programmes more aligned with reaching revenue sustainability from day one rather than a high-growth exit-focussed model which relies more on venture-capital to fuel growth. These programmes, helped founders align their ventures to entrepreneurship playbooks that are right for New Zealanders.
Members of our team, continue to be involved at the earliest and most recent stages of selecting world-class investors and entrepreneurs to come to New Zealand and share their resources back into the community through the Edmund Hillary Fellowship, a global programme designed to bring world class entrepreneurs and investors together in New Zealand to catalyse positive change for the world.
In 2020, we launched the Start NZ Up initiative, a top-down effort to affect proactive policy-change and support for entrepreneurs, specifically to specifically to drive change at Government level to invest more in people and entrepreneurial capability, specifically through Goal 06.
Contact: Dan Khan
There are many of us already working on the ground towards creating a more vibrant and entrepreneurial economy in New Zealand. Whilst we contend that there's more support needed, it's useful to understand what others are already doing, what their impact has been so far, and how that impact could be amplified if we significantly change their access to resources.
If you're working towards one or more of these goals, please consider listing yourself or your organisation as a partner for the goals using the form below. The impact our current partners have had, specifically working on this goal, is shown below.
The programme has started 120 ventures, created over 700 jobs and over a quarter of a billion has been raised by these companies in their first rounds of investment.
Last year 10% of the student body took part in some CIE event.
75% of the Stanford Alumni are based in New Zealand and are involved with star-ups in some capacity.
Contact: Will Charles
Our Commercialisation Managers take an active role partnering with academics and coaching future founders towards achieving their their startup. In 2020 - we began putting project agnostic professional development alongside our future founders and entrepreneurial academics - to further strengthen their capability and optimise their chances of success as entrepreneurs.
Contact: Emily Sullivan
Startup Weekend is firmly embedded as a grassroot/volunteer-led event throughout New Zealand, hosting at least 3 or more events across the country in the year. During the Covid-19 lockdown, this culminated in a national virtual programme, attracting over 220 participants, and 20 mentors. Since there's no longer a single entity managing Startup Weekend operations locally, it's hard to state the exact impact, but over 4,000 people have participated in a Startup Weekend since its inception, and easily over 500 mentors have helped them start new ideas. Whilst many of those ideas often never end up being commercialised, the impact is primarily on the entrepreneurial capability of participants when they go back into their regular jobs.
Alongside that, we're in early-stage discussions with MBIE, Callaghan Innovation, and NZTE on the recommendations related to these goals.
Contact: Dan Khan
If you're already working towards some or all the ecosystem development goals, please consider listing your details below so we can link to you as a partner for those goals. Our overall aim is to collate a list of those working towards each goal in an effort to facilitate cross-collaboration, and to measure our collective impact in building a more vibrant startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand.