15 days fly by….

Sitting on grass in beautiful Wellington sunshine with our teams, having a drink to celebrate and reflect on the end of week 3 of Live the Dream and also the end of 2013 brings a big realisation… 15 days really isn’t a long time!

Our Founders walked through the door to Live the Dream with vastly different ideas and attitudes to what they are leaving to go home with for Christmas.

In just 15 short days we’re all learning a lot. Quickly. The learning curve has been steep, not just for our teams but the programme as well.

Team names have been changed, teams reformed, initial ideas dis-validated and scrapped. Partnerships made. Knees skinned, egos bruised and connections & partnerships made.

Our Founders have been picking up and flexing new skills quickly – with particular focus on validating their assumptions as quickly and efficiently as possible, everyone is making headway – even if it feels 2 steps backwards and 1 forward every time.


It’s been great to see our Pitch Den sharpening up in week 3. The confidence of the speakers is notably improving and although we have a long way to go to bulk out the viability of the projects underneath, it’s great to see the focus and dedication being represented in the improved pitches.


The looming Christmas break will be a welcome (and well needed) jolt of relaxation, distance and perspective for our Founders.

15 days isn’t a long time. 10 weeks isn’t a long time. 3 down. 7 to go. Bring on 2014!

Week Two – Dreaming Bigger

Last week the teams set some big goals and caught a glimpse of the long, winding journey ahead. They’ve now had dozens, if not hundreds of conversations delving deep into their ideas, and the pace has picked up a notch as validation continues.

Here’s a short reflection from one of our young social entrepreneurs, Laura:



This week has been a feast of great speakers. We heard from DK on social media as a research tool; Liz Gibbs from Philanthropy NZ; Ben Gleisner on Business Models; Anna Kominick from Ideas Shop; and three young entrepreneurs a little further along their start-up journey.


Live the Dream – Week 2 – Liz Gibbs, Philanthropy New Zealand


Liz Gibbs (above) talked about emerging trends in Philanthropy and investing for social impact. There are estimated 700–800 philanthropic funders in New Zealand, and Kiwi’s are rated 5th most generous in the world. Philanthropy contributes about $2.6 billion to New Zealand communities each year, but surprisingly, only 6% of that comes from business or corporate giving – a big opportunity there. Liz suggested that funders like to see visible strategy, with clear short-mid-long term outcomes – logic modelling and theory of change tools can be really useful for this. Increasingly, funders are looking to be more engaged in the initiatives they support, but are almost always looking for an exit strategy – in that, they don’t want the initiatives they support to be dependant on them forever. This speaks well to the aspirations of social enterprises developing revenue streams that enable them to be more resilient.


Live the Dream – Week 2 – Ben Gleisner, Conscious Consumers

Having honed is modelling expertise as a Senior Analyst at Treasury before launching Conscious Consumers, Ben Gleisner is a modelling guru. He walked us through the Conscious Consumers business model, which forecasts the quantitative impact they are having as well as the financials – it’s awesome, I learnt a lot and will be certainly looking to apply this to Inspiring Stories!

Live the Dream – Week 2 – Silvia Zuur, Chalkle


Live the Dream – Week 2 – Pat Shepherd, One Percent Collective


Live the Dream – Week 2 – Anna Guenther, PledgeMe


The crews really enjoyed the presentations from the young entrepreneurs a little further along their start-up journey who each shared their five biggest learnings so far. Silvia Zuur from Chalkle, Pat Shepherd from One Percent Collective, and Anna Guenther from PledgeMe. All of these org’s are about 2-3 years old, and doing great things for New Zealand. Some common themes across the learnings were the importance of building great relationships and partnerships, being bold – if you don’t ask, you don’t get, and that you don’t have to be a guru at everything – that’s what teams are for!


Week Two: Recize

In WEEK TWO I spoke to MARK from RECIZE- a social platform dedicated to a healthier and happier New Zealander. Recize is a group of motivated, intelligent Med students with a burden to be not just the pound of cure but also the ounce of prevention in the battle against cardiovascular disease.


Tell us a bit about your project…

ReCize aims to encourage happier, healthier lives in young NZers through an incentivised, gamified social platform.  


And why do you want to do this?

It was the issue of cardiovascular diseases that really prompted us to act. At Med School, we take an entire class dedicated solely to cardiovascular disease- it struck me that we were studying for ten years of our lives, to treat conditions that were 70% preventible.


So how did ReCize start?

I talked to a friend, he talked to a friend. Soon we had a group that got together every week to discuss how to solve this problem. We brainstormed ideas for change- got excited and passionate. And so we agreed to work on something over summer that could address this problem of obesity and cardiovascular disease. We didn’t know anything about social enterprise, just that we wanted to do something. Research and hard work lead us to Live the Dream- we want our ideas to become reality.


What have you done this week at Live the Dream?

This week we have done a lot of research into validating the problem. We have approached students and companies to understand how they view the problem and what they think of our solution. It’s critical that we get big corporates on board as sponsors- and so we’re learning a lot about communications and what key questions it takes to open up an organization like that.


What is a thought that has captured you this week?

The idea of balance- this word, “balance” has been repeated a lot this week and it has stuck. When we first came up with the idea of ReCize, everyone was really enthusiastic- but I’m learning that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Weekends like Festival for the Future, where you work like crazy, they don’t create success, just highlight it. Success is in the hard yards, in consistency and balance. Doing this work is about incorporating everything into your current life.


What is your favorite movie?

The Social Network. I’ve watched it five times, because I just love the passion and commitment of the people involved.


What are you listening to right now?

Dan Pink’s talk on what motivates us and the need for mastery, autonomy, and purpose. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html


What is your favourite quote?

Eminem- If you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?


Who is one of your heros?

Elon Musk, who founded Paypal. He sold it to eBay and used the profits to buy an electronic car company, and founded a space exploration company- because he wants to retire in Mars.

Week One – It’s Alive!

After months in the planning, we’re into it. From the 50+ ideas originally submitted and two rounds of interviews later, ten early-stage ventures have been invited to take part. Last weekend they connected up for the first time for an explosive weekend at Festival for the Future in Wellington. Now, they’re immersed in this the next ten weeks for this first-time social enterprise accelerator programme – welcome to Live the Dream!


2013 Live the Dream Begins


We kicked off in perfect style with a keynote from Alex Hannant from Hikurangi, giving us a good context for social entrepreneurship & enterpise trends in New Zealand and abroad. It’s a tough road, but one that in a growing number of cases is proving considerable, scaleable impact on many of the pressing issues of our time.

From the get-go, we’re really pushing the crews to think about validation – to connect with a range of stakeholders and ask themselves, what’s the impact they’re trying to achieve here? Who for? And, is their proposed product/service going to deliver that impact?

If you’re an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, or just interested in making a difference – here’s a great recent talk from NZ’s TradeMe Founder, Sam Morgan on Designing for Impact:


Where are the teams at?

It’s early days. Twenty people make up the ten ventures taking part in the programme. About half have come from outside of Wellington, and about half have just finished their final year of University – the chance to take their final year project and have a good crack at turning it into a viable venture. None of the crews have run a business before, but everyone is hungry to learn. The amount of applied professional development that the crews will get over the next 10-weeks is significant. The aim is that by then end of the 10-weeks they have a proof of concept, a viable business model, great relationships and the confidience and commitment to make their dreams reality. But, regardless of whether their ventures succeed or fail (and 90% of start-ups do), they’ll be in good stead for all future endeavours!


Live the Dream // Week One – Business Models Session


One of this weeks’ big highlights for participants was the social lean canvas session with Dave Clearwater from Hikurangi. Dave calls it the ‘Lean Stack’ – a three-layered process to help identify and prioritise key risks & assumptions for your business model.


Live the Dream – Lean Stack with Dave Clearwater, Hikurangi


Live the Dream – Week One, Olivia Richardson from Urban Farm


It’s early days, and already we’re seeing ventures pivot and transform. This can be really hard if you’re fixated on an idea, but I’m really impressed with the openess of all of the teams to change. One thing we’re working hard to build is a culture of openess, constructive criticism and generosity – and the ‘pot-luck’ lunch has been a help for this!


Live the Dream – Shared Kai




Week One: Refining Ideas

THIS WEEK I talked to LAURA from the 1 MILLION PEOPLE PROJECTS. Composed, determined, and sharp as a tack, she seems to know everything about anything- and switches effortlessly from chatting about music to human rights to business models. She knows what she wants, where she’s going, and why she’s here- and her idea is a simple but powerful one. Small actions x many people = big change.


Tell us a bit about your project..

THE 1 MILLION PEOPLE PROJECTS aims to mobilise a million change makers in the world, to monetise and activate high impact projects through shared small actions and donations.


What are you going to do?

It’s a bit of a secret- but watch this space- 1MPP will be doing something big in July.


Why should we care?

Because we live in a time of such overwhelming problems, most people don’t know where to start- and don’t think their small actions will have a big impact. What this project does is share the burden and responsibility and solutions amongst lots of people.


What have you been doing this week at Live the Dream?

Largely refining the vision and purpose of the Projects. The success of 1MPP hinges on telling a good story and painting a vision, so stripping that back.


What have you learned this week about starting a social enterprise?

We learned about the social lean canvas model and the lean stack, which is adapted from a business model canvas. These allow you to take big ideas and break them down into bite size chunks.


What is your biggest take away from this week?

I think probably it’s just how many other people are out there, how many changemakers there are in the world- the existence of an ecosystem of people who want to make a difference.

I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be here.


How have you found the collaborative processes?

What’s really great is when you have the opportunity to talk to people who aren’t friends or family. Friends tend to think that everything that you do is going to be great. Here you have the chance to think critically about your ideas and get honest feedback. It’s awesome to bounce ideas off of others.


What is driving you to do take 10 weeks of your life to dedicate to this?

I feel deep in my core this is where I should be.

And I think one of the most important things in getting anything off the ground is to find good mentors. Live the Dream provides an awesome opportunity to connect with the people you need.


What is your vision for this world?

I believe in a world where everyone has food, water, shelter, access to education and income. But the only way we will reach it is if we all work together.


Have you always wanted to do this?

Yes. Well actually, I always wanted to be an events organiser. And before that, have a hip hop label and discover the next Beatles. And before that, Prime Minister.


What is an inspiring phrase or thought that has captured you this week?

A conversation with Chris Jupp from World Vision sparked me onto a realization. I never had thought of 1MPP being confined to New Zealand or being about New Zealand. But he pushed me to consider that having one million New Zealanders on board would actually make New Zealand history. So that’s my new goal.


Who are some of your heroes?

Richard Branson, Anita Roddick, and Blake Mycoskie.



All of them use business as a platform for making the world a better place.


What’s your favourite quote?

The best way to predict the future is to create it.


Favourite movie?

V for Vendetta, Avatar, and Fern Gully.


What are you reading right now?

Richard Branson- Business Stripped Bare


What are you listening to right now?

TheSoundYouNeed- https://soundcloud.com/tsyn


What do you want to tell the world?

Become one in a million.