Week Seven: Rate My Flat

In WEEK SEVEN I had the pleasure of chatting with Letisha and Lindsey, who represent the Chateau Crew- a flat of friends on a mission to redesign the way in which New Zealanders flat, rent, and live. They plan to realise their dream with RATE MY FLAT- an online tool that assists both tenants and landlords in a shared goal to make safe and healthy housing available to all.

 

Tell us a bit about your project- how did you guys start?

Letisha: We originally got going with a project on our own house- what we called The Chateau, the worst flat in Dunedin.

Lindsey: Our house was literally so cold during winter that Letisha’s legs would go dead under the weight of all her blankets.

Letisha: We wanted to live better, and struck up a deal with our property managers. We agreed to do work around the house to improve the grounds- and they would match what we contributed in labour  to pay for upgrades within the flat.

 

And how did this develop into Rate my Flat?

Lindsey: Our house isn’t rare- the housing situation in New Zealand is shocking. We wanted to do something about it it. But we realised pretty early on that our project wasn’t scaleable or an option for every flat. Last year we fixed one house, this year we want to fix a thousand. So we are developing Rate my Flat- a website tool that that will create an online database built by tenants. We want to give current tenants a voice and give prospective tenants an informed choice.

Letisha: There is heaps already going on in this space, so we are trying to find where we fit. But there is a gap, a space where tenancy advocacy is really missing. We want to be a voice there. But not just raise the issue, but also the solution. This is a problem we can do something about, can help landlords to address.

 

Ten weeks is a pretty big commitment. What is driving you to do take this time to be at Live the Dream?

Letisha: Once we realised the potential of what we were actually doing, that we could improve housing in NZ, make some headway in the housing sector for climate change- then I thought, of course I’m going to be here! We were just willing to do anything, really, that would get this vision to crank.

Lindsey: I always like to flip a situation on its head and and think, what if I didn’t do this? And the answer I’d probably just be bumming around home.

 

Has it lived up to your expectations? What impact has being at Live the Dream had on you and your project?

Lindsey: I honestly feel like I’ve learned more in past 7 weeks than in the past 3 years at university.

Letisha: I can’t possibly imagine not being here.

Lindsey: I am very people focused, and I was always frustrated at university at the lack of access to people doing what we are being trained to do. Traditional education systems are very year group focused- you only really have access to your peers, not people who are, say five years older, a stage ahead of us. Live the Dream gives us the opportunity to talk to those people, and is really good at fostering relationships. We have learned from some amazing people.

 

What is your biggest take away from this week?

Letisha: We are really developing as a team. I am realising how much fun we have together, and we work so well. We live together and work together and hang out together- and we have never had a big fight. Even if people have two incredibly different points of view, we have processes for disagreements, and even value that contrast. It’s like we almost seek out fights so that we can talk things out.

Lindsey: We are also learning to plan in celebrations, and budget for morale boosts- so, pretty much a beer fund.

 

The Crew missing their remaining flattie in Dunedin who studies mindfulness.

The Crew missing their remaining flattie in Dunedin who studies mindfulness.

 

What is your biggest challenge right now?

Letisha: Time. And also a bit of anxiety, or maybe apprehension, about how big this could be. We need to get structures in place to prepare for that.

Lindsey: And there’s no coffee at the moment, so that’s hard.

 

What is your vision for this world?

Lindsday: Shared responsibility.

Letisha: So really, thinking about future generations. And the potential for our country. What if New Zealand had the opportunity to be the best version of itself?

Lindsey: A lot of the things that made NZ great- going nuclear free, gaining the vote- were before our generation. So, what are we going to do to make NZ proud? It’s like, living up to the family name- we want to add to New Zealand’s portfolio of greatness.

 

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

Letisha: There are so many! One thing Helen Baxter said to us was really good- prepare to be prolific. We realised we have got to do work now and put structures in place that we don’t yet need, but in preparation for expansion.

Lindsey: We also asked Ants what we should be thinking about on our upcoming holiday, and immediately he replied, don’t think about anything. With distance comes perspective.

Letisha: Another one was the idea that nothing interesting should be boring. Insulation- that’s a typically pretty unimaginative subject. But we need to make it fun!

Lindsey: It always makes you want to pick boring projects just as a challenge to make it awesome.

Letisha: Oh and one more is what Chris Jupp spoke about- “Why time”- spending time thinking about why you are doing what you are doing. When you know why you are doing, to the core of who you are, everything falls into place.

Lindsey: He challenged us to consider what we would say if we had the opportunity to speak to a large group of people. Martin Luther King Jr. knew exactly why he was doing what he was doing when he gave his I Have a Dream speech, he knew what he wanted to happen in this world. What do we want, what would we have said?

 

Who are some of your heroes?

Letisha: My heroes… I actually think it is our team. I  think everyone is so great, I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else.

Lindsey: Do you want some cracker with that cheese? No we also really like Jinty MacTavish, one of our City Councillors. She is the youngest councillor, and really walks the talk, always has time for you. Council isn’t a fulltime job but she gives it her all. She talked at Festival for the Future about carving the future and the power of young people.

 

What are you listening to right now?

Letisha: Blackmill, Skippin’ ‘n’ Trippin’- makes emailing fun!

 

What do you want to tell the world?

Lindsey: Be brave.

Letisha: And make sure your house has insulation.

Week Six – Why Time

Chris Jupp ran a session this week called ‘Why Time’ and he made an interesting observation on how the atmosphere of the space had completely changed since first joining us in week one. Back then, things seemed a little lighter; the programme was viewed as a fun & different way to spend summer. Now there was a feeling in the air of much deeper commitment.

Why Time

It’s been an intense couple of weeks for Live-the-Dreamers. The halfway mark in the programme came & went with flying colours and teams are beginning to have some of those tricky conversations around “What happens after the programme, how can I keep doing what I love and still pay rent, do I actually WANT to be doing this full-time?”. Since Christmas, three teams from the original ten have had to step away from the programme due to other life commitments, which has left seven focused groups here – grinding away each day to bring their ideas to life.

Right on key, James Shaw came in – to facilitate a session on team building, self-awareness and creating steps to help overcome “that thing you always do in a situation”. Both his and Chris’s sessions have been a welcome step back into the personal realm after the high of last week’s pitch night.

Week’s five and six have been packed full of vital learnings: Sessions around how to ask the right validation questions, crafting your unique value proposition, key learnings from other founders, legals 101, crowd-funding, refined elevator pitches & collaborating with councils.

With less than 4 weeks left, we’ve hit ‘get things done’ time. Our teams are sprinting to keep up with their projects as they take flight. Business plans are taking shape. This is indeed an exciting time.

The Halfway Mark – 1st Public Pitch

January 16th was a big night for all the teams. As their first chance to pitch to a wider audience in Massey’s COCA theatre, the bar was raised high. It was heads down, tails up for days leading up to the event but it paid off with everyone delivering to expectations!

Here’s one of the pitches from the evening – Urban Farm:

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Week Five: WHAM

WEEK FIVE saw me speaking to HAMISH from WHAM, a project dedicated to creating healthier, happier workplaces. Hamish and business partner Kirsty are well equipped- with Bachelors in Applied Sciences and Physical Activity, Health and Wellbeing, and experience in personal training, physical education, and occupational therapy- and incredibly passionate about empowering people to live lives to the fullest.

 

Tell us a bit about your project- how did WHAM start?

About a year ago, a group of us were approached and asked if we would be willing to tackle a toxic workplace environment. Two weeks later, we were presenting at their office. We did a twelve week programme, with nutritional seminars, physical activity sessions, and goal setting workshops. It went great- just one team of eight, over the twelve weeks, lost a combined total of 32 kg,17.4% body fat, and 15.9 BMI points. So we developed a twelve week programme to implement in businesses around New Zealand, to get workplaces healthier and happier and create more efficient and effective business.

 

What is driving you to examine health in the workplace?

It’s an environment where we spend so much of our time – yet workplaces are an overlooked area of concern. People should enjoy coming to work, and a safe and healthy workplace is a fundamental human right. A concern for people translates naturally into a concern for businesses. We want to see everyone reach their true potential, and to see every business, whether big, small, corporate, social, do the best that they can.

 

What have you found really valuable about being in Live the Dream?

Before we started, I kind of saw it as a 10 week assignment, and to be honest, there were other places I imagined spending summer. But once we reached Festival for the Future, I realised the incredible opportunity it would be & how many amazing people I would meet. You can look at it as just a way to develop your enterprise- but it’s so much more than that. There’s an incredible amount of personal and professional development going on here and I’m learning so many new skills.

 

What is the most significant thing you have accomplished this week?

Pitching! At Live the Dream the idea is that pressure makes diamonds, and our pitch session definitely showed this to be true. I spent three days writing a pitch I felt was perfect. The day we were set to pitch, Ants put the challenge to us to do it without our notes. I hate public speaking, and am a bit of an introvert- but it went really well. I’m really learning how to challenge myself and not underestimate what I can do.

 

What is something you learned this week at Live the Dream?

The power and potential of collaboration. We had a collaboration session with the Wellington City Council about the sea level rising- what we can do about it, who is going to be affected, what solutions may be. It was a powerful thing, bringing everyone’s minds together, and got us thinking of how we could do this with WHAM. Teamwork and collaboration is key- you’re never going to go far on your own.

 

What are you reading right now?

Open, by Andre Agassi. He was such an amazing guy- hated tennis all his life, but stuck with it. One interesting this is that he wasn’t particularly educated, he dropped out at 14 to go to a tennis academy. But because he missed out, he appreciated how important education is- he has now raised $48 million to put towards education for kids in communities that couldn’t otherwise afford it.

 

What did you want to be when you were little?

At first, an extreme athlete- I was pretty into downhill mountain biking. That didn’t turn out to be a very safe or sustainable path though. I liked being outdoors, and using my hands, so I thought building might be good as well. But most of all, I was always madly in love with sports. I always made the most of sports at school, took advantage of everything they sports had to teach. What I learned there led me into the health and wellness sector.

 

What is your favorite quote?

Not sure about favorite, but I came across one lately that I liked- I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul- from the poem Invictus. It has been in my mind through Live the Dream. It’s a cool environment because we are our own bosses here. It drives you but also keeps you balanced. Ultimately that’s what we are trying to instill in workplaces through our programme.