We’re Not in Holiday Mode Just Yet // Week#3 AKL

We kicked off the week full of Christmas cheer! #LTD_AKL celebrated the festive season by donning party hats, stuffing our bellies and singing along badly to much loved Christmas carols over a shared lunch. We’ve had a few moments to step away from the busy workload and reflect on the days past as well as those to come.


The Christmas Lunch

The Auckland Live the Dream team share a festive Christmas lunch.

The teams have been developing their confidence, speech styles and presentation skills and are delivering stronger pitches than their nerves in week two would have allowed. This week we farewelled one of our crew members Julia Holderness, who is returning to Christchurch after facilitating the first few weeks of the programme. With everyone coming and going, it is great to know that we have solid knowledge, support and brainpower to fuel our participants who are rapidly moving forward with their ventures.


The teams working during a speaker workshop with Penny Harrison.

The teams working during a presentation workshop with Penny Harrison.


In the middle of this hectic week, I managed to take a seat with Samuditha Rupasinghe from Plastic Diet to talk about her venture and Live the Dream experience so far.


From left: Gemma, Samuditha, Florence and Josefina from the Plastic Diet team.

From left: Gemma, Samuditha, Florence and Josefina from the Plastic Diet team.


Tell me about your venture…

Our venture tries to make sustainability easy by making bio-degradable plastic the norm in society.

We live in a system where plastic is the norm. Even if you don’t want to kill the planet, you still have to buy the things in the system, so I want to change that.

So far we’ve come up with ideas about a consultancy for businesses. We would work at connecting cafes and businesses in the food industry with alternative providers for plastic, so that they get rid of all of their plastic and replace it with bio-degradable plastic.

Was there a moment for you personally, that you knew this was what you wanted to do?

One moment was cleaning beaches with a group from uni. The amount of trash and tiny little bits of plastic you find is insane.

Number two happened in traffic. When you’re stuck in traffic you realise the piles of plastic and rubbish that litter the sides of the road that you wouldn’t notice while you’re driving.

It gets to the point where you can’t just keep picking up the rubbish on the beaches. It just doesn’t work. So you have to change it before it gets through in the first place. So that’s what we are trying to do, start from the source to stop plastic existing in the first place. I think there are so many ventures who do recycling stuff and working on plastic waste. There’s a lot of stuff like that, but no one is taking action or going to government. Recycling is exhausting and never ending, the flow of rubbish is never going to stop.

Why should we care about these problems and issues? 

Because it’s going to get to a point where there is no space to fill up landfills anymore.

I guess in the world everything goes in cycles. You cut a tree, you make paper and it goes back to compost. But plastic never finishes a cycle. So it’s going to get to a point when there’s no more resources to make stuff out of.

What have you been up to this week?

This week we have been validating our problem and trying to work out what exactly our problem is. Every time we think we have our problem sorted out, someone tells us that it’s not a problem. Yesterday, we thought our problem was that businesses don’t have the time and energy to look into alternatives. But we realised that wasn’t the problem. We realised that they are actually missing out on a specific segment of customers they could have if they used bio-degradable stuff.

You also had your second pitch, how did you find that?

I’m so glad that they make us do practice ones, I kinda hate it but secretly it’s really good. We practice all day. Non-stop talking to ourselves really loudly across the hall. That’s the good thing about having teams, I don’t think I could do this without a team.

What is the biggest thing that you have taken away from this week?

When Billy Matheson from ReGeneration NZ was speaking to us yesterday, he simply said that you can’t solve everything in the world. He had this metaphor of a ball of string, filled with everything wrong in the world, and you just can’t solve it, but that’s ok because you’re going to solve one thing and it’s going to be great. That’s my problem, the fact that I want to try and solve everything and the fact that I can’t is hard to comprehend.

What is driving you to spend 10 weeks of your life dedicated to Live the Dream?

I got to the stage where I couldn’t watch the news because I’d feel too helpless about the world. I got into some projects during high school and then during my uni career, and for the first time I didn’t feel helpless about the world!

Live the Dream has been a great opportunity to spend entire days focused on our idea. I now feel like there’s something I can do to change the world to make it a better place.

Here you are surrounded by people who are doing amazing things, giving you positive peer pressure and motivation – it’s the best!


From all of us Auckland Dreamers, may you have a Merry Christmas and a safe and a Happy New Year!







Growing yourself, your venture and Aotearoa // Week#3 WGN

It was the week before christmas, and things where busy here, full steam ahead into the New Year. A ‘mammoth week’ doesn’t even cover it, with 12 amazing people sharing their wisdom and displaying social enterprise cheer.


Note taking, validating, pitching and the processes of how to write a funding application,
workshops and keynotes, all of the things that our participants have been tackling, the point of it all, starting to become clear!

Three weeks have gone by, delving deep into the world of social entrepreneurship and enterprise – now its time to celebrate the journey so far, and enjoy a well deserved xmas break!

With thanks to Dan Ormond, Michael Elwood Smith, Liz Gibbs and Katie Byrne, Mark Farrar, Kate Hiatt, Rich Bartlett and Greg Sheehan, Chelsea RobinsonChris Jupp, Brett and Clare, for coming in and helping to develop our ventures.


(L-R) Kaye-Maree Dunn, Connor Boyle, Mita Dunn, Gareth Sven Cordor, Alexis Oganesoff, James Michael, Oliver Bone, Leanne Myers

What a week! Grow Aotearoa’s founding father Oliver Bone sat down with me to talk environmental and social change, team dynamics and how he has been finding LTD so far…

Tell me about your venture…

Grow Aotearoa is a group of people coming together based on a shared vision of wanting to make the world a better place. In particular, we are aware of and concerned about the condition of the environment and society at the moment. We recognize the inter-play of social and the environment and the importance of dealing with the whole situation in a holistic way, not just targeting one part of the system. The holistic approach comes from a whole lot of study that some of us have been doing. Myself on ecology, and marine biology, and Kaye-Maree, who has been involved with politics, law and studied social sciences, and then Connor who is studying environmental science. From this, we identified a massive need when you’re dealing with anything theoretically to have a holistic approach, which is actually being employed already around the world, not in a social enterprise model but in charities.

How did you hear about LTD?

From Leanne Myers, she heard about this programme, thought we had a pretty good chance of getting it and asked if we wanted to apply for it.

So what made you want to apply?

One reason was the opportunity to learn about social enterprise, because we were stuck in the early stages of our business, figuring out how to be sustainably financially stable. Another was to gain knowledge, develop connections, and to give us time actually work on it full time, as all of use study/work full time.

What do you study?

Marine Biology.

How did Grow Aotearoa form?

I was actually doing a course last summer, and part of that was developing a project. I was living at the time with this French guy, we became best friends, and he had a huge influence on me. He was such a nice person, into spiritual development, meditation, and introduced me to the permaculture principles, which Grow Aotearoa is based on.  At the same time as meeting him, I was reading David Holmgrens ‘Permaculture:Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability’, so that is what spawned my project. As part of this project, I presented at the national Permaculture Hui. A space opened up and I only had 24 hours to prepare a 45 minute presentation, so that was cool but challenging. At the Hui is where I met Kaye-Maree Dunn and Joe Simmonds, who were like ‘yes! This is what we need to do’, then Kaye-Maree’s brother Mita Dunn  joined as well. So there where 5 of us all banded together, and we organized a sustainability Hui, where James and Leanne and Gareth Sven Cordor came on board as well. Then I met Connor, recruited him, so thats how our core crew has formed. From that we’ve been building up our team dynamics, figuring out how we can build something around our skill sets, and staying true to our core vision.

So Grow Aotearoa is like a marriage of sorts between all of your members?  How do your team dynamics work?

We have really awesome team culture, and have been building it up for quite a while. This is based on some core values we all share. A few things that are important to us are integrity; clearly communicating what you are going to do, sticking to your word, and then following through on it. Being very authentic, being honest and open, about your emotions and what you are actually going to do. Then respect; of everybody’s opinions, beliefs and thoughts and different up bringing and letting them be different from you.

15 days have gone by! What has been the biggest learning so far that you are applying to Grow Aotearoa?

Rich Bartlett from Loomio has been a highlight; his thinking is along the same lines as my thinking. I always ask myself how can I ACTUALLY make the world a better place. Like, you can do something that might have a minor social impact, but it still exists under this large, capitalist western social system, and we’re like constantly trying to figure out how to actually start changing that whole system and shift it to something that’s better environmentally and socially. I asked Paul Atkins how you can be sure that what you are doing is really having an impact, and he said you can’t really measure if you’re actually transforming society and the world. Rich said though that he truly believes that social enterprise does have the potential to support this transformation, and if he didn’t believe that, he wouldn’t be involved in a social enterprise, which is something that we relate to.

Smart man. Rich spoke Wednesday about starting with the most pressing issue. What has Grow Aotearoa identified as the most pressing issue?

What keeps coming up though and is of core importance to us is food. People love food, it brings together communities, it can be fun, and is also one of the biggest opportunities for us to make a difference environmentally. If we can grow our own local food, then we’re providing food for ourselves in a way that is actually improving the biodiversity of our country, improving our country and having both a positive social and environmental impact.

Funding has been a big topic this week. Liz Gibbs spoke about a more philanthropic way of gaining funding. Is this something that you think Grow Aotearoa will benefit from?

I definitely think there are people out there who would support us, if we could show that we would look after that funding and use it properly. I think we have a shared vision, almost based on shared human values, that want of making the world a better place, so that our children can thrive, enjoying nature and fresh air, and just that want of people being happy. I also think there are other ways that we can fund ourselves, which is both interesting and confusing. We’re working through how to fund ourselves within our modern economic system, while at the same time wanting to see positive change in it.

You’ve had to pitch twice now. How has this helped to refine your core values?

That’s the thing; Guy Ryan was saying last week that it is really important to talk from the heart. So from that, I can talk about our ideals and vision but I think that until we come to a real understanding of what we are actually going to do, it’ll be hard to pitch commercially or for funding, we’re not at that phase yet.

At the moment, there seems to be this collective spirit going around of people wanting to get back to nature, becoming more sustainable and dependent. Because of this, do you think it’ll help get Grow Aotearoa off the ground?

Two things have come out of this feeling for us, one is that it helps to confirm what we are doing, and the changes we are trying to make will be received by society. As he economy changes, the price of oil goes up, as well as the human population depleting the earths resources, society HAS to adapt and we’re learning to adapt and meet these changes. Because of this, all these new philosophies and ideas are rising up.

Are these new ideas though, or dormant thoughts that people are re-discovering?

I think that they’re being re discovered, and starting to be used. Maybe they weren’t beneficial in the past, but are now worried about the rising place of food, and climate change, and thinking ‘oh man, we need to do something’.

What are Grow Aotearoa’s hopes for the future?

We want to see beautifully growing gardens everywhere, happy children running around having fun, healthy people with access to fresh air from all of the trees and plants everywhere, and just a happy place we can all live.

So what are your personal hopes for the future?

I want to be physically healthy, so seeing myself, and the rest of the team, being physically and mentally healthy. I think that comes back to being authentic… I also really want to create a positive social and environmental impact.

Grow Aotearoa will soon be launching a PledgeMe to help fund their journey through LTD this summer, so if you can help Oliver and his truly inspiring crew to follow their dreams and help make our world a great place to live.

Click HERE for their website

xmas_wFrom all of us down here, MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


Everybody has Something to Give // Week#2 AKL

Week two has been another big focus on validation. The crew have been connecting with a wide range of stakeholders to better explore gaps and opportunities in the market. We’ve also been looking at different business models, and started to practice ‘pitching’ our ideas. We’ve welcomed many incredible speakers and mentors who have provided fresh perspectives and constructive criticism.

The teams working on their ventures.

Our co-working space – the teams working on their ventures.


The teams working during a speaker workshop.

A workshop on Business Strategy with Elisabeth Vaneveld from The Big Idea.


This week I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with participant, Hana Mender from Career Choices, who is passionate about the well being and incentives for those entering the work force.

Hana from Career Choices

Hana from Career Choices


Tell us a bit about your venture & where the idea came from…

Career Choices is about helping people, specifically students, to find their passion and connect with what they love. My experiences have made me wish that there was someone that could have helped me understand my career choices when I was in high school.

My ideas actually began at Festival for the Future. What it did for me as a young person, was very inspiring. Hearing from young people who want to make a difference; by talking about ideas, innovation and making the world a better place. I had no idea that there was a platform for that. Festival helped me make friends with amazing people who I would never had met otherwise.

Live the Dream is a good place to explore your idea, to have people supporting you and encouraging you to develop it. They are interested in what you’re doing and they congratulate your effort and the fact that you are trying your hardest. So far it has been an overwhelming but amazing experience.

Why should we care about your venture? 

My big picture vision is to see the New Zealand workforce filled with people who love what they do everyday.

In my opinion, if people love what they do, then they excel in what they do. People come to work and say, I did something amazing yesterday, but I want to do something more amazing today because I love this job. I think economically and socially New Zealand would soar like a rocket and we’d all shine.

Think about it; we spend more time at work then we spend time on our own, or doing other activities. So imagine doing a job that you hate everyday, and you’re doing it 9-5, that’s a waste.

If we were able to give students a wide range of resources then they would be making smarter and more informed decisions about their future. A lot of people don’t really think about their financial security or about the future as much as they should. So I ask: when are we going to do something to break the cycle of day to day passionless work, or at least try to?

What has been some of the challenges over the past few weeks?

One challenge is working by myself. One person can do only so much, and I’d like to have a team. The age factor comes in a lot too. I think a lot of people don’t take me as seriously as they should sometimes and I think that is going to be my biggest challenge going forward with this programme. Tackling such a massive issue and in an area like education and career choices, the people in charge are not young people. But if you’re trying to work with young people, you have to be on a similar level as them – I think that’s how you reach them best.

So how do you think you’ll go about making them take you seriously?

I think getting people on board who already have some credibility in this area will help. I think it’s a human thing that we need some assurance, that others also think it’s a credible idea. It is finding that one person to believe in what you believe. I think after that it will get easier, hopefully.

What is the biggest thing you have taken away from this week?

I had an interesting session with Shay Wright from The Icehouse on Tuesday. He had a fresh perspective about what I was trying to create, and finding a solution that would satisfy people. He suggested that if you look at your idea from the who, you will get to the what, and if you went straight to the what, you’d come up with a solution that someone had already done. That reverse was really interesting.

Shay’s session was by far the most challenging, and still has me thinking about his ideas and constructive criticism. The biggest thing I took away from that day was not to be fixated on your idea because the idea can change.

So do you have anyone you know that you could bring on board to your team?

Every person I speak to, I’m thinking that they could be a potential contributor, one way or another. It would be good by the end of this programme to hopefully have at least another team member who’s interested.

What inspiring thought or phrase has captured your attention this week?

Sharn Rayner from Pod Consultants suggested “create something that would survive without you”. I wouldn’t want to create something that was reliant on me and then when I’m gone it all crumbles. It’s important to have a solid team that can step in when you’re not there.


Figure out your purpose, and what you want to do // Week#2 WGN

Week two saw the combined knowledge of CEO’s, entrepreneurs, artists and our own LTD alumni stop in and share their wisdoms. Our participants have been tackling the challenge of validating  their ventures this week with an awesome workshop lead by Dr. Martina Battisti. Continuously asking WHY the world needs their venture, WHAT the problem is and HOW they can help solve it, as well as learning about the appropriate ways to pitch a social enterprise venture via the PITCH CANVAS where big tasks of the week.. Pitching is not an easy task, but it CAN be made easier when you know how to structure your pitch, presentation etiquette, and how to engage with your audience.
Live the Dream is all about providing an environment to facilitate skills development, a space where trial and error are encouraged, and teams are able to iron out most of the kinks in their ventures before establishing them out into the world. Paul Atkins, the CEO of NERI, shared start-up stories and his tips on commercialisation, while Empathy Design lent us Emilie Fetscher and Neeraj Jaim, who lead an interactive workshop focusing on creating value for your customer. A treat was in store when Lindsey Horne from Rate My Flat, who came through the program last year, stopped in to share her LTD experience, and what’s happened since.
Following this mammoth week, I sat down with Gemma Potaka from team Beast to chat about youth mental health, her journey with the venture, and experiences so far…
Tell me about your project…

Beast is about taking sport physiology tools used in elite sports, and bringing them to specifically high school aged rugby players at the moment. We’re aiming to improve their mind management techniques and preparing them for difficulties they might face on the field or off it, keeping it in a context their familiar, comfortable and happy with.
Where did this idea form?

We met at Life Hack, which I went into as an individual, and by week 3 we where asked to group ourselves into areas that we cared about and wanted to see change. I wanted to focus more on high-school aged people, and spent quite a while bouncing between teams figuring out what I wanted to do. Then, after a talk from Carson at the Mental Health Foundation, he spoke about how men weren’t engaging,and that kind of bubbled itself down to the 4, and now 3, of us to form Beast.
How come BEAST is focusing on just Rugby players right now?

In Rugby, they have an already established a (physical) training regime, so we thought we could to feed in some mind-training exercises as well. Rugby has a really strong ‘Toughen up, don’t talk about feelings’ culture, and we find that men don’t engage in what is already out there referring to mental health.  Rugby is also a huge, established sport in NZ with a lot money available.
Because of this ‘tough’ mentality, have you found it hard to get teens to talk about their mental health?

The All Blacks learn mental strengthening skills, which is an approachable topic when speaking with teenagers, as they won’t see any harm in using something that the All Blacks use. I think that most of what we consider at the moment of mental health is mental illness, which has negative connotations attached to it, but by putting a positive spin on it, and teaching these athletes that the brain is just another muscle that needs to be trained and built up, to see mental strength as an asset, and that being mentally strong has a whole load of benefits too.
You’ve been here for two weeks now. What has been your biggest learning?

It’s been a really interesting time for me,  trying to figure out how we are working as a team, and setting structures in place so I can effectively communicate what is happening here with the rest of my team, as they’re only in on Mondays. I’m learning how to keep them in the loop, even better than before, so that is really exciting for us.

We’re trying to develop an MVP (minimal viable product), by talking to a sports phycologist next week which is really exciting. A big learning for us is how to balance the external progress with the programme steps and making sure we cover everything properly and thoroughly.
What’s your response been to people who have been in the same boat as you have been starting their venture, and sharing their experiences during Founder’s circle? 

It’s been really good to hear all of the tips on validation, and the tools for efficiency. It’s been amazing, getting all these little nuggets of information. Even if we knew about some things they where speaking about, it was cool to see it through new eyes, and apply all of these learnings to our venture.
What is the change that you want to see in the world?

Big picture – I want to see more respect from people; for themselves, for each other and the environment. If everyone had that, I think we would be in a much better space.
How do you see Beast helping achieve this change that you want to see?

In some small way, I think that by improving peoples mental health, it improves the lives of people. If they have the skills to deal with their own lives, and they’re managing that better then they have more time to think about other people. There is a big element in our course about self-respect, but also on communication with others, and how to work as a team. I also really want all these other venture to succeed, as I feel they’ll all play a role in achieving the big picture dream.
What’s your personal goal?

To pick up new skills that will set me up to do good in the world. Prior to LTD, I was studying physics, so I had no knowledge or experience with social enterprise. A big part of this for me is gaining more practical skills, which I will continue to use in my future life and projects, whatever they may be.
What are the ultimate goals for Beast?

We want Beast to come alive, and to be a sustainable business. We want to see the programme run throughout all schools in NZ, in rugby league, with all coaches having the skills too.
BEAST_2From Left: Jade Shearstone, Tahlia Kingi, Caroline Fitzgerald, Gemma Potaka.


Purpose, Passion, and Focus // Week#1 AKL

Kia Ora! I’m Nelzy, the Media and Comm’s intern up here in Auckland. I’ll be guiding you through the next 10 weeks. Welcome to our first post, week one!

Janelle Profile

New starts are daunting; yet the initial nerves, information overload, long days and adrenaline have all made for a hugely productive first week. Already the teams are growing their ideas, drilling deeper into their purpose and asking difficult questions.

This week the main focus has been on purpose and goal setting, both personal and venture focused. This has allowed us to track back to our passions and motivations, and to define those ‘trigger’ moments of inspiration.

The Groups Working - Week One

Shona McElroy and Rowan Yeoman from Akina provided the teams with a context for social enterprise, with a range of examples including projects, resources and concepts to aid the search for venture purpose. Rowan also introduced the Social Lean Canvas (SLC) concept which helped teams to critique, grow and re-evaluate their venture ideas.

The teams also got the chance to meet entrepreneurs Oscar Peppitt from Uber, and Kiran Patel from Young Innovators Collective (YIC) as part of our first ‘Founders Circle’. This session allowed the teams to expand their thinking and ideas regarding market validation, and this was followed up by Alex Devereux’s talk about partnership and stakeholder mapping.

We also welcomed Guy Ryan, Founder & CEO of Inspiring Stories, Festival for the Future, & Live the Dream. Guy ran a session on vision and mission, had some one-on-one coaching time with the teams, and then straight into the Launch Party – to officially launch the Auckland chapter of Live the Dream.

Guy Ryan – 2014 Live the Dream Launch, Auckland

The Launch Party was a fun celebration, with many wonderful faces gracing us with their company. People literally stayed for hours – the room was buzzing with conversation. It was a great chance for the participants to get to know their mentors, and some of the wider community of supporters. Thanks to everyone who joined us, for your generosity and support in enabling this awesome programme to happen!

Auckland Live the Dream Launch Crew

Even after a big night, Friday morning felt fresh and filled with optimism. This energy fuelled the first Collaboration Cafe which saw teams critiquing their ideas, with help from external influences. Everyone found this a really exciting format and we look forward to the next one. Dale De Graaf from Enspiral enlightened the teams about accounting and taught them to get on top of their financial situation by starting early and being organised.

We have all embraced this first week with open minds and it’s great to be underway. Hana, Cara, Samuditha, Josefina, Easter, Kahu, Robin, Vic, Kristin, Louise and Melody: best of luck and a warm welcome! You guys are inspirational. 46 workdays until Final Pitch! Wahoo!

If you’re keen to check out or progress on Facebook or Twitter, click the links and have a squizz at the photos. Until next week everyone!

Hello Wellington! // Week One

Hello Readers! I’m Rachael, the Media/Comm’s intern helping out the Wellington crew – I’ll be keeping you updated this summer – welcome to our first post!


We kicked off with an amazing weekend spent at Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Island Bay as a pre-launch for all of the participants to gather, meet and begin this amazing adventure.

Tapu Te Ranga Marae – Live the Dream, Wellington

Monday morning began with setting the scene from the CEO of Inspiring Stories Trust & instigator behind Live the Dream, Guy Ryan. We shared some of the reasons why we’re here, our passion and ventures. Then, Alex Hannant from Akina provided a solid grounding on the why, how and what of social enterprise. It was a big day, with plenty food for thought!

Michael Elwood-Smith ran a session on business modelling and financing, and walking us through the Social Lean Canvas – a key tool for mapping out your enterprise, and helping to identify the various risks and assumptions.

Live the Dream, Business Modelling Workshop in Wellington

Wednesday – our first ‘Founders Circle’, with Carlos Chambers (Common Ledger) and Jackson Wood (Ora) sharing their start-up journey to date. This was a great session, as these guys are only a year or so into their ventures and could easily share in the challenges our teams are facing now.

Wednesday night’s Launch Party was alive with conversation. Proudly hosted by Victoria University, the Launch brought together a diverse range of people including many of the mentors and contributors whom our participants will be working with in the coming weeks.

Launch Party – Live the Dream, Wellington

On Thursday, Rich Barlett shared his epic start-up journey through Loomio, the crowd decision-making software now being used by thousands of people all around the world. Chris Jupp from World Vision ran a session called ‘Why time’, challenging participants to delve a little deeper into their purpose and motivation.

Amidst the many great sessions from various contributors this week there’s been time to think, and begin to apply the learning. There’s also been a big focus on validation. Coming into the programme, everyone has ideas about the difference they want to make. But, often there’s a gap between the problem they want to try and solve, the audience who actually might have (or not have) that problem, and whether there proposed solution is actually relevant, or has a market or audience who would pay for that solution. There’s a lot of assumptions, and so working to identify and explore these assumptions will be crucial moving forwards!

Looking forward to some chill time over the weekend. Stay tuned for next week!

Live the Dream 2.0 – How Did We Get Here?

The idea for Live the Dream came from identifying gaps and opportunities in New Zealand. It sought to build on the 2013 visiting Fullbright Scholar, MJ Kaplan’s report on ‘Growing NZ’s Next Generation of Social Entrepreneurs & Start-ups‘. We’d created the epic national event, Festival for the Future, which did a great job getting people inspired about ways in which young people could change the world – but after the event, some of that energy would dissipate. We needed a ‘flow-on’ opportunity. The problem was that the vast majority of ideas and ventures we were seeing would struggle to fit into a commercial accelerator programme like the Lightning Lab. New Zealand had some great support for high-growth commercial enterprise, but big gaps in supports for ventures that are more focused on social and environmental impact – especially for young people. Through my own experience running a range of ventures and start-ups – both for-profit and those more charitable, I believe there’s a unique time in our lives where our ability to take risk is significant, and that every summer young people have time on their hands, and campuses have empty facilities.

Live the Dream – teams in action,

In 2013 we put a call out for young people to pitch us their ‘ideas for a better New Zealand’. We looked for ideas that we thought had the potential to create social, environmental and economic impact. We wanted to build social entrepreneurship & enterprise capability amongst young New Zealanders, because we thought that these were critical capabilities to help create solutions to some of the big issues of our time. Live the Dream was born. Seven youth-led ventures graduated from the first-time programme last summer – all very diverse, all participants had a transformational experience, and a year later four of those ventures are still going – Rate My Flat, Social Lab, Urban Kai, and WHAM.

Social Lab  – Christchurch Event, 2014

This summer, we’ve replicated Live the Dream across both Auckland and Wellington – two programmes running in parallel. It’s been another big step up – with two delivery teams feeling confident and supported to roll out the programme, with 17-ventures taking part in total. We’ve been humbled by the amazing response from the wider community of contributors who have reached out to support the programme. It’s a huge testament to the generosity of New Zealanders, the drive to make a difference, and our collective commitment to the next generation.

Starting a venture is easy. Turning venture into a sustainable enterprise is incredibly challenging – especially if it’s one with a strong core social or environmental mission.

Through founding Inspiring Stories and creating initiatives like Festival for the Future and now Live the Dream, one of my favourite things is challenging ourselves to walk the talk – demonstrating how this stuff can work, and how it can scale. Whilst we’re a charitable trust and hold true to our purpose, in many ways we have to operate like a business. We can’t rely on donations or grants, we simply wouldn’t exist. Some of our programmes earn income through fees and ticket sales, and are attractive to other businesses who want to align their brand to a great thing – it’s the art of finding strategic alignment, and finding the balance between viability and accessibility. We also take on consultancy work that’s on-mission, and can generate a surplus for the Trust. Any profits are always reinvested back into achieiving our aims to support young New Zealanders to unleash their potential to change the world. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s much easier said than done – we’ve had plenty of challenges along the way, but we’re committed to making this work.

We’ll be running a weekly blog throughout the programme. Be sure to check in on this space for updates from each city, as our teams and their ventures develop this summer.