Take the Leap! //Week#7 AKL

Snap out of it! The long weekend is behind us and we have settled back into furious work. This week has been mostly self directed, however we have also had a pitch den with the lovely Sara Jones and Rebecca Milne to give the teams advice on how to improve their pitches. We seem to be repeatedly welcoming back into the space Nic Hadley and Rupert Ross who treated us to some awesome interactive workshops. Dan from Akina also visited the teams for one-on-one chats to encourage teams to stop and rethink their ideas once again. We’ve even had workshops and sessions taught by our very own participants and crew, what a bunch of multi-talented people! We have a great space here at AUT and we love that the mentors and speakers who come in to talk to us fit into our “zone”, you’re all welcome anytime!

Farewell Alex! Thank you for all of your dedication and support!

Farewell Alex! Thank you for all of your dedication and support!

This week our #AKL team farewelled our facilitator Alex Devereux who has left to join the Fonterra Business Graduate programme. We threw him a goodbye morning tea with lots of yummy treats and festivities. Thank you for all of your hard work during the programme Alex, we all appreciate it and are wishing you luck for the future!

"HAPPY 21st VIC"! We surprised one of our participants with a birthday bash.

“HAPPY 21st VIC”! We surprised one of our participants with a birthday bash.

We also celebrated Vic’s birthday by throwing a surprise birthday bash! Happy birthday Vic with much love from the team!

The group celebrating Vic's birthday!

The group celebrating Vic’s birthday! The birthday girl doesn’t look so happy though… Don’t worry, she was!

Overall it has been quite a busy week, but I managed to sit down and have a chat with the second Plastic Diet member, Josefina Peters-Didier about her experiences with plastic and the importance of passion in everything that you do…

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

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

We’ve already heard a bit about Plastic Diet from Samuditha in Week 3, but has your idea changed or evolved since then?

Every day it changes! Every time you think you have an idea and everyone will love it, you talk to someone else and they say maybe it’s not so good. It’s easy to get carried away with side ideas, so you always have to have your purpose super clear.

In our case it’s reducing the use of plastic at the source. We keep going back to the idea of recycling but the truth is that that doesn’t solve a problem.

Is it difficult to be open to change within your idea?

Yes because you get attached to ideas and sometimes you have to let them go. Maybe they are bad ideas, or for some reason it’s unlikely those ideas can physically happen, or it’s not the time for them yet. We keep record of all the ideas and we’re trying to figure out when they could actually happen. It can be quite frustrating but we will keep working towards it.

How are you personally connected to the idea of “reducing single use plastic at the source”?

I have always loved the ocean, taking care of it and the animals that live in it, even as a little child. Then I thought well now I want to become a marine biologist, but if I want to make a change I need to be a bloody good marine biologist. I just finished my PHD and even though the research is fascinating it’s really hard to make a change. You spend years creating research and only a few people will read about it. There are things going on in society today that we need to act on. Live the Dream came at a perfect time, I had just finished university and I had always been super concerned about plastic pollution.

I have the credentials so now I want to act on it. I’m still very divided because I love research but that only reaches a small audience. I’ve got to do something big!

What have you been up to this week?

Throughout the programme we have been talking to as many people as we can. We have been working on other areas that could make bigger impact through the use of plastic.

I wish we could be at the moment when we’re working on our business model. But it’s such a complicated issue that we still aren’t quite there yet. I think the most important thing is to create awareness and the most difficult thing is to link that with money or an income stream. We might just start with campaigns until we get more recognition from the community. Then once we’ve created awareness and have more people onboard, we will start thinking about revenue streams.

What has stuck with you so far throughout the programme?

I had this weird conception that in business you have to show that you’re a business person, but now I realise that it is about being genuine in yourself and saying “I want to make a change in the world”. That is the best way to connect with people.

Everything that you do, if you do it from the heart, will lead to success.

I’ve seen that so many times throughout the programme, by respecting who you are and being absolutely genuine. The question for me is when you’re really genuine and hard working, at what point will it start working? I want things to start working now, but I guess it’s like they say, when you see a good idea it took 9 years in the making…

If you stay true to yourself you can make a change in the world.

What has been the biggest challenge of the Live the Dream programme so far?

I guess it’s just scary when your idea doesn’t work. It comes down to external factors which is really scary because sometimes it doesn’t matter if you have all of this passion and conviction.

I’m guessing you have faced some external issues?

Every time we have a new idea. We’re going to make it happen and we don’t want to disappoint people. Getting to know all of the people that have gone through what we’re going through and seeing where they are now is very inspiring.

What is driving you to spend ten weeks of your life here at Live the Dream?

I love challenges. Anything that sounds scary I normally go for it because I will come out a better person. I just love taking the leap. Even if it sounds scary, just going in and figuring it out. You are putting yourself on the line and other people have their eyes on you, so it’s essentially an all or nothing kind of thing.  Putting yourself on the line is an addictive feeling.

If you consciously decide to take the risk, you will give it all.

I’ve got one last big question… What is your vision for this world?

I could guarantee that people and society would be so much more happy if we reconnect and take care of things. Part of the plastic programme is that people have become so independent, its quick, its easy; it’s the takeaway culture. Somehow when you remove plastic from the picture there’s suddenly more connection. There is value in protecting something or caring for a cause. It’s really difficult at first, but if everybody starts doing it I think we would be better with each other and with nature.

Is there anything else you want to add?

I told Guy the other day that I am so grateful. I want this “leap of faith” situation to finally lead somewhere amazing. The feeling of giving back to everybody, it’s like a secret rewards club.

How you guys are helping us at the moment, I wish I could do someday for you.

We’re working really hard and I don’t think that work is going nowhere. When you know you have the skills to make it work it’s all about determination. If you’re determined enough to make something work it will sort itself out in time.

 

Y.U.Design & Y.I.Design // Week 7 WGN.

It’s week S-E-V-E-N and yes, ‘7’ deserves to be in bold capital letters, spaced apart because it’s a BIG deal. 20 days to go till the final pitch night, 20 days to conclude validations, produce solid MVPs, form concrete foundations, and then squash all of that into a 3 minute pitch to be presented in front of a crowd of movers and shakers in Wellington, New Zealand, and the world. Pretty scary huh?

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The contributors we’ve had in this week reflect the phase that our ventures are now in; how to actually run a social business, the ins and outs of budgets and forecasts spreadsheets, and social enterprise methodologies. A huge thanks to all of the contributors who came in this week, and last week, and the last seven weeks! We appreciate and relish in your guidance.

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Camia Young

Ideas developing, partnerships forming, and 9 incredible social enterprise ventures are taking shape… Live the Dream is a rather amazing thing to be involved in, from all perspectives.This week, Camia Young found some time in her busy schedule to talk with me about her venture, Y.I.Design.

What exactly is Y.I.Design?

Its an online platform (that will) connect people with skills to those with project ideas, and then with investors. The idea is that we would come together to create shared spaces in our local communities.

What has this idea stemmed from?

It all comes out of Christchurch; I wouldn’t call this my idea. It’s actually an idea that has emerged out of the Christchurch context. In the last three years, Christchurch has had this incredibly talented and creative collective that have been doing a lot of proactive grounded projects (that are) really about healing the infrastructure, and related to the rebuild of course.

Tell us a bit about your background…

I’m American, an architect in training, I have 3 degrees in architecture and I worked in Europe for 11 years for high profile architecture firms. I moved to Christchurch in August 2011, and immediately connected with the creative community post-earthquake, and became involved in projects.

Like what?

The Palette Pavilion with Gap Filler for one, I co-founded XCHC, co-conceived Studio Christchurch, and now it is Y.I.Design. The other thing I am really behind it the Center of Architecture and Planning, that’s coming out of doing a project for the last few years called FESTA, where we celebrate creative projects in Christchurch, and we usually have around 30,000 attendees.

How has the validation process with Live the Dream helped that? 

Through the validation process, it started to coalesce what was lacking and/or needed, and our urban fabric is really the comfortable place to hang out with other people, so that’s why we’re starting to target that. As well as this, Y.I.Design is reaching into a bigger idea around how architecture is developed and there might be opportunities to unlock this kind of divide between how buildings are made and the people who will actually be using them every day.

So Y.I.Design is targeted more to architects and builders, than to, say, graphic designers or artists?

Y.I.Design is effectively being set up to handle building projects… but that doesn’t necessary mean that a graphic designer wouldn’t have a place on a team, if that skill was needed. There is always a place for different skill sets on the different phases of a project.

What would the platform be like?

You would sign up, and outline your skills and what skills you’d like to develop. Someone else might come in and post that they had a really cool idea they’d like to develop, eg. There is an old building and I’d like to turn it into a café.  Then anyone in that area who is interested in this project, can connect.

Would people  essentially use Y.I.Design like they would TradeMe, or Seek?

Yeah, kind of like that.

You’re kind of the figurehead of this creative collective here at Live the Dream. Do you keep in touch with the other members in ChCh?

 Yes, we’re all doing many different projects but we mutually support each other.

 Is that who you’ve been skyping with every day?

 They’re some of the people that I have been skyping. Today I was speaking to Ryan Reynolds, who started Gap Filler, who I worked on Palette Pavilion with last year. 200 volunteers built the pavilion over the course of 3 months, with something like 3000 working hours. It was a project that had no money behind it but a whole lot of community heart behind it, and it built what I keep referring to as the social fabric, as much as the physical architecture. I keep speaking to Ryan because this project (Y.I.Design) is so much about Christchurch, and I didn’t want to develop it in Wellington then move it there, as I want Christchurch to be involved.

Is Y.I.Design just for Christchurch or will you expand it to other cities?

I‘ll start it in Christchurch, but can see it translating to other cities, once we nut how to process will work.

Being American, what where your reasons for beginning a social enterprise start-up in NZ, opposed to the US?

That’s a really good question.  I left America in 1996, and knew I wanted to have all kinds of experiences; I spend my 20’s and 30’s soaking it all up like a sponge. I came to my late 30’s and knew I wanted to take what I had and apply it, so I looked around the world for a place I could do that, where I would be needed. Prior to the September earthquakes, a friend asked me to come teach a course in New Zealand at the University of Auckland’s Architecture School, and then the earthquakes happened. I live in Christchurch and would commute up to Auckland to teach my classes.I taught a class called ‘Future Christchurch’ for the first 2.5 years, so I learnt a ridiculous about the city in that time. The class is about discovering potential, looking at unique parts of a city and bringing those to the surface.

Coming back to Live the Dream. How is being here helping to shape your venture?

In so many beautiful ways… It’s forced me to get clear with my own personal purpose so I can better design the purpose and understand the real purpose of Y.I.Design. It’s helping me build the foundations of the business, and I’m getting asked questions I wouldn’t have arrived at myself.

What has been your most memorable speaker, workshop or topic so far?

Each contributor has left me with a piece of knowledge that I’ve been able to apply to my project. I am in total adoration of Chris Jupp. Michael Elwood-Smith has been very good at being quickly dialed and pushing me forward, and Guy Ryan is the same, and they’re both great at giving constructive criticism. There are very few people who can see an overview of a project and know the next steps it needs to take, so I’m lucky Guy and Michael both possess that skill.

How has the reaction to Y.I.Design been?

Very receptive, I think the problem is that people want it right now! But I need to concentrate on building the solid foundation.

You’ve moved up from Christchurch to be a part of LTD. What is driving you?

I love Christchurch, I love the movement that has started down there with this collective, and I want to see it grow and expand.

What is the change you want to see in the world?

I want us to live in places we love to be.

Anything else?

I’m really excited to be a part of LTD, I feel so lucky and fortunate to be a part of this.

Sun, Sand, Surf and Work / / Week#6 AKL

There are so many things to report on, I don’t know where to start!

Take #2 - The incredible Taranaki Team!

Take #1 – The incredible Taranaki Team!

The Taranaki weekend was an absolute blast! The Auckland and Wellington teams met up in Opunake for a weekend away from it all to soak up the sun, sand and surf. Needless to say the Opunake Lake Lodge was filled with the best of vibes, smiles, music, food and laughter! It is an amazing thing to have such a diverse and yet such in-tuned group of people in one place. There were definitely some good conversations and relationships being made and it’s safe to say that everyone was feeling like we needed to do it again!

Take #2 - The incredible Taranaki Team!

Take #2 – The incredible Taranaki Team. This lot has the best set of funny faces!

A select number of photos have been added to our Facebook page, and if you’re looking for some live-action antics head on over to Twitter. But until then, feast your eyes on these little gems…

Flat tire, oh no! Luckily a kind local helped us out. It made for a great team building exercise!

Flat tire, oh no! Luckily a kind local helped us out and gave us a chance to do some team building!

Surf lessons with Guy and Oliver. What a lovely day at the beach!

Surf lessons with Guy and Oliver. What a lovely day at the beach!

Celebrating the Festival of Lights!

Celebrating the New Plymouth Festival of Lights!

Aside from the weekend away (yes we do have to get back to work eventually), I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with both members of the Peg It team, Easter Greig and Kahu Goulton, about their Live the Dream journey so far…

Peg It

Peg It

Tell us about your venture… 

K: Peg It is all about revolutionising people’s access to work in society. We question why the quality of ones’ life can be determined by a fragile job market, or by how one fits or doesn’t fit into it, and we want to challenge this.

K: Peg It is an alternative online platform that works as a self marketing tool where one can offer services, skills or products to gain some kind of income. There isn’t a suitable avenue out there where you can market yourself to show that, so we recognised a gap. We’re really about empowering people. Everybody has got some skill they can contribute to society so it’s about creating a platform for that to happen.

How is it different from existing job sites out there?

K: There are a lot of people who struggle to make ends meet because they don’t fit into the current job market and the traditional system for finding employment doesn’t work for them. This could be for a number of reasons – they might be juggling a timetable around children, need only a quick solution in a new place or perhaps don’t feel that their skills or experience don’t match up to the traditional job market.

E: People also don’t tend to recognise their personal skills as professional traits and wouldn’t necessarily put them on their LinkedIn profile or on their CVs. But these personal skills don’t make you less valuable to society, they just put you in a different category. With Peg It, we’re empowering people to look into themselves and recognise the skills and services that they can contribute to society. In return they have the means to access finances to support a better balance in life.

There’s a bit of a story behind your venture, where did the idea first come from?

E: For a lot of my friends and family, growing up, money was a bit scarce. They had to think out of the box by making their own products to sell for example. This included things like sewing and making food which I sold at flea markets, and that’s where my idea came from.

K: I had my experience coming out of university as a new student. I was fortunate enough to have some time as a student in China doing an internship. During that time I got to see what it’s like to live in a country where the government doesn’t actually support you in terms of finances. It’s hard being in a position when you want to work, have skills, but struggle to find anything.

What has been the most memorable topic, speaker or lesson during Live the Dream so far?

E: There has been a lot of great speakers. A highlight was Derek Handley and how he talked about the fact that you’ve only got so much time here on earth to tackle an issue, so why not try and tackle something in a bigger way and make an impact. Another highlight was one of the first workshops we had with Curative, going back to the reasons why you’re trying to tackle the problem and getting stuck in. Knuckling down the “why?” and finding out the purpose for it all. When things get tough, always go back to the “why?”.

K: My highlight would probably be Nick Hadley, he’s our mentor at the moment and has been really good to us. The experience he’s shared with us has been invaluable and really important in helping to develop our website.

E: I think one of the big things that he always makes us think about is that question; “what are people going to type into Google or any other search engines to look for you?”. It’s important for us to understand that and know our market.

What has been the most challenging aspect of Live the Dream so far?

K: Probably the time frame. It forces you to push on! But that’s a good challenge.

E: Time. In terms of the pitch, its hard to portray both sides of Peg It, so trying to squash that into 5 minutes has been a tough task.

After Interim Pitch, are you feeling more or less confident in terms of your venture?

K: After the pitch wasn’t a great feeling. It is tough to channel your thoughts into what is most important, especially fitting that into five minutes. It was a positive experience, but it definitely enlightened us about the stuff we need to rethink. We haven’t really moved on our vision and that’s good I think. It means that we’re going to get there somehow, at some point.

E: In terms of losing faith in the venture, we haven’t. Everyone has those moments of second guessing things, but we realised that it is bigger than us. Our vision has very much stayed the same since day one.

You started doing a bit of work on Peg It before Live the Dream, what is driving you continue the venture through the Live the Dream programme?

K: This an awesome opportunity, you’d probably never get this opportunity any other way. We looked into a whole lot of other incubators, and they all offer a three month time frame for a charge. It has been something we’ve been conscious of all along and we know we would’ve needed to do something like it. It’s amazing to be a part of.

E: It was luck that we stumbled across it, it was like it was meant to be or something.

K: Perfect timing too. We were just about to go into the next phase of development so it was perfect. We’ve kind of done it backwards; we’ve gone straight to the product and then we’re validating what we’ve done. It has been important to be open to pivoting. It’s almost like it was meant to stop us there to get us to rethink things and review things, to go forward in the best way possible.

E: There are definitely awesome people and networks that you meet. High profile fellas who give all of these suggestions and ideas about what we could do and what we need to do; it has been really valuable.

Aside from relaxation, did you get anything productive out of the Taranaki weekend?

K: It was just great to meet other people who are on the same journey and have the same sort of aspiration, big goals, entrepreneurship, creativity and vision. It’s just such a cool vibe. They’re an awesome lot down in Wellington, they’re very down to earth and genuine people which is always good to be around.

E: The Wellington team have given heaps of cool feedback and they have given us some good ideas about how we can do things differently.

One last loaded question… What do you want to tell the world?

K: Peg It to us is a movement. Our vision for it is very much to create sharing amongst communities and by doing that we will be able to bring each other together. We definitely think that Peg It can play a role in closing the gap between the rich and the less fortunate, it can encourage them to meet in the middle.

E: I think that we’re seeing more of that now because the unemployment rate has gone down within the past 5 years. But we still have a problem because at least 250,000 children go to school without lunches. Families still don’t have enough money to feed their kids, so something needs to happen!

E: We also want to break down some of the stereotypes. People think that because you’ve got higher qualifications, you’re a more valuable person in society, when I think we’re all equally valuable.

Anything else you want to add?

K: We have to get something happening!

K: Self sufficiency is at the heart of what we do. To create communities that are self sufficient and share amongst the people. We’re just so crazy on the other end of that at the moment. I think the way we’re heading at the moment, there has got to be something pop up soon.

 

 

Perfect(ing) Pitches, and Mascara for Sight // Week 5 WGN

Depending on who you believe, research has shown that 41% of people fear public speaking more that 14 other major fears, including death. Well I have to say that it seems our participants were NOT included in that survey as there wasn’t a nerve in sight! Last night was our Interim Pitch event, a practice run of the Final Showcase, scheduled for Thursday the 19th of February.

 

Everybody delivered clear, passionate presentations that at times had the audience in fits of laughter, and at other times reaching for a tissue. Our audience included past and future speakers, external contributors and members of the Inspiring Stories Trust Board, as well as the friends and family of our participants and crew. Feedback is a vital part of this process, and there was plenty of opportunities for our audience to deliver theirs alongside the wine and cheese platters that followed.

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A big congratulations must go out to the 9 teams, as they really pulled it together and presented in a way which did all of us proud. One of them is Bonnie Howland, the youngest Dreamer this year and creative brain behind Mascara for Sight (working name), who kindly set aside some time to discuss formulas, Uni and some of the trials facing our Pacific brothers and sisters…

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Bonnie Howland with the World Vision team: Tara Pradhan, Head of Vision Partners, Stephne Vaughan, Senior Vision Partner Manager, and Chris Jupp, Youth Partners Manager.

Tell me about Mascara for Sight?

It’s a one-for-one deal. With every mascara sold; somebody in the pacific Islands will have their sight restored.

Where did this idea come from?

Mascara for Sight (MFS) came out of a combo of things; my time traveling in the Pacific Islands, working for World Vision and going to Festival For The Future last year.

World Vision sparked my passion for helping people, and set me up with the mindset of how to properly help people. Traveling to Vanuatu gave me a connection to Pacific Islanders, and attending Festival for the Future made me want to just do something.

Did you go to the Islands by yourself or with World Vision?

I went to visit a good friend of mine who lives there, and spent some time with the people, traveling around the island, so not with World Vision.

And did you see a lot of the people with the problems you’re hoping that MFS will help combat?

Yes, I did. The thing that really stuck out to me happened just after I left. I heard that a lovely -man who taught me how to open a coconut – was walking his two daughters back from school and had a horrible accident. His daughters were five and two. The roads in Vanuatu are terrible and this massive rock slipped off a ledge and he was pinned under it.  His five-year-old daughter had to run for miles to find help. They had to take him back to his house as the hospital was too far away, and the doctors from this hospital wouldn’t come out and help until the clinic opened on Monday. It happened on a Friday night. He got so sick, and I just couldn’t believe that he had to wait 3 days to see a doctor in a life-threatening, emergency situation.

That ties into the quote that Ben Johnson from The Freestore told us in Founders Circle yesterday; People in developed countries are wealthier that 95% of the worlds population…

Its quite easy to forget that, when you don’t see that everyday. It only took me 2 hours to get there (to Vanuatu); these people are literally our brothers and sisters, and it pains me that they have to go through these huge issues that we don’t have in New Zealand. And I’m happy we don’t, but at the same time I think that it’s our responsibility to do something about it, we’re in the position where we can stand up and say ‘nah, it’s not all good.’

Is that why you wanted to join Live the Dream then?

Yeah. Chris Jupp from World Vision told me about it, and I really admired Guy, so when I got accepted I was like “YAY!!”.

What kind of work have you done with World Vision?

I’ve worked with them as a youth advisor on events and some campaigns, on a part time basis, or when they need me.  I actually had to miss the first week of LTD as I was in Melbourne assisting World Vision Australia on one of their big events. They’ve really shaped my vision of how I see the world, and are such an amazing organisation.

Has being in that kind of environment helped with the validation of your product?

Yes definitely, especially in my relationship with Fred Hollows. Even though they’re very different organisations, I feel comfortable in that space. I feel I can be open with them and can expect the same from them. I’m really looking forward to building the (Fred Hollows) partnership further.

Why Mascara?

I think it is purely because of the connection between eyesight and eyes, and I personally think it is the most important beauty product! When I was little and drawing pictures, I would separate the boys and the girls by giving the girls long hair and dark eyelashes, so it is a very feminine product.

Have you given much thought to scaling it and developing more products, not only Mascara?

That is a definite option. I would love to partner with other organisations in the future and help combat other issues in our World.

But for the moment, you’re partnering with The Fred Hollows foundation.

Yes, we’ve started building our relationship. I was in contact with them before LTD, but since being here it has helped develop it further.

And what has been your highlight of the programme so far?

Definitely the vibe of the Wellington crew… I would still be really driven, but I don’t think I would be as happy and relaxed as I am if there wasn’t this amazing vibe, this amazing culture here. I really love and appreciate every member of the crew and the other participants. They are so supportive, and it’s not just here but the whole of Wellington, everyone wants to help you.

You’re going into your second year of University in March. How do you think you’ll juggle your studies and Mascara for Sight?

I feel like I’ll be okay. Last year I had a really busy year at Uni, my internship at World Vision and had a part-time job. I’m used to juggling, and in my mind, Mascara for Sight is the most important. I’ll try my hardest with both, and either way I see it working.

What about finding more people to help? Are you looking for team member? (I asked this for myself 😉 )

I definitely want to build my team, but it’s important that I find the right people.

So what have you been researching?

A lot of Market landscaping, checking out other brands and seeing where they sit, and looking into what it takes to start up a cosmetic company in New Zealand, as well as looking at eye health in the Pacific. Also, researching to make my formula better.

And what is the formula for Mascara?

It is equal parts wax, black pigment and oil. I would love to have all of the ingredients completely sourced from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and for them to be certified organic. Right now I’ve been trying to develop a formula I’m happy with.

Where abouts?

Just in my room!

How are you thinking you’ll package and market it?

I want it to be as environmentally friendly as possible, so I’m looking into making the bottle out of either glass or even bamboo, so they’re recyclable. Or perhaps even develop a refill system. At the moment there aren’t any Mascara brands that use glass, but all of these are questions for the future.

Marketing wise, I think there’ll be the classic social media campaign, magazine and print campaign. At the moment that’s where I’m at with that.

How was pitching last night for you?

Terrifying! But so exciting as well. I had a bit of a buzz, and I felt great after. I got heaps of great feedback from people, and there are things that I know I want to work on and things that I was stoked about.

And how are you feeling about the next 4 weeks with Live the Dream?

I think it will surprise me. Getting really solid on the foundations, so when I leave LTD the base will be real solid and I can start building it up from there.

Halfway There! // Week#5 AKL

It has been a week of organised chaos!

Teams have been busy preparing their ideas and readying themselves for the Interim Pitch on Thursday night. The Interim Pitch went down a treat and all of our teams presented confidently, clearly and made their passions clear. Afterwards everyone was invited for drinks and nibbles which allowed the teams to get some valued feedback on their presentations and to further their networks. We were grateful to welcome so many friendly faces into the audience, and once again we would like to thank you for all the support you have provided for the ventures so far!

Guy introducing the Interim Pitch.

Guy Ryan welcoming everyone to the Interim Pitch.

We’re currently in the middle of the programme and we would just like to take the time to recognise all of the speakers, facilitators and contributors for their support and kindness so far!

Fun in the sun! The teams jumping around in the park.

Fun in the sun. Our teams are sending their slightly crazy thanks!

Both the Auckland and Wellington programmes have got an exciting weekend ahead. Both Live the Dream contingents are meeting in Taranaki to have some much needed down-time and will have the chance to get to know one another, because Skype meetings cannot suffice! Keep an eye on our social media because our shenanigans cannot escape Facebook and Twitter.

Picnics in the sun at Albert Park.

Picnics in the sun at Albert Park, crazy-fun shenanigans with the teams!

Somehow, during his busy schedule, I managed to sit down with Robin Kerr from The Playground Collective to talk about his vision for the performing arts sector in New Zealand…

Robin Kerr from The Playground Collective.

Robin Kerr from The Playground Collective.

 

Tell us about your venture…

I came to Live the Dream with the vision of setting up a year-round youth theatre company focussing on central Auckland. This vision is something I’ve had a bit of experience with due to my performing arts background, and whilst that vision has remained relatively the same, it’s expanded and opened up other avenues.

How has Live the Dream helped you develop your vision?

I’ve definitely found that canvassing; seeing what else is out there in the landscape and what the real issues are, has really helped my idea to evolve, which is a really exciting.  I don’t think that would’ve occurred if I didn’t have the push or space to focus on what this activity could be.

What is your venture in response to? Have you found a gap within the performing arts space that you are planning on focusing on?

The main thing is trying to address some pretty big sustainability issues within the arts. For emerging practitioners, a lack of sustainability is really crippling, there are significant barriers to entry which makes the likelihood of longevity for emerging practitioners very very small.

I was looking at some stats the other day, I think it’s something like… Since 2011 we’ve had a 60% increase in students graduating from the performing arts in New Zealand, from 150 to 250 graduates a year, and yet the number of full time jobs in the sector is not only minimal, but decreasing. The amount of people we’re outputting is completely at odds with the existing demand of the sector.

How does your venture aim to tackle this problem?

There are 2 ways….

In a broader sense, I am aiming to train people to be independent by actually creating their own opportunities such as starting their own sustainable performing arts ventures. Having the room to focus on that has been cool, it has become clear that that is the outcome that I need to be moving towards.

The other thing is, we have artists that have a tendency to make “art for art’s sake” which isn’t relevant to people’s lives. Then, we have charities, government organisations and social enterprises who struggle to effectively communicate with their audiences, explore their mission or activate change on a large scale.

I’ve had some past experience with one-off youth projects that focus on social issues, partnering with organisations that have a mandate to address these issues. From the success of that, I see an ongoing opportunity to create a platform for these organisations to work with artists, enabling them to connect and engage with their audiences through more interesting works and more interesting processes.

A variety of projects can be created that sustain artists while at the same time benefit organisations and make their causes more visible.

It’s week five and we’ve reached the middle of the programme, how are you feeling about Live the Dream so far?

The programme is really good. The fact that it exists, and that it is so well entrenched in the industry is really important. I’m relishing having the time and space to just focus on what I want to do in such a great co-working environment.

What are the problems you have had to face and how have you solved these issues?

I think definitely there is a challenge in being a one-man venture. I lost a collaborator early on which was unfortunate, so I’ve been trying to rustle up a bit more support behind me. It’s been a struggle to do this whilst simultaneously trying to keep up with a very full agenda! I’ve been asking more of the Live the Dream interns which has been really helpful and also putting in the extra hours, which is important for a new venture I think. Especially to make the most of a programme like this.

Right now I’m on the hunt for an intern/collaborator for the remainder of the programme… so if anyone’s interested…?

You received some very important news last week, do you want to share that with the world?

The Playground Collective is a theatre company and we’ve been operating for about 7 years,  with a bunch of art projects on the go at all times. Live the Dream is exploring just one strand of our business. Last week, our grant from Creative New Zealand totalling $32,000 cleared and arrived in our bank account, which opens up some very exciting opportunities, including taking our work overseas.

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

I think that this is the time for social enterprise.

It’s flourishing, particularly in Auckland right now. There is a really exciting community which has been very welcoming to me. Before I came to Auckland 6 months ago, the word social enterprise wasn’t even in my awareness and now I’m in this programme I live and breathe it.

I think a lot of people are driven to do good things in the world, but why I am doing this programme is because it’s a really high value pathway into a really exciting movement. I can see that there’s a lot of potential for this to define, not only my future, but this city’s future and potentially this country’s future. It’s a really exciting prospect to come on board and grow with the movement.

To stumble across a new idea, taking theatre in a new direction, and to be a part of a vibrant movement that has a lot of momentum behind it, is a really exciting prospect.

Who has been your favourite speaker so far during the programme?

Dan from Akina is the bomb diggity, (which I’m really looking forward to seeing you spell). He is an amazing facilitator, he’s really good at appreciative inquiry, I really like his hard-boil approach too, he’s not overly sympathetic like a lot of Kiwis can be. He works in a really concentrated, fast and deeply connected way.

One last loaded question… What is your vision for this world?

I want to make the world a more creative and playful place.

I read this article somewhere and it was about people’s last request on their deathbed. The highest statistical response was ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’, or ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so much’. I think we live in a very serious world and take ourselves too seriously.

We have an obsession with work and wealth creation and I guess I would like to see the world that we live in governed by a happiness index rather than GDP. Where we value quality of life over and above the size of the bags under someone’s eyes or how high they are on the Fortune 500.

 

Hip, Hoppin’ and FitFlockin’ // WGN Week 5.

Five weeks have gone by, and 5 weeks remain. We’ve reached the half way point of our summer as the days heat up and the nights resolve. The social enterprise spirit is strong in Wellington this summer, and on Thursday we got the opportunity to meet some other like minded young people when Live the Dream and VicLink Bootcamp combined in an epic Pitch Den practice like no other.

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Getting to see how other people are targeting entrepreneurial issues, and how they’re style of pitching relates to their product has been valuable for our participants, especially as we lead up to the interim pitch night. This will be a chance for everybody to pitch their ventures in a real-life environment for the first time, in front of the crowd of individuals who have supported, advised and presented to our venture teams; all in grand preparation for the Final Showcase on Thursday the 19th of February!

Fit-Flock

Bart De Vries, Abigail Harper, Rodney O’Sullivan

This week I got to interview Bart de Vries who is working full time on his venture, FitFlock.

Tell me a little bit about what FitFlock is…

FitFlock is [going to become] an app and a website, which is going to solve the trouble that people are experiencing when trying to connect with the activities around them – not only that but the FUN activities. FitFlock will give people knowledge of these fun, and often free activities and will hopefully help society realize that being active and moving is not just about exercising, it’s about finding activities you love to do which at the same time are catered for movement- i.e. Salsa, paddle boarding, rock climbing… Insert fun activity here.

How did FitFlock begin?

It began through the end of something else. A hear and a half ago, I started this Dutch Waffle company with some friends- so the fattiest, sugariest treat you could imagine. Then the new OECD rankings came out for obesity in New Zealand, and the results showed that we are the third most obese country in the world, which means 2/3 of people in New Zealand are overweight, just behind the USA and Mexico.

It was a huge ‘WOW’ moment for me, so we shut the waffles down straight away. Even though we were having so much fun, and had a whole plan in place, we saw ourselves adding to this pain that New Zealand, and the World, has right now. Instead of adding to that pain, I wanted to be a part of something that attempted to change and heal it, so the idea of FitFlock was born.

How is FitFlock going to differentiate from other apps, like say Meetup?

Meetup covers a whole range of topics and activities, whereas FitFlock is purely for physical activity.

In Wellington alone, there are tonnes of amazing things going on and the FitFlock app will be able to effortlessly connect its users to these activities, filling the gap in that market that connect users to these fun activities.

So is FitFLock being developed primarily for Wellington?

Right now, yes. But there is room to scale. I don’t see any reason why we can’t export it, and go to Melbourne, I can see it getting that big that I could go to New York, and be able to go on the app and instantly know what activities are going on on that day, in that place.

We’ve had emphasis on team culture this week, tell me, how does the FitFlock team fit together?

I’m coming through the programme full time, and then we have Rodney who is a personal trainer and comes in sometimes, and is a Masters student studying physiology and neuroscience. His interest is in behavior change, understanding how people work, so he’s getting stuck into the research side of things. Abigail is our other member on the side. She is a programmer, and is going to lead the development of the app.

Tell me a bit about your background Bart?

I’ve been in Physiotherapy for 7 years in Wellington, working mainly with sports teams. I also have played hockey for Wellington for a few years, and prior to that, I played Hockey professionally in Holland for two seasons. what I really wanted was to begin working on a larger positive impact in teh greater scheme of things, and find something that I could help out with for the rest of my life so I took the leap and applied to Live the Dream when I found out that applications were open to apply last year. I have been fortunate enough to have supporters from a successful PledgeMe campaign ran last year that is helping me get through the programme.

You’ve been promoting FitFlock with Boost classes. Tell me how that all came about?

Boost started through me wanting to get fitter, wanting to move better, and doing something everyday that would help me to move better. I also wanted to take my skills as a physio and share them. So I run 20-minute Boost classes out the front of parliament, 12.30 every workday. The reaction has been awesome! We’re getting new people along every day, across all fitness levels, from the super fit to those who haven’t moved in ages. We do 8 movements for 30 seconds at a time, and then have a minute break, repeating the process three times. It’s a really social, supportive environment, so it makes it easy for others to come and join in, and they are!

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What does 2015 hold for FitFlock?

Good question. It holds finding our feet, a bunch of fun stuff, testing activities around Wellington, and building a team! We have an MVP (minimum viable product) we’re about to kick off, and are hoping to get some funding from the government.

In 2015, I want to get New Zealand moving! We’re based in Wellington starting at Parliament, where all of the decisions happen which seems like a great first logical place to start. FitFlock is all about helping NZ move in a better and more positive direction and by doing Boost classes by Parliament, lots of people see me and want to know what we’re doing, which brings recognition to the cause behind FitFlock. It makes it really clear what we’re about, and it gets the word out around the government that we’re out there everyday, doing this thing for great impact. We also need to put the call out for graphic designers, more programmers, and a PR guru to help out and make FitFlock happen in 2015!

We’ve had so many contributors in so far and the list is growing. Is there a session(s) that sticks for you personally?

I’ve gotten something valuable from everyone! Chris Jupp has been epic – asking WHY over and over again has really messed my world up, while making it awesome at the same time. That was one of the early

sticking-memories. Other people have been the guys from Loomio, the way they approach things and do them has been thought provoking for me, I would love to learn more from them. Also enjoyed looking at the logic models of problem analysis in Dave (Clearwater’s) Theory of Change workshop recently. It’s hard to pick as all have been so valuable.

What have you taken away from the programme so far?

That delving into social issues and trying to create solutions is like opening a huge can of worms! That supportive environments makes it that much easier to delve into problems and figuring out solutions, and realizing that there will always be another whole depth of issues…no matter how many layers I work through the ones underneath are just as tricky!

Anything else to add?

Fitflock are wanting to expand and we’re currently seeking graphic designers, coders/programmers, a PR guru and marketing genius to help us get this thing going. If you’re interested in being a part of FitFlock, please get in touch with me here: yesbvd@gmail.com

Just a portion of Barts many post-it note usages.

Just a portion of Barts many post-it note usages.

Great chatting to you Bart, enjoy the can of worms, they sound like they’re growing into delicious bites of healthy social enterprise goodness! I’m sure you’ll get everybody moving over the Taranaki weekend meet up which Nelzy (Auckland’s blog writer) will let everyone know more about in next week’s blog!

Recharged and Ready! // Week#4 AKL

There have been smiles all around as the Dreamers return to their desks and knuckle down into the New Year. The Auckland Crew have kicked off the week full of high spirits that could only lead to productivity throughout the weeks to come. Snapping out of holiday mode and into work mode has been tricky, but luckily the participants are eager and rested. Here’s to the last seven weeks!

The Dreamers bask in the sunshine during their morning tea picnic, a break before they snap back into it!

The Dreamers bask in the sunshine during their morning tea picnic. A break from work before they snap back into it!

Next week is the Interim Pitch, which is a big deal for the teams as they continue to validate their venture purpose.  Nerves are high, but if all goes well the energy will fuel the success of the pitches next week.

In the midst of it all I managed to sit down and chat with Vic from CoPlay to talk about the ups and downs of her journey so far.

 

Vic from Coplay

Vic from Coplay.

 

Tell us a bit about your venture…

Coplay is essentially about trying to get people engaged in active participation where they wouldn’t otherwise have a lot of time. It’s about creating active social interactions that engage individuals and communities while tackling the issue of obesity, sedentary lifestyles and complex social issues.

Why is the element of “play” so important in this?

You learn from play, but you’re learning in a way that helps you to develop real life skills around social interaction, sharing, leadership, physical mobility, boundaries and that sort of thing.

But learning in the “traditional” sense isn’t often thought of as play…

Well these days parents are almost saying that kids should be educated for longer, they’re essentially creating resumes of skills for their kids. Rather than kids discovering these things on their own and actually working out what they want to do.

When you look at animals in play and children when they are playing, they’re having so much fun because they are taking ownership of what they’re doing.

When adults place a construct on a child’s play, it takes away their independence and it tells them that adults are the ones who know how they should be playing.

Not allowing children to have that self expression is problematic because they cannot develop real social skills. Especially now, most kids are behind the screen and a lot of the time the person they present differs to the person they present during play.

So are you changing the way modern children play and taking it back to more “traditional” methods?

I think it’s a mixture, because in a way technology is an enabler. Kids are always going to have technology and that isn’t going to change, especially as it is getting faster, cheaper and more prolific. I want them to use technology as a mechanism to engage with other people to do real, outdoor, tactile, tangible play. Fun play, that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a screen and being inside being sedentary.

It’s about allowing people to experience play as nature intended, as opposed to a manufactured mode of play.

What about your “Connect. Play. Reward” system, how would you deliver that?

“Connect” is basically allowing people to connect through the app and make friendships within community spaces. Then they play and meet new people which fosters community cohesion.

The reward is for active behaviour both individually and collectively.

Potentially, the individual reward would provide you with a “currency” which allows you access to products and services that support sustainable, green and ethical standards. This is very important to my venture as well as supporting the triple bottom line; people, profit and planet.  Another aspect is that those who participate in the event in every way get points which can then be cast as votes. The votes will support projects, products and services that the community needs so that all of those involved benefit.

Coming back to the Live the Dream programme, what has been your favourite speaker/topic/lesson so far?

I think that all of the workshops and the experience itself has been incredibly empowering. Especially exploring the diversity of components that you need to run a successful business. I’m a little bit of a geek so I really enjoyed Kelsey Deane’s talk; seeing how her mind works through topics of technology and social enterprise as well as engagement strategies. She has given us some fantastic resources that I will use. Not just for this venture but for any other start-ups and ventures that I do from here on.

I’ve loved all of the workshops because I’m one of those people that learns much better when given an example. So the speakers here have been great; they show me how it applies, they outline the lesson, show how it worked before and explain what to take away.  It’s so much easier to let that sink in and have a deeper sense of learning.

I also love that the people at Live the Dream work with passion and have a sheer belief in what they are doing. We’re all here for that same reason. We’ve had an idea, we’re passionate about it and we want it to come to fruition. If you surround yourself with like minded people, that becomes easier.

We’re just finishing up our fourth week, how has the journey been so far and what has been your biggest challenge?

I think the biggest barriers I have found so far are around true validation for partners and suppliers. A lot of them need metrics around usage before people will even entertain the idea of getting on board as a revenue stream. It’s tricky trying to sell them something that doesn’t quite exist yet.

How has the validation process been useful to your venture?

It has been really good to validate what I am doing and making sure that I am on the right track in terms of why I’m doing it and the perceived need. The perceptions I have about what I think people need could be quite different to what they really do need. Getting involved and really building relationships with communities, asking questions and letting them be a part of the solution is incredibly important.

What is driving you to dedicate ten weeks of your life to this venture?

A true belief. When I get the thing in my head where I’m passionate about something, I can’t let it go. I’ve got this tenacity around what I do, and I truly believe that it can have a positive effect on whole communities. At the end of the day this is the thing I really want to be doing.

I want to make a difference somehow.

What do you want to tell the world?

I think it’s really important to understand that people need to learn for themselves, so that we can find solutions and positive outcomes for really complex issues and wicked problems. I’m really compelled to find solutions to those.

There are no bad ideas, there’s a bad execution. The idea has to evolve and the most important thing is to understand who you’re doing it for and the reasons why you’re doing it. You really need to find the pain points and go by the method. It’s like ingredients in a recipe, you can’t make assumptions.

 

Vic left me with a quote from Dr. Libby Weaver to inspire us all this year…

“This is the year I will be stronger, braver, kinder and unstoppable. This year I will be fierce”.

All things YOMO // WGN Week 4

Welcome back! 2015 is upon us and here in Wellington, it’s a heavy reminder that time does fly when you’re having fun. Getting back into the LTD mindset after the holiday break has been easier for some than others, but given that we’re almost half way through LTD, it is no cause to slow down! We kicked off on Tuesday where everyone caught up on each other’s news (with much admiration of tans and new hair cuts), then got stuck into it, speaking about what the next 5 weeks hold for our participants and their ventures.

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Charmaine Meyers, LTD alumni and co-founder of Enspiral Accounting came in Thursday morning for a session on accounting, book keeping and shared her tips on how to make social enterprise grow.  Directly following was another fascinating workshop with the amazing Chelsea Robinson on self-care, balance and how to grow a movement. Once again Michael Elwood-Smith of Akina Foundation shared his time to our much appreciative participants, sorting through issues and helping develop ideas. Dave Clearwater created an interactive, fun workshop around why the world needs social enterprise.

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t’s been a busy first week of the term, first real week of the year, but in the mists of it all I managed to catch Michael Smith for a fun and easy conversation about all things YOMO.

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Michael Smith and Alexanda Whitcombe.

What is YOMO?

Since starting LTD, the answer to that has changed! Right now YOMO is focused on relieving stress and making youth more focused, specifically targeting youth in their last year of university study or those in their first proper jobs. We want to reach them in a proactive way as opposed to a re-active way, helping them develop the habit of using YOMO in the form of one minute pod casts, that will encourage them to relieve stress in a proactive way instead of letting it build up and bubble over. YOMO stands for Your One MInute Of.

How did YOMO start?

It began at Lifehack Labs. Our group wanted to focus on getting people into their flourishing, optimal state, as something like 60%- so the majority of people- are just in the ‘just okay’ state. We wanted to have the biggest impact we could and thought that this area was the one for us to focus on. Carston Grimm from the Mental Health Foundation put us onto the 5 states of wellbeing ideas, which is centered on gratitude, being in the now and mindfulness. We had done a bit of research into mindfulness, and found out that even just taking 10 breaths is so beneficial, which is where the idea of minute long pod casts came from, as everyone has a minute in their day to set aside for it.

How did YOMO hear about Live the Dream? 

Actually from social media! I saw couple of posts of the final pitch night from last year, thought it was awesome but then put it out of my mind until after Lifehack.

What made YOMO want to be a part of Live the Dream? 

After Lifehack, we had a ‘what now?’ moment- we wanted to continue working on it and thought why not, lets apply and here we are.

Describe your journey in LTD so far. 

Really good. So intense. You have 45 things on your high priority list, you can’t get to all of them but you need to get to all of them, so it is a learning process for us.

Tell us about your backgrounds…. 

I did a Bachelor of Information Technology at Otago Polytechnic, and Alex has a degree in Industrial design from AUT. I moved up to Wellington and worked as a Software Developer, which I loved and I loved my life, but going through Lifehack really opened my eyes to different possibilities, so I left my job to come and take part in Live the Dream. Alex was working up in Auckland, doing a few jobs. He heard about Lifehack and decided to take a gamble and move down to Wellington to be a part of it.

In the programme, we work on defining a pain, which your venture aims to solve. What has YOMO decided on as it’s pain point? 

It comes back to our mission statement; YOMO’s mission is to see mental resilience in youth, to develop a product that encourages and promotes this. We just keep coming back to that really, seeing if it all fits and figuring out what’ll get us where we want to be the quickest…(but then) when you’re dealing with wellbeing and health, you can’t do it quick, well you can but you need to do it right.

In what way is YOMO going to gain followers, and then users? 

We’re still trying to figure that out! A big thing for us, which we’re working through at the moment, is solutions. We’re trying to make YOMO fun and engaging, something that people are going to want to practice. So we’re sorting this out, figuring out what the best way to gain an audience is, and figuring out what the best platform will be. There is a lot of meditation aids available that focus the new age, cross-your-legs-deep-breath hippie type meditation practice, which YOMO isn’t about.

Then what separates YOMO from other meditation platforms? 

YOMO is an easy, engaging and fun one-minute break. YOMO is different because it’s not a guided mediation like so many others available. It’s about focusing on something completely different and gives people a change to switch off from what they’re finding stressful.

How did you decide on your target audience? 

We thought about when people where most likely to be stressed out and living unbalanced lifestyles, and identified with those the situation of their last year of uni or their first jobs. They have a lot of things going on in their lives; leaving their friends, support networks, the free facilities of uni, and then with their first job, their being thrown into it.

Is this based on personal experience?

At uni, I was a massive crammer, a huge procrastinator. I didn’t know I was stressed, I didn’t know how to recognize it until it had taken over. Now, from meditating and doing brain exercises I’m able to identify it early.A couple of years ago, I wasn’t emotionally aware; i.e. when I was grumpy I didn’t identify with it until I would explode at someone, apposed to now when I know the signs and I know when I’m feeling like that, I can go and be by myself.

When you start to think about your routine, it all connects…

Yes, exactly. Mindfulness and taking that time to reflect, work out how your going and why you’re sleeping so much more, things like that have helped me.

At those times when someone knows they’re grumpy or irritated, is it then that you feel YOMO would be an effective tool to use? Or is it a tool to use so that those situations don’t arise so much? 

Hopefully they’ll be using it constantly, so they don’t get to that stage. Ideally once or twice a day, when they’re going through stressful times like exams or project deadlines and need to focus quiet heavily. So its kind of a way to get out of your focused mode of thinking, take a step back, calm down and take a break for just one minute, as a way to re-focus on their work with a fresh mindset.

So you’re about finding balance? 

Yeah, exactly. Right know we’re mapping out our team values, and that’s one of the main things, taking care of ourselves.

That ties into what Chelsea (Robinson) was speaking about today, that whole idea of self care. How do you personally take care of yourself?

For me, it is realizing when I need to take a break. I meditate everyday, which helps me to be focused, and identifying with my emotions, when I’m feeling negative I take some time for myself, go for a walk and listen to music. It’s important to realise that the emotions that you’re feeling aren’t a representation of you, that its okay to feel grumpy or be tired sometimes, it makes you human.

What references does YOMO draw on? 

At the moment everything! We read a lot of Buddhist texts and new age ideas, but also opinions from people who don’t agree with some of the forms of mediation out there. It’s good to get a balanced and diverse view when researching.

How do you see YOMO being financially sustainable? 

There is the classic subscription based podcast, or pay once for the app, or have somebody sponsor each podcast. We’re in the early stages of setting up our business model, and that is one area that we want to get right.

How have you found validation? 

Its been so helpful, difficult but helpful.

And the pitching? 

I find it difficult to speak in front of people, and to strangers, I’m quiet an introverted, but I’ve gotten better at it, it is gets easier every time. But this is what LTD is about; you’re starting a business, you need to be able to pitch and be able to engage with strangers.

What does 2015 have in store for YOMO? 

Hopefully some paying customers, a business model and an MVP that we’ve tested and that we know is going to work.