“Encouragement, Support, & Good Vibes” // WGN // Overview

Crew and Dreamers alike began Live the Dream with no solid idea of where the journey would take them. Some of our participants had strong ideas about their ventures, while others knew they had a lot of work to do, but I can safely say that all eighteen ventures that entered came out the other end looking completely different. There were name changes, team changes, indeed idea changes- but this is what Live the Dream is about, creating an incubator where the little seedling ventures can be fed the right nutrients by the right people at the right time- and boy, did we get some good grub.


Meeting all together for the first time at the Marae weekend was an incredible way to begin the journey, as it helped create solid foundations for the bonds that were established during the 10 weeks we all spent together. The vibe created made our place feel accepting, warm, and lovely, a space where all our dreamers felt they were being supported and encouraged, while at the same time, respected. Live the Dream is about preparing ventures for the real world- and it’s tough out there, as founder and Inspiring Stories Trust CEO Guy Ryan said during the first check-in on the first day, over half of start-ups fail within the first year.


Being a part of this programme is in no way a guarantee of success, but what I will say is that it takes a special type of person to dedicate 10 weeks of their life to this kind of endeavour. Some of our participants quit their job to be involved, like Michael from YOMO, HG and Abbie of Inkling even moved down to Wellington, as did Bonnie and Camia, while others put their studies on hold such as Oliver from Grow Aotearoa. Needless to say, everyone involved this summer has a lot on the line, but even more to gain.

Regardless of the ways that we all got involved with Live the Dream, Wellington welcomed this programme with open arms. From the beautiful space that the Victoria University Faculty of Architecture and Design provided us, the YHA beds for participants from out of town, to the countless contributors, mentors and founders who delivered presentations and talks, we received nothing but acceptance. As Bonnie Howland said, ‘they [the crew] are so supportive, and it’s not just here but the whole of Wellington, everyone wants to help you’.


Each week that flew by saw specific goals being reached, whether by the number of validation interviews conducted, the number of pitches practiced, or the completion of MVP’S. Not all aspects of Live the Dream was about working though, a whole lot of time was dedicated to having a fun break, from weekly Wednesday shared lunches where we enjoyed Gemma’s mad baking skills and Nedra’s delicious concoctions, to Connor’s crazy dance moves at the Christmas break-up party!

The Final Showcase event was a night filled with good vibes, support, encouragement and love. Over 230 people packed into the beautiful Mac’s function center to watch the nine ventures pitch their ideas, and launch them into the world. Not only did each speaker do themselves proud, they did us proud too. As Tamas said, ‘it was like watching my children, I feel like a proud father’- having spent his summer helping to develop these ventures, I could see where he was coming from. That emotion radiated throughout the entire audience; from the hilarious jokes Nick cracked to the commanding way Bart moved across that stage like a seasoned professional, I do not believe a single person left that night having not been touched or moved in a certain way. How could they not have? The beauty of Live the Dream is that it doesn’t discriminate across genres, demographics or topics; as long as the heart of an idea is to see social change and make a positive impact, anything is acceptable, and through Live the Dream, anything is possible.


You’ve probably all wondered what the core crew think of Live the Dream, why they wanted to be involved, and indeed where this entire idea come from. It was an enormous pleasure to have spoken to the three programme facilitators Sophie Tricker, Kate Beecroft and Tamas Hovanyecz, as well as the man himself, our CEO Guy Ryan.

Live the Dream Contributor Guy Ryan

Guy Ryan, CEO of Inspiring Stories and Young NZer of the Year 2015;

1. Where did the idea for LTD come from?

The idea for Live the Dream came from a few influences. In the 20th century entrepreneurship was about building enterprise for private commercial gain, often at the expense of society and/or the environment. In the 21st century, entrepreneurship has to be about creating value for people and planet.

When I was at Uni I started getting really interested in the idea of social entrepreneurship and enterprise. I felt NZ had some good supports for high-growth commercial enterprise but big gaps, especially for young people, who were more interested in growing ideas to make a difference socially or environmentally. Universities had empty campuses over summer, and students had time on their hands.

Live the Dream started as an idea. We bootstrapped it from day one, built the brand, and launched the very first ‘call for ideas’ all on less than $1,000. That was September 2013 – things have come a long way since then. Now with three successful programmes under our belt, we’re working to strengthen pre and post-programme support, and running the programme across Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland next summer.

2. What is the pain that LTD is trying to solve in the world?

We’re living in a world with increasingly complex and urgent problems that need solving – social, environmental and economic. Live the Dream is about giving young people access to some of New Zealand’s most brilliant minds to understand these complexities, and grow ideas that have the potential to make a real difference. Live the Dream is a flagship programme created and run by Inspiring Stories – we’re growing a generation of young New Zealanders who can, and will change the world.

3. How, in your opinion, does LTD help combat NZ’s social issues?

Whilst they’re amazing, the ventures that come out of LTD are also early-stage. Perhaps the most important thing LTD does is give young people a mandate to make a difference, to better understand the issues, to connect with leading expertise, and have a go at creating a venture that has the potential to make a real difference and be financially sustainable.

The reality is that the start-up game is hard, and it’s estimated that more than 90% of start-ups fail within the first three years. Inspiring Stories for example is my fourth start-up, and by far the most successful because it builds on all of those previous learning’s and mistakes. Our hope and what we’re seeing already, is that even if participants who come through LTD try to take their ventures forward and fail, that they will learn from it and go on to do great things for our communities, nation and beyond.

4. How is LTD different from other accelerator programmes?

LTD combines the best of commercial with social and environmental. The strong focus on growing young social entrepreneurs and their ventures has a powerful sense of purpose, which has attracted interest and support from a diverse range of remarkable people and organisations. It’s also full-immersion, with participants diving right into full-time venture development Monday–Friday, 9–5, for 10-weeks over summer. There’s nothing else quite like LTD in New Zealand, and it builds directly on the global social enterprise movement.

5. In what ways do you stay passionate?

I love this stuff – the challenge of leading a purpose-driven organization, the people and partners we get to work with. We’ve definitely had our share of hardships too though. Getting through those tough times I always try to stay focused on the big picture, stay connected to people who inspire me and push my boundaries, and go surfing whenever I get the chance!


Sophie Tricker, Programme Operations & Superwoman;

1. What attracted you to being a core crew member for this years LTD

I was working for the [Inspiring Stories] Trust on a 2 month contract coordinating the film competition and marketing and comms back in September when Guy asked me if I was up for the challenge to help run Live the Dream. New to socent [social enterprise], and relatively new to IST, I was like, ‘yes! I’m keen’.

2. How have your previous experiences helped you in your position this year

Client interaction, people and communications, organisation and producing has always been a focus in my past roles. LTD was an accumulation of all of this, but there were new challenges like the recruiting and managing our 3 awesome interns! I have been lucky enough to build my skills at being a generalist and I’ve loved the diversity of each day and being able to be across a variety of ‘disciplines’.

3. Tell us your three main highlights from the programme

One that resonates is the most recent Final Showcase event and feeling extremely proud to be part of that whole thing. Developing a relationship with Victoria University has been a delight. My main takeaway from the whole Live the Dream experience has been the ability and exposure to connect with so many awesome people in this city. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting every one of our external contributors and forming some great relationships which I’m extremely grateful for.

4. Why do you think there is a need for social enterprise in NZ, and do you think LTD will be a core part of solving our social issues.

Social enterprise seems to make so much sense to me – a business that impacts people, the planet and communities for the better. I’m still sometimes amazed it’s still ‘new’ to NZ. Live the Dream is another channel available with backing and support for amazing people, that helps give social entrepreneurs a step in the right direction, getting these socent ventures off the ground – and I think that’s important.

5. Has being a core part of the LTD programme this year contributed to the change you want to see in the world

Being part of LTD has made me realise that whatever I do in the future, I want to help people. There are so many ways you can do that and I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by participants, crew and contributors day in and day out, who are helping people in the ways that they can, and that’s invigorating. Warm fuzzies all round!

6. Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes. I would like to add a massive thank you to YOU, Rachael Short! And Sean William Harris and Eva Lu for the amazing support and work you guys put in (unpaid!) for the whole 10 weeks. You’ve been the best intern team and our whole crew has been pretty unique – thank you for contributing to the core team, the good vibes, laughs and hard work! #legends


Tamas Hovanyecz, Programme Facilitator & Hungarian helper;

1. What was it that drove you to apply to work on an excellerator programme this summer, in NZ of all places?

Funny story: in the past year my attention was drawn from commercial startups to social enterprises. I came out to NZ for a year of experiencing the local cultural and the kiwi way of doing things but ended up freelancing for an Australian social enterprise that builds a child protection system. The more I dug into the [socent] topic the more I know that I found my path, after having been involved with startups and working for an investment bank. So when I had enough of messing around I googled social entrepreneurship in NZ and I found Live the Dream’s website. I took my chances and emailed Guy my CV. Two days later we had an interview and a week later they wanted me to fly up to Auckland to spend a day with the team… the rest is history.

2. Will what you’ve learnt here help you in starting up and running your own ventures/programmes?

I’ve always been passionate about education and participated in various educational related initiatives. Being part of LTD helped me realise that knowledge sharing is what I really want to do. Facilitating the programme doesn’t mean that we know everything involved with building an enterprise. Mostly seeing the big picture from the facilitator’s (outside) perspective is what helped me  coordinate a new initiative which we call SocialFokus. SocialFokus was born due to myself being on the  core crew of Live the Dream, and focuses on building people, motivating them to get to know a problem from all angles so when it comes to prototyping various solution ideas they are fully aware of what the teams want to solve. As part of that we’re organising workshops in the upcoming months in Tonga, Malaysia and Budapest.

3. How does LTD differ from other social enterprise initiatives you’ve been involved in overseas?

LTD and the whole social entrepreneurial world in New Zealand is very collaborative and the rest of the world should learn from how things are getting done here. It was fascinating to see the various stakeholders excitement towards social enterprises and their attitude towards implementing new projects and products. This is the first place where I have heard things like ‘don’t build a new platform – put it on Chalkle, it’s open source anyway’.

4. What is the change you want to see in the world, and have being a part of LTD this summer help realize that dream in any away.?

I want to see young people being given the opportunity, knowledge and skill set throughout their education that enables them to build enterprises that solve problems on a local level. LTD and the community here in Wellington have had a huge impact on me. I have learnt so much from every single person I met in the last three months and due to their support and energy I truly feel enabled and motivated to start making this change happen.

5. How do you stay passionate?

Working with young people, whether in an accelerator or in the South of France where I facilitate outdoors education helps me see the world through a different lens. Being surrounded by the younger generation gives me the opportunity to understand the future needs and through that stay innovative. And that allows me hold onto my passion, which is to have an impact on the world no matter how small or big it might be.


Kate Beecroft , Programme Facilitator, Connector & Catalyzer

1. What has been your experience with social enterprise?

I’ve worked in business development and marketing for All Good Organics which is a socially purposeful business and from that time, I started to learn about how business can be used for social and environmental goals. I’ve also spent time working on social enterprise Bucky Box and was a cofounder of another socent.

3. How does teaching/facilitating social enterprise and entrepenurial projects/programmes contribute to your goals and your own ventures?

By going deeply into the principals of lean methodology and design thinking and applying and combining that with social impact means that I’ve approached my own business and my own social entrepreneurial endeavors with more rigor and more awareness around financial sustainability and translating impact with value.

4. Why were you drawn to LTD in the first place?

Through two friends, I’d learnt of the pilot programme last year and thought it would be a good way to put into practice my experience of going through an accelerator – my forays into the start up world and starting my own small business.

5. Has being a core part of the LTD programme this year contributed to the change you want to see in the world?

Yes, being one of the coordinators of LTD has enabled me to see that anyone anywhere can be a social entrepreneur if they have the tools and support. It’s been really heartening to see so many different people compelled to try and make a difference in the world via an enterprise.

6. You’re the queen of networking, what are you 2 tips for building maintaining business connections?

I’d say have lots of coffee with people, be curious, ask questions and always be open to a chat on Cuba Street no matter how late it’s going to make you for your next meeting!

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It has been such a privilege to have been involved with Live the Dream this summer. Being exposed to so many incredible people. ideas and new concepts has really changed me as a person, opened up an entire new world and changed my mindset. Thank you to Sophie Tricker for your never ending patience, support and for helping me sort out my little life problems. Thank you to Kate Beecroft, you’re one of the coolest people I’ve ever met, so insanely intelligent and one day I hope to be as articulate as you. Thank you to Tamas Hovanyecz for being sooooo nice (haha), for your good humour and genuine care. Thank you to my two awesome intern buddies, Sean Harris and Eva Lu, you’re both lights in my life and Eva, you can be a fat unicorn. And thank you to Guy Ryan for calling me a #legend every chance you got. What an inspiring journey, and an even more inspiring opportunity.

Over and out.


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.


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!


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!


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!

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!!!


Gearing up for round two! // Building buzz at FFTF14

Kia ora all!

What a weekend just had at Festival for the Future! Over 400 movers and shakers from all over New Zealand got amongst the action for our biggest Festival yet. The speakers were incredibly inspiring – humbling to hear about their ventures, their vision for New Zealand and indeed the world. What an exciting time to be alive!

Prior to Festival kicking off, we brought together the almuni from Live the Dream 2013/14. It was great to reconnect, and hear where everyone and their ventures are at months down the line. Big thanks to KPMG for hosting us at their Auckland waterfront offices.

Alumni 2013/14 catching up at KPMG before FFTF14

At the launch night for FFTF14 we had Laura, Cade, Lindsey and Guy speak – they were fantastic. It’s amazing to think how much everyone has progressed in a year. Such a great way to launch the Festival!

Rate my Flat's Lindsey & Cade speak at launch night FFTF14

Laura and the crowd at opening night FFTF14


Rate My Flat's Teesh, Cade & Lindsey

Mark & Cade at FFTF14

It was great to meet lots of you at the Live the Dream stand and chat and read all of your awesome ideas for a better New Zealand. We’re thoroughly excited to be gearing up for Live the Dream 2014/15, and receiving the applications (which are open now!) to participate in this year’s programme. Make sure you get your entry in before September 21st.

Live the Dream info stall at FFTF14

If you haven’t already liked our Live the Dream Facebook page, follow it to keep up to date with programme info and all things Live the Dream 2014/15.

With Live the Dream operating in both Auckland and Wellington this year, the Inspiring Stories Trust is growing the movement, backed by Kiwis who love our work and help us to step things up. If you’re keen to help us build the movement please consider supporting the Trust by Joining the Whanau.

Image of crowd at Festival for the Future 2014


All Wrapped Up // Impact Report

Hot-off-the-press – the Live the Dream Report is a compelling glimpse into the first-time programme. We’re calling this the biggest social enterprise collaboration in New Zealand history. You’re free to download it, share it, and explore with the outcomes, opportunities for improvement, and strategy moving forwards.


Now heading into our fourth year of operation, Inspiring Stories Trust has created some epic initiatives. Live the Dream is just that – it’s the start of something which has huge potential for New Zealand, and could absolutely be rolled out on every single campus nationwide.


If you have any trouble downloading the report, it’s also available here:

What’s happening next for Inspiring Stories Trust?
Festival for the Future – 5–7 September 2014, Auckland
Live the Dream – happening next summer in Auckland & Wellington

We’re building a movement of Kiwis who love our work and back us to step things up. If you’re keen to help us build the movement please consider supporting the Trust by Joining the Whanau.

Raising The Bar

Wednesday 19th February. A beautiful summer evening in Wellington and Mac’s cable room on the waterfront is packed with 200 people, all there to listen to the final showcase of NZ’s first Social Enterprise Accelerator programme.


All 7 teams delivered fantastic pitches – true and worthy reflections of the blood, sweat and fire they have poured into their ventures all summer long.

The blank stares and uncertainty from day 1, distant memories. The nerves of not being able to pitch without notes, a killer 5 weeks ago, also long forgotten. Replaced on the stage with strong confidence and ownership, they all presented like established founders running credible ventures. And so they should.

We designed Live the Dream with clear goals – to radically upskill and grow the capacity of New Zealand’s next generation of social entrepreneurs and help them launch their ventures. The final event showed us not just that the teams learned to pitch, but they learned to build a business, grew in confidence, created networks and partnerships and, most importantly learned fundamental processes and techniques that will hold them in good stead – not just for their current projects, but the next ones, and the next ones, and the next ones after that.


Pitches aside, a significant highlight of the final event was the diversity of the crowd – a room full of people from large corporate businesses, SME’s and consultancies, local government, NGOs and the vibrant startup community. All of these people – excited, inspired, business cards flying and new connections being made.

The community in Wellington has been so responsive, so supportive of Live the Dream; it seems everyone genuinely wants to see more of this type of thing happen – and quite genuinely, we need it. The more people upskilled to use entrepreneurship to tackle the big social and environmental problems in front of us, the better off we all are.

Social Enterprise, the 4th sector, allows us to break the rules. It is a call to arms, a completely inclusive exercise in wide collaboration, and can be actively supported by everyone: From multinational corporations, to local governments to small non-profit charitable trusts. When designing businesses towards positive impact there is a part for everyone to play.


And the game has started.


A massive thanks to the partners and contributors to the programme to help us kick this off. If we keep raising the bar for partners, for mentors, for contributors and for founders and their ventures – I’m sure that as a community, we’ll rise to the challenge.

So let’s do it, let’s keep the momentum going, let’s keep pushing. Let’s rise to the challenge and make New Zealand a world leader in launching and supporting impactful, viable social enterprises.


Week Ten: Urban Kai

In the hectic final days of the programme, WEEK TEN saw me speaking to Ania and Charmaine about one of my favorite topics- food. They are passionate about the way we produce, eat and dispose of food, and are pushing for communities to rethink and redesign these processes through their project URBAN KAI.


Tell us a bit about Urban Kai- you’re looking to change ideas around food. Why are you so passionate about this?

Charmaine: The whole issue around food is that, well, we all eat food. And we don’t give it as much thought as we should- we don’t think about its production, to what happens when it goes to waste, the impact of these things on our health and the environment.

Ania: People in urban environments are increasingly disconnected to what they eat and where it comes from- we want to reconnect people to their food. There are major repercussions around what and how we eat- what you eat massively affects your health, how you eat has heavy impact the environment. A report coming out of the UN predicted that in the very near future, a substantial proportion of food will have to be produced in urban environments. The current system is in many ways ridiculous, and very unsustainable. So much food is coming into urban communities, but nothing is going back out. Food waste is not going back into fertilizing the land, where it is badly needed.


So what will Urban Kai do to address this?

Ania: There are a couple of different areas we will focus on through Urban Kai. Part of it is a food scrap pick up programme, where we will pick up food scraps from small businesses and households that can’t or don’t compost.  We’ll also take other organic byproducts of an urban environment, like shredded paper and coffee grind- diverting organic matter from landfills. We’re hoping to do this by bike- determined actually, even though everyone has told us this is a stupid idea in Wellington!

Charmaine: Then we’ll use this waste to fertilize the second part of the project, which is the urban farm. This space will be used to grow herbs and salad greens and other produce to sell to restaurants and shops like Common Sense Organics. But around and through that, we want to educate people on what they can do in an urban environment to grow their own food.

Ania: We essentially want to create an urban food system, a holistic cycle where food waste can go back into the land. We want to create a more closed loop than currently exists. And we want to make it really transparent where everything is coming from and where everything is going, so that more people understand what happens in food production and waste. I used to be an after school gardening teacher, and know first hand that children are more likely to eat what they make. Obesity rates are becoming a huge problem- we want to get people thinking about how home gardening and food education can change that.


How has it been at Live the Dream for these past 10 weeks? 

Ania: It’s a really great social enterprise community. It’s so good to be around so many people who are being driven by their passion and living it out. Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s encouraging the number of  people that have come in to give their time and energy to help us. And from a practical skills level, I’ve upskilled a lot. I’m really grateful for the opportunity.

Charmaine: I have learned so much- learning by doing is so valuable. My job is at Enspiral is in accounting, so a lot of what we have gone through is what my clients are going through. It’s given me a wider view of how businesses start up and what you need to do to make it successful.


What is a thought that has captured you this week?

Ania: I guess it’s really all about looking how to go forward from here. We have been in a really reflective space, reviewing where we have come from, what we have done, what we are going to do next.

Charmaine: Ants was saying to us today, that there are a thousand different ways to do this- but it’s about finding the way that works for us. We are figuring out a model that is sustainable and suits us, thinking about how we can be effective but still get enjoyment out of it.


What are you reading right now?

Ania: It’s pretty embarrassing- I’m actually reading this really shitty gardening/romance novel, just to get me to relax and stop thinking about things before I go to bed.

Charmaine: The latest Chartered Accountant’s Journal- that one also gets you to sleep!


Do you have any heroes or inspirations?

Ania: Joel Salatin- an American farmer who has developed a farming system that actually builds up the topsoil and improves the fertility of the land rather than depleting it. It’s incredible- what would naturally take hundreds of years to build up he accomplishes through crop rotation. Also Alice Waters, who is a chef in the US that works a lot around food education.

Charmaine: For me, what I find inspiring is just seeing examples of people growing their own food . I love community gardens and when we travel around New Zealand we always stop and look at what people do.


What is your favorite quote?

Ania: Grow some shit! That’s from a TED Talks by Rob Finley. He’s also amazing- he’s this American guy who started taking over verges (the little strips of grass on sidewalks) and other grass patches to plants veggies and gardens.



What is your vision for world?

Ania: People growing and eating better- in a way that is good for them and good for the environment. Especially in urban environments because it’s harder to do, but so necessary. It’s a quality of life issue. I don’t think people realise how important it is.


What is something you want to tell the world?

Ania: Think about what you eat.

Charmaine: You can actually grow things anywhere- it’s not as hard as you think it is!

Week Nine: Boom

In WEEK NINE I had the pleasure of chatting with Jenna about her passions, plans and project BOOM. She and partner Annalise have embarked on an ambitious mission to inspire and empower young people to make an impact.




Tell us a bit about your project..

Boom is about enabling young people to create and implement projects that address the causes they care about.


What does it involve?

At the moment, there are two prongs to what we do at Boom. One is a community project program- starting next month, we will go into schools and work with groups of students to address problems in their communities, develop solutions and implement them.

The other side is online campaigns- we work with groups of 13-18 year olds (the Boom Boards) who develop campaigns based on the issues their peers care about. We plan to have a network of them all over the country, one in every region. We discover through market research what it is that young people care about, then go to the Boom Boards and say, hey what should we do to fix it?


You obviously really believe in the potential of young people.

We have been contacted by so many young people that want to do something. I talked to this young girl a little while ago, and asked what she wanted to change, what she cared about. She started talking about the war in Syria. It’s crazy how outward looking these young people are.  Young people in New Zealand care about poverty overseas. They know that they are so lucky and they feel a burden and duty to do something for others.

There are lots of youth programs out there – but they’re not always accessible to everyone. Our programs aren’t just for prefects, but for anyone with a passion or a cause. We want to always make sure that young people are the ones to actually lead it- to identify the problem, create a solution, and implement it. Especially with the Boom Boards, they are the ones to drive it.


How did you end up here at Live the Dream?

Annalise and I have gone back and forth for the last few years, about cool ideas that we could explore for social change. My background is in law – I worked in criminal for a while, then in tax for four years. But I’ve always get involved in something like this where I can see the difference I make every day.

We found out about the program through KPMG, which is a sponsor, and we actually had other ideas that we were going to apply with. But a week before the pitch we learned about a program similar to Boom, that was happening in America. And we had recently talked with some young people, and saw that they felt somewhat despondent about their role in the world – they saw all these issues but didn’t know what to do about them. So we applied with the idea of Boom, got in, and I quit my job and came here.


That’s a big jump- what drove you to quit a steady job and take 10 weeks of your life to be here at Live the Dream?

I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to be putting my time and energy into something that really aligned with my personal values. I wanted to do something I was passionate about. It was definitely one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever had to make. But it turned out so good.


That’s very brave..

Kind of! That is what everyone says, but really I just reached a point where I had to – where I needed to do something that I cared about, where I felt like my passions and energy could be used to their full potential.


And what impact has being here had so far?

Awesome. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. There’s just so much learning, so many new people. My background – in the legal, corporate world – had trained me to have certain mindsets, to think in a certain way. But these 9 weeks have opened my mind to so many so many new ideas. It’s tiring- but such an awesome time. I’m so stoked that I did it.


No regrets?

No, absolutely not! Definitely not.




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

This week has been a really big week for us – we have had meetings with the government and pitching at KPMG. And we are preparing for our first event, which will be on March 2nd. It’s called Drop a Line, and takes place at the beginning of Sea Week – a music competition for teenagers down near the Viaduct in Auckland, aimed to get people involved with issues around the ocean.


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

Something that I’ve thought about a lot this week is our ability to keep going, in the long run. Last week I almost lost the plot, just with how much work we had been doing! This week I’ve made a point to go home at a certain time, leave my computer here so I can’t stay up till who knows when answering emails. Those few hours of off time have made me so much happier and more productive in the mornings.


What is your vision for this world?

My personal vision is that everyone would be working at what they love, and putting their motivation and energy into what they find meaningful.

For Boom I want to see young people in New Zealand doing just that thing- funneling their motivation and energy into good- You can only imagine what the country would look like if everyone did that.


Who are some of your heroes?

There are two guys who write this blog called The Minimalists. They did the same thing as me, quit their jobs- and then started blogging about trying to make your life more meaningful.

Also this guy named Dean Karnazes, who is an ultra-marathon runner. He was in the corporate world as well, decided he liked running, and just quit his job and started doing what he loved. He ran 50 marathons in 50 days.


Why these guys?

I just love people that are doing things that they really enjoy – and making people’s lives better as a result.


Favorite movie?

Life as a House.


What are you reading right now?

Richard Branson’s Screw Business as Usual.


What’s your favorite quote?

There’s a few- I used to quite like A diamond is just another piece of coal that has done well under pressure, and also – Opportunity knocks, but doesn’t always answer to its name.

My favourite at the moment is one we kind of made up ourselves- It’s more than ok to colour outside the lines.


What is something you’d like to tell the world?

Go and do things that you enjoy and that will make the world a better place.

Week Eight: Social Lab

In WEEK EIGHT I chatted with Carrina from SOCIAL LAB, a project dedicated to reducing waste and changing attitudes towards recycling. Using the platform of ALES AND NAILS events, they combine good old fashioned Kiwi DIY with creativity, fun, and community (with a few craft beers thrown in!)- to influence behaviours around waste in New Zealand.


Tell us a bit about your project..

We are trying to encourage young urbanites to realise the value of what is usually considered waste. We do this by running events called Ales and Nails, where people come and build furniture from pallets, and have a couple beers after.


What triggered this?

It came from a conversation I had with a friend who had just made a table from waste wood. After that I did some research and found out the huge amounts of woodwaste going to the tip, wood that was perfectly usable but not being used. We tried to figure out what to do about it, how to reduce that number. We really wanted to have this social aspect to it – it is about people and attitudes and behaviours and not just waste – and decided to run events.


What is the philosophy behind the Ales and Nails events?

I think it comes down to both of our personalities – we’re pretty honest, down to earth, laid back. We like puns as well, and have this phrase – we want to create a space that’s as chilled as the beer. We don’t want anything too formal. And we are part of the target market for these events. We want it to be like a creative jam sesh.




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

We launched our website! It’s at http://www.sociallab.co.nz
And we have got our events up and running- tickets are live. We are now getting ready for final pitch. We are developing our marketing, and trying to figure out the best way to tell our story, as opposed to just facts.


What have you learned so far about starting a social enterprise?

It’s a massive commitment – the people we hear from keep reminding us how much work there is to be done when you are starting something like this. You’ve got to know your purpose. And you’ve got to be smart about reaching your target audience, using the right channels to do so, utilizing strategic management and planning.


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

Really, the learning from it – it’s called an accelerator program for a reason. There is no way that Social Lab would be where it is now without it. It might have taken a year for us to get to where we are now. It’s a space where we are challenged and put out of our comfort zone. We wanted to make the most of the opportunity we had been given.


What is the impact that being here has had on you?

Heaps! We have both built a really good network of people around us – mentors and people that have fed into our business and helped us define our focus. Learning the process of building an enterprise, developing what we are doing, has been really beneficial to both of us. It can be applied to any business, not just this one. It’s going to be a massive benefit to us in whatever we do.




What is your biggest take away from this week?

One of the contributors this week spoke about how perceptions lead to beliefs that lead to behaviour. We are very much focused on encouraging behaviour change, not just running events. So we are trying to be conscious in planning the events, of the goal of changing perceptions- in order to see long term behaviour change.


What’s a thought that has captured you this week?

Kate from All Good was talking to us about ethical marketing- one thing that I found interesting and have been grappling with, is whether it is the same to be an enterprise with a good social purpose or just be a business that puts a profit towards social purposes. It’s a hard one to figure out, but it was a good thing to think about. I don’t know if they are… I think to me, the purpose matters and not just the impact.


What is your vision for this world?

For Social Lab, it is to know that people who have been at our events being influenced by the activities we are running. We want to see the behaviour that comes of that, to see more re-use of wood and other waste.

For me personally, I’m really passionate about child poverty, and the situation for families in New Zealand. So I think what I want to see is just general equality. A much bigger middle class, that middle class would be the norm again. Essentially, zero poverty.

A Vision Worth Realising

When we started planning Live the Dream it seemed impossible. I’d tried to get it off the ground the previous year, unsuccessfully pitching it to one of the big banks to come on board as a partner because there was ‘too much risk’ for them. I became increasingly aware of the unrivalled passion, energy and idealism that young people have and thought New Zealand could be doing a better job of supporting this. And that, whilst we had great supports for high growth commercial enterprise there were big gaps around supporting more holistic entrepreneurship for social and/or environmental impact.


So in 2013 in the lead up to our third Festival for the Future, on the back of a lot of conversations and research looking at various social enterprise accelerator type programmes it felt like the right time to take the next step. Even though we had no resource to make it happen, we put a stake in the ground and made a commitment. We built the brand & website, and put the call out for for ideas all with less than $1,000 – still with no way to resource a programme, but knowing that we would do whatever it took to make it happen. If we didn’t take that risk, Live the Dream wouldn’t exist.

Fast-forward to now and the partners who share our vision and stepped up to support have been amazing. The participants and their early-stage ventures have gone from strength-to-strength. I love this piece of feedback from Otago participant, Lindsey Horne who has moved her life to Wellington for summer to take part – “I honestly feel like I’ve learned more in past 7 weeks than in the past 3 years at university.”


We’re now in the final three weeks of the programme. From here those teams that have ‘validated’ their idea will fine tune their business models and strategy moving forwards. We’re also working towards our ‘Final Showcase’ event for 19th February in Wellington – drop Charlotte a line if you’re keen to come along. RSVP’s are essential.


It’s common knowledge that 90% of start-ups fail, but whether it’s the third, fourth or fifth venture – the amount of applied professional development these guys have had has been amazing, and whatever they go on to do they’ll be in good stead. Even though it’s still early days, Live the Dream has already exceeded expectations. I honestly feel like the scope for this type of programme is huge – there’s no reason why this couldn’t be rolled out on campus in every region of New Zealand. Imagine the possiblities!