“What will you do with the time that is given to you?” // Week#10 AKL Final Showcase

Time has gone by so fast! We have come to the end of the programme; the teams have worked their hearts out, pitched their passions and have gone on their way to create change in New Zealand and beyond. For many this is only the beginning and we recognise the strange transition from working in a collaborative space to working individually is not an easy feat.

For once we were all together for a group photo. Say cheese!

For once we were all together for a group photo. Say cheese!

It’s been a crazy ride filled with smiles, kindness and laughter of those determined enough to take on this journey. We’ve shed both tears of joy and frustration as we struggled with the challenge of wrapping our minds around the amount of content squashed into a tiny ten weeks. We’ve shaken hands with new business contacts across Auckland who’ve gone on to become our ambassadors and champions. We’ve had tea and cake with those who’ve continued to support us through our journey and it’s a privilege to say that they’ll remain life-long friends, mentors and partners.

Ta-da! We present to you the amazing Live the Dream 2014/15 AKL Dream Team! All ramped and ready to deliver their pitches.

Ta-da! We present to you the amazing Live the Dream 2014/15 AKL Dream Team! All ramped and ready to deliver their pitches.

We’ve built a family over the last ten weeks; one of doers, of change makers, of those that really do want to see a difference and those who strive towards that everyday. This isn’t an opportunity that you get everyday. But it sure is one that you should take if you ever get the chance.

On the night of Wednesday 18th February over 150 people took their seats in the beautiful KPMG building right on the Auckland waterfront and nestled in for a night of enlightenment. Enlightenment in the sense that all of the teams spoke with an enthusiasm and a passion that they brought with them the first time they retold their story and their venture. Each participant spoke with the pride and conviction of an idea bigger than just ten weeks in the making. What an incredible night it was, so thank you to our amazing audience members and the team at KPMG because without you the night wouldn’t have been the raving success it was! Once again a huge congratulations to our ventures who took on the challenge and welcomed it with open arms, fears were conquered and nerves put aside, you guys did an awesome job! For more photos visit our Facebook page and to catch all of the live action visit Twitter!

Group photo of all of the participants pre-pitches... This photo says it all! Pitches are about to start and there were a lot of nerves in the room. They had no need to worry, they all did swimmingly!

This photo says it all! Pitches are about to start and there were a lot of nerves in the room. They had no need to worry, they all did swimmingly!

Wishing all of our Live the Dream 14/15 teams the best of luck for their ventures, future projects and for the challenges they will face along the way. You’re an incredible bunch, go show the world just that!

To all of the teams, the AKL core crew are wishing you best wishes for your bright futures!

All the best with love from the AKL core crew! 

I (Nelzy) would also like to take this time to reflect on the Live the Dream experience and to thank those who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to read my posts and re-live each person’s story. I truly believe that this summer has changed me for the better; I will treasure the friendships that I have made with such a diverse and inspirational pool of people, of whom I would never have gotten the chance to meet otherwise. It has been an absolute pleasure to do an interview each week and to hear such a true story, one from the heart and to hear the passion, conviction and belief in each and every idea. These people are change makers, I know it. They each possess the ability to build and to grow, to be resilient yet open, and to remain true to themselves and their ideas. It has been a pleasure to be a part of Live the Dream and to share these stories, thank you for reading!

I would like to leave you with something to ponder, words of wisdom shared with us on our last day from the lovely Rupert Ross, he said…

“What will you do with the time that is given to you?”

 

I’ve an Inkling… // Week 10 // WGN

The time has come for me to share the last interview with our Wellington participants for 14/15 Live the Dream Programme. It has been such a pleasure for me each week, getting to speak with our amazing Dreamers about their ventures, their lives and their hopes for the world.

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As the teams all work towards getting their pitches perfect before our Final Showcase in only 1 days, there are mixed feelings flying in the air; anxiety, hopefulness, enthusiasm and then the sad realization that this is the last week, the last few days of Live the Dream we’ll be experiencing together. The journey is coming to an end, but not before I got to sit down with the incredible founders of Inkling,Abbie Thomson and Helena-Grace Treadwell:

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So tell us about your venture…

Helena-Grace: Inkling is a mentoring network  facilitated through an online platform, with three different levels of participation; those who are aspiring change makers in need of mentorship, those who are actively making a change through social enterprise who are in need of advisors, but also wish to be mentors, and then those with specific skills and experience who want to share the impact they are having through becoming mentors/advisors.

You’ve had quite a transition throughout LTD, and your venture has changed more than any other down here in Wellington. Are you willing to share your story with us?

HG: We started with this idea to create a website  similar to the big idea website, but create it for the sustainably-focused job sector. It was basically motivated by a personal desire to see this exist. The biggest thing that coming through LTD has made us realise is  whatever we’re going to be making, needs to have a tangible outcome. Otherwise it could be in danger of just being yet another website people look at, but that doesn’t have any sort of impact.

Abbie: Once we began to clarify what we were doing, it quickly became obvious that there are not enough (sustainably focused) jobs out there to have a job-finding website, so we started to think up other ways we could support people in this area. We looked at internships, into events and teaching networking skills. From quite early on, we threw around the idea of mentorships, and both really liked the idea, and could see how it could have a positive impact, and how we could potentially make some sort of business model out of it.

How did you hear about Live the Dream, and what drove you to apply?

HG: I quit my job in August last year, and was wondering what to do, I had come to the end of doing meaningless jobs and wanted to be involved in something with meaning. My Dad said “Write a list of all the cool projects ideas you’ve had”, so I wrote the list and the sustainability big idea was on it and I just jumped on it. I started doing some general research about what was available and that is how I stumbled across Live the Dream. I applied as it was relevant to what I wanted to be doing, and in my interview with Kate, she spoke about the importance of team and suggested I tried getting someone else to come on board and through a strange set of circumstances I thought of Abbie!

You two went to School together right?

A: A long time ago, we went to primary school together. But we haven’t been in regular contact since we were 10! Then Helena contacted me and invited me to be a part of the team and here I am!

Mentoring is a big part of Live the Dream, so how have you found this process, and how have you been connecting with your mentors?

A: I think it’s been really positive, because when you’re in LTD you’re with the same people everyday and they know your venture really well. You are constantly being exposed to their perspectives, which is really great. But it’s so nice being able to go out and speak to someone who doesn’t see you everyday and just catch them up on where you’ve been, and getting an external perspective. Also, it can help make you feel like you’ve made progress, as if you’re just seeing them once a week, you can talk over the changes you have made (to your venture).

Has the process of having a personal mentor helped you to stare inkling in that direction?

HG: Yes, I definitely think so. Before we started (Live the Dream), I kind of had this idea that some people had mentors, but I didn’t realize what that meant. Even hearing someone like Kate (Beecroft, Live the Dream programme facilitator) saying that she was talking to her mentor, its made me realise having a mentor was actually quite a normal thing, and through having mentors in LTD, it’s a first-hand experience of how powerful mentoring actually is.

And Abbie, how did you find joining the programme 3 weeks in?

A: It was great to finally be here, as for those first 3 weeks Helena kept me up to date over skype but it was challenging to feel apart of the programme. So yeah, finally being here and be able to experience it for myself was awesome, and it meant that HG didn’t have to try and explain the sessions we were having. That first week (I was here) was tiring though, just getting my head into the social enterprise space.

HG: It was good to have someone to bounce off, and download on sometimes, and once she got here, it made it easier to be proactive, get things done and to encourage each other.

So we are in our last week. What do you think has been the most challenging aspect of the programme for you both, personally?

A: For me, particularly at the start, it was learning how to work with so much unknown, and being able to be certain when so much of what you were doing was up in the air. It was hard for me to go from a job where everything is so structured, to a space where you don’t know what’s happening and it changes every day.

HG: I have two things; the first is being confronted with WHY; asking WHY am I here, WHY am I doing this particular project. The only real answer I have is that it was the idea I happened to have 4 months ago and the one I applied with, so yeah asking ‘why’ has been an interestingly challenging part of the programme. The second this is getting over my feelings around business; I never thought I would be interested in business, so it has been a learning curve, learning all about business models and tools, and seeing that they can be quite helpful if you want to use them.

And what has been the Highlight for you both?

HG: There isn’t a specific moment, but realizing there are all of these cool people out there and then getting to meet them. Derek Handly, the creator of the shoulder tap, has had a big impact on me. He has had a lot of start-up success, and to have someone like that take an interest in your project was awesome, especially getting to skype with him!

A: I think that it is very hard to define a highlight for me, we’ve learnt so much, each week we get inspired from all these people doing incredible things.

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

HG: I want to see more people being proactive. I want people to feel like they can make the world better, particularity in the environmental and community areas.

A: Mine is similar. I want people to feel like they can create their own direction, and think about it in terms of more than just money and success, with a broader vision of the world. Ideally, my vision is that things like sustainability and social enterprise programmes isn’t even something that has to take place separately. It could be an integral part of the way society works.

And what will be your take-away from the programme?

A: I think that take-away for me has been realizing that people are willing to help, that they’ll help you to find things or share their knowledge with you.


HG:
I feel like I’ll go through all my three notebooks, recap and being to categorized everything. All of the things that we’ve learnt are going to influence what I do in my life. My big take-away is realizing that I can’t go back to working a normal job, I’ve tried to tell myself that for the last few years, and Live the Dream has given me inner strength and also the tools I need to not have to do that.

You Can Do Anything, But You Can’t Do Everything / / Week#9 AKL

There is less than one week to go until Final Showcase and it is definitely crunch time! Teams have been rushing around, there is no time to stop and reflect and it is no wonder we look forward to getting some shut eye over the weekend. It is starting to set in that in less than a week this will all be over. Of course this is only the beginning for the ventures and their projects, but to leave a space where we have all gotten to be so close is going to be a sad thing. Farewells are never easy, but we are already brainstorming coffee dates, weekends away and venture related events.

The countdown to final showcase, it has since been replaced by a giant 4 DAYS TO GO!

The countdown to final showcase, it has since been replaced by a giant 4 DAYS TO GO! What a jam packed last few days, look out world!

We have built a family here. A family of crazily innovative and inspiring people, some of the most energetic and passionate people I know. They are daring and resilient and there is no way that they will back down. We don’t have a lot of time to sit and reflect on the journey that we have had, hopefully there is time to do that next week; but until then we will troop on and make the most of the programme.

The team getting taught presentation skills during Robin and Lizzie's session. Great work guys!

The team brushing up on their presentation skills during Robin and Lizzie’s session. Great work guys!

This week to save time we tried to keep the interview short and sweet, but still just as great. Melody Guo from Future E treated us to some words about the importance of intercultural relationships and making the most of your experiences with other cultures…

Melody Guo from Future E.

Melody Guo from Future E.

Tell me about your venture…

Future E is an e-learning platform for New Zealand school students learning Mandarin. It pairs them with a pen-pal in China and will increase engagement, creating an interesting way of learning. The purpose is to enable cultural connections and to make friends while learning Mandarin.

I want to utilise basic technologies and e-learning platforms to maximise usage. It is going to be very interactive in the form of video, audio, free writing and scribbling. I really want the students to take control of their learning so they get to decide what they want to teach within the structure of each lesson.

What sparked this idea within you? Was their any one moment that you knew that this is what you wanted to do?

I was catching up with a friend over the weekend and she’s known me for more than 10 years. The first thing she said to me after she heard what I was doing was “well you haven’t changed much at all, you’ve been trying to do this ever since I’ve known you!”

I’ve always been torn apart and have had that identity crisis. Am I a New Zealander or am I Chinese? I thought that the easiest way to decide that was through the Olympic Games. When the two countries are competing with each other, who did I want to win? But even that’s hard because I have no idea, one minute you want China to win and then New Zealand the next. You feel really torn.

I grew up here, I’ve been through the school system and I also have a bit of understanding about what Chinese kids are going through. I feel like after all they are just kids, and they are our kids, so it would be great if they knew a bit more about their culture. That will have a prolonged effect in their lives and with that cultural knowledge comes great advantage.

My vision is that both parties will value their friendships within New Zealand and China, so if they need help they will be able to reach out. That kind of partnership, that strong foundation; no other countries can ever compete. That means we’re doing things for the sake of trust and understanding of each other, rather than trying to make a profit.

I guess my experiences growing up in both countries you realise that if you really want to become that global citizen, you need that kind of advantage. This will give Kiwi kids that extra option. If they don’t want to choose it that’s fine, but I don’t want them to give up just because it is too hard or because no one is teaching it so they don’t have that resource to learn. I want it to be an option and a choice to go down that path.

Who has been your favourite speaker during Live the Dream?

A lot of the speakers are really great! Courtney Jarrett’s (Kea) session on social media was great because I really felt like I learnt some practical skills. I was always afraid to be in the social media space because I see that it is a lot of work, but she made it seem simpler.

I also enjoyed one of the Akina sessions on storyline and storytelling. We had to draw, and I never draw, so it forced me to think about using pictures. I normally use words to learn. So to shift that around and to see it from the angle of someone who likes pictures, it gives you a different perspective.

Elliot Costello’s (YGAP) story was inspirational and there was a point that I clicked when he said that you really need to make that personal connection. He retold such a great story, a story that will forever stick with me and now I understand why he chose to share that with others.

There have just been so many good ones… I knew that we were going to have all of these speakers coming in but I didn’t expect them to be this great, or that I would learn so much. It has been beyond my expectations.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the programme and your venture?

I’ve had a few challenges! The timing was difficult because I wasn’t there for the beginning of the programme so I was feeling really nervous because I had so much to catch up on. But at the same time it is good to have these two months of my life to just do what I want to do and to have all of these people supporting me and encouraging me. It’s definitely a dream.

You always have excuses for not beginning your startup. For me; I grew up in an environment that wasn’t as supportive. Teachers and parents were supportive of academic and sporting achievements, but not the kind of innovative ideas that someone would resign for! I guess thinking that way is challenging because I want to prove myself and prove that this is the right thing to do. I almost believe that I cannot fail and for that you have to constantly push yourself. That push is great because you’d be amazed about how much you can get done in a day once you seize the opportunity.

What is your vision for this world?

Definitely peace. I’ve always liked to look ahead and search for trends based on knowledge and resources in that field. When I was at uni, I noticed that all of my Chinese friends had Kiwi boyfriends. They’re all really smart and very driven young women, they’re either doctors or lawyers. At that time we would joke that one day it is going to be a global phenomenon, that everybody is going to have inheritance from this place or that. I see that happening and continuing to happen.

But at the same time we all have that inherent fight or flight response. When you see someone of a different race or colour you automatically want to get away from it out of survival. But this same trait leads to stereotypes, racism and so on.

It’s through cultural understanding and cultural interaction that you overcome that and that is why it is so important. I’ve been an exchange student in Italy, worked in Hong Kong and Shanghai, and before that I went to primary school in Australia. My friends are quite global citizens as well and we all hold the understanding that once you leave your own culture and go to the other, everyone understands the difficulties of being in a foreign culture or country. I think that is the trait that people have adopted; that adaptivity, the flexibility to fit yourself into this foreign culture.

This is all linked to the idea of peace that I mentioned at the beginning. The solution is to understand cultures and once you do that you can then have a peaceful place. Peace is just as important as other issues because if you are not at peace with yourself, there is impossible to think for yourself let alone others. I really feel like peace is the most important thing, then comes empathy for others, standing up for other cultures and so on. It’s all interrelated, you can’t have one without the other. It’s when you get yourself immersed in that other culture that you really understand it and it’s that depth that I’m looking for.

Shout out to all of our participants for their amazing work over the last few weeks, ya’ll are legends!

It’s the final countdown!! // WGN // Week 9

It surely is! There are literally 7 days to go until Final Showcase. Final versions of pitches are due to be completed this week, and as the programme begins to slowly wrap up, there isn’t much, or any, time to reflect over the past 9 weeks, the journey we’ve all been on together. The Wellington LTD Dreamers have become like family, it is insane that we’re able to say that ‘work’ looks like this; a room filled with possibilities, ideas, support and incredible people. Every single day sees new experiences and possibilities explored, be it through a keynote speaker or contributor, an external meeting, or else just a positive reaction whilst out validating, each one molds us and helps the Dreamers grow their ventures.

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Our participants have been challenged with pitching 50 times before next Thursday night, that means 50 opportunities to fail, so that by the time they deliver their 51st at 7pm in the 19th of February down at the Macs Function Centre, they’ll be poised and polished, ready to go.

Nedra Fu & Becs Arahanga of Tao.

Nedra Fu & Becs Arahanga of Tao.

Nedra Fu spoke to me this week about her Venture, Tao:

Tell us what Tao is?

Tao is an eight week programme which empowers office workings, and gives them the skills to take better care of their health through some basic principles and practices of traditional Chinese Medicine, such as acupuncture massage that people can easily do on themselves. This will help to relieve common ailments such as headaches, back pain and stress.

Where did this idea come from?

I discovered this series of books a few years ago (which are) based on the ideas of Chinese Medicine, and they changed my life; I felt that they were so usable. It was like getting a user model of my own body, and they worked, and I wanted to be able to spread this knowledge to more people.

And how has Live the Dream been helping you to develop Tao?

It has exposed me to many different ways of thinking, different people from different companies who have a wide range of expertise. It has really challenged my thinking.

And what have you personally gotten out of the programme?

I’ve meet a bunch of really great people, been inspired,  discovered new inspirations, and also learned a whole load of skills which I know will be very transferable in the future.

What drew you to Live the Dream this summer?

I talked to guy at TedX Wellington last year, and he encouraged me to apply for LTD, and yeah, so here I am. There are going to more and more socially conscious businesses in the future.

What’s stuck out for you so far?

I’ve really enjoyed the social change theories, and seeking to understand more about the problem, rather that just assuming the solution. Also learning the practicalities of how to run a business, the time and the investment required.

And how did you find the validation process?

It has been very useful, and has also helped me get to know my friends and colleagues more so than before, by asking them questions that I probably normally wouldn’t ask. It’s interesting seeing how different people view the world, and what their priorities are. There were some friends I’ve known for years (who I spoke to) and I had no idea that they thought certain ways about health, or what is important to them.

What’s been the reaction of your friends and colleagues to Tao?

Obviously different people have different reactions. Some are quite receptive and would love to try it, where others don’t really understand it. It seems that a lot of people associate chinese medicine with needles, not many know you can actually get the same results through acupuncture massage as well. There are all these points in the body you can trigger to restore balance.

So is that what Tao is going to be about right? Educating people?

Yes, teaching them things that they can do, teaching them that they can improve their health, literally with just their fingertips.

How is Tao going to work?

It’s an 8 week programme delivered in the office. They learn different topics each week, some will be about nutrition, some about stress…and so on.

And how do you personally practice Chinese Medicine?

I listen to my body, and kind of stimulate the point where I feel a lack of energy in that area. I have a philosophy of maintenance over cure; this means when I’m feeling under the weather, I’ll rest up, as opposed to pushing myself and taking drugs -like nurofen. Personally I try to avoid them.

What has been the most challenging aspect of LTD?

Learning to juggle my time between being here at Live the Dream, my job, and all my hobbies.

What are these hobbies?

I sing, I play the Japanese Taiko drums, and I also play Badminton!

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

Just generally happier, healthier people who are doing jobs that they like. I want to see people reaching their potential.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Keep up the good work Rachael! (Thats me 🙂 ).

Life’s Great When You’re Connected / / Week#8 AKL

As we continue to countdown the days until Final Showcase, the hours are getting longer and the work tougher. Teams are knuckling down into the nitty-gritty in preparation for their final pitch with Live the Dream, and the room is alive with the sound of hard yakka! We’ve be enforcing chill out time through picnic lunches and reflective sessions so that we can escape the stress and find some inspiration during this challenging time.

2 Weeks Until Final Showcase!

2 Weeks Until Final Showcase! There’s some food for thought…

This week we have had the honour of welcoming Elliot Costello into the space to meet the teams and to run workshops. Inspiring Stories also hosted an evening event with a presentation from Elliot as well as drinks and nibbles, thank you for a great evening all!

Elliot Costello speaks to the crowd during the event hosted by Inspiring Stories Trust.

Elliot Costello speaks to the crowd during last nights event

We’re nearing the end of the programme so time is getting tight. Luckily our lovely participants are still welcome to me interviewing them. This week I managed to sit down with Richie Lovelock from Day of Deeds to talk about his Live the Dream journey so far. He provided the answers and even helped with the questions too!

Richie Lovelock from Day of Deeds

Richie Lovelock from Day of Deeds.

There’s a bit of a story behind what brought you to Live the Dream with this venture, do you mind recapping that…?

Well I run a web company, but I also run my life. On the business side of things I decided a while ago that I wanted to start working with more businesses that aligned with my values and not just those that sell widgets for no good reason.

I was also starting to investigate and become more aware of big world issues. We hear about them and may read a little into it, but so many of us feel powerless. I became frustrated with myself because I wasn’t doing anything about it. I began to wonder about the people who dedicate their lives to this stuff; who are these people and why are they like that? There are people who dedicate parts of their lives to various issues, even though they work full time like I do. So I wondered why I wasn’t like that.  If I was to be honest with myself it’s because it’s in the too hard basket.

I wanted to do something, but I still didn’t know what to do. If I donated money who would I give it to and why? What does that money mean to them and how would it get used? I lacked the understanding to take action.

Then I had a trigger moment whilst trying to plan something to do for my 30th birthday. There was no way that I was going to have a party, I wanted to do something about this gap that I had noticed between people like me and the struggling organisations that are doing awesome stuff.

I decided to invite my friends to a day out thing based on the concept of The Amazing Race, something fun and challenging. An event that would be competitive and challenging for my friends, and that would also benefit charities in an interactive way. I wanted them to get understanding of what it is these charities do, why they do it, what their struggles are, where they get their money from, where they don’t, where they get their volunteers, simple but important information that people don’t know.

So I created an event that would visit three charities and undergo a challenge that would raise funds for that charity. I got 25 of my friends together, put them into teams and off we went. We visited Mercy Hospice, Home and Family Counselling and the Auckland Deaf Society. I set fun challenges and activities that ranged from an opshop dress up competition, a mural, and a pub quiz (conducted in sign langage). The charities also got the opportunity to tell us about their work. My friends absolutely loved it and said it was something that they wanted to make happen every year.

The charities benefited the most because it was like nothing they had ever experienced. They got to communicate directly with 25 young adults who aren’t actively involved with charities, who were all engaged and having fun. That never happens. It gave them a chance to get their story across and to tell them what they’re all about. They were blown away by how crazy cool and effective it was and some of them even made some money. Overall it has created all of these cool stories for each charity that they have told everybody about. So I left thinking cool, I’m going to do that again, I can’t not.

You joined us in the 3rd week, how did you go from that idea to entering the Live the Dream programme?

I had this business mentor coach in the pipeline because I knew there was a new direction I wanted to take my business. But when I met with my mentor Bridget, after my 30th, everything had changed. I said to her: “….You’re not going to help me with Spiff Media you’re going to help me with what I just did on Saturday.”

She was the catalyst and got me talking to so many different people. I ended up getting in touch with Jenna and Alex from Live the Dream who were interested in my story and took me on board at the start of Week Three. I thought that everything about the course sounded amazing and exactly what I needed. I just had to take a risk and jump. You leap and don’t know how you’re going to make it work but you know it’s the right thing to do. I haven’t looked back, it has been even better than what I had imagined.

What have you personally got out of Live the Dream?

This is such a new area for me because I am a web guy, I don’t run events! For me it has opened up this massive door to a world that I don’t know. Live the Dream has allowed me to meet them, many of whom are experts in their field. It has connected me with so many cool people.  It has inspired me to keep pushing so I haven’t lost momentum at all.

What has stuck out for you so far?

It’s so hard because there is so much and that’s what makes this so tiring but in a good way. You’re constantly learning little nuggets and different perspectives, so it is always challenging your entire concept and the way that you think.

Dan from Akina has been really amazing because the one on one time works well with me.  He’s been amazing because he can grasp your concept within seconds and then just cut through everything and ask this real penetrative question. It’s great because he asks questions that you’ve been wanting to answer for two weeks and then tells you how to go about it, he’s just been awesome.

And what has been the most challenging thing?

For me two things; feeling overloaded and unfocused. With a programme like this the challenge it creates is the deluge of different ideas, perspectives and opinions all thrown at you every day. You have to consider everything because you’re forming your idea. It’s tricky to stay focused while exploring different perspectives and keeping up with the programme. So there has been a constant battle of trying to explore and focus simultaneously.

The strange thing is that I’m working harder than I ever have. Realising who you are and what motivates you, I guess that is the reason I have been able to sustain this for 6 weeks. The motivation is coming from a deep desire to do this and it has been forming in me for years. Now the thing is to go out and do it so I will need to keep pushing to make it happen. It’s unshakeable.

What is your vision for this world?

I’ve never put this into words… There are two words that are massively important to me; connection and creativity.

In terms of connection it’s so easy to disconnect and I don’t know if that’s just me or my situation but the message is everywhere… Life sucks when you’re disconnected. Yet people disconnect themselves. I want to connect people back with themselves, with the people they love and with the world. When you become aware of those relationships, everything is so much better. Bridget told me that the problem is people aren’t good at understanding the relationships between things. Everything is related in some way and people ignore that sometimes, so I want to create something that will change that.

In terms of creativity, I think it will be the thing to keep humanity going. I’m in the web industry and we’re constantly thinking about how it will evolve because I.T is the fastest changing industry. So who know where we will be in the next 5 years. So what is it that humans have that we cannot recreate? Creativity. I realised that years ago and wanted to include that in my days and in my work, it’s great to be creative for no reason! That’s a massive thing I think people lose as they grow older. It’s so natural as a kid but then you learn about the world and you lose that side of it. That’s what I want to do, enable creativity.

The crazy thing is that I didn’t think of those two things and then go and make this event. I’ve thought about it afterwards and realised how aligned it is to me, and that’s probably why I’ve taken these risks and kept working.

 

Give me More!(New Zealand Music) // Week 8 WGN

 

Even though there were technically only four working days this week, the Wellington Live the Dream crew managed to fit A LOT in, and the week isn’t over for our ventures yet. First and foremost we had the great pleasure of hosting Elliot Costello of YGAP, and for those of you who don’t know who he is, you should probably go find out. He is a social enterprise mastermind like no other and we’re so thankful he stopped in to share his wisdom with us. Monday night saw Elliot speak at a community event hosted at the Biz Dojo alongside local speakers Silvia Zuur of Chalkle, and Inspiring Stories‘ CEO/Founder Guy Ryan.

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And all of that was just on a Monday! Tuesday we had the greatest ( in my opinion) pizza date with Tommy Millions and our friends at BootCamp, followed by a workshop with Amanda Santos of Strataspire all out sales, partnership and business. Then Wednesday rolled by, starting with a Keynote presentation delivered by Muneya Shino on how to process legal forms. As our Dreamers are only two weeks away from the final showcase (EKK), pitching techniques, modes and development has been a huge focus.

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So it is no wonder that the highly credible and talented Dan Khan previously of Lighting Lab came in when he did. Dan held an intensive informal lecture about the how to’s and what-not-to-do’s of pitching.

This morning, we had an off-site checkin held at the collective shared space, In Good Company.

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It really is a wonder how I managed to catch Nick George of More New Zealand Music for an awesome interview about his awesome venture for our awesome readers (thats you).

Nick George and his beautiful puppy, Beau.

Nick George and his beautiful puppy, Beau.

 

Tell us about your venture…

More New Zealand Music (MNZM) is about promoting New Zealand music through NZ retail stores. So increasing exposure for artists and giving them another source of income.

So will ‘More New Zealand Music’ be a way for NZers to have more exposure to NZ music as well?

Yes it will. Right now, there isn’t a radio station or a website that is solely for NZ music, and what is known are artists like Lorde, or Fat Freddies Drop, or Kimbra, the ones who have ‘made it’. What MNZM will do is enable consumers to hear different genres of NZ music while doing the weekly shop or getting their prescription from the pharmacy. It will be a chance for NZ musicians to gain exposure, and to become a recognised part of NZ, more so that they are now.

Where did this idea come from?

I was living in Brooklyn, Wellington for three years, and we would go down to the local New World to get the shopping. I was also involved heavily in bands – playing and also doing marketing and promotion for music. I was always looking for new opportunities for where music could fit in.

Then I would go into the supermarket, and felt the content was a missed opportunity; they play 90’s ballads that no one is really keen to hear. On the other hand, I’d be on tour and people would be coming to a gig surprised because they didn’t know that type of music was around (locally). So it seemed like a logical idea to develop a platform for local music to be played in local stores. That’s how MNZM was born.

So you’re quite familiar working within the NZ music industry?

Yes, in terms of dealing with venues, venue owners, bands and marketing, I’ve got lots of experience in those areas.

How did you hear about Live the Dream?

I wasn’t actually looking for it, I just fell into it. The idea for my venture I had in the back of my mind for a year or so, and I’d started what I thought was a business plan for it but really had no idea what I was doing. I was just applying for other jobs, and I saw a post from Pat Shepherd of OnePercentCollective about Live the Dream. I clicked the link, saw what it was about and applied with like 30 minutes to go before the closing deadline. Two interviews later and here I am. In retrospect, I was looking for it but I didn’t realize until I got here.

What’s been the reaction to MNZM?

It’s been a really easy sell so far, because it makes total sense to play local music in local stores.

Have you been in touch with possible companies?

Yes, a little. My next phase of validation is to talk to franchise owners and CEOs about the idea, instead of employees and store owners, so going slightly higher. It’s just been a little slower to get a hold of them all.

What’s your decision process?

I look at the amount of stores within a franchise, and am also looking at who has the most ‘Kiwiana/New Zealandness’ attached to their image. I have all these ideas that I’ve had to distill down and keep for future along the track.

But you have a confirmed venue to prototype MNZM on already!? Want to tell us so we can keep an ‘Ear-out’?

Yeah, I do. The main one is Wholly Bagels who are interested, as they have a problem of playing mainstream music in their shop, so it’s kind of perfect, especially because they’re also a chain. With them, I’m trying to work out how to approach it to get the most out of it. I want to get it right as it’ll be valuable information.

That is awesome. What are you working on this week?

Refining my business model and putting together financial forecasts. I’m finding it hard, I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s a lot of research into things I’m not very familiar with and getting my head around things like music licensing.

Is approaching these record labels going to be a challenge for you then?

I think it’s all doable and it’s fairly straightforward for those who speak the language of licensing and record deals, so at the moment I’m trying to get my head around that language.

How have you been finding the whole mentor part of LTD?

Amazing. It did take me a minute to get my head around it, realising I have the possibility of talking to different people, and the responsibility to make it happen. I have my main mentor who I check in with every week and contributors who I can speak to and bounce ideas off for a particular part of the venture.

It’s like another tool isn’t it?

Yeah but I think that sometimes, it isn’t helpful to have too many tools available in the garden shed so to speak. A lot of what I’m looking into is new ground, things I’m not savvy too. It is all a learning curve for me.

How does the market landscape look for More New Zealand Music? Do you have any competitors?

There are a bunch of music providers on the market already. It’s interesting because there will be a the company that is providing the music to New World that I saw as the problem, but then New World is requesting that music because they think it’s what people want to hear. But as I am going to act essentially as a licensing agent for NZ music, there is room for me to operate within these already established companies, by providing them with local music, and have these companies approach their already established client list with it.

How have you been finding the process of validation?

Challenging, it makes complete sense though- I feel like I came in (to Live the Dream) with more of a solution that a problem. I had to learn to take a step back from it and try not to sell it, but to process it…

Speaking of selling, what the pitching process been like for you?

Scary, and hard, but I know I’m not the only one. I draw confidence from the other participants, like if they’re nervous it makes me feel like I’m not alone.

It’s somehow Week 8! What has been your highlight of the programme so far?

It’s amazing, a contributor will come in and blow your mind with all these new ways to think about your problem. And some workshops happened at the perfect time for me. Emilie Fletcher’s talk on ‘how to ask the right questions’ was perfect timing, Michael Elwood Smith’s one-on-one sessions are always helpful, Sam Rye’s workshop, and Dave Clearwater from Akina was amazing too. All of these happened exactly when I needed to hear that information. It’s hard to imagine life without Live the Dream now, it’s a completely different experience than anything I’ve been through before, and I think it has changed me.

What does 2015 have on the cards for MNZM?

I’l come up for air after LTD and really try to nail it, start small and start selling it, and assemble a team.

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.