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.


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:


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.

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.

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.


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 🙂 ).

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.


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.


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.


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.

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?


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.


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.

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.


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…


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.

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!

All things YOMO // WGN Week 4

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


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


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



Michael Smith and Alexanda Whitcombe.

What is YOMO?

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

How did YOMO start?

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

How did YOMO hear about Live the Dream? 

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

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

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

Describe your journey in LTD so far. 

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

Tell us about your backgrounds…. 

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

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

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

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

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

Then what separates YOMO from other meditation platforms? 

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

How did you decide on your target audience? 

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

Is this based on personal experience?

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

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

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

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

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

So you’re about finding balance? 

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

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

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

What references does YOMO draw on? 

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

How do you see YOMO being financially sustainable? 

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

How have you found validation? 

Its been so helpful, difficult but helpful.

And the pitching? 

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

What does 2015 have in store for YOMO? 

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

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!!!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hello Wellington! // Week One

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


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

Tapu Te Ranga Marae – Live the Dream, Wellington

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

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

Live the Dream, Business Modelling Workshop in Wellington

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

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

Launch Party – Live the Dream, Wellington

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

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

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