Help at hand for startup businesses


Get good people around you, and be prepared for knock-backs. That’s the advice for would-be entrepreneurs from last month’s Linked-In Local event in Hamilton.

About 150 attended the fourth Linked-In Local of the year at Claudelands Arena Lounge, and quizzed a panel of four experts about startup business.

Shubham Baheti, Joseph Monise (Wintec) and Tim Pearson (Waikato Security)

Entrepreneur David Hallett, who is a director of Company-X, told the audience: “Never underestimate the value of a really good business partner or surrounding yourself with the right people. If you surround yourself with the right people, the amount of information and the amount of data you can get from watching them and understanding their life is immeasurably valuable and it saves a whole lot of hard learning on your own time.”

He was echoed by Julian So, Waikato consultant for start-up investor Enterprise Angels.

“Surround yourself with other founders because often no one else really understands your journey apart from other founders.”

He also said supportive family or partner can make a huge difference, and recommended working out shared risk tolerance from the start. “Have that early discussion up front and agree early on, what is the point that we turn back?”

Roger Stratford (Hamilton Residents and
Ratepayers Association), Rafel Pelach de Ribot (Sterna innovation NZ) and Sharon Crocombe-Woodward (C W Chartered Accountants)

Craig Purcell, from regional economic development agency Te Waka, recommended defining what failure looks like when you’re still in a good place. “Then when you get there, you sort of know it. Having lots of good people around is probably the other message when
that happens.”

Erin Wansbrough, chief executive of startup incubator Soda Inc, said it takes grit and tenacity to follow the startup path. “It’s really important to be clear on your purpose because that’s what’s going to drive you through and energise you when you have to get up again after being smashed down or if you find you’re running out of cash. You’ve got to really be clear on that drive and how you want to do it on your terms and what success applies to you. Because that’s not necessarily becoming a millionaire. It’s also what success applies to you as a whole human.”

Wansbrough shared two success stories with a social enterprise theme.

“One is Tutu Inventions, and to quote Marion Ruri, she said, I was just a girl from Ngāruawāhia and I couldn’t believe you guys would back me.” She came with a product to help with glue ear through home intervention. “What she’s done is step back and she’s trying to tackle ear health as a whole and for her iwi.” 

Sean Williams (Skypoint), Jason Walker (IT Partners), Gareth Nuzum (IT Partners)

Another was FareShare which has recently gone through a programme with Soda. “This was someone who had run a food co-op, so they saw the benefit of organising local food from providers and providing it into communities. She ran a food co-op in Tauranga and she found in reality it was a headache to run, so she’d created a way to do this efficiently. Now she’s rolling out this platform to try and create, I suppose, a bit more of a way of food co-ops opening up not only in New Zealand but across the world because she believes it’s better for the environment.”

Hallett also spoke about the importance of backing yourself. “If you don’t have the tenacity and the drive to be the person who’s going to make the change or achieve something, it’s never going to happen.”

And it turns out tenacity may pay off relatively late in your career. “The research shows that when you get to 54 that’s when your age is most likely to be a successful founder,” Purcell said. “But that’s probably because you’ve learned how to be a good entrepreneur during those first 30 years. It is a learning process.” 

Linked-In Local Hamilton is run by Harcourts consultant Daniel Hopper, who plans to run five such events in 2019. An auction at last month’s event raised almost $6500 for Seed Waikato, which is a registered charity aimed at helping young people thrive in the Waikato.


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