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Jennie Leng is an Auckland Startup Weekend mentor specialising in usability, digital strategy and social media. 

It’s often said of business that “It’s a jungle out there” and Startup Weekend is a thriving microcosm. Last weekend’s Auckland Startup Weekend attracted entrepreneurial animals of all shapes and sizes to frolic, feast and challenge one another for dominance.  Early on, animals sort themselves into packs. This is not based on species or a place in the food chain, but on a shared view of bettering the ecosystem.

Rather than taking a single form, Startup Weekend animals morph and transform fluidly. In this habitat they might take the form of a busy worker ant one moment, shuttling back and forth, a watchful meerkat the next, popping up to survey the landscape. There are chattering monkeys, butting stags, ruminating giraffes, placid camels carrying a heavy load, ostriches with their heads in the sand and the occasional peacock.

Periodic mass migrations occur, sometimes to the communal watering hole, but at least once during mating season the packs venture out of their normal territory to court creatures who might be attracted what they have to offer. Many return boasting of their prowess while others face inevitable rejection. Demonstrating supreme resilience, these animals prove their agility, tenacity and stamina, returning time and again to perfect their mating calls.

The habitat is laboured over by organisational beavers, diligent animals without whom the ecosystem would collapse. Darting about amongst the packs are hummingbirds from the kitchen, flitting and hovering, delivering delicious life-sustaining nectar.  Out on the plains, mentoring sheepdogs roam…monitoring, guiding, nudging and occasionally giving a nip in the hind quarters.  The sheepdogs respond to the calls of their master Alan, the wise owl, who benevolently imparts wisdom, offers guidance, and gives encouragement.  Mike the gray wolf, who is equal parts stealth and co-operation, is seldom heard but always present and watchful.  And the king of the jungle, Rowan the lionheart,  roams the plains ensuring everything is as it should be, uttering the occasional roar of “Hell yeah”. Rather than a terrifying and ferocious beast, this lion is more a harassed parent, tenderly watching his pride’s attempts and mistakes, picking them back up again with a playful cuff about the ears.

In this wilderness, survival of the fittest is achieved by packs who exhibit four traits: successful courtships, survival of the pack, adaptability and demonstrating that their way of life offers the biggest improvement to the ecosystem. So if you’re hunting for ways to hone your entrepreneurial instincts, come join a pack and learn some survival skills of your own. Welcome to the jungle!



Jenny Xu