← Techstars Blog

Jonny Knopp, Peanut Productions

Lani Evans is one of the mentors for startup weekend. Although her business offers hundreds of startups and small businesses around New Zealand with a free payroll service, it’s Lani’s fondness for kayaking to work that often makes the news. We caught up with Lani to ask her a few questions about startups.

1) Can you tell us a little bit about Thankyou Payroll and what you do at the company?

I am lucky enough to work with an amazing team as the CEO of Thankyou Payroll, a Dunedin-based social enterprise that provides free, cloud based payroll intermediary services to SMEs and charities all around the country. We leverage an IRD subsidy to cover our costs so we can provide our services at no charge to users, and we donate 25 cents per person, per pay (out of our own pockets) to the Thankyou Charitable Trust.

2) Are there any other startups or projects that you’re currently involved in?

I’m also Co-Founder of Room:Maker, a social enterprise focused on  youth development and transitional housing. Room:Maker is designed with three distinct but complementary elements in mind: creating educational opportunities, providing housing for young people and developing a sustainable social enterprise.

And I’m also really interested in how we provide good governance to community organisations. I’ve recently become a board member for Philanthropy New Zealand, a national umbrella organisation that provides practical support, advocacy and thought leadership around grant-making and philanthropy.

3) Over the last few years, what other ventures have you been involved with?

Most of the startup projects I’ve been involved in have been charitable, like the ReGeneration Trust, Langtang Valley Health and 60-Second Civics. Thankyou Payroll is my first business venture, but the commonalities are huge. Charities, social enterprises and business start-ups are all based on the same premise: that there is a problem out there and you have the best solution. They require a good concept, a robust business model and successful execution.

4) What are some of your favourite startups at the moment, both in New Zealand and worldwide?

So many options… on a global scale I love the Copenhagen Wheel, transforming ordinary bikes into smart electric hybrids and I can’t wait to test out the services provided by EatWith, a meal sharing service, sort of like AirBnb for home-made meals.

Locally we’ve got Chalkle, PledgeMe, LoveNotes, WikiHouse, ReKindle, Arco and Ooooby are all exciting projects in various stages of development and execution.

5) What is your biggest piece of advice to first time startup founders?

Relax! Not all the time, but definitely sometimes. Self care is a really important part of your long term strategy.

6) What are you expecting from Startup Weekend 2015? What are you looking forward to?

Startup weekends are crazy, inspiring, messy fun. I’m looking forward to the ideas, the comraderie, the learning and the general chaos.

Jose Mathias