For the third alumni spotlight, I caught up with Casey, SWDUD 2016 organiser and CEO at Geia. After facing some major hurdles at the beginning of 2015 Casey decided Startup Weekend would be a great place to get a different perspective.
Casey came away with a different perspective and a new idea with the same green values.
Geia is a social enterprise that aims to connect sustainable business with environmentally conscious customers.
How did you first hear about Startup Weekend?
I had a few ideas that I wanted to put to the test, and a friend suggested the Startup Weekend would be the place to do it.
What were you expecting when you stepped into the event on Friday?
I was hoping to meet like-minded people with a range of skills I could learn from, and I certainly did. In fact I have become good friends with a number of them and catch up regularly.
Did you end up pitching?
On the first night I pitched the concept of a green data center here in Dunedin to fit in with the Gigatown win. Since Dunedin would have the fastest internet in the Southern Hemisphere, it made sense to utilize it.
What idea did you work on over the weekend?
I recruited a team of 6 to work on the data center concept, but we rebooted on the first night to work on an idea called PlanitGreen. The concept was to identify the current environmental performance of a business via an online tool, and provide them with solutions to become more responsible whilst saving money.
What was the highlight of the weekend?
The highlight for me was definitely pitch night. It was amazing to see how close the different teams had become, and the amount of progress every idea made in such a short space of time.
And what was the hardest point?
I found preparing for the pitch night on Sunday to be the most challenging. There were so many things we could work on the further develop the concept, but such a limited amount of time. MVP sums it up quite well, being able to prioritize the ‘need to haves’ versus ‘the nice to haves’.
So what are you working on now 1 year on?
I am now working full time as the CEO of Geia Ltd, which is the evolved version of PlanitGreen.
How has the business progressed since starting?
We now have a multidisciplinary team including, strategic alliances, and have secured funding. Recently we launched our product to market and are on-boarding customers! Our product assesses business on their Co2 emissions, provides them with a tailored solution report, and places them on a leaderboard which promotes them to consumers.
What’s next for Geia?
We are now focusing on getting our product out into the market and into as many industries as possible. We will be putting our emphasis on letting the feedback we receive help sculpt the product whilst maintaining our ethos to aid businesses in becoming more transparent about their sustainability.
What drew you into the organising committee for SW this year?
Startups lead the way for innovation and ultimately accelerate positive change within large established companies, in order for them to stay relevant. Everyone has the potential to do incredible things and I want to be able to support entrepreneurs where I can. Besides that, it is fun!
Any words for people still on the fence about Startup Weekend?
The worst regret I can imagine is thinking ”What if?”. Give it a go!
And any advice for first-time participants?
Engage with everyone you can and don’t limit your networking to your group. This event will be filled with inspiring people, with a range of expertise.