Creating your own path – by Bruce Wilson

As a founder of a few startups, I know how hard it is to make things happen. We love being involved and partnering with Startup Weekend Auckland because it’s about learning the art in craft of elegant innovation. For me it’s about looking at existing eco systems and solving their challenges.

Startup Weekend is great because in 54 hours you can go from zero to 100%. We bring this kind of attitude to our everyday work.

So if you want to join a great company looking to make things happen, take a look at EROAD. We’re an NZX listed technology company that provides road charging, tax, compliance and commercial services to the heavy and light commercial vehicle sectors.

We were the first company in the world to implement a GNSS/cellular-based road charging solution across an entire country and I am proud to say we’re now one of New Zealand’s fastest growing companies. Headquartered in Auckland, we’ve got staff from almost every nation and we are expanding a footprint internationally.

Being a high-growth company means we’re always on the lookout for skilled staff – Java developers, solutions architects, product managers, mobile developers, test engineers, and all the other roles that make up a successful global technology company.

Working at EROAD means learning from people who are experts in their field. It’s not easy to get hired here but once you’re on board, we make sure you have the skills, training and technology to do your best work and to develop your career.

We are about building the future – it’s about potential when we’re hiring, and where candidates might fit into the our growth – we’ve come a long way in a short time, and we love seeing our staff do the same!

If you want to grab a seat on a company that’s innovative and creating its own path, check out our careers page at or catch us on

Wish you every success at Startup Weekend, go hard!


Bruce Wilson

CTO and co-founder of EROAD


Perfecting the Pitch – by Dan Khan

My advice to a few teams during pitch practice was this:

1st minute:

  • Introduce big problem
  • Tell me how ‘painful’ and big that is
  • Tell me how you know it’s such a big problem
  • i.e. what validation have you done to find out
  • Actual numbers not %

2nd and 3rd minute

  • Show me your solution to this big problem
  • Do this by walking me through your product using a user/customer as an example Show me, don’t tell me

4th minute

  • Tell me how you turn this into a business
  • How big is the market locally *and* globally
  • This validates it really is a big problem
  • Tell me how you make money from it
  • I’m more interested in acquisition cost per user and projected lifetime revenue per user than detailed 3 year plans
  • Tell me how you know these numbers are right
  • i.e. show more validation
  • If you have time, tell me why your idea is better than everyone else doing this
  • I’ve been a judge before and yes, we will be googling other solutions to this problem during your final pitches

5th minute

  • Talk about the educational impact (not just social impact)
  • Summarise what you’re doing again
  • Remind me the 2-3 big things I should remember about you

That’s 5 mins

Take that basic framework and put a good story around it to make it unique to your team. Most of you should talk half as fast, and say half as many things.

Focus – for each slide figure out what is the key message you want us to remember about that slide. Or put another way, if you could only say one sentence about that slide, what would it be.

Only have one speaker. Hope this gives you some help this morning for next pitch practice. Outside of these for pitch practices, you should aim to have run through it end to end with your slides probably 10 times at least today before final pitches.

The more confident you are in your content, the more confident your delivery will be. Have fun, I’ll be in after lunch to help with pitches.

By Dan Khan


'No Talk, All Action – I'm Mentoring at AKLSW!' – by Sue De Bievre

I am excited to announce that I am a mentor for this years Startup Weekend Auckland, happening 12th June, and is also sponsoring the event. Startup Weekends are 54 hour long events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups!

I had the great privilege of judging last years Startup Weekend Auckland, after having been invited to act as a mentor two years ago. Having been involved with 12 startups over the last 20 years, I know the startup phase from the practical business perspective. However, nothing quite prepares you for your first startup weekend where all the energy, research and product build associated with a new business happens – but over one crazy busy weekend with people you may have never met before!

The buzz is very addictive, and one definitely enters into a crazy and exhilarating world with startups, but to be clear, everyone who helps with one of these weekends, from the food preparation to the final judges, all do so on a voluntary basis.

The  Startup Weekend Process

So what can you expect when you enter a startup weekend?  On Friday evening, about 80 participants meet up with the mentors and organisers for a quick drink and chat before the pitches begin – any participant can get up and pitch and usually 20 to 30 people do.  After the pitches, teams form around the best 12 ideas.  Teams self select depending on which idea they like – the less popular ideas don’t get a team and fall by the wayside!

Then it’s into the process of refining the idea and starting to understand the process and tools that are available to the teams.  The idea behind startup weekends is not just to potentially start a business which goes on after the competition, but to teach the skills and framework to develop your company.

Mentors are available to offer advice, develop the team’s understanding of the lean canvas methodology and generally offer support, information and, on occasion, act as arbitrators.  The mentors are chosen from a diverse background so there’s a range of help available from accountants, lawyers, entrepreneurs, marketers and pitch coaches. I hope to provide real value to participants with my extensive experience in startup and small business accounting.

Every event is different and every team has a unique flavour – there’s no right, or wrong, way to do this.  At one event, I watched 5 developers get together – traditionally not a good idea as you should be aiming for a combination of developer, designer and business manager.  They then spent two days arguing about every aspect, team members left, returned and left again.  There was high drama at every moment and no product in sight on Sunday morning but miraculously at the last minute they found their product, market and pitch – and won the event!

This is an amazing opportunity to learn the ‘how to’ of entrepreneurship in a structured way with a team of experienced supporters – but it’s not for the faint-hearted.

AKLSW – Getting to the Action!

GridAKL Map

This is where the action happens, at GridAKL in the Polperro building on 132 Halsey Street, Downtown Auckland. The entrance to the building is right on Halsey Street and there will be plenty of banners and volunteers around to prevent you from getting lost.


If you’re driving in, car parks can be found as marked on the map.  There are also limited street parking available around the area, but take note of the Parking note on this map.

There are some roadworks happening in this area at the moment, so watch out for the detour signs! The easiest way would be to take Daldy St then take a right turn on Madden St.

Taking the bus?

The venue is well served by bus routes. If you’re situated in the city or nearby surrounds, check out the link bus services and schedules here:

If you’re further away, all bus routes and timetables can be found here:

Taking the Train?

Another option is to take the train to Britomart. Full train routes and timetables can also be found in the above link. From there, it’s an easy stroll to Wynyard Quarter along the waterfront and across the Wynyard Crossing.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

AKLSW Nov 2014 Highlights – Ben Tan

Benjamin Tan is the website development manager at snowball effect. He is constantly looking for new experiences and opportunities that will challenge his skills or help a greater good.

Watch the youtube video here

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Sneak peek into Entrepreneurship – Sarvnaz Taherian

Sarvnaz Taherian is a doctoral candidate in Psychology at the University of Auckland. Her area of research is in systems training and usability, as well as conceptual modelling of assistive technology adoption and adherence. She is also the usability researcher at Thought-Wired – a company that is developing a tech-assistive solution for people with severe physical impairments that’s controlled by the electrical activity of the brain. 

I’m currently part of a social enterprise accelerator programme called “The Launchpad” by Akina Foundation, and our mentors highly recommended that we attend Start-up Weekend. I was hesitant but decided to sign up anyway. I spent the whole of last week complaining about how I was going to miss out on a weekend- but by golly, it was well worth it.

Start-up weekend basically swallows you up whole and spits you out into a hyper-focussed, high intensity dimension of functioning and thinking. It enabled me to explore topics and mind frames that I can’t access in everyday life.  For others that I spoke to, it enabled them to reignite lost passions and to get a taste of what is involved in developing business ideas and the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.

The first night, and half of the second day, my team members and I were on an absolute high. We were heads down bottoms up into our business validation, feeling pretty good about ourselves. Little did we know that what we were experiencing was actually the “peak of inflated expectations”. There were massive holes in our business model. We couldn’t validate half of our model, and the business was going to leave us broke. We couldn’t figure out how to pivot and this sent us plummeting into the “trough of disillusion”. The mentors were incredibly helpful, and through Socratic questioning, they helped us come up with other ways of validating our business model and creative avenues to fund the business.

We didn’t quite make it over the trough of disillusion but it was still a really great experience. I learned a lot, made some new friends and ate lots of delicious food! I would recommend startup weekend to anyone who wants to step out of their comfort zone, people who are thinking about starting their own business, and those who would like to test alternative ways of thinking/working.

What do Corporate Hitchhiking and Startup Weekend have in common? – Josh Daniell

Josh Daniell is Head of Platform and Investor Growth at Snowball Effect (equity crowdfunding). Josh participated in Startup Weekend this year, so we asked him to write about his motivations and what he wanted to get out of it.

I’ve always respected people with broad perspective. To have perspective, you need to throw yourself outside your comfort zone. However I’ve found that you can’t simply travel India in your early 20s and expect to retain perspective. It wears off. You quickly revert to your norms in a limited frame of reference. To maintain perspective, you need to consistently do things that open your mind.

Over the years I’ve used a number of methods to try and challenge my perspective. They always involve mixing with people outside my regular bubble. They often involve a touch of humiliation. They usually result in discovery and learning. A few examples:

  • Volunteering at community law centres: A way to open my eyes and help with real problems across diverse communities. It certainly puts your own problems in perspective.
  • Corporate hitchhiking: While working as a lawyer a couple of flatmates and I would hitchhike to work in suits (hence “corporate” hitchhiking). This was an unpredictable and often inspiring start to the day, and the opportunity to glimpse into the lives of people in my community.
  • Koru Club hitchhiking: If I’ve got time to kill in the airport I hover outside the Koru Club and ask a stranger to come in as their guest (members can bring in a guest for free each time they fly). Asking things from strangers carries a plethora of emotions and judgements. In this situation, these take place in less than 5 seconds. Rejection is face-to-face and humiliating.

I can now add another – Startup Weekend.

They say that starting a business is like climbing a mountain, and only being given the equipment you need once you’re almost at the top. You’ll face criticism and naysayers. You’ll taste failure and loneliness. It’s tough, but beautiful things can emerge from the foothills. If you’re lucky you’ll feel the elation of success and the sweet vindication of market acceptance.

At Snowball Effect we’ve reviewed the business plans of around 500 early stage companies over the last year. It’s easy to review and critique, but it takes courage to build something and open it up to the world. Though we’re an early stage business ourselves, I wanted to feel things from a startup’s perspective again. I met some amazing people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I had moments of humiliation and elation. And I came out of the weekend with refreshed perspective and energy. I’ll do it again!

The Startup Jungle – Jennie Leng

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!

Sunday Showdown

This weekend’s judges Vaughan Rowsell, CEO and founder of Vend, Sue de Bievre, CEO of Beany.Biz, and Rod Snodgrass, CEO of Spark Ventures, were wowed by 13 teams at Sunday Night pitch time.

In a close race, BasketTrack won first prize. BasketTrack provides shopper information to retailers so they can identify cold spots in real-time and optimize store layout. The key features of the product include integration across sales, dwell time and shopper geo-tagging, enabling retailers to maximize profits and enhance customer experience.

As the winning team, BasketTrack will receive: the Startup Law pack from Lowndes Jordan (valued at $2000), TradeMe advertising (valued at $10,000), 12 months Big Pipe broadband thanks to Spark, one month’s hot-desking and meeting space from GridAKL and one month’s meeting access from BizDojo.

The quality of the teams this year was outstanding and the judges decided to award two runner-ups – Xignal and OnMyGame. The judges felt that Xignal was an app just waiting to happen. Xignal offers real-time feedback from the audience to the presenter. In a completely different field, OnMyGame is an app developed to support people at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It engages users in a positive and fun way to provide feedback on their current state and tools for relaxation. Vaughan Rowsell, CEO of Vend, said “it was great to see an app that made people’s lives better”.

The Microsoft Top Developer Award went to Peter Sellars from Me!Social, who took home a brand new Microsoft Surface Pro. The Spark Big Data Award went to BasketTrack, who will receive a consultation with big data scientists from Qrious.

It was a great night and fantastic to see such a strong performance from all of the teams – well done, you are now all part of the startup community, help us grow it and make it thrive.

Teams on the Home Stretch!

GridAKL is currently a hive of activity as teams rush to perfect their pitches. Everyone is in it to win it and WOW the judges!

Special thanks to all our wonderful mentors for their hard work over the past two days. There’s nothing more inspiring and rewarding than seeing teams light up in an ‘Aha!’ moment after insightful feedback and advice.

The count down is on – only 2 hours left until show time! Here’s a final update of our teams pitching tonight:

  • Access Map (@accessmapco)
    Creating pathways towards universal access for our community and celebrating equality through crowdfunding and goodwill. Website:
  • Me!Social (@MeSocial_)
    Me!Social is an interactive user experience app designed to introduce you to new social experiences/events in your area. Website:
  • Flash Feeds (@flash_feeds)
    Food deals. Easier and faster than anything else out there. Website:
  • EducateMeIT
    EducateMeIT is your personal guide to IT Education. We provide a tailored training solution to meet your needs. Website:
  • Ziwi
    A simple social trading app for travellers. Website:
  • BasketTrack (@BasketTrack)
    BasketTrack provides real time analytics of shopper behaviour and transaction sales data so supermarkets can make informed decisions about store layout and product placement. Website:
  • Sieni
    Pacific island online marketplace. Website:
  • (@CoCreateNinja) allows the new generation of web designers and developers to work together remotely. The solution integrates web cam & voice technology, file sharing, and social networking – allowing collaborative working to be speedier and more efficient. Website:
  • OnMyGame
    A mobile app to maintain positive mental health of ‘First Responders’ Services. Website:
  • Class Compass
    One pass you can use to any class, anywhere.
  • Craft Beer Critiq
    An app to challenge and help drinkers experience and find craft beer, and help the brewers market to get feedback for their products.
  • SoSho
    Connecting locals and activities. A fun and easy to use app that allows you to quickly scan your local area and find company to join you on activities when you want.
  • Xignal (@xignallapp)
    An app / web service that helps people who give presentations to improve their presentation skills with quick honest feedback from the audience. Bonus feature – opportunity to convert interest into leads. Website:

Make sure you follow us on Twitter @AKLSW for the ACTION tonight!