Meet the Mentors: Nate Martin

Nate Martin is the Creative Director at Moving Pixel/Showboat and is currently involved with 4 other Startups. Nate is a serial entrepreneur with an incredible amount of experience as a designer and as a creative director.


What are you looking forward to at SWDUD2016?

Watching the journey participants go through with the intent of delivering something by Sunday afternoon.

What advice do you have for those attending?

Get involved from the get go, don’t sit back…you’ll get more out of it that way….have FUN!

What do you get up to outside work?

Surfing, kickin it with the kids, or both

What industry are most excited to follow over the next 5-10 years?

Any industry (there will be many) that takes advantage of the Blockchain

What is your favourite Startup right now?

SuchCrowd (based here in Dunedin)

What is a recent startup related book you’ve enjoyed?

Disrupt you by Jay Samit

To take a closer look at everything Nate has been up to jump over to Linkedin and check his profile, it’s impressive!


Alumni Spotlight: Creating a business through sustainable business with Geia

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.

Alumni Spotlight: Hatching the future of startup weekend Dunedin

For the second alumni spotlight, I had a chat with Phillipa from Hatch. After a small relaunch earlier this year and big plans for the coming year Hatch is one to watch in Dunedin.

Hatch is for the kids, it’s fun hands-on tech learning. Offering a range of programmes from 3D Design to Animation and Programming to fill in afterschool hours and holidays.

What is Hatch and how are you involved?

I have founded Hatch to create a space which empowers learners to be innovative and creative citizens who contribute to a positive future. The emphasis is on design thinking using 21st Century skills and technology. It is also a space designed to support teachers and schools helping youth to be digital creators rather than digital consumers. Enabling New Zealand to be at the forefront of innovative technological development.

What are your plans for hatch over the coming year?

Hatch is yet to officially open so, for the first year, I want to see a growing client base. I’m really excited about tapping into the talent in the youth of Dunedin. I have already found some fabulous young people who can offer a wide range of exciting learning opportunities, and I look forward to meeting more. Within the year, I would love to see some young entrepreneurs coming out of the Hatch space who have innovative ideas to solve problems in the local and global community.

What did you take away from Startup Weekend 2015 that has helped your business over the last year?

I was a newbie at the Startup Weekend in 2015 and didn’t know what to expect. I ended up with a team of awesome and experienced people who I have continued to keep in touch with. None of us are currently working on the business idea we developed that weekend but I know that, for myself, I have applied a lot of what I learned that weekend to setting my own business up. It was also great to connect with vibrant and passionate people from Dunedin’s business community. The experienced mentors at the weekend were open and supportive and you could tell they were all there because they believed in the start-up philosophy.

If people are sitting on the fence about attending this year, what would you say to them?

Go! The most you will lose is a bit of sleep! I took part in the weekend in the early stages of thinking about setting up my own business and I constantly referred back to the weekend as I went through the set-up process. The networking was great, the sense of community was awesome and the food on supply really hit the spot!

Alumni Spotlight: SuchCrowd is turning event planning on its head.

For the first alumni spotlight, we sit down and chat with Abbe Hyde and Jacob Manning. Abbe and Jake have gone from participating to being part of the organising team, and their startup SuchCrowd is powering our ticket pre-sales for 2016!


How did you first hear about Startup Weekend?

I had attended the first startup weekend in Dunedin back in 2013 … so I guess I was on the mailing list. I love startup weekends and was super keen to go again,

What were you expecting when you stepped into the event on Friday?

I actually wasn’t sure if I was going to participate until I decided about half an hour before. At the time I was desperately trying to finish my Masters and really wanted to use the weekend to make some progress … but the fun of startup weekend drew me in once again,

Did you end up pitching?

I did, I thought of a problem I wanted to solve on the way to the weekend. It was a prominent problem that I had found from years of marking assignments.

What idea did you work on over the weekend?

The idea I pitched was one that I managed to form a team around so I got to work on that. It was marking software to make paperfree marking much faster, easier and more attractive to tutors.

What was the highlight of the weekend?

I snagged 3 developers for my team! I didn’t know we had so many in Dunedin 😉

And what was the hardest point?

The hardest, yet most rewarding part, was learning how to communicate with the 3 devs I had luckily scored. I learned so much but I was probably the worst ever project manager for them to try and build something … languages, frameworks, features … my head was spinning.

So what are you working on now 1 year on?

One of the developers that was in my team, Tin Htoo Aung, was willing to give me a second chance and after the startup weekend 3 of us (including Jacob Manning who was also on my startup weekend team) began working on a different project. Tin Htoo Aung was developing a ticketing system and we wanted to find a novel use for it,

With myself leading validation (talking to customers and learning about the market)  and Jacob organising the business model (how do we make money) we hit upon a problem we thought we could solve in the event planning industry.

So now we are co-founders of SuchCrowd which is a novel crowd engagement tool that allows people organising events, shows, gigs and workshops to test their ideas with the crowd and see if they can sell enough tickets to go ahead and do it.

How has the business progressed since starting?

We applied for Lightning Lab, a business accelerator in Christchurch and were one of the ten teams accepted. This gave us funding and intense mentorship for 3 months. We launched our online platform ( in September and have run over 25 events through it now, including one in the USA. We’ve learnt a lot from our early customers which are enabling us to improve our offering and onboard more customers.

What’s next for SuchCrowd?

We’ve expanded to a team of 5 and are currently closing a round of funding. We are super excited to enter high growth mode and focus on expansion to new regions and countries.

Any words for people still on the fence about Startup Weekend?

Do it.

And any advice for first time participants?

Use it as a networking opportunity, find out as much as possible about everyone in the room, that way even if your startup weekend idea doesn’t fly long term you may have met your ideal co-founders for the next venture.

Team elevator pitches at #swdud

The teams have been hard at work this weekend! In just a few hours they’ve come up with their ideas, validated them against the market, designed and executed them, and created business models.

From 5PM – 7PM on Sunday the teams will present their ideas to a panel of judges on the second floor of the University of Otago Commerce Building.

We’d like to invite anyone from the public to join us for the pitches in room 203 from 5PM – 7PM, and share a beer (or three) with us after the event until 9PM. Here are the 7 startups and what their ideas are.


VOR using data captured from optical and GPS technology to prevent crashes on New Zealand and international roads. They are initially targeting the rental car market.”


Tracks is like Trip Advisor for walking tracks. It’s a mobile app that solves the problem of lack of access to quality digital maps and resources around local walking tracks.


Treeage is a company that makes easy, fast, paper-free document grading software. What makes it special is the way it handles mass documents.

This team have found a way of revolutionising bulk document sorting on one hand and computer marking on the other.


“We creating a community space that’s non-alcohol focussed where people can have fun and socialise.”

Night Space created and trialled the first event last night. Between 1AM -9AM, about 75 people passed through the venue.


Property Match is turning the property market on its head. They’ve got a web based platform that’s going to more efficiently connect prospective tenants with property owners by profile matching. Both parties make a profile and seek each other out.


Mechanic in a box. It’s an early diagnostic system for vehicles providing peace of mind and reducing damage to a valuable asset. The tools provides the mechanic access to diagnostic information in real time. The device sends that information from each vehicle to a cloud platform which is interfaced by each dealer network.


Planit Green is an environmental rating agency for any company wanting to know more about going green. They offer a simple, affordable online tool for the business owner to assess how green their business is and where to improve.

5 questions with Startup Weekend mentor Henk Roodt

Henk Roodt is the founder of Stone to Stars, and is fairly involved with Dunedin’s startup scene. He played a substantial part in making the Startup Space happen, along with Kate Turnbull from Audacious, and Henk continues to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in Dunedin. Henk will be mentoring Startup Weekend Dunedin 2015.

1) What is your company and what do you do?

StoneToStars is a consulting R&D and ‘in-house solver’ company.  We are part of a consortium of small companies that can do a lot of things in a very cost-effective and agile manner.  StoneToStars specialises in complex organisation dynamics and business model design, simulation of large systems and training.  We also develop custom apps.

2) What other ventures are you involved with?

The consortium is a new venture, driven by the understanding that small companies lack footprint and credibility in the corporate world.

I am also employed by Wintec in Hamilton to develop new industry research opportunities.

3) What are some of your favourite startups at the moment?

I am very impressed by Timely and Showboat, both from Dunedin.  My focus is really on the raw new companies, the small ones that can fail or succeed.  For me it is about being involved there and perhaps being paid one day!  I also like a new incubator in Cape Town South Africa, called Silicon Cape.  Think we’ll see some cool stuff from there.

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

Cashflow – it is everything.  Use networks and finally,  get help and listen to advice. Then do the best you can with what you have.

5) What are you looking forward to at Startup Weekend 2015?

Will we see the new name in social entrepreneurship coming from Dunedin?  And who will leverage Gigatown?


Connect with Henk on LinkedIn and Twitter

5 questions with Startup Weekend mentor John Enlow


John Enlow is the CTO of AD Instruments, a global leader in creating innovative scientific systems.  John graduated from the University of Otago with a PhD and BSc in Mathematics, which he has used over the last decade to build successful startups and, more recently, run the R&D department at ADI. John will be bringing his invaluable experience to Startup Weekend as a mentor, so we caught up with him to ask him a few questions.

1) What is ADI and what you do at the company?

ADI makes science easier with great data acquisition hardware and software. Our equipment is used in over ten thousand institutions around the world,  mainly in life science teaching and research. As the Chief Technical Officer, I run the R&D part of the company, the best part of which is imagining and creating the future through innovative new products.

2) What startups you have been involved with over the years?

I co-founded a home audio startup and another developing an online mathematics education platform. More recently my focus has been on projects at ADI – one of which is a new cloud-based service that has a lot in common with a startup even though it’s within an established business.

3) What are some of your favourite startups at the moment?

Most of my favourites are related to IT or SaaS, but to name a few:

  • Backyard Brains is doing great things for Neuroscience and in a fun way.
  • Cloud Cannon is a local startup with a nice tool for web designers.
  • TimeBird is just getting started but puts a huge effort into connecting with their users.

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

Use the tools (e.g. Lean Canvas, Design Thinking), and embrace the pivot!

5) What are you looking forward to at Startup Weekend 2015?

I’m expecting an intense time full of creativity, frustration and breakthroughs. I’m most looking forward to seeing the teams at the end come away with a huge sense of accomplishment and being inspired to do more.


Connect with John on LinkedIn.

Timely supports Startup Weekend Dunedin

befunkytimelyshoot2 Startup Weekend is an event that’s supported by event attendees, like yourselves, and sponsors who donate their time and resources to help make Startup Weekend a reality. One of these sponsors is Timely, a Dunedin-based startup that provides booking software to businesses like hair salons, beauty and health clinics, personal trainers, massage therapists, and even dentists and consultants.

Most small businesses that sell services do so in blocks of time. The more efficient they are at managing their time, the better their businesses do. Timely helps them do this by giving them an affordable and cloud-based app that does many of the mundane tasks for them, such as managing their appointment calendar, taking online bookings, and even reminding customers that they have appointments coming up. This allows small business to get more out of their day and run more successful businesses with Timely.

As a company, Timely sets itself apart from the rest in the way that it has developed a strong internal culture. This is due in part to the fact that there is no central office. Employees work from their homes and from cafes – from wherever they choose – and there are no strict clock in and clock out hours. The team is highly motivated because, as a remote startup, everything is results-based, and employees start their day with this approach in mind.

The result is a group of people who have a strong work / life balance, as they are able to do things with their families during the day and still be able to build one of the fastest growing startups in New Zealand. You can see this in action every day by following the #timelylife Twitter account.

At Startup Weekend 2015, two people from Timely will be part of the supporting team. Rueben Skipper, a business development manager at Timely, will be helping groups at Startup Weekend overcome any obstacles they might have with his extensive experience in building companies. Ryan Baker, CEO and co-founder of Timely, will be bringing his knowledge of startups, marketing, and business growth to the judging panel at the end of the event.

If you’d like to connect with Ryan and Rueben, come to Startup Weekend 2015. The event starts on March 27th, and ends on March 29th. No experience is required – there are awesome mentors (like Rueben!) who have volunteered their time to help you build your business ideas.


5 questions with Startup Weekend mentor Rueben Skipper

Rueben Skipper is  Business Development Manager at Timely, a startup in Dunedin that provides a business management solution to booking-based businesses. Rueben will be bringing his experience to Startup Weekend 2015 as a mentor, where he will assist teams in creating scaleable businesses.

1) What you do at Timely?

I’m a Business Development Manager. That means I find ways to connect and educate an ever growing number of people around the world to the benefits of Timely.

2) What other businesses are you involved with?

SwiftSocial is a social media marketing company.  We look after social media for businesses all over New Zealand.

DealFlow is a fitness app for sales.  We are still in closed alpha, which means we have launched the first version of our app and are testing and improving it in house.

I’ve had a lot of unsexy startups i.e. real world businesses and been involved with a few technology startups during my time at Upstart Business Incubator.  There are too many to mention here.

3) What are some of your favourite startups at the moment?

Timely is the hottest startup in NZ right now.  I like watching Xero and Rod Drury from afar.  Pocketsmith is a Dunedin startup gaining traction.  Alibaba has been interesting to watch.  Slack is pretty damn cool.

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

Worry less about protecting your idea and more about finding some customers to validate it.

5) What are you looking forward to at Startup Weekend 2015?

I like the energy and enthusiasm.  If we could can it, and sell it, then we’d have the best startup ever.


Connect with Rueben on LinkedIn and Twitter

6 questions with Startup Weekend mentor George Phillips


George Phillips is the CTO at Cloud Cannon, a startup that began in Dunedin, went through Lightning Lab in Wellington, and is now tackling international markets. George will be mentoring Startup Weekend Dunedin, so we caught up with him to ask him a few questions.

1) In a few sentences, what Cloud Cannon and what you do at the company?

CloudCannon takes any static or jekyll site and makes them updatable for non-technical people. This allows developers to quickly build websites without learning any extra technologies. As a CTO I focus on the improving the product. As a Co-founder I have to dabble in all areas of the company.

2) What has the journey from idea to investor-backed startup been like for you at Cloud Cannon?

It is an incredible feeling to have such great people backing us. Just over a year ago we quit our jobs to focus on CloudCannon full time. Now we are an investor-back startup with 5 employees. The big step for us was going to Lightning Lab and the people that introduced us to. We gained so much confidence when industry leaders took an interest which pushed us to push the product globally. I am still as excited about the company as I was the day we started coding.

3) How has your life changed since founding Cloud Cannon?

Founding a startup is an immense change. Cloud Cannon has taken me around the world and tested me on the highs and lows of the emotional scale. It’s pretty amazing to look back a year and see what has happened, good and bad.

4) What are some of your favourite startups at the moment?

In NZ, all Lightning Lab alumni and Dunedin companies. Docker would be my Worldwide choice as we have recently undertaken a lot of work with containers.

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

Pick a market you are passionate about and have experience in. If you are only motivated by money you will not last. Without experience you are going to have to learn about creating a start up and your field. Having both of these things will make things a lot easier.

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

I’m looking forward to meeting more Dunedin people interested in entrepreneurship. I hope to see them create some great companies.


Connect with George on LinkedIn and Twitter