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Setting up Rotorua businesses for long-term success

Setting up Rotorua businesses for long-term success

12 March 2018

Applications are open for subsidised business training programmes to help launch, grow and scale Rotorua businesses and non-profits.

Central north island Business Growth Centre, Firestation, is looking for participants for three business training programmes Activate, Incubate and Accelerate.

Programme creator Darren McGarvie says the three programmes have a proven track record and cater for all ages and stages of business.

“Our range of programmes suit everyone; from you have an idea for a business or non-profit through to medium-sized businesses with an annual turnover of up to ten million.”

“We know our programmes work. What makes them stand out is that they are execution focussed. Participants tell us they love how we focus on actions. What action will they take to implement what they have learned to take their organisation forward.”

“These courses are not about sitting in a room for a couple of hours a week or fortnight and then going away and doing business as usual. We want active participants who want to try new business strategies and techniques and ultimately execute what they learn.”

More than 150 people have gone through the three programmes across Rotorua, Kawerau, South Waikato and Taupo. These programmes are subsidised by councils and economic development agencies to help support economic growth and create local jobs.

Each programme includes group-based training, group review sessions where participants share challenges and successes and one-on-one business coaching sessions. In the final session participants present their launch or growth plan for their business.

“Each programme has a different focus to cater for that stage of business. Activate is for start-ups and the focus is on idea development, what is needed to get your idea up and running. Incubate is for the smaller businesses and is about building strong foundations for long-term business success. Accelerate is for medium sized businesses and is about fast-tracking growth and scaling the business.”

“All participants must sign a pledge of commitment that sets out our expectations on attendance as well as adopting an open mindset to make changes in the business.”

“The pledge also acknowledges the investment the funders and Firestation are making to the business community by subsidising the cost of programmes.”

Kai Rotorua, a social enterprise with a mission for the Rotorua community to access fresh, healthy and nutritional kai, was fortunate to receive one of the limited free places in Activate for non-profits. Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea who attended for the organisation said he encouraged others to apply.

“I enjoyed the delivery and presentation of each of the course components. Through the course I realised ‘I must do this’. What followed was the excitement, drive, passion and sense of urgency in working toward Kai Rotorua’s objectives.”

“Activate provides valuable insights and a raft of tools that every start-up, charity, volunteer organisation, non-profit and social enterprise should have access to. Would I recommend Activate? Absolutely.”

Vijo Madapilly Jose from Qual Cleaning Group is another keen advocate of Firestation business training. He is about to finish the Accelerate course and graduated from the Incubate course in 2015.

“I truly recommend these courses. It has enlightened me in many ways in areas such as the proper organisation of business, human resources, marketing, sales and finance. The two-hour sessions mean that you can learn new ideas even amongst the busiest business schedules.”

“Through these courses I was able to prepare a very good and realistic strategic business plan for my commercial cleaning business.”

“Probably the biggest surprise learning was about pricing. With the upcoming wage increase in April I was under pressure to review my charges. At the same time, I was in dilemma on how to communicate this to my clients. One of the sessions opened my eyes to various pricing strategies, which was very helpful. It’s not just about your competitor’s price or considering your own costs.”

“I enjoyed each and every session of the Accelerate Programme. I was with people with similar mindsets and are leading businesses successfully. Through this programme, I received the most updated ideas and business trends which I plan to execute in my business,” says Jose.

Approved applicants receive subsidised places in the programmes. Activate and Incubate is supported by Rotorua Lakes Council and Accelerate is funded by Destination Rotorua.

Applications close Friday 6 April, with the programmes starting late April. For more information or to apply go to

More information:


Assists established medium size businesses to triple their current rate of growth.
40 organisations across 4 cohorts since 2015
Cohort 5 to commence April 2018 in Rotorua. Sessions will be Thursday mornings.
6-month course requiring commitment for 4-5 hours per month
12 group sessions covering leadership, sales, finance, marketing etc
Three one-on-one coaching sessions.
Final session all participants much present a launch plan.
Organisation cost of $199+GST per month.


Provide business owners and charitable enterprise managers with the foundation for long term success.
100 people across 11 cohorts graduated since 2014
Cohort 12 to commence April 2018 in Rotorua
12-week course requiring a commitment of 2-3 hours per week
Eight group sessions covering topics such as Growth Mindset, Marketing Essentials, Sales Strategies, Employment Law, Online Marketing, Business Essentials, Finance Essentials and Pricing.
Two one-on-one coaching sessions.
Final session all participants must present a business plan.
Organisation cost of $49+GST per week. Limited FREE placements for non-profits.


Assist entrepreneurs to develop a concept and launch a new product, service or enterprise – commercial or charitable
12 organisations across 2 cohorts since 2017
12-week programme requiring a commitment of 2-3 hours per week.
Six group sessions covering idea development, lean business canvas, market validation, business planning and growth mindset.
Two one-on-one business coaching sessions.
Final session all participants must present a launch plan
Organisation cost of $49+GST per week. Limited FREE placements for non-profits.


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