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Supporting the growth of ambitious New Zealand entrepreneurs

Supporting the growth of ambitious New Zealand entrepreneurs

SODA Inc. is a nationwide founder-focused business incubator. Last week SODA Inc. celebrated the success of its clients who completed their incubation programs at the 2017 ASB Ambition Showcase.

Chief Executive Erin Wansbrough opened the event by noting the exciting opportunities offered by the showcase. "SODA’s clients are based all over New Zealand and they don’t go through a programme as a cohort," she said. "Today is a great chance for current and alumni clients to connect, often meeting for the first time, and to share with and learn from each other." Wansbrough also acknowledged the hard work, grit, and determination of SODA’s client founders in building their businesses.

SODA’s philosophy is that there are a few key actions that startups can take that to set themselves apart from the pack. It’s about having the right conversations with the right people, and the first step is identifying the right people to have those conversations with. That’s why SODA uses an outsourced expertise model to add value to their startup clients.

Wansbrough says that the process of incubation at SODA is complex to explain, because it is different for each company. The programmes are customised to suit each business. "We believe the greatest benefit comes from a customised programme managed by the best advisors we can find to match with our clients," she says. "This is superior to a cookie-cutter, ‘every founder needs to know this’ structured programme."

SODA starts the incubation process by clarifying with the founder exactly what help and support they need. SODA then matches the founder with a "rock star" Business Growth Advisor (BGA) along with expert advisors picked by the founder to be the most beneficial to their business. Through this, founders are having the right conversations with the right people.

When reviewing an application to the programme, the SODA investment team considers both the founder and their business opportunity. As a founder-focused incubator, one of SODA’s primary goals is the education and growth of its founders. Therefore, SODA looks for coachable, ambitious, and entrepreneurial traits in applicants as much as it looks for good business opportunities.

Wansbrough emphasises that SODA doesn’t limit their intake of clients to just one profession or one level of experience. "We’ve worked with a lot of start-ups, entrepreneurs and many businesses ranging in different sizes," she says.

Another defining feature of the SODA Inc. programme is that it’s customisable and remote. Wherever clients are in New Zealand, SODA can work with them to build a scalable business.

For the seventh year running, ASB Bank was the corporate partner and sponsor of SODA’s ASB Ambition Showcase. ASB commercial manager John Wilkinson says ASB got involved with SODA in part because of its unique approach. "ASB believes in the work SODA does to support and develop founders to build scalable, sustainable businesses," he says. "Our involvement reflects our long-held commitment to working with founders, many of whom will go on to develop businesses that will be true market leaders and household names."

To find out more about SODA Inc. and its incubation programme and initiatives visit


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