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Startup Aotearoa To Test The Mettle Of NZ’s Great Business Ideas

How many of New Zealand’s great startups are lost when an idea never sees the light of day?

A new coalition of NZ’s top startup ecosystem players, is betting that the number is more than you might think.

From today, budding entrepreneurs can apply to Startup Aotearoa, a free coaching service designed to grow innovative ideas from BBQ conversations and garage tinkering into thriving global ventures. Founders, budding entrepreneurs, mums, dads, university students, and anyone else that wants to take their big idea to the next stage are encouraged to apply.

The first-of-its-kind programme is part-funded by Callaghan Innovation and delivered by the country’s top innovation hubs including Ministry of Awesome, Creative HQ, GridAKL, Soda Inc., The Factory and Angel Investors Marlborough.

Ministry of Awesome Head of Programmes, Zach Warder-Gabaldón, said in our country of ‘No. 8 wire’, people are natural innovators but many don’t know where to start to turn those ideas into viable businesses with global potential.

“It’s exactly this time of year that the innovative new business ideas we hear our friends talking about over the holidays start to fizz away. A huge roadblock for so many of these potential entrepreneurs is that they don’t know where to start, or who to talk to, to bring their ideas to life,” said Warder-Gabaldón.

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“Startup Aotearoa is aiming to break down these barriers, enabling more people to take the first few steps towards growing globally impactful companies.”

Founders tapping into this service will receive the following support: personalised one-on-one coaching sessions, networking with industry connections, upskilling and training, startup support services, a supportive community for early-stage startups, and preparation to enter a formal incubator or accelerator programme around the motu.

Joe Slater, General Manager of Startups at Creative HQ says business development programmes have previously focused on upskilling companies already up and running.

“It’s been clear to us for some time that there are huge barriers for people wanting to build a startup. Not everyone has been to business school, or even knows where to start to get an idea off the ground. This not only locks certain demographics out of our startup networks, it actually slows innovation for the entire country.”

“We think anyone with a good idea should have a chance to give it a crack. We are here to help them make that happen,” Slater said.

Business leaders and experts from across the country have been brought into the programme as specialised startup coaches, offering unparalleled guidance for the participating founders.

Ministry of Awesome CEO Marian Johnson said that the mission of creating more innovation-based startups was crucial for the New Zealand economy to be competitive in a rapidly changing tech-fuelled world.

“Last year, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment released the Upstart Nation report, which said a measure of New Zealand’s economic success was if we had an ecosystem of 5000 active high-growth startups by 2030. We currently have 2400, and won’t reach our target unless we grow more innovation-based companies. This is why we need programmes like Startup Aotearoa to bring our next business success stories to life,” Johnson said.

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