R9 Accelerator – Week 3 & 4 Insights from our NZ Entrepreneurs & Government Innovators

This post is the third in our fortnightly series documenting the successes, challenges and overall progress of the NZ entrepreneurs and govt innovators currently working on government/business interaction opportunities as part of the R9 Accelerator, powered by Better for Business and based out of Creative HQ. Each post alternates between the 10 teams to profile 5 each fortnight, see here to meet all 10 of the R9 Accelerator teams in the first of this series.

Where has your team experienced the most growth over the last two weeks?

Business Buddy | Our team communication has improved greatly, we’re transparent with each other about where we are at and what we’re thinking. This has allowed us to contribute more to the process and to each other.

The Constructables | We have learnt how to work with each other and learnt how we work on an individual level as well. We learnt that it’s all about how each team member understands/perceives information and it’s important to speak their language. Everyone has different frames of reference, different work backgrounds and different drivers. We made this a number one priority so it got done and it’s been super helpful.

Traject | Over the past week we’ve interacted with key decision makers in government to create a valid business model and we’re now working on following a business plan. Our communication amongst the team has been really good and we can move past disagreements smoothly. We’re also able to challenge each other’s thoughts and opinions a bit more to get to the heart of why we think what we think.

Spaceport | We’ve had a strong indication that we’re headed in the right direction through talking to our main clients. We were expecting to hear no from one client but instead got a yes, which was a surprise and big win for us. We’ve done a lot of work doing initial interviews gaining data and fleshing out the processes already in place. We’re now planning a pilot mock up of our MVP to take to our first 10 customers, in order to test and get feedback for further development.

Visard | We’ve discovered other opportunities within the same market and we have a few different ideas about business models that we can now go forward with. We’ve grown in terms of our awareness that things may turn out quite a bit differently that we originally thought. We’ve gone in a few different directions but are a bit more synced now on the sector we’re focusing on. We’ve been defining the sector we’re working on by researching similar ideas, solutions and competitors in our space. We’re working on developing/re-building our prototype, and testing it with our market. But our biggest growth has been finding a support, David Moskovitz. We’re very excited about this!

R9 Accelerator

What is/are the current challenge(s) you are tackling at the moment to make progress?

Business Buddy | Our current challenge is a balancing act, managing the different wants and needs from our sponsor agency, mentors that are providing ongoing support and market validation feedback from customers. We want to provide a valuable solution for everyone involved so managing expectations is a key focus for us at the moment.

The Constructables | Wrestling with time and coming to terms with the short time frame we have to get as much done as possible. Time not only for the team to form but also time to figure out the problem. We’ve also had a roadblock in getting the right data and the right customers we need to talk to push forward. It’s hard to know what’s correct in this arena, who’s the right customer and who’s the wrong customer.

We’re also realising that there are many solutions out there for our problem and different perceptions of the problem as another layer to that equation.  As we delve deeper into the problem, we realise it’s not just about coming up with a solution to that but honing in and defining the problem as well.

Traject  | Our biggest challenge at the moment is getting everyone in immigration on the same page and communicating with our stakeholders so that everyone’s desired outcomes are aligned. We’re managing lots of different expectations and how these expectation fit into our model. We’re looking at how we can make the most impact with the short amount of time we have here. We want to create change and help people and NZ grow. We know the splash this small group of people in immigration can make in NZ so we’re focussed on drilling down to our vision and keeping that in the forefront of everything we do.

Spaceport | ‘Hurry up and wait’ has been a bit of a tagline for us recently. It’s been a slow process contacting people and getting information back from the clients but it’s understandably slow because we’re working on the IT process and making this more efficient. It’s happening but it’s a slow process which leaves us with down time to fill in with other side projects.  

Visard | The most challenging thing has been finding a balance between building our product and doing the research around our problem. We’re also dealing with having limited resource and limited time to work with.


What has been the most energising part of the R9 experience so far?

Business Buddy | The coffee and getting Glenn’s mentor perspective, he has taken our thinking and shaken it up like a snow globe. This has been energising for us as we were settling into one way of thinking which made it hard to see solutions in other places. He challenged our thinking and we were able to take a whole other angle and approach to our solution which opened up a lot for us.

The Constructables | The environment and the new people you meet outside of the programme, we don’t get to do this as much in a normal work environment. The fact that you can move around the space, invent processes and learn new processes and from all types of people. The teams and people around us recognise what we’re doing and being able to share where we’re at with others in the space has been energising. We share the hard times and the good times and no one judges. Celebrating the fails as well as the wins.

Traject  | Getting up to come to work and do something we care about and actually believe in. The supportive staff at Creative HQ, the constant support from the programme team and the mentors. We have access to such a great network of people like this who are behind us. We’ve learnt a lot from each other as a team as well. “I’m an analogue guy in a digital world and I am picking up on all sorts of apps!” (Stefan)

Spaceport | Our clients are enthusiastic and committed to making this work even when they stumble on internal politics. They are pushing through for the success of everyone, including us, which is very heartwarming and energising.

Visard | Talking to Dave Moskovitz has been very uplifting for our team, it literally brought us to tears (tears of joy)! Having a mentor on board that believes in our business idea, thinks the idea has a big future, and can provide knowledge and perspective is a very motivating factor for us.

R9 accelerator teams

What it the most useful bit of learning or advice you have taken away from the programme over last two weeks? 

Business Buddy | Get someone on board to really challenge you and push your team outside of the norm, ideally someone with lots of business expertise. It can be easy to get stuck on one idea or approach and end up only validating that idea. To be successful you need to test and validate those assumptions and if you come out the other side thinking the same things then the assumption stood the challenge and if not then you have a whole other avenue to pursue.

The Constructables | A few bits of advice we’ve learnt is to keep it fun, support your team and those around you, that startups can be hard and you will go through ups and downs together, keep it about learning and not suffering. Ask lots of questions, people have a wealth of knowledge you can readily tap into and so many people are keen to talk and want to be a part of what you’re doing, it’s so worthwhile to connect with these people.

Traject  | Remember why you are doing this and connect with your vision regularly. The bigger picture is important to keep you focussed. A tip for anyone dealing with government is make sure you encourage them to have a clear singular voice of what they want, get them all in a room together and go over the problem and your solution. Speak to the highest up person you can as soon as possible, and capture that key information so it serves your solution from the get go.

Spaceport | Make sure you fully understand the problem you are solving. It can seem quite narrow at first but the more you look and research the more you understand the complexities, reasons why things the way they are. The problem can be more complicated than it first appears and the closer you are with the problem the more you unveil. Understanding the problem fully is all about talking to a wide variety of people, not being afraid to go over the same idea a few times with someone and drill down to the core pain point for the customer. Make sure you have given all the information to the customer, they have all info they need and they have the process they need to follow, make it as easy for them as possible.

Visard | Getting a wider view and context on our opportunity has made us more aware of the gaps in our market, aware of complexity of the inner systems and has given us keys to our problem. Talking to domain experts has been one of our key learnings. Domain experts give you a good understanding of other perspectives and problems, which means you can target particular areas or markets. Talking to the users and getting a good handle on their perspective has helped us flesh those learnings out further still in order to understand how best to provide a solution to the problem.

 

This post is part of the R9 Accelerator’s fortnightly update. Sign up here for programme insights from Director Shawn O’Keefe, information on the teams and their progress, the latest press and relevant #govtech resources.