This post is the sixth 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 9 teams to profile half each fortnight, see here to meet all 9 of the R9 Accelerator teams in the first of this series.
What is something you’ve learnt in R9 that you wish you knew before the programme?
Quicker Kiwis | There is always more to learn! We wish we knew how to use social comms tools like Trello, Slack, and even how to use google docs more efficiently before R9, they are all big time savers in terms of team productivity. We also wish we knew the government agency’s expectations of our team as we spent much of our valuable time working out what the government view was on our problem. On a side note always remember to tan your legs if wearing shorts to a meeting and practice your photo poses before coming along to an accelerator programme!
CoHelix | We wish we knew how important mindfulness is and making time out for yourself a priority to recharge your batteries. Our team is so engaged and excited about the R9 journey and business opportunity that it’s easy to be switched on for days at a time! Learning how to switch off so you can get much needed rest is something we wish we knew before the programme, but have learnt as we go!
Leno (previously Tender Advantage) | We wish we knew a bit more about lean methodology before R9 and what an “actual” MVP is… i.e the MVP is not the actual product (haha). This would’ve saved everyone years of time working on projects!
MiBiz | Something we’ve learnt in R9 that we wished we knew beforehand is that sales don’t just happen, it’s actually a lengthy process! Learning how to get the most of customer interviews and build our engagement with them would’ve been useful to know beforehand, which we could’ve applied to our previous work.
2Shakes | We wish we knew the new members (Caroline, Richard and Nicole) of our team before R9, they are so awesome to have on board and work with! Would’ve loved to have known the difference between running lean and running lean in an accelerator programme before R9. We would’ve done a few things differently if that were the case. We didn’t realise until now how lean, “lean” can actually be. If we did it all over again we would focus on concentrated value propositions more!
Do you have any key takeaways for people looking to join and accelerator programme like R9?
Quicker Kiwis | Coming from a government agency perspective; be prepared to work unconventional hours and muck in get your hands dirty. Let your employer know that the accelerator doesn’t function around 9-5 pm requirements. Expectations from programmer and employers may not always be the same, so you may be juggling the two. Overall key takeaways for our team would be to create a good soundtrack, bring a sense of humour with you, be open to the entrepreneurial spirit and be prepared to have heaps of fun!
CoHelix | If you’re looking to take part in an accelerator programme, come along with a willingness to learn and a positive mindset. Be open to acquiring a wide range of skill sets and willingness to move out of your comfort zone. It is a challenging environment so focus on the positives instead of getting stuck in a downward spiral. There is a time and place for negativity, but the key is to take responsibility for the negativity and not let it take over. Too much negativity can kill the horse! Being an understanding team player, looking at things from a variety of perspectives and having regular check-ins with your team are also great ways to keep on top of things in a challenging environment!
Leno (previously Tender Advantage) | The most important thing is taking your time to get to know your team from the start. Take up every opportunity that is given to you for the duration of the programme! Go to every offered workshop, speaker session and make the most of the mentors. You have access to so many opportunities so make the most of them!
MiBiz | Be open minded and just do it, you’ll come away having learnt heaps if nothing else! Be prepared to listen to mentor perspectives, but also be aware of mentor whiplash and there will be times where you will have to back your own views. Be coach-able around the process itself, but not always necessarily around your venture.
2Shakes | The R9 Accelerator is a hell of an opportunity with a massive support structure around it. Maximize it! Avoid wasting time at the start by doing as much research around the problem you are solving so you hit the ground running. Have an expert on your team who knows the subject matter inside out!
What learning experiences will you take back to your workplace? What’s next for you?
Quicker Kiwis | We’ve learnt so much going through R9, we can see the problem from a different angle now. Some key takeaways are to advocate market testing before jumping straight in, and looking at ways to encourage efficient project management instead of time consuming workflow processes. Utilizing the kanban and communication tools like Trello made it much easier to communicate and see where we’re all at with a project. Being able to fast fail with your team, as well as identifying the elements not working as quickly as you identify what is working.
CoHelix | We would love to keep working on CoHelix! Aside from applying the lean and agile methodologies in government sectors, we would promote open and can do attitudes as the government often has to be risk averse. We would also be instigators for bringing in strong team culture back to our workplaces. Culture is the most important thing for any organisation, it builds a supportive environment, workability and motivation amongst staff!
Leno | We’ve only just begun and we’re keen to continue working on Leno. We hope to stay at Creative HQ.
MiBiz | The next step for MiBiz is building the platform and getting as many business owners to register their interest as possible! Please go here to register your interest www.mibiz.co.nz.
2Shakes | We aim to continue working on 2Shakes after R9! The learning we would take back into a government department would be to create a culture around the lean methodologies. We want to push for more customer development and targeted validation at real customers to hit the same marks with less money. The exponential potential is there, even if you managed to apply lean methodologies just once in this environment, with the focus on being truly customer centric.
What are you looking forward to most about Demo day? What do you think will need to happen for your teams R9 experience to be a success?
Quicker Kiwis | We’re looking forward to Caleb pitching and nailing it on demo day. We would love to impress the panel! In saying that our experience has already been a success. We don’t need to wait until pitch day, we’ve had success with the people we’ve engaged with and it’s great to see our customer’s needs being listened to!
CoHelix | Demo day is just the start for us – we’ve already seen success working together as a team. We’re looking forward to seeing Nicole smash the pitch out of the park and getting early adopters to sign up on our landing page which is now live. Check it out here.
Leno | We’re most looking forward to finding matching outfits to wear to demo day, and we think R9 has already been a success! It’s a shared experience and going on the journey together has been amazing!
MiBiz | We’re really looking forward to presenting and having more people hear about what we’re doing, giving them the opportunity to invest! We’re already stoked on the success of creating a platform that helps business owners that need it. We want to continue building on the experiences we’ve had at R9 after demo day!
2Shakes | We’re most looking forward to watching the presentations on the day. We think it’s going to be awesome and we’re excited about the opportunity to get investment! We still need 6-9 months more to continue building up our solution, as targeting multi agency problem equates to a tougher and more complex solution, but we’re positive about the process to get there.
Reflecting on your experience in R9 what have been the big wins, fast fails and pain points over the duration of the programme? What were the most inspiring moments?
Quicker Kiwis | Big wins have been getting great feedback from the people we’ve engaged with allowing us to gain a problem definition from a traveler perspective. Our team dynamic is awesome! A pain point has been juggling competing interests from stakeholders, investors and sponsors. The most inspiring moment for us was when a comptroller (chief exec) said our idea was a good one. Having someone at that level believe in us is a great feeling and very encouraging!
CoHelix | Our big wins have been that every person we’ve spoken to get excited about what we’re doing. They are happy to talk and are open and supportive! Even people who aren’t necessarily the right customers have pointed us in the right direction to useful potential customers. Having access to the Creative HQ network and staff is wonderful! We feel like Wellington has so much to offer the startup scene and that the entrepreneur network is growing! We came into this knowing we’re not experts in all fields so we’re definitely open to failing and learning from those failures. If we didn’t fail, we’d think there would probably be something wrong with what we’re doing. We did this to put ourselves out there and failing is part of the process. It’s also a lot easier when you have the support around you. One of our most inspiring moments was in a meeting with Nick Gerritsen, he chatted to us about our product and its ability to unfurl over time. How our product fits into a much bigger picture that supports assurance, trust and confidence in staff. We were inspired about the idea of it growing into something much bigger than we imagined!
Leno | A big win for us is that no one that we have spoken to about Leno has shut us down or told us no. Which is amazing! We had a bunch of fast fails for a period of time where we all had a magpie-like mentality towards all the information we were taking on, there were so many changes, pivots and we even changed our name a couple of times, a team member left and we eventually went the full 360 degrees and ended up back where we started with a nest full of shiny things! A pain point for our team was that both customers, government and businesses each had a different set of pain points. However, a big win in this space was that we were able to create a solution for both parties without any compromise on either front! As for our most inspiring moments; we’re inspired everyday by all the other teams on the R9 journey with us. Even in depth of despair, there is so much support from all sides that it makes it all worthwhile.
MiBiz | Our fast fails have been when Jonnie comes up with a new idea every Monday, we can’t keep up! Big wins would have to be every service provider, business owner and government agency that we’ve spoken to have given us positive feedback like “I would use this”! But the most inspiring thing for us in this whole process would have to be knowing the sheer impact MiBiz can have for migrant business owners. We heard so many migrant stories about how hard it can be starting out in a new city or country; finding employment, starting a new business with all the cultural barriers piled on top. The opportunity we provide to help migrants create a path to create their own business is what excites us the most!
2Shakes | The biggest pain point would have to be in week 3 when we had a massive pivot with our idea and completely switched gears. Bit by bit we’re getting our customer validation and are starting to mitigate risks with agencies. It’s progress, and is slowly reducing the size of our road blocks. The most exciting moment for our team was landing on our current idea after our week 3 pivot! Good things do come out of painful situations!
What liquid would you be today and why?
Quicker Kiwis | Some type of amber liquid – beer perhaps? Because why not?
CoHelix | Rolling simmering water – perfect for poaching eggs!
Leno | Turkish coffee – today we’re being held together by caffeine!
MiBiz | Coffee – Livin on coffee! Fuels our fire!
2Shakes | Mercury – only metal that is a liquid – because we unique!
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.