Business Is Boring

Business Is Boring header image 1

The cure to cancer may be closer than we think, all thanks to a kiwi invention.

Every company these days has a lofty goal.  App makers with silly camera filters say they exist to bring humans together. Every company says it is out to change the world and make it a better place, but often, that’s nonsense. Not so for today’s guest.  Professor Steve Henry is the founder and inventor of Kode technology who has worked to make commercialisation and mass application of research in partnership between his company and AUT. His work developed a compound which is now being developed into a potential cure for solid cancers. It’s also in development for products that could be used to prevent people with surgical implants getting infections. And he’s only just getting started with the applications of his technology.  He’s CEO of Kode Biotech- a biotechnology company he’s been building since 1996, taking his research into synthetic molecules and how applying them to cells and surfaces can change the way they interact with their environment. For example coating a cancer cell with a synthetic shape can make the body see it in a way that means it can fight it. Something Steve will explain better shortly. 

This idea, commercialisation, patenting and market development has seen Steve Henry selected as a finalist for the 2008 New Zealand Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year and the 2011 recipient of the Royal Society of New Zealand's prestigious R.J. Scott medal, in 2015 Kode Biotech won the Supreme NZ Innovator Award and this year Steve has become the first Australasian to secure a spot in the world-leading Johnson and Johnson Innovation centre, JLABS, in Houston.

To talk innovation, commercialisation and building biotech as a category, Professor Steve Henry joins us today.


Is working 9 to 5 really that necessary?

You could look at the way work is arranged and decide that it’s something designed by the patriachy to avoid looking after their kids. A more equal society would have work start after school drop off and finish in time to help with the end of day. And that’s just if you have kids. You might also have a life. It’s just one of the ways that work is not really built for the modern age. One person that has done a lot of thinking about the way we could work today, and is helping put it into practice is Kate Wright. Kate’s completed her MBA, looking at new modes of work that reward output and efficiency rather than face time and hours spent. Opening up the way we work opens work to new people, the diversity we are looking to build today. To talk all these thoughts, and the role of mentoring for business, Kate of Business Mentors NZ and business design company Intentio joined the podcast.


Diversity doesn’t just mean straight white women: Mai Chen on the growing need for Asian leaders in NZ businesses

Today's guest is a trailblazer in law, business and leadership. Mai Chen, together with Sir Geoffrey Palmer, opened Australasia's first public law specialist firm in 1994, and since then has built a company and record that has resulted in more gongs and top positions than this intro could fit. Here's a few notable ones: New Zealand's Best public law firm a bunch of times, Inaugural Chair of Global Woman, a Director of BNZ, Adjunct Professor at Auckland Uni Law School, and recently the launch chair of Super Diverse Women. To talk the law business, her career and Super Diverse Women, Mai Chen joined the podcast.


How Burger Burger are giving hospo staff the respect they deserve

If you want to see the power of great execution, walk into any of the hospitality offerings that our guest today has brought us.

You might think a burger is a burger, but that is until you’ve been to Burger Burger. Consistently named a top option in town, their great ingredients, atmosphere, energy and engaged team have made their affordable treat a household name, with half a million plus diners served a year.

Before that Mimi Gilmour introduced the Mexico restaurants, growing fast and taking that mix of tacos, fried chicken and fun across many locations to a successful exit. To talk ideas, creativity, execution and big goals delivered, Mimi Gilmour joined the podcast.


Joan Withers on employing diversity without enforcing quotas

Today’s guest has broken new ground, confounded any stereotypes and excelled at every level of business. Leaving school in South Auckland with School Cert, going to be a bank teller, marrying her boyfriend and having a baby at 21. This could be the end of the public life story of many women 40 years ago. What happened instead has been a career leading some of New Zealand’s biggest media companies through some of the biggest landscape changes. Joan Withers has been a CEO of one of the first deregulated radio stations, the CEO of Fairfax in the last glory years of newspapers, and a professional director, with twenty years of governance experience as a board member and chair. Currently the Chair at Mercury and The Warehouse and just recently stepping down from Chair at TVNZ, Joan has a new book out, A Woman’s Place, that is a life story so far and also practical career advice, stories from the frontline and thoughts on that provocative title, A Woman’s Place.


How Sharesies is making investment portfolios for everyone, not just the rich

One of the common kind of bleats from this podcast is that as a country we invest too much in unproductive assets like houses and interest payments, and not enough into companies. One of the reasons we are like this is that it actually isn’t that easy to invest in other stuff.

In order to get into something like shares there are risks, and also you need to get a diverse range of investments to spread your risk. There are managed funds, full of fees and large sums needed to invest, there is share trading through a bank, but with 30 bucks each brokerage you need to be doing more than about 2000 at a time or else the fees are more than a 6% return. It actually just isn’t the easy. Enter Sharesies!

A cool new idea that makes it easy to invest -simply set your industry preference, risk appetite and get started with as little as 50 bucks a go.

It aims to increase financial literacy and get more people into good investment practice, and its promise, that I love, is that you don’t need to be rich to have a share portfolio anymore. Co-founder and CEO Brooke Anderson joins me to chat all things Sharesies.


Jan Hellriegel’s warning for young musicians: always read the fine print

To be a musician today you need a lot more than musical talent. You need a marketable angle, a niche, a crowd, following and live act to perform, merchandise, licensing. You need to be a whiz in brand, marketing, legal, business strategy, pop culture, technology, networking and small business accounting. Record labels are no longer the gatekeepers or laying on the massive earn-backs, but they’re also not doing all the marketing. How does this all work? One artist that has moved with the times is Jan Hellriegel, from major label star, supporting Jeff Buckley, releasing 5 star albums through to owner and runner of an independent publishing company Songbroker.


A guide to ethically importing bananas with Karma Cola’s Chris Harrison

Today’s guest is a pioneer in organics, sustainable business and has won awards for being the world’s fairest trader. You have definitely sampled his wares, if you’ve enjoyed a fair trade banana, a cola made with actual cola, or a few years back tasted a lemonade sweetened with honey. Chris Morrison was the co-founder of Phoenix organics, when, more than 20 years ago there was no organics industry. He built the business and the category, and then did something remarkable, he not only worked to mentor the next generation of sustainable businesses, but has gone on to reinvent some of our most ubiquitous consumer goods, the banana and the cola.


The angel investor breakdown: do you really need millions of dollars?

One of the big ingredients for business success is other people’s money. Who are these other people and what motivates them? There are stereotypes in pop culture -from Silicon Valley style VCs that unseat founders and are machiavellian - through to the Dragon’s Den approach of omnipotent geniuses bidding to lend their capital and reputations for a big slice of the future pie.

Somewhere in the middle is the angel investor -a bit of a smaller scale, earlier stage kind of thing… and to find out what that actually looks like in NZ, Suse Reynolds, Executive Director of the Angel Association joins us.


Business is Boring replay: Karen Walker

Alas, Simon is away this week so we've decided to republish one of our favourite episodes from 2016: fashion Svengali Karen Walker. Their discussion is worth a listen because Karen lays our her philosophy of no compromise and how that's helped build her business into a kind of super brand.

As Simon wrote at the time "Karen Walker is not just a significant figure in New Zealand, she is a fixture on the Business of Fashion’s list of the 500 most influential figures in fashion worldwide, the brand’s sunglasses are worn by the world’s most famous stars".

To learn what it takes to create a leviathan of a business and brand, listen on.