Business Is Boring

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Flossie’s female lead: Jenene Crossan is solving two problems in one app

As business thinker Cindy Gallop says, there is a lot of money to be made by taking women seriously. But the reason there is that opportunity is that traditionally, particularly in tech and business, women and women’s interests have not been. One person that’s been creating more space and fighting this battle over the last 20 years is local entrepreneur Jenene Crossan.

In 2018 it’s easy to take for granted the social web, paid independent female voices, and that Teen Vogue is political. But in 1999. it wasn’t this way. This was the year Jenene founded NZ Girl. It was also just after Google was founded. Jenene was already 4 years into building websites and living online, and saw where things were going with media.

NZ Girl went on to be the biggest social magazine in the country and in 2015 was named best blog. It was also a business in the time before there was a clear business model for online media. This led Jenene to found companies to solve advertising online, to found Bloggers Club - one of the first companies around to monetise influencers - and more recently, Flossie.

Flossie solves two problems at once. It helps women find curated and recommended salon services and book them efficiently and effortlessly, and put helps salons drive repeat and new custom, especially in quiet times. It was an industry ripe for such a service, that has grown into Australia and the UK, with big things on the horizon.

To talk the ups and downs, the life of an entrepreneur and the journey, Jenene joined the podcast.


An underground kitchen with a sky-high target

A flippant comment around a kitchen table in 2013 brought about a business that has gone from making one Thai Green Curry to now having a delivery or pick-up service for ready made meals, 2 cafes, a commercial kitchen, regular media appearances, 2 cookbooks, thousands of meals sold a week and a staff of 25. Jess' Underground Kitchen is now very much in the overground. To talk about the journey, Jess Daniell joined the podcast.


WeCompost is keeping tons of waste out of landfill

New Zealand likes to think it’s clean, green and 100% pure, but if you look under the lid, quite a few things you would expect from such a place are not really all there.

Like recycling. Even today there is a long way to go, but we are light years on from where we were 9 years ago when Steve Rickerby spotted a massive hole in the market for a company that could pick up food waste from businesses.

Back in 2009, Steve was working at an insurance company that had moved in to Auckland's first 5 star green rated building. As part of the rating system, staff were separating waste in to rubbish, recycling and compost but none of the large waste companies offered a service to collect the food waste. So the carefully separated waste was just going to landfill.

Steve saw a big problem to solve and launched We Compost collections with one bin on the back of his ute.

They now collect over 30,000 kilograms of organic waste each week - Servicing corporate offices, food courts, schools, tertiary institutes, hotels, cafes, caterers, and coffee roasters such as Kōkako Organic coffee roasters who recently switched from plastic coffee dump bags to compostable ones, helping to lead the way and drive change in the coffee industry..

Steve was joined early on in the journey by his partner Gemma Spring and together they have built the business to the point that since March 2012 We Compost has helped save over four million kilograms of waste from ending up in landfill and this number continues to grow…

To chat about where they are, where we all are, and what's next, Steve and Gemma joined the podcast.


A lawyer, writer and mother on why mothers are as ambitious as anyone

Genevieve is External Relations Manager for Lion NZ, a company that is further along than most on the journey. Last year they were champion winner of the YWCA Equal Pay Awards, and of the DiversityWorks Work/Life Balance Award. To chat that column, her career and how you can have it all so long as that all includes flexible work and some effort to address deep paternalistic bias,  Genevieve joins on the podcast.


Nick Shewring, co-founder of co-working company ‘BizDojo,’ is opening the conversation around mental health in entrepreneurship.

Great entrepreneurial ideas come from people, but also from environments that foster creativity, provide support and that lift people to help them to go further. This is part of why co-working spaces- places where creatives and companies can rent space by the desk or the week - have exploded around the world as hubs for people to go to, to make their dreams happen, and to keep the motivation and the energy up.

And here, the name BizDojo has been synonymous with co-working since they started on Karangahape Rd in 2009. Founded by Jonah Merchant and Nick Shewring, they grew from a few people at 12 desks to now having thousands of residents, and a string of coworking and collaborative spaces across New Zealand, with some big plans for 2018.

They were also a big part of bringing GridAKL into being - that many in Auckland tech will know, spinning up the original GridAKL prototype space, and later running coworking, networking, business support, events and activations in a new permanent building. With BizDojo spaces and events across New Zealand they’ve played a role in thousands of creative enterprises and have been keen to give back when they can, having taken leadership positions in the industry.

Like last year, when they ran a survey around mental health issues facing entrepreneurs under their initiative designed to support and help founders in New Zealand - Founders Central. They found some concerning stats. Most respondents had faced problems, and most of them had not sought help due to stigma, time or resource concerns.

This is a problem that is perhaps built into the culture of the founder that goes further than the normal to win, but it is one that needs to be talked about. Very recently the local scene lost a wonderful man that many of us worked closely with and rode the rollercoaster of this life with, and that really hits home how hard this can be, and how when what we do is not ordinary we need to have extraordinary support in place.

As part of highlighting this issue last year, BizDojo co-founder and Chief Entrepreneur Nick Shewring talked about his own experience in the context of his success and life, and how asking for help and being honest about the ups and downs is important.

If anything we talk about in the podcast today leaves you wanting to talk about your experience please do reach out to Lifeline on 0800LIFELINE.


Why being Māori and from New Zealand is an advantage when trying to sell your video game at E3

In 2003 there wasn’t much of a computer game development industry in Aotearoa. But an entrepreneur that loved games, graphics and design set out to change that, and to make a Playstation game - not worrying they didn’t even have access to the Sony development kit. They managed to assemble a team, make a prototype and sell the idea internationally, all on their first hit-out. This pioneering approach has continued for Maru Nihoniho, whose Metia Interactive has gone on to make games that carry great messages and outcomes in amongst the fun of playing.

There was SPARX, with the University of Auckland that gamified treating depression, with great success, winning awards and getting written up in the British Medial Journal. There was The Guardian, with a wahine toa, strong Māori women lead, a damsel doing the rescuing and distressing. And an idea I love, Māori Pa Wars, a take on the traditional tower defence game, available in te reo and quietly telling stories from history. Maru has been recognised for services to gaming and mental health with a Member of the Order of Merit and has been appointed by the crown to the board of Māori Television.


Think start-ups are only run by single guys and their friends? Meet Dr Alyona Medelyan

Y Combinator is one of the great names in tech and start-ups. The incubator slash business bootcamp is famously hard to get into and famously hard full stop! Airbnb, Dropbox and Stripe are some of the alumni and they only accept companies that have billion dollar potential. It’s also, like much of Silicon Valley, disproportionately made up of young, male, Stanford Grad founders, with not a lot of people accepted from outside the US, let alone from little old NZ.

But Dr Alyona Medelyan, CEO of Thematic, managed to break a lot of those preconceptions. She has a PhD pioneering new work in machine learning, doing it after thirty, with her husband as a partner in the company and their two kids in tow. Their company uses machine learning to get insights from customer feedback for big companies like Stripe, Air NZ and Vodafone, and was a part of the Vodafone Xone startup accelerator. They’ve just picked up a new funding round, have traction and momentum in an exciting space and we are very lucky to have Alyona join us now.


Why hiring tangata whenua should be a priority for all businesses

How is a country going to grow if the tangata whenua, some 15 percent of the population, are overrepresented in negative stats and under-represented in the ranks of entrepreneurs and owners? Well, that is a big question, and one that can be broken down into many parts, and the first of which might be how do we get frontline Māori workers performing better, growing and improving, and into upward progress.

That’s where Indigenous Growth comes in. They work with organisations with Indigenous workers, what they term those frontline workers, to unlock their potential and increase their contribution. It’s about bringing all of people to work, and unlocking the same positive qualities that many of these workers have in their whanau situations. A great idea and business from Michael Moka, an entrepreneur, scholar and leading voice in engagement.
You might have caught him at TedX Auckland, or know him from his work with Executive Education and the Maori students association at Auckland Uni, or maybe through his love of Kapahaka. Michael Moka join us now to talk about Indigenous Growth and unlocking potential.


What the tech sector can learn from pop culture fandoms

What exactly could loving One Direction have to do with fixing the diversity pipeline problem in tech? Well if you hear ‘One Direction’ and go into dismissal mode, that might just be the root of the problem. A few years ago a tech industry leader in law gave a presentation at a serious Berlin tech conference about how perhaps the diversity pipeline problem could be traced back to the way that traditionally female spaces of fandom have been minimised online.

It was based around fan fiction, One Direction secret love affair conspiracies and honouring how people’s enthusiasms can lead them to learn about making things online. If you love something and build a fanpage, that is a very real way in to website building.

The talk has led to more talks, years, and time spent on One Direction than Sacha Judd had ever anticipated. Sacha, a former partner at top law firm Buddle Findlay, has been an influential figure in tech – being very early on the journey of big firms like Vend, where I know her from, and now running the family office for Rowan Simpson, a recent pod guest, at Hoku. As well as identifying and funding the next wave of great companies. Her back of a napkin service for tech founders has helped get many companies off to a great start, and she joined me to discuss what we term serious and how that seriously affects who feels welcome.


She’s flying with NASA and fighting Gwyneth Paltrow’s fake science at 18

At 16 Alexia Hilbertidou looked around and saw that she was the only girl in her IT and physics class, then the next year the only young women in advanced physics.

What was going on? How did women go from the forefront of coding to underrepresentation at a time when it is meant to be more accessible than ever? Well, to change the ratio you have to change the structure. So Alexia decided to take the message to young women while still choosing what subjects they would take, and so founded GirlBoss NZ, an organisation which encourages young women to embrace STEM, Entrepreneurship and higher leadership.

In just 18 months, GirlBoss NZ is New Zealand’s second largest network of women with nearly 8000 members.
At 18-years-old, just finished high-school, Alexia has spoken to nearly 20,000 young people, teachers and business professionals about gender equity, STEM, and the future of work.

This passion for future-focussed education has seen her named a Top 30 Global Teen Leader, a Top 5 Young Leader by the Ministry of Youth Development, and the most influential New Zealand woman under the age of 25 at the 2016 Westpac Women of Influence Awards. A serial entrepreneur Alexia also was the National Winner of the Unitec Coding App Competition, at 16, receiving a $30,000 prize for KaiShare - an online food redistribution platform. …To talk changing the ratio, and her work, Alexia joins us now.