Business Is Boring

Business Is Boring header image 1

Business is boring: John Macaskill-Smith

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week he talks to John Macaskill-Smith, CEO and Director of Disruption at Ventures.

People aren’t standard, yet best medical practice often has to be. Treatments for conditions, and prescriptions for ailments are most often based off studies where by design they found the average need and effective dosage. But we know people are not the average. There are distinct ways different bodies metabolise for example - which mean for some the average dose will never work because they metabolise it too fast, and others as they do so too slowly. Which is part of why now there is an emerging filed of pharmacology that uses gene sequencing to understand how an individual’s body works and then equip them and their doctors with that info and understanding to help ensure the correct prescriptions are given.

It’s just one of the exciting ways to put power in patients’ hands that have been pioneered out of the Pinnacle group of not for profit companies. They are a huge force in the midlands, Its members manage the health care of nearly half a million people enrolled with over 80 practices in Gisborne, Taranaki, Taupo-Turangi, Thames-Coromandel and the Waikato. The CEO that has driven their growth, first for the whole family of companies and very recently for their ventures arm, is John Macaskill-Smith, who is here today to talk about using business to change health, introducing this pharmacogenomics and how you can find out more about how your body is likely to react to drugs.

Business is Boring: Dr Will Barker and Imche Fouri from Level 2 and Mint Innovation

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week Simon talks to Imche Fouri, general manager innovation and Dr Will Barker, CEO of Mint Innovation

Tucked away in Parnell is an innovation centre that has helped propel some of the biggest names in local tech forward, although you might not have heard of the place or even some of the names. It’s a truism of the local scene that some companies are easy for the media to cover, and some, like many facets of science and technology, are a little complicated and don’t get the airtime.

This hub used to be a DSIR building, and it started to let space to projects with interesting science, and they’ve gone on to be unusually successful. Some you really have heard of, like Rocket Lab. Some you might know, like Lanzatech - one of the great undertold stories of the local scene, and some you will be hearing a lot more of in the future, like Mint Innovation who are turning e-waste into literal gold.

The importance of fostering this creativity has meant that what started as an accidental meeting of minds has become very purposeful with the space now operating as Level 2, an incubator specialising in deep technology….. What’s that? Well, to find out and talk tech, incubation and the next crop of great ideas, Imche Fouri, general manager innovation and Dr Will Barker, CEO of Mint Innovation join me now.

Business is Boring: Asuwere with Sam and Noah Hickey

Dollar Shave Club, My Food Bag, Xero….. subscription businesses pop up in many areas of life, because they make for great business.

If you work out your average revenue per customer, and your churn rate, the rate at which customers leave, and then work out what a customer costs you to acquire, and you can make those numbers right, you can project future income in the kind of way that has turned Xero and Push Pay into massively valuable companies before they even turned a profit. We’re used to them in software, but one place that they are pretty innovative is clothing. And that’s where today’s guests have brought their innovation. Asuwere is a clothing subscription for men that provides elevated wardrobe essentials for men, providing the kind of wardrobe anchors that are needed in the month they come, so tees and linen shirts and shorts in summer and jackets and cashmere cotton sweaters in colder months. 

The idea has attracted big name supporters -with Dan Carter choosing to buy their wares, and it comes from brothers with the credentials. Sam and Noah Hickey hail from fashion and subscription business backgrounds. Sam was a stellar designer for Huffer straight out of uni, and Noah, an All White and business leader, who played a key role in the huge growth of Push Pay.

To talk the insight, the journey and getting men to trust them, Noah and Sam join us now. 

Business is Boring: Elisha Watson

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week Simon talks to Elisha Watson.

When refugees come to New Zealand they find a lot of help from religious and community groups to help get started with housing and public services, with volunteers helping at every step. One of those volunteers though, working with the Red Cross, noticed that employment was something that was hard for refugees. After 2 years, 40% of refugees aren’t in work. So to try to change this, she looked around for a business that might use their skills, and not finding the need met, decided to leave a law career at one of the top law firms to set up a company making underwear, here, with refugee workers.

Elisha Watson didn’t have a background in clothing, and some of her workers still needed a lot of training, it was a hard first year, with Elisha sharing highs and lows through crowdfunding, media and blogs. The company is called Nisa, Arabic for women, and now Nisa has just opened its first store, in Wellington, where shoppers can see the production going on around them with an open workroom. To talk the idea, the journey and what is next, Elisha joined us by phone from Wellington.

Business is Boring: Angus Brown from Arepa

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week he talks to Angus Brown from Arepa.

There are a fair few functional drinks that have popped up in the fridges of interesting retail. 

Drinks that claim to help you focus and recover and what have you, though many - I’m looking at you Vitamin Water - have actually been packed full of sugar and dubious science.  So many in fact over the years that you might be forgiven for thinking that they were all empty claims.  But not so today’s guest’s product. After seeing the impact of cognitive illnesses on family, he set out to learn more about things that help the brain, and the journey took him to launch a functional drink that is backed by patents, research and formulated with a Professor of Psychopharmacology from  Melbourne. Our guest is Angus Brown, the drink is Arepa, and it’s now found across the world - he joins us to chat the entrepreneur’s journey, discovery and selling a drink with a bit more to it. 

Business is boring: Emily Heazlewood

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week he talks to, CEO Founder of Romer, Emily Heazlewood.

You all would have been there - being in a city and wanting to do the kind of stuff the locals love, not the places you’ll find the tourist lines. But how do you cut past the dubious wisdom of a crowd and get those personal recommendations. Well perhaps you could do it with an app that had been described as the tinder for things to do - -Romer. Although quite new this app has been accepted into Vodafone One, picked up tens of thousands of users, some impressive partnerships with the likes of AA travel, and just announced funding from some big names in NZ tech, like Ben Kepes and our past guest Hadleigh Ford. To chat the journey, the future and connecting people and experiences, CEO Founder Emily Heazlewood joins us now.

Business is boring: Hikurangi Cannabis Company

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. 

Last year a medicinal cannabis producer called Hikurangi Cannabis Company came out of seemingly nowhere and broke the internet, crashing
PledgeMe’s servers as it became the fastest local company to crowdfund into the millions - doing 2 million odd in less than ten minutes.

But as with most overnight successes it was on the back of years of work. It’s a long journey to change an illegal activity well connected with an area to a legal one. Locals from the Ruatoria area and around Ngati Porou and the East Coast, of which Hikurangi is a significant Maunga to local Iwi, were given first dibs, and invested ahead of the public raise. And the company, that inked deals overseas that could stretch into the hundreds of millions has gained first low THC and very recently higher THC trial and growth rights.

And this is while not compromising on trying to create access and jobs for people that have fallen foul of the prohibition laws. While other companies have gone out with a very medical company type branded approach, Hikurangi proudly showed their dreadlocked and rasta hatted workers. This is about honesty, integrity and most importantly actually following through, the 20 plus local jobs and big milestones hit have Hikurangi as a leader in the industry, a founding member of the industry council and a beacon to many companies looking to take a community-led approach to the legal cannabis industry,

To talk the journey, where we are and where we go from here, founder CEO Manu Caddie joins us now.

Business is boring: Mahmood Hikmet

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week he talks to Mahmood Hikmet, research and development coordinator for Ohmio.

When you think about the companies bringing autonomous vehicles to the roads, you probably think of some of the world’s biggest names - Apple, Google, Tesla, Uber, but what if I was to tell you there was a kiwi start up that grew from repairing computers and making intelligent signage to inking multi-million dollar international deals for its autonomous shuttles. Ohmio, is the maker of 20-person shuttle that can be extended to carry up to 40-people their breakthrough is to operate on pre-determined routes without the need for a driver. It’s kind of like a tram, but with virtual rails, guided by a range of electronic systems.

They are working with bus operators, new cities built for the autonomous future and have got manufacturing happening in their own facility in China - with a new focus on expanding the AI capabilities and research. To chat the journey, where they are and where they go next, research and development coordinator Mahmood Hikmet joins us now.

Mark Kneebone creating safer spaces within festivals

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week he talks to Mark Kneebone, Head of Promotions at Live Nation and the Co-promoter at Laneway.

Native Rituals

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week he talks to Rebekah and Tamati Norman.

Business at its best can be a tool for bringing countries and peoples together - and things like fair trade and conscious consumerism hold part of the solution to helping traditional communities enter the global economy. One country that is really quite close, and big, and populated and but not widely known visited or understood is Papau New Guinea, more than 8 million people, living mainly rural and farming lives, with some of the most amazing geographical and cultural diversity and oldest cultures in the world.

Colonialism, mining exploitation, civil war and international neglect have meant that PNG faces many challenges today - with the exploitation and unrest still forces to contend with, But perhaps the biggest issue is isolation - with such a small, amount of travel, trade and understanding meaning unethical mining and practices continue. One of the coolest things about business is the way it can help lift and connect, and today’s guests are working to do just that. Tamati and Rebekah Norman turned family connections into PNG direct, a company connecting organic and naturally produced oils, spices and essential oils with international customers. Tamati is the former chair of the NZ Papau New Guinea business council, working to make more links. Traditional and respectful natural production is a big feature for the couple, who are are behind Native Rituals, a modern Aotearoa apothecary company, making balms and fragrances that incorporate ingredients traditionally used in Māori preparations across time. 

To talk honouring the past and ancient knowledge and arming people for the future, Tamati and Rebekah join us now.