Business Is Boring

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Miriana Lowrie is making trade credit a simple, paperless process

They say where there's mystery there's margin and one thing that is deep in the depths of mystery is trade credit. What's trade credit? It's the second biggest source of loans in the world after banks. It's like when a business wants to buy something from a supplier and pay them 30 days later. And so much of business operates on these trade terms, but so often not on the actual terms. People are late, people need to be trustworthy, people need to guarantee they will pay.

Well, one person who looked into this abyss of paperwork is Miriana Lowrie. After a career in banking and looking at strategy and ways to improve business for outfits like ASB, she saw an improvement that could be made here and launched 1Centre. The app has gone through incubation, setting a record funding round for an product at the Flux accelerator, was part of Vodafone xone and is helping solve the hard problems, with customer usage doubling month on month.


Dr Sam Hazeldine: “You’ve got to be hungry”.

We’re very excited to introduce todays guest, someone extra inspiring, even by the pretty amazing standards of the people we talk to week in week out on this show. Someone, I kid you not, that Tony Robbins looks to for motivation and inspiration.

He’s an author, entrepreneur, doctor, extreme skiing champ, former drunken backflipper and current dedicated father and inspirational business leader. He even got the modern version of the Hippocratic oath changed(!).

Let’s rewind to the end of uni study, when a drunken stunt of a backflip led to Dr Sam Hazeldine, then in his last year of medical school with a promising extreme skiing career on the cards, waking up from a coma with a poor outlook for future success at both. What could have been the worst day of his life he made one of his best, resolving to focus on what matters, then going on to out-performing the best hopes for his head injury: within a year he was a grad doctor and skiing national champion.

Entrepreneur Dr Sam Hazeldine is the founder and managing director of three companies that shook up medical orthodoxy by keeping the welfare of doctors at their heart: MedRecruit, MedWorld and MedCapital. They have been wildly successful. He’s been on the Fast 50 list multiple times, been the fastest growing services company in the country. He was the Ernst & Young – Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 and was the 2014 recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award.

He’s written best selling books, like Unfair Fight, to help small New Zealand businesses compete in what he calls an uneven playing field. He co-founded the holistic talent management company, WeAreTenzing.

He wants to help everyone live exceptional lives, from you listening right through to the scores of orphans his foundation has helped rescue from life as child soldiers in South Sudan. Dr Sam Hazeldine joined us on a hot and muggy Friday afternoon recently for this chat.


Talking commentary with Spalk co-founder Ben Reynolds

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Vodafone Xone. 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 Ben Reynolds about how his company Spalk is making sports commentary more accessible. 


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.