Sometime prior to Christmas I was co-opted to mentor a team for VentureUp, a young enterprise programme funded and run by Young Enterprise NZ, CreativeHQ, Victoria Uni and Wellington City Council. The teams consisted of students who had previously been involved in Young Enterprise programmes all over NZ and for the most part finished year 13 in 2014 so were starting uni in 2015, most didn’t know each other prior to the programme and only a couple came to the first day with an idea or two. I plan to write a blog on the programme itself and my experience as a “lead” mentor, this one is about the awesome teams I was lucky enough to work with.

If you ever need to get your mojo back, need inspiring or just need a kick in the butt to remind you what life is all about – spend your time mentoring young people.

For maybe 5 minutes before walking into CreativeHQ for the Mentors meet and greet I was feeling slightly apprehensive about my ability to give these young adults the time, energy and mindshare they deserved. Believe me once I met the 27 excited, enthusiastic, smart, capable 16-20 year olds and heard their amazing business ideas that all changed, their energy is infectious.

Honestly the enthusiasm and thrust to learn is contagious. I was very lucky to have been paired up with two focused and inspiring teams – FlatPak and Sohler Homes – both focusing on very different markets and solving very different problems. So in no particular order here is some info on my two fabulous teams:

Flatpak – Your Quad-Safe Work Mate 

flatpakOne of the teams to bring a pre-existing idea to VentureUp. The Flatpak is a sturdy, safe storage unit securely fastened to the back of your quad bike.

A cost effective alternative to a trailer or traditional metal / plastic storage box. Folds down when not needed and includes loops to strap on larger items. There are three prototypes out on farms in use and the feedback has been universally positive.

This team is so motivated, their productivity and run rate astounded me, we had daily stand ups (what we did yesterday, what we are doing today and roadblocks) an initiative my Co-Mentor the fabulous Mike Riversdale initiated.

fielddaysThrough the course of VentureUp Flatpak completed design, secured their supply chain, had prototype product built, launched a PledgeMe campaign, initiated discussions with distribution channels including major retailers and the list goes on.

This photo was taken on Friday at Central Districts Field Days, a massive event where Emily and Anika spoke to hundreds (if not thousands) of farmers, hunters, vintners and life stylers. An awesome market validation and lead generation event. Hot, exhausting and awesome!

Check them out at They are a fabulous young enterprise who I am confident will be a massive success.

Sohler Homes – “We aim to stop the Housing Crisis to promote a healthier lifestyle for New Zealand”

The tagline of this team says it all, two young Pacific Island women from South Auckland are serious about tackling overcrowding and the debilitating side effects such as rheumatic fever, truancy, under performance in school and social impacts. Massive goals from another motivated, focused team.


Tasi and Naotia didn’t know each other prior to the programme so met, agreed quickly this was the problem they wanted to solve and worked tirelessly towards establishing a pilot.

Their solution – provision of removable rooms rooms to provide overcrowded or displaced families with additional capacity for sleeping, studying and working. The team met with government agencies, social housing advocates, community groups and funding organisations to develop their initiative and define their role.

They worked tirelessly on market validation talking to families effected by over crowding and housing shortages, identifying barriers to their securing additional space now and common issues faced. This team will also go a long way with their idea, one very personal to them and owned with passion.

Their website is in development and showcases more information on their purpose and solution.

Check it out here

I was luck enough to have lots of help.

Working with two highly performing teams took a team effort on my part too, so I have to thank my wider team who stepped up and worked with both Flatpak and Sohler Homes – working through business planning, listening to pitch sessions, providing leads and contacts, reading everything thrown at them for feedback, answering questions and just listening to the challenges of trying to stand up a business within such a tight tight timeframe.

So massive thank you to my team members who offerer their time and energy to assist, these three guys put their hands up from the outset and provided a fantastic alternative perspective:











Big thanks too to Lou Draper from LouD In Public for assistance with PR and especially press releases.

If you ever get the chance DO IT, mentoring young entrepreneurs, is rewarding and it reminds you what being a business owner is all about. Sharing what we have experienced will help everyone grow with limitless possibilities. Vic.