About Me

My photo
The BCC is all about realising innovation. We raise or locate investment funding to shape and grow technology businesses; we offer management support and mentoring for start-ups; and we facilitate the commercialisation of new technology from the lab to industry. BCC is turning innovative ideas into healthy growing businesses

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Marketing: Learning the ropes

Here in the marketing department at the BCC we use ‘Google alerts’ to closely monitor all of our staff so that, in the unlikely circumstances that a staff member makes the news, we can forward the story around the office and ensure the person does not get away unnoticed!

Unfortunately this meant that on Friday afternoon when Massey posted an article about the Level three Marketing Planning class, my name arrived in the inbox…

As part of my marketing major at Massey, I was required to complete 156.334 Marketing Planning. The great thing about this paper was that it combined theory from prior marketing papers as well as new concepts, into a very hands-on learning program. The aim of the paper was to produce a professional marketing plan for a local company or organization; our client was the YMCA .

We conducted a thorough situation analysis of both the internal and external environment of the organization, developed a SWOT analysis of the YMCA, developed a set of marketing strategies and objectives, and finally presented a series of tactics that could be implemented to achieve each objective.

The project was no walk in the park; not only were we required to learn a number of marketing theories, but we were required to work professionally with clients, understand the structure and nature of a marketing plan, develop appropriate writing skills, prepare a 20 minute formal presentation, while at the same time developing and managing relationships with the two or three ‘strangers’ who had been assigned to the group.

The final product was a 60 page report that was handed to over with mixed emotions of love, hate, relief and satisfaction.  Each of the 7 plans were marked and the highest graded report was rewarded and presented to YMCA management. While we were very pleased with the results of our plan, we didn’t manage to take out the top award. However Kelsy and I received special awards for our presentation.

This project has been one of the best learning experiences during my time at university; it really reinforces the idea that often the best way to learn is by ‘doing’. What’s even more rewarding is that the YMCA have already taken on several of our recommendations and are planning to implement them in 2012.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Festival of Magic

Here at the BCC we have a strong relationship with the Manawatu community, and we endeavor to strengthen and maintain this relationship as we grow as an organization. We are proud of how far we have come, and what we have achieved.  BCC is all about realising innovation to create wealth: while economic outcomes for the Manawatu are one of our key drivers we know that positive social outcomes can benefit the community just as much.

Every year we aim to do something special for the community, and this year we have decided to bring ‘magic’ to the lives of some very special and deserving children…

The World Festival of Magic is a fantastic show that has been touring Australia and New Zealand for 22 years, in 55 cities. It is the longest running international magic show of its kind, and contains 90 minutes of action packed, magical family fun.

Through our local Lions Club, we are sponsoring 10 children who are dealing with cancer to attend the Festival of Magic show when it comes to Palmerston North  on the 21st of November. We hope to bring smiles and excitement to the lives of these children who are facing illness, physical disability, or severe hardship on a day to day basis.

If we are able to make a small difference to the lives of these 10 very special children, and help them keep fighting towards a healthy and strong future, then that's money very well spent!

Monday, 7 November 2011

From idea to investors pitch in 54 hours!

From idea to investors pitch in 54 hours. Impossible, right?

Absolutely possible, with the right ingredients: quality team members, experienced advisors, a touch of pressure, and a room full of people with the same challenges together creating and atmosphere of energy and brainpower, it is entirely doable. 

How do I know that?  Because I was at Startup Weekend Wellington and I saw 55 people form 15 teams and put their brains into overdrive to develop their idea into a compelling solution, understand their target market through validation, develop a business model (complete with financials) and finally do a quality pitch to world class Judges/Investors.  All in one weekend.

I didn't just watch. I competed. And we came third. A very respectable third place, given that late on Saturday a couple of mentors came to us and said that at the mentors meeting they all agreed our opportunity was too small.

With our team successfully turning a "small" idea into something significant, it became clear to me, more than ever, that the secret to a successful startup is in the execution.  And the secret to great execution is in the founders.  Notice the plural. 

A founding team should have expertise in the areas of product development, validation, sales/marketing and design. There is simply too much for one person to, firstly, do it all, and secondly, do it to a really high standard. As a team you build energy and you accomplish more in less time not only due to the fact you have more members, but because each can focus on one task at a time and do it very well.  Perhaps most important of all, is that as a team the keys to your venture are challenged from differing viewpoints, which ultimately leads to a better solution.  As a sole founder (and I have been one of those) you have to do everything yourself so you easily change focus from the important to the urgent, and, perhaps more importantly, your ideas aren't challenged.  Teams advance faster because they learn faster together. Learning fast is very important when time is money.

Our team (Well Done!) had great spirit and experts in the key areas.  We found a real problem - stressed time-poor, first-time parents dealing with the challenges of parenthood.  We developed a solution that the people we interviewed really liked - an app that helps parents and children achieve things together by focusing on engaging and motivating the child (rather than helping the parent control).  We determined the true size of the market and got partners on board (Plunket, Parents Inc.) to help with product development and customer acquisition, and we validated a price and developed financials. Oh, and we also developed a prototype App.  All in one weekend.

Startup weekend was simultaneously exciting, grueling, perplexing, stressful, sleep deprived, caffeine driven, and often joyous, but ultimately it was very rewarding to see what you can do with great founders, clear focus, experienced advisers, and a whole lot of hard work.  I thoroughly recommend you get along to one as soon as one comes anywhere near you.  You'll gain a whole lot of confidence in yourself, and maybe, a startup that will change the course of your life.

PS. The winning venture – Usnap.us looks like it will be a very profitable business.

Warren Bebb

Monday, 3 October 2011

Turning Inspiration into Business

Turning an entrepreneurial idea into a sustainable growing business is a real challenge.  And watching the start-up founders currently engaged in our market validation programme is a real inspiration!  They've been busy - attending workshops here at the BCC - learning about capital raising, pitching, governance, first partnerships and communication to name a few things.  But mostly they have been talking to potential customers (lots of them!) and their search for a repeatable and scalable business model will help them develop a business that can grow - FAST!

To be an attractive proposition for investors a company needs to be able to prove product/market fit.  At this stage in a business's life the key is learning to distinguish success from failure, learn from it and adapt fast.  The faster a founder can learn and adapt, the quicker the start-up will achieve market fit.  As our start-up founders will tell you, the best way to achieve this is to talk to your customers - have lots of conversations - identify their problems and get their opinions about your prototype product or service.  Successful market validation is the entrepreneur’s passport to rapid growth and investment.

By the end of the BCC market validation programme our start-up founders will have:
·         a validated product/market fit
·         a business model customised to their business
·         relationships started with numerous potential customers
·         a clear idea of the resources needed to develop their business
·         a clear pitch for potential investors and partners

It's thrilling stuff watching the progress of our start-ups, we're excited by their potential and can't wait to see how they develop.  Watch this space !

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Interns Impress

Wow, I have just spent two hours listening to 17 interns from the Massey University School of Business present their experiences from their recent internships with several local businesses.  We were lucky enough to have one of these interns, Phoebe Lang, at the BCC - she assisted on the Innovate project this year.  Of course after Innovate finished we realised she was too valuable to let her leave so she is still with us, assisting with marketing activities and planning for Innovate 2012.  We couldn't have run Innovate without her and it was really great hearing what she got out of her experience at BCC and how much she has learnt.  We have certainly seen her develop and grow in confidence and she is a very valuable member of the BCC team.
I was very impressed with many of the other interns too, some had been on marketing internships like Phoebe, others in business, accounting or economics.  All of them spoke highly of their experiences, outlining how much they had learnt and how valuable the work experience has been for them.  You could see from their presentations and also the appreciative looks of their employers in the audience just how much the businesses had gained from having them on board too.  It's the ultimate win-win.  If you are a business considering hiring an intern for the summer I can thoroughly recommend it.  The students I saw were all very intelligent, eloquent and motivated and their hard work and achievements for the companies involved have been quite outstanding.  Having an extra pair of hands  fresh eyes, and a new perspective from some of the top business students in the country has allowed several of the businesses involved (BCC included) to complete projects that would otherwise have been impossible.

Anyone who is despairing at the "youth of today" should get along to Massey and meet some of these students.  You can't help but be impressed.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Things Move Fast in the Start-Up Space

There is no doubt we are living in challenging times, however every day there are stories of success, entrepreneurship and growth in New Zealand.  Just how fast things are moving was really brought home to me recently after I had a few weeks away from work.  When I returned last week I was amazed at how much has happened and changed in that small space of time that I wasn't here.  Feeling a little bit like I have been gone for years, I am now trying to catch up on all the innovation that happened in my absence!

We have several new start-ups now, at various stages of the market validation programme and it's exciting watching them go through the process of learning about their markets and defining exactly what their first products/services will need to be to convert their prospects to customers.

This Friday we're hosting the Capitalising on Research and Development Action Group (CRAG), who are holding a workshop which aims to engage with academics and business to hear their view on how NZ can more successfully capitalise on research and development. 

We're also getting involved in helping to host the international Startup Weekend for local entrepreneurs from 4th-6th November in Wellington this year.

Our investment group MIG Angels has opened itself to applications for funding from seed and startup companies after raising $1 million for its new angel investment fund, MIG Angels Fund 1.

The BCC are also working with Dr Isaac Bentwich, an Israeli entrepreneur who is in New Zealand for a year.  Dr Bentwich is a physician, inventor and entrepreneur who founded medical software company Pegasus Medical which was acquired by HBOC (now McKesson) for $15 million, the largest acquisition of an Israeli Life Sciences company at the time.  He is also the founder of diagnostics company Rosetta Genomics, which listed on the NASDA in 2007 and he recently started MediCloud, an international endeavor to develop a consumer-centred records and decision support system.  Dr Bentwich will be presenting at four events while in New Zealand, including the NZ Technology Trade and Investment Forum, Innovest, the 2011 Angel Summit and an upcoming e2e meet-up at the BCC.

Yes, keeping up with the pace of things at BCC is always a challenge, but it's one I love and I'm glad to be back in the office.  Things sure move fast in this start-up space, so I'll do my best to keep you up to date now that I am back on board.


Sunday, 24 July 2011

ICE Ideas Conference

I was lucky enough to be at the ICE Ideas conference a couple of weeks ago.  It was an opportunity for leading NZ Entrepreneurs to espouse their Big Idea on how to move NZ "up a gear" and make a transformational change for the better for our society through being entrepreneurial.

Derek Handley from Hyperfactory was the last speaker.  HyperFactory, a startup from Auckland, was bought by an American firm for around $70 million after 9 years of operation.  Derek's short speech summed up nicely the challenge ahead for us all.  You can link to it below: