[Virtual] Office Hours with Enterprise Angels

Monday, August 1st, 2022


Office Hours are about creating opportunities for startups and VCs to meet, either for investment pitching or for any general startup Q&As. Startups get the opportunity to speak with top-tier investors in ANZ and other countries which they would not normally/easily have the chance to do so if they were to approach the same investors by themselves.

This is an exclusive Te Ōhaka member event. If you are someone looking for the tools and support to get your startup off the ground and running, reach out about joining our incubation programme:

Meet your VC

Jake Hoffart, Investment Associate, Enterprise Angels

Jake joined the Enterprise Angels team in late 2018 and works closely with Investee Companies from start to finish, guiding them through the screening process, preparing for pitching, securing investment and settlement.

Jake holds a BMS from Waikato University, double majoring in finance and strategic management. He previously worked for the Port of Tauranga in logistics.

Jake is a keen spear fisherman, a surf lifeguard and a surfer who is equally at home in the back country but, in the office, he is the first point of contact for companies looking to secure early-stage funding.

Pyper Vision’s airport fog-busting technology wins Govt backing

Sunday, April 3rd, 2022

Kia Ora Magazine: Kiwi Enterprise featuring OnYou

Friday, April 1st, 2022

Electrify Aotearoa, a rallying call for women startup founders

Thursday, February 17th, 2022

Update: Electrify Aotearoa is impacted by New Zealand moving to RED. Because the goal of EA – which is New Zealand’s first-ever women founders’ summit – is to found a community, we are committed to hosting a covid-safe, in-person engagement which is the only way to build true and deep relationships. We have confirmed that our new date is Thursday, 26 May 2022. We understand this postponement is disappointing however, when we finally meet up, it’s going to be absolutely awesome.

We look forward to seeing you then and thank you for the incredible support so far. For any questions or concerns, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


Women will start, shape, and build the future of Aotearoa industry, but change needs to come faster.  

That’s the rallying call for Electrify Aotearoa, an all-day national conference taking place in Christchurch, 26 May 2022. Spearheaded by Ministry of Awesome and Blackbird Ventures, the event brings together Aotearoa’s leading founders, aspiring entrepreneurs, and early-stage startups for a day of inspiration, strategy, and connection. 

“Many of our country’s most important high growth startups are woman led and we need many more women to follow suit to ensure our country’s future success and leadership on a global stage. Electrify Aotearoa is designed to send an electric shock through the startup community and get more of our inspiring wahine turning  their big ideas into world changing companies,” said Marian Johnson, CEO of Ministry of Awesome, and organiser of the Electrify Aotearoa event. 

Globally, women only represent one in every four startup founders, despite research showing women-led startups are more capital-efficient, achieve 35% higher return on investment, and, when venture-backed, bring in 12% higher revenue than male-owned tech companies. 

“We’re partnering with the Ministry of Awesome to encourage more ambitious Kiwi women to take the leap into startups. By showcasing women founders and operators at different stages of their journey, we are hoping to inspire others with tales of courage and triumph,” said Samantha Wong, General Partner at Blackbird Ventures.  

Electrify Aotearoa will help establish a foundational network for women entrepreneurs, New Zealand’s top investors and venture capital companies, and the nation’s most successful women entrepreneurs.  This network will help them form a pathway for more women founders to activate and succeed with a powerful community supporting them.

The conference will involve keynotes and masterclasses led by mavens of the tech industry including Sharesies’ Brooke Roberts, Yabble’s Kathryn Topp, Outset DeepTech’s Imche Fourie, and Theresa Gattung, NZ Lead for SheEO, and Chair of Women in Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland Business School. Together they will share personal stories, showcase vulnerability during challenging times and roadmap future woman entrepreneurs’ success.

The event is being backed by some of New Zealand’s most important organisations for the startup and innovation ecosystem, including MBIE, Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand Growth Capital Partners, and AWS.   

Electrify Aotearoa will take place on 26 May 2022, at Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch. Full details are available at

Filtration system could hold answer to clean waterways

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

The Kite Program to improve mental health through microlearning

Friday, July 16th, 2021
Hannah Hardy-Jones, CEO and Founder at The Kite Program

When was your startup established? *

June 2018

How many people on the team right now? *

2 (plus contractors)

What does your startup do? *

Microlearning wellbeing app platform, that provides bespoke and tailored content for corporates, industries and initiatives. Improving wellbeing through micro experiences.

What value does your startup bring or what problem does your startup solve? *

Allows the end user to learn, retain and implement wellbeing and development tools through a beautiful microlearning app platform. Reduces overwhelm through manageable content that is designed for the user. Clients can co-create an app solution that is simple, affordable and flexible.

Who are your target audience? *

1) Corporate clients who care about the wellbeing of their people. Generally 250+ staff
2) For our industry apps- clients who are leaders in the industry in terms of care of their staff
3) Individuals with a mental health struggle (eg Eating Disorders)

What is the ambition of your startup? *

To have clients across the world- in every country that Kite is on the app stores (144)
To have Kite clients in countries where English isn’t the primary language
To have specific mental health app solutions around the globe
To support over 1 million people each year with their wellbeing by using Kite

Why did you decide to embark on your startup journey? *

After being diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder after the birth of my first child (8 years ago), I became acutely aware of the lack of support and tools available for individuals and their families. Focused specifically on mums to start with, Kite has grown to cover a wide range of people- because everyone deserves the chance to learn new skills for better wellbeing.

What is the most enjoyable part of your startup journey so far? Why? *

Hearing from users about the positive impact Kite is having. Seeing the passion that people (consultants and contractors) have for Kite and the potential for change. From a client perspective seeing the innovative ways clients use the platform.

What is the most challenging part of your startup journey so far? Why? *

Development issues- offshore and feel I have little control but haven’t been in a position to invest in alternatives. Because I don’t have a tech background this can be frustrating.

What are your biggest lessons you have learned in your startup journey so far? *

Take a break and look after your mental health.
Being the founder of a startup can be addictive and all consuming and it can be hard to switch off.
It takes a conscious effort.
Challenge your thinking.
Ask people who don’t know much about your startup and take on board feedback- it can be easy to have tunnel vision.
Get good advice from accountants and lawyers- it pays to pay a bit more for good advice.

What would you have done differently if you are given the chance to start over your startup journey? *

I wouldn’t have started with the Mum app- B2C is a challenge off the bat.

Find out more about The Kite Program

Christchurch Mayor introduced to Te Ōhaka

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

It’s not every day that the Mayor visits campus, so it was a privilege to host Mayor Lianne Dalziel on Friday 14 May as she was given a tour of Te Ōhaka – the Centre for Growth and Innovation at Ara.

This was an opportunity to showcase how Te Ōhaka – a partnership between Ara, The Ministry of Awesome and most recently, ChristchurchNZ – adds value to the local ecosystem, and how it aligns with the aims of the Christchurch City Council to develop innovation in the city.As a base for Christchurch’s start-up community, Te Ōhaka is supporting the regional ‘supernode’ economic development model backed by the Christchurch City Council and Christchurch’s economic development agency ChristchurchNZ. The Canterbury supernodes are grouped into four strategic strength sectors: global health tech, aerospace and future transport, food fibre and agritech, and hi-tech solutions.The visit featured speakers from start-up companies Moover and Datch, which are two of the many companies working within the support systems of Te Ōhaka to contribute to these areas of growth.

Of the 28 start-ups in Te Ōhaka, the Mayor had the chance to chat to Myovolt, who have some of the world’s most experienced innovators in the field of wearable electronics. The Mayor said the tour was “enriching,” and she didn’t leave empty handed, purchasing a product of Myovolt’s muscle recovery technology.

“I had to try it out and yes, I had to buy one! Good luck to Dr Dianne Jones and Steve Leftly as they take on the world!,” she said.


The Mayor Lianne Dalziel

The Mayor spoke to the small audience about how earlier in her career as a Member of Parliament, she was responsible for the Commerce and Small Business Portfolios and this led to her starting to tune into what motivated people to come up with new ideas and learning about the environments that encourage entrepreneurs.

Tracey McGill, Innovation Manager at Ara said, “The learning environment for Ara learners working with start-ups in Te Ōhaka is a recipe for success.”

“We’ve got learners across 17 Bachelor’s degrees undergoing projects with academic supervision who we match to the start-ups. This match provides the specific talent the start-ups need to push their company forward, while also providing Ara learners with an advantage when seeking employment.”


Tracey McGill presents to the room

McGill also talked about how the start-ups connections into Ōtautahi’s innovation ecosystem, paired with their commercial capability, immerses learners into an environment where rapid growth and rapid learning occur simultaneously.

Marian Johnson, Chief Awesome Officer for Ministry of Awesome, the start-up mentor and programme deliverer within the Te Ōhaka partnership, said, “Ara is a critical partner for us at Te Ōhaka because they provide 14,000 students who stream into the talent pipeline, which aids the start-ups in their growth, and the students in their own development.”

Te Ōhaka is part of the wider Christchurch Economic Recovery Plan to grow jobs and talent in the region and reposition Christchurch as a smart, sustainable city. To date Te Ōhaka has contributed 96 new jobs to the city, and through the partnership with Ara will continue to match students and graduates to jobs which best suit their skillsets.

From student to Datacom: How working with startup helped an Ara student accelerate his career

Monday, May 31st, 2021

Arriving in New Zealand as an international student in Feb 2020, recent Ara ICT graduate Gaurav Thantry’s career is flying high after recently receiving an offer from Australasia tech giant Datacom. 

Originally from Bangalore India, Thantry moved to Christchurch in early 2020 to start his Graduate Diploma in Information and Communication Technologies at Ara Institute of Canterbury. As the COVID lockdown quickly took effect in March 2020, classes and workshops at Ara were converted to remote learning. Thantry, and his fellow learners at Ara, had to quickly adapt to an all-virtual learning environment.

This shift to remote learning was the first of many challenges and opportunities presenting Thantry in the past year as he continued his diploma. Building a software product from scratch proved another opportunity that was challenging and certainly rewarding.

When presented with a few different options for his capstone project, Thantry decided that S360 was the most exciting as it provides lots of learning opportunities. Joining a smaller team typically means there is more work to be done, which also means the student needs to get up to speed quickly. With little hesitation, Thantry rolled up his sleeves and got to work. 

Prior to joining S360, Thantry had only done front-end development. The S360 platform, however, required full-stack capabilities which included technologies and frameworks such as React, DynamoDB, and AWS. Caroline Thalund, S360’s Co-founder and Thantry’s industry mentor, and Vinay Varma, the technical mentor, understood Thantry’s concerns and provided him with all the support he needed.

A month into the project, Thantry quickly got up to speed. Combining the willingness to learn and a strong work ethic, Thantry soon proved to be a valuable team member at S360. “It was regular that we’d come in at 6pm on weekdays, sometimes even weekends, to get work done as well as get mentorship from Vinay”, says Thantry. 

A major news came just a few weeks ago, when Thantry received a permanent full-time offer for a full-stack developer role at Datacom, Australasia’s biggest homegrown IT service company. “I was over the moon when I heard the news. It’s any graduate’s dream job!”, said Thantry. 

Despite having to move to Wellington for the role, Thantry still helps S360 on a voluntary basis. “I love the product. There’s always certain levels of attachment when you’ve helped build a product from scratch”. 

Whilst enjoying his new role at Datacom, Thantry reflects on his time at S360. “The experience with S360 is the reason I got the job with Datacom. It wouldn’t have been possible without the learnings I gained at S360 and the guidance from my technical mentor Vinay Varma and my industry supervisor Caroline Thalund. The amount of learning I gained in such a short period has been tremendous.”

Thalund was very impressed by Thantry’s capability as a graduate, “I am particularly impressed by his passion for finding the best solutions. Any challenges we posed have met with determination and enthusiasm in order to deliver the best outcomes.”

Thantry also gives some good parting advice for students who are in his shoes just a year ago, “Don’t just try to complete your hours, the capstone project is your opportunity to learn exponentially fast and surround yourself with the best mentors. Working on real-life projects is your opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in class, so don’t waste it.”

Nigel Young, Head of Department for Business and Digital Technologies at Ara says “Gaurav’s story is a really good example of what we try to achieve with all our students; giving them the skills they need for a tech career and giving them the exposure to industry to show what they’re capable of doing. That work experience can occur in big companies like Datacom or start-ups under Te Ōhaka, they are a really great opportunity for our students. Getting a job at Datacom is an awesome outcome for a graduate new to the sector and a great example of how career transitioning graduate diplomas can be used to get into the tech sector. Ka pai Gaurav!”

Beth Knowles, International Director of Ara Institute of Canterbury says “The capstone project embedded in the graduate diplomas at Ara is what sets them apart from qualifications at other providers.  This opportunity, combined with the close working association with Te Ōhaka on campus at Ara, gives students the unique chance to work alongside start-up companies and Gaurav’s story is a good example of the outcomes we are proud of.  I wish Gaurav every success as his career develops.”

Meet Datch – The world’s first intelligent voice AI for industrial environments

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

What is your name?

Aric Thorn – Chief Product Officer

What is your startup’s name?

Who are your co-founders?
Mark Fosdike, Ben Purcell

About your startup

When was your startup established?

What does your startup do?
Datch is an intelligent voice AI for industrial environments.

What value does your startup bring to your customers?
Datch’s voice-visual interface allows staff to capture high-quality, real-time knowledge data, recording live sequence-of-events in granular detail and resulting in improved root cause analysis, informed purchasing decisions, and data-driven business intelligence.

Who are your target audience?
Frontline workers

What is the ambition of your startup?

About you

Why did you decide to embark on your startup journey?
I started my career in the energy industry, where the quality of the information being fed back from frontline workers was often sparse.

What is the most enjoyable part of your startup journey so far?
Solving problems with some of the smartest people I know.

What is the most challenging part of your startup journey so far?
The remote working situation.

What are your biggest lessons you have learned in your startup journey so far?
Networking is crucially important. You can’t do everything yourself.

What would you have done differently if you are given the chance to start over your startup journey?
That is a hard question to answer. Most of the mistakes we have made have paid for themselves in the learning opportunities that have come from them.

Ministry of Awesome joins the Hillfarrance Scout troop

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

Marian Johnson, chief awesome officer at the Ministry of Awesome (MOA), has been invited to be a Hillfarrance Scout on behalf of MoA. This means that high growth startups coming through the MoA and Te Ōhaka pipelines could have access to highly focused small seed investments from the Hillfarrance Scout Fund. In the event of any of these investments becoming successful, any investment gain will be re-invested into a seed capital fund tied directly to the Te Ōhaka and Ministry of Awesome startup pipeline.

Ministry of Awesome, one of New Zealand’s leading startup hubs, is a force for the NZ startup and innovation community. Their focus is on identifying promising high growth startups at the earliest part of their journey when they are at their most vulnerable and providing the support, capability training, profile, and network they need to succeed. MOA is headquartered at their Christchurch startup hub Te Ōhaka which is a partnership with Ara Institute of Canterbury and ChristchurchNZ, the local economic development agency.

“We are delighted to have been selected by Hillfarrance as part of their Scout programme.  There are a number of talented startup founders working through our incubation programme at Te Ōhaka and having the ability to strategically fund where required will help some of these founders focus – at least for a short time – on building their ventures,” says Ms. Johnson.

Rob Vickery, founder and managing partner of Hillfarrance Ventures, says, “Hillfarrance thrives on the people that we invest in and the people we partner with.  Marian is one of the most driven and passionate tech ecosystem architects that I have met and I am really glad and excited that she has joined our Scout community.”

While scout programmes are common in the California venture capital market, Hillfarrance’s scout programme is the first of its kind in New Zealand. Scout programmes give exceptional individuals money to invest on behalf of the scout programme.

Marian also notes that the Scout relationship with Hillfarrance does not preclude activity from other investors. “We’ve been a pipeline for all investors in the startup ecosystem and will continue to connect talented startups with any investor offering them value and opportunity for growth.”

To find out more about the fund, contact Ministry of Awesome at [email protected]

All female startup, Bayuble, are revolutionising standard fruit stickers

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

Sarah Wixon, Zoe Rookes and Maggie Peacock were three high school students who were taking an NCEA Business Studies together in high school. And In 2018, Bayuble was born out of the Young Enterprise Scheme. In that year alone, Bayuble has gone to win the Fourneau Trophy for Regional Winners 2018, Farmers Market Award Winners 2018, and National Finalists and Personally awarded Runner-Up for Entrepreneur of the year 2018.

Since then, these 3 co-founders have headed off to university while holding onto Bayuble. They are now more dedicated than ever to see their idea take flight.

Bayuble produces packaging. From existing fruit waste, these young founders have created an environmentally friendly alternative to the 2.4 billion stickers applied to Hawkes Bay apples each year alone.

In the future, Bayuble aims to move to various other labels and plastic packaging forms. Wixon, Rookes and Peacock wants to take an active role in mitigating the negative impacts of the current plastic packaging and label use. Their dream is to have Bayuble used and recognized globally for its effectiveness in decreasing waste, while still being a functional and viable alternative corresponding to existing packaging and labelling technologies used today.


Introducing Sarah Wixon

Co-founders of Bayuble: Maggie Peacock (left), Sarah Wixon (middle) and Zoe Rookes (right).

Why did you decide to embark on your startup journey?
Each of us are incredibly passionate about our idea, and mostly, about what our business stands for. We want to be an advocate for change, and believe that our idea, coupled with our aspirational intent is something worth fighting, working, and striving for.

What is the most enjoyable part of your startup journey so far? Why?
Personally, I’ve enjoyed seeing how Bayuble has grown and adapted as we have as individuals. We begun Bayuble as 17 year old high-school students, and now as 20 year old university students, it has been rewarding to see how much we have learnt in these past few years. Whether this be from content we have physically learnt in our studies that we can apply to the business, or personal growth where our maturity has enabled us to share our personal values and allow Bayuble to be an extension of who we all are as individuals.

What is the most challenging part of your startup journey so far? Why?
In 2019, we all went off to university, where Maggie and Zoe attend the University of Canterbury and I attend Victoria University of Wellington. The distance between us was the biggest challenge, having gone from spending almost everyday together in person, at school. This challenge meant we had to adapt quickly and re-design the way in which Bayuble functioned as a business. Messenger, Zoom, and Google Docs quickly became our best friend, and it continues to be the main way we operate and communicate as a business.

What are your biggest lessons you have learned in your startup journey so far?
One major lesson has been discovering the beauty of delegation and in turn, accountability. Through a growth stage we now effectively delegate tasks out, which has significantly improved efficiency and the quality of our outputs. Also, assigning individuals to be specifically responsible for the success and completion of tasks has put on the necessary pressures that drive us to move forward towards our growth goals as a business.

What would you have done differently if you are given the chance to start over your startup journey?
I think we would have created a more organised and specific timetable and schedule regarding our work and pathways, as well as prioritising business models, strategies, and timelines at an earlier stage.


Ara graduate named the Chief Technology Officer of agritech startup YieldTec

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

Ara EDI student Laurence Gresham, who completed his capstone project with YieldTec, is named as its Chief Technology Officer.

Team YieldTec: Laurence Gresham (left) and Dr. Khalid Salah (right) Photo Credit: Kevin Bills Media

The Te Ōhaka-based startup YieldTec describes itself as a platform that ‘links IoT smart fruit picking bags with mobile bin robots to automate harvest and yield management.’

When the idea was presented to a group of Capstone students from Ara’s Enterprise & Digital Innovation Faculty, Gresham was excited. ‘The notion of building this platform was very intriguing to me as there was a ton of technology involved, not just the traditional software development but also cutting-edge tech like IoT and robotics’, said Gresham.

When joining the company as a Capstone student, Gresham was responsible for front-end development. But as with any startup, there’s always more work to be done and roles evolve rapidly. Gradually he took on more responsibility and became a full-stack developer.

Gresham is currently a full-time employee, which has been made possible by a Callaghan Innovation Experience grant which the Ministry of Awesome startup team helped YieldTec apply for.

“Projects like YieldTec are exactly what the Callaghan Innovation Experience grants were intended for. It is the perfect opportunity for students to get exposure to a cutting-edge research and development project.”, said Joris de Vocht, Business Advisor at Canterbury Employers’​ Chamber of Commerce.

Ministry of Awesome’s Head of Innovation Jacob Varghese, who has been working alongside YieldTec as an advisor over the past two years, highlighted the role that the innovation ecosystem has played in this startup’s journey.

“YieldTec is engaging with NZs biggest horticulture companies, which wouldn’t have been possible without the support from Ara, MPI, the MPI Sustainable Futures Fund team, and Regional Business Partners. We particularly want to thank Vinay Varma, Ara’s Amit Sarkar, and MPI’s Cheyne Gillooly and Natasha Telles D’Costa for their guidance.”

About a year into the startup world, Gresham said the journey has been challenging but rewarding. “It’s definitely a roller coaster. You either learn fast and swim, or you sink. To survive and thrive, you have to be proactive, learn rapidly and execute fast.”

“Working side by side with the founder meant I got to be more than a developer. I am learning how to talk to customers and pitch to investors, which is very exciting. You don’t get that kind of experience working as a junior developer in a team of 20 people”.

“Besides his competency as a developer, Laurence is also a team player who’s also accountable, sympathetic and goal oriented. I believe all these characteristics combined is what makes him a strong CTO,” said Dr Khalid Salah, YieldTec’s founder.

Gresham advises upcoming Capstone students to think deeply about the work environment they want to be a part of. “You will know if you’re the startup type,” said Gresham. “It’s not for everyone, but if you have the guts to take on challenges, you’ll grow fast”.

“It’s fantastic seeing this level of personal growth from Ara learners through the engagement with Te Ōhaka and the success of startups powered by these learners. This is a great example of what can happen when ambitious students are partnered with innovative and visionary high growth startup founders. Stories like this one are exactly the kinds of stories we envisioned when founding Te Ōhaka together with Ara two years ago,” said Marian Johnson, Chief Awesome Officer, Ministry of Awesome.