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Got a winning startup? Time to enter BNZ Startup Alley!

It is coming to the end of the year which means a good portion of you will be scrambling to get your Webstock tickets together for next February. But while you may be super excited about the lineup of speakers like Stefan Sagmeister and Genevieve Bell but if you are a startup you might also be excited about BNZ Startup Alley, a startup comp that takes place as part of Webstock. For the uninitiated, the competition allows startups to pitch for their chance to win cash, legal advice and a return trip for 2 to the states! We cornered Webstock Co-founder Mike Brown to talk startup, BNZ Startup Alley and why you should enter. 


First things first, come on and give us the pitch for BNZ Startup Alley!
BNZ Start-up Alley is a chance to get your start-up in front of the Webstock audience. 6 finalists get to pitch before our panel of judges, with prizes including cash and flights to the USA. Many finalists and winners have used Start-up Alley as a jumping-off point to greater things.

Why did you guys get interested in crafting a startup competition as a part of Webstock
It's always been a joint venture in conjunction with our sponsor, BNZ. We were talking about how their sponsorship might work and what we could offer at Webstock and came up with the idea of Start-up Alley. Originally, in our previous venue for Webstock, it was literally an alley where the start-ups had stands to promote themselves during the conference, but space constraints as our current venue make that impractical.

We wanted to use Webstock as a chance to offer start-ups something that would make a difference to them. We think both the prizes and the opportunities from being at Webstock allow us to do that.

What makes BNZ Startup Alley different from other pitching competitions out there?
We had the idea that it would take some influence from the TV series, 'Dragon's Den', but it became clear that that wasn't quite right for us. We weren't so much about entertaining an audience, sometimes at the expense of the start-ups, as about providing exposure and help to the start-ups. Our judges and MC have now been involved for a number of years and this continuity has allowed them to not only judge the start-ups, but to offer practical and specialist advice to them. Each start-up meets with the judging panel the day before Webstock and this has proved invaluable.

Can you tell us about some of the businesses that have won Startup Alley?
We've had a wide variety of start-ups that have been finalists and winners. One thing I do want to stress, is that while winning is great, in a real sense, every finalist is a winner through the exposure and experience they get taking part.

Some of the finalist and winners have gone on to receive investment, overseas opportunities and doors opening for them that would not have happened otherwise. These include
TimelySpeedCurve, Thankyou PayrollBanqerSyngency,  and Little Yellow Bird .

You have kept the entry requirements for Startup Alley quite broad, why is that?
I think mostly because Webstock, as a conference, has quite a broad focus. We're about design and development, culture and business, commentary, delight and inspiration. It made sense to us to encourage a wide range of entrants into Start-up Alley. They must, broadly-speaking, have a technology focus, but aside from that, we're pretty open. We encourage social enterprise businesses to enter and also, this year, businesses that may be slightly beyond the initial start-up phase.

So I am a startup, looking to enter - what should I be thinking about when i put together my entry?
Think about telling us a story about what you do and why. Think about whether there's a sustainable business model - are you making money, how will you make money etc. We don't want to hear about how you're going to change the world, because we're a little cynical about that, but we do want to hear about who your audience is and how you can meet their needs. Don't use buzzwords to try and impress us - tell us your story in your words.

Why should startups be thinking about coming along to webstock?
Because it's not just about building your product and start-up. It's also about being part of a wider environment. It's about meeting your peers and colleagues, it's about hearing and learning from some of the most inspiring people working in the web today, and it's about being delighted anew with what the web means and can do. You'll find all of that at Webstock - it really is a conference like no other.

And lastly, what is the best thing you have seen on the internet recently?
This is Patti Smith performing Bob Dylan's 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' at the recent Nobel Prize ceremony where Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Two minutes in, she falters, forgetting the words due to nervousness, before carrying on and finishing. It's a lovely, beautiful, human and moving performance of a song that seems pretty relevant right at the moment.

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Accelerating work: we talk Launchpad Work with Akina

2016 may well be the year of the startup programme here in New Zealand. With new incubators and accelerator programmes announced, familiar faces taking on new locations and specialities covering everything from fintech to youth. There seems to be a programme to fit every need - including now thanks to GridAKL Graduates Akina - employment. 

The social enterprise foundation recently announced a new accelerator, aimed to help social enterprises creating employment in Auckland. But Launchpad Work is not just focussed on employment, they are focussing down to try and find employment for individuals facing the greatest barriers to work. This ambitious programme is the first of its kind in New Zealand and supported by the Ministry of Social Development and SKYCITY Auckland Community Trust.

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The wrong kind of innovation? Big I little i

Innovation, like Beyonce and chocolate cake, is one of those things everyone wants a slice of. We have spoken about it before - innovation is oft mentioned, lauded and praised but perhaps less diligently actioned in our organisations. That is why when the invite for the launch of Big I little i appeared in my inbox I was more than a little intrigued. While every day we see people spinning up new innovative approaches, ideas or iterations at a startup level - The Big I little i report is all about tackling the wicked problems of innovation in large New Zealand organisations. The learnings within the piece have been informed by interviewing 44 CEO’s of New Zealand’s biggest companies and most successful startups.

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Event Watch: Hardware Meetup Auckland

A familiar face in the NZ tech and innovation community, you may recognise Elyse Wyatt from Lightning Lab Manufacturing, or her constant presence at tech, innovation and startup events in Auckland and Tauranga. Recently, fusing her passion for people and love of hardware Elyse has founded the Hardware Meetup - Auckland. In the midst of prepping for their first event we managed to get a moment to talk to Elyse about what exactly a hardware meetup is, why it matters, and why you should be heading along. 

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GridAKL Resident Watch: boardPro

boardPro has been with the GridAKL family since our early days in the Polperro building. We cornered co-founder and C.E.O Brett Herkt to ask about their journey, startup tips, insights and the things they really wished someone had told them before they started on their startup journey.

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Friday Five: The antidote to startup stress?

If you feel the grind of work getting you down or the pace of startup life to quick this week, or need a bit of Friday afternoon chill-time. This week's Friday Five is for you, covering everything from work-life balance for startup founders through to the art of quitting, apps for meditating and a battle to focus on  making something you love.

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ThisData graduate GridAKL: Growth, pivots and beyond

Seeing a long standing resident graduate out of GridAKL is always one of those bittersweet moments! You feel hugely proud of everything they have achieved, but at the same time know you are going to miss them. We talked to recent GridAKL grads ThisData who have been part of our family for a while. Initially joining us as a resident in our old Polperro site, they recently made the leap to going it alone.

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Friday Five: All things VR

Because who is working on a Friday really? If you are going to be wasting time on the internet, we need to make sure you are at least filling your brain with goodness. This week we tackle the topic of VR, with links covering everything from the AR/VR Garage in Auckland, right down to the playing with food to make music, the first 360 degree ballet, and a little something from NASA....

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What is exponential technology? Why should I care?

We live in an ever changing world. 

This statement is the sort of 'white sliced bread' of statements. Ever present, truthful but all-together too boring to unpack at any level. Especially when you are living in the midst of such change. I mean why ponder the fact that your fridge can connect to the internet when you are busy bug fixing it. Amirite?

For a while, talk of innovation has been one of technological advances we can contextualise in our every-day existence. Computers are faster, so now I have gruntier graphics in my game, more fluid animation in my fav pixar film, and a phone which allows me to control my world - from dimming my lights through to ordering cookies, or a car to pick me up. Things have ticked along, and we have bumbled along with it. But what happens if the technology increases beyond our ability to contextualise it, or for-see its impacts?  

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What is the future of business?

Like many things in life, the answer to the question relies on context. For some like my tradesman father “the future of business is now”, for the Elon Musk’s of the world it might be taking place on Mars. So a panel on the future of business at what is typically perceived as a design conference definitely piqued my interest.

From a variety of backgrounds, including old school business success, new school business success, diversity and design - the panel of Vaughan Rowsell, Cecelia Herbert, Peter Biggs and Dean Poole all grappled with the same question. What will the future of business look like? The response? One of exponentials, humanity, creativity, diversity and questioning. But perhaps Peter Biggs had it in one “It’s hard talking about the future of business, because none of us know what the future is?”.

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The journey to Series A: a simple tale of tips, truth-bombs and tenacity with Tim Norton

It takes a lot to get people out of bed early to traipse into the city on a rainy day. But hearing from Tim Norton is a good a reason as any. If you are not familiar with the name, you are more than likely aufait with the story - the kiwi born company 90 Seconds, now a global high growth business taking an 11 million dollar Series A care of Sequoia India. The last year has been huge for 90 Seconds, involving big growth and even bigger goals, and at the helm of that story every step of the way was 90 Seconds Founder and leader Tim...

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FIVE questions: we chat Singapore, investment, and startup support with Carl Thompson

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FIVE questions: we chat Singapore, investment, and startup support with Carl Thompson

In the lead up to the Startup Grind Auckland we managed to corner the next speaker, a man by the name of Carl Thompson to answer 5 questions we have been pondering. If the name is not familiar you may know the business that Carl co-founded Trade Gecko. Carl and the other founders moved to Singapore to grow their business in premier technology accelerator, JFDI. Trade Gecko raised over $8million USD with a global customer base in over 100 countries...

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TECH WEEK AT GRIDAKL

A week all about celebrating, showcasing and inspiring the local tech, innovation and design community? What is not to love?! Tech week is here from the 14th to the 22nd of May and GridAKL will be the HQ with great events, chances to network and a spot to charge up yourself (with a coffee) and your computer! For the low down on what the week entails keep on reading…. 

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Meetups, discussions and pitch events: 5 tips for speaking success

As if starting a business or crafting an idea through to product stage is not hard enough, you have to talk about it too? Few founders, technologists, inventors - or frankly people with ideas worth sharing, will go through their career without having to get up in front of people and explain the ins and outs of a new product, their origin story or give their opinion on what is next in innovation. A good job at speaking can spread that idea of yours far more than a night of cold calling can do, so how do you make the most of it?

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FRIDAY FIVE - CURIOSITY

Curiosity about a structure can lead you to trigger a light show but curiosity can also lead in some decidedly more kooky adventures. We tackle all that is curious in this weeks Friday Five. 

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Techweek AKL 2016 : Eva’s top 5 picks

Reshaping our world through design,innovation and technology, Techweek AKL is a schedule of inspiring, insightful and educational events for innovative humans. We asked GridAKL Activation Manager and Startup Grind Auckland Co-director Eva Perrone to give us her top picks from the week to get you excited. 

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FRIDAY FIVE : CONNECTIONS

This Friday we tackle all things connection themed, from the connection between slow internet and rage, slack and productivity and even a little bit of dystopian future. 

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