A chance to make a difference to children’s education in the Himalayas
Puhoro is about community and industry collaboration that recognises wider family networks (whanau) as key drivers of success for aspirant Maori technologists, scientists and engineers. Great to see so many enthusiastic faces at the Maori Academy of Science launch – which was given a boost by science demos from Massey University and talks from role models such as Mana Vautier, a Maori NASA engineer, and Rick Searfoss, Space Shuttle pilot and commander, who showed us some of his snaps of New Zealand…. taken from Columbia – impressive!
Lovely to see local kids building robots for for the Summer Tech Challenge here in Palmy – a collaboration between Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services and Massey University School of Engineering. Lots of skill and ingenuity on display as well as a fun barbecue afterwards. What really impressed me though was the persistence and tenacity when things didn’t go quite right first time – the steely determination to go through ‘pit stops’ trying to get it right. As well as being great practice for engineering, it’s good practice for life too – the wheels do often come off, metaphorically as well as literally, and keeping going repeatedly in the face of that is what keeps entrepreneurs going as well as inventors and engineers. Good to see the Mayor Grant Smith popping in to say hello too.
Not long ago, I went to the regional awards for the Young Enterprise Scheme. so exciting to be there for the finals in Wellington this week. Gone are the days when YE students set up tiny businesses based on crafts and local needs. YES students are now coming through digitally aware with businesses that are building supply chains with potential for international development. And I certainly never had that much poise and confidence when I was on stage at 17/18! Great to see Jeff Stangl present the Young Enntrepreneur of the Year Award to Michelle Fong, who along with other Award winners, receives a Massey Scholarship
Good to see colleagues old and new at the ANZAM conference last week. Presented with new colleague Michael Breum Ramsgaard on learning in early stage food ventures in Denmark and New Zealand. That as the first time I had met or presented with Michael in person. It shows that great new projects can be created easily online – but meeting in person does add that extra dimension of trust that really gels things for the future. Queenstown and the Skyline restaurant were gorgeous – I’ll be back!
I’ve been working for almost twenty years now with people trying to get new ideas for start-ups off the ground. That includes undergraduate and postgraduate students from business schools and the sciences, as well as a variety of people from the wider public who come into ‘bootcamp’ weekends and start up accelerator events. Some people are successful, but others are not. Of course they always learn from their experiences, but I always feel it’s a shame when people come in with poorly formed ideas that are unlikely to ever get off the ground. I find myself thinking that if only they had done a little more preparation, they would have got more out more out of their efforts. Of course there are many reasons why a start-up idea might not result in a new venture, but one of the biggest is Building Something Nobody Wants, as pointed out on this site http://www.slideshare.net/100FirstHits/startups-infographics
Why does that happen? I’ve looked at this using the well-known PESTLE analysis model:
- Politically, there are high barriers. I’ve seen people with some great ideas, particularly around social enterprises, where there could well be useful social value. But the problems are often complex and there may be many existing agencies at work. The chances of a small venture overturning the status quo are very small and these ideas usually remain at the level of an activist group.
- Economically, the idea may solve a problem or meet a need – but people just aren’t willing to pay what it would cost to deliver the idea to any reasonable standard of product or service.
- Socially, the idea may meet a demand, but may clash with social norms or ethics – particularly where young or vulnerable people are involved, or there are hidden health and safety issues.
- Technologically, because something CAN be built, it doesn’t mean people want it. Ideas in this category are sometimes called ‘solutions looking for a problem’, or a said to be a ‘tech push’ with no ‘market pull’.
- Legally, your idea could run up against regulatory issues – there may be laws working against you. Sometimes these are obvious, but other times, less so; for example, when you export or operate overseas, there may be quite unexpected obstructions.
- Environmentally, you may not set out to damage the environment, but there may be hidden costs that stack up against you, around waste disposal for example.
Many, many ideas are seductive and exciting when you first think of them, but there may well be rocks under the water from the above list. Don’t go too far down the track before you find them
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My destination this weekend was the limestone caves of Waitomo, beautiful formations that always put me in mind of ossuaries, hence the title
It was great to see so many keen and able students being rewarded for their work on New Zealand’s Young Enterprise Scheme on Thursday evening last week. The Award ceremony for Palmerston North and the surrounding region took place in Downtown Cinemas (just one of many sponsors for the event), and all’s set now for the national finals in Wellington in December. The atmosphere was fun and informal, with many people dressed in Halloween outfits.
There’s an old saying that it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part, and that’s the case with YE events. I’ve seen over the years many students in New Zealand and elsewhere, create great businesses, develop great ideas and sometimes go on to be very effective and successful entrepreneurs. But it’s not just the ideas and the businesses, thought that’s an important of it. It’s the learning and skills development that goes along with that: leadership, creativity, team development, proactivity, problem solving – to name just a few.
Yes, these skills are needed by entrepreneurs and new ventures, and also by employers generally. But there’s more to it than that. The world is changing fast – globalisation and digitisation are presenting huge opportunity and challenge to New Zealand, changing the nature of work and how we live our lives. The skillsets obtained on YE will enable students to meet that challenge face on and create not just new ideas and new ventures, but positive and sustainable futures for themselves and for New Zealand.