Want to tap in to the best startup advice from entrepreneurs who are out there doing it? Welcome to ‘500 Founders’ where we ask innovators from around New Zealand for their top insights for first time startup founders.

500 Founders

Matt Miller – Founder


“My best piece of advice for founders is to keep in mind that they can’t do it alone.

In terms of the business, you’ll have more fun and build a greater product with a great team. You could build everything, but it’s better and more efficient if you’re sometimes the dumbest person in the room. I’m regularly blown away by the things our team creates, and this pushes me to be better at the things I am good at.  When you first start out, you don’t know what you don’t know. I learned that I can’t be good at everything, and it’s better that way. The sooner you collaborate with good people, the sooner you’ll see success together. 

Taking this a step further, I believe that surrounding yourself with good people goes beyond just the day-to-day of product and business. Startups are a rollercoaster – emotionally, financially, physically. We’re all real people. And even if we have an uncanny ability to focus on our goals, we’re not robots. We need someone to lean on in the dark valleys on our journey, and someone with whom to share the high peaks. A strong support network of partner, family and good friends is tantamount to making it through your startup journey in one piece. And don’t forget it’s not a one-way street. Yes your startup is hard, but your loved one’s chosen path is also difficult and they’ll need you sometimes, too. So give your pitch deck a break and lend an ear!”

500 Founders

Ani Tawhiao-Lomas – Cofounder


One piece of advice I would give to others starting their entrepreneurial journey is just start!

We don’t learn, grow or get ahead if we stay still. Time is moving, and we need to move with it. Even the smallest step towards ticking something off of your to-do list, is a tiny step towards the end goal. This could include mundane tasks from replying to emails or phone calls, to bigger things like completing the pitch document that is needed next week, to prepping content in advance for social media. Breaking down goals and going through step-by-step is incredibly important, and can feel so rewarding when you look back and compare where you were to where you are. That is something I would tell my younger self

As someone who had so many ideas living rent free in my head, taking up space and consuming so much of my time, nothing was achieved until I finally took the leap and began chipping away at those ideas because what is not started will never be finished. This enabled me to focus on the end goal and start to plan how I would get there, which was crucial to holding myself accountable, and making steps towards planning, launching and growing my brand. Just to close off I would love to leave you with a quote by Napoleon Hill who said, ‘If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way,’ and how true is that!

500 Founders

Rob Stirling – Cofounder


“Complete an “ideal customer profile” template, choosing just one customer persona to sell to initially.”

This will unlock all your website communications, your sales collateral, your pricing structure, your development road map, and your focus.

After working on all the images and words for our website, I wish I had started with our ideal customer profile and the pricing page of our website.

If you tackle these first/early, your business story will make more sense to customers and investors.”

500 Founders

Samantha Gadd – Founder

EX Design School

“One piece of advice I would give to first time startup founders is to trust your instincts.

Making decisions is part of every single day and as a startup founder these decisions can be the difference between your company thriving or failure. At times we might have people around us providing insights, perspectives and advice and while many people can have the best of intentions, it is so important to remember that no one knows more about your business than you do, and often your instincts will point you in the right direction.

I have had times on my business journey where I have looked everywhere else to solve the problem. Collecting information from those around you is an important part of the process, but ultimately, nothing beats the experience you have in your own company, the insights you have from every other decision you have made along the way, and the hard work you have put in. Trust your instincts to make the big calls, learn each time and remember that every win or failure only lasts for a moment. Trusting your instincts and knowing the highs and lows will come and go is critical for survival in the world of business. To know this will support your resilience for the ride!”

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