The PowerUp Business Ready programme, an initiative from Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki has officially wrapped up for a second year, taking sixteen budding entrepreneurs through a comprehensive eight-week programme.

Designed to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Taranaki, the programme equips early-stage entrepreneurs with the tools, knowledge, and connections they need to validate their big ideas and take their enterprises to the next level.

We sat down with recent participants who shared their key learnings and insights for other early-stage founders:

  • Kris Sebro and David Kyle, LastMyle, Clever Energy Startup.
  • Kyle Boonzaier and Lucia Panaioti, Hahoy Studio, Screen Printing Studio.

Q: What has been your most significant learning throughout the PowerUp Business Ready

  • Kris and David, LastMyle: Plans rarely proceed as indicated and the ability to pivot is critical for all businesses. Resilience and perseverance are needed by founders as well as understanding when to advance or retreat from an endeavour.
  • Kyle and Lucia, Hahoy Studio: People with passion make the business. You can have a great idea but you need great people even more.
Kris Sebro of LastMyle.

Q: Who were the standout guest speakers for you?

  • Kris and David: The founder of QGolf, Simon Moore. His story, successes, failures and learnings were not only interesting but reflected the deep reality of starting up a company. His lessons around patenting and product development “Build a product for yourself” were quite interesting and enabled us to re-examine our assumptions around the product we are developing.
  • Kyle and Lucia: My standout speakers were Simon Moore from QGolf and Jenni Matheson from EatKinda. Jenni was an interesting speaker as it was obvious she possessed a sincere passion for her product and idea, what struck me most was her understanding and acceptance of her shortcomings in some aspects of the business and the learnings she has made along her journey.  

Q: What would be your biggest piece of advice for other founders?

  • Kris and David: Listen to your customers. Let them guide you on your product development. Understand their actions and learn the art of gathering information. Research and a deep understanding of the job that you are being hired for is key. When we say job what we mean is the end result. e.g. a car, a horse and a bicycle do the same “job” transportation. Understanding the customer’s motivations will enable you to create a better, fit for purpose product. 
  • Kyle and Lucia: For us it was finding our target market and asking lots of questions relevant to our idea. Gaining a real-world understanding of how this market thinks and what they like and dislike. We emailed initial concepts to a handful of people before launch and made amendments based off that feedback. This gave us confidence to know we had something of value moving forward.  
Kyle Boonzaier of Hahoy Studio.

Q: How has the programme helped you to navigate the big challenges in your business?

  • Kris and David: A key challenge for us was product market fit and optimising the value proposition as well as the Business plan development. The PowerUp Business Ready Programme greatly assisted with enabling us to strategically align the business along the electricity value chain to provide the best benefit to our clients. Through the programme, we were challenged to understand the drivers and motivation factors behind our customers. This shift in thought allowed us to reframe our path to market.
  • Kyle and Lucia: Scalability of our idea while remaining true to our core tenet. I don’t have a final answer yet but the Business Ready Programme certainly gave us some inspiration moving forward into the future.  

Q: Where do you see yourself headed now that the PowerUp Business Ready programme is complete?

  • Kris and David: We’re completing the Creative HQ Climate Accelerator Program and refining our business plan and hardware testing. We’ve had strong interest in our product from several key players in the energy market, and are lining up trials this winter. We’re using this to build out our investment case and will be approaching Venture Capital companies for funding, as we know that demand for what our product can do is strong both in NZ and much further afield.
  • Kyle and Lucia: We are currently working on collaborating with like-minded businesses within Taranaki through 2024. We see this as a fun opportunity to expand our brand name – Hahoy Studio without spending a fortune on marketing all the while learning the ins and outs of working with more established businesses. Our first project will be with Billow Bakery: we are painting a mural, designing, and screen- printing a limited range of t-shirts inspired by life in this bakery along with art and colouring books. If you live or are visiting New Plymouth, Billow Bakery is a treasure not to be missed.

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