Founder/s: Theresa O’Brien and Sally Crown
HQ: Hawke’s Bay

What problems do you solve and what products or services do you sell? 

The key issue that we have both found in business is not a lack of support available, but a disconnect in the approach and values recognition, especially for Māori who are looking to start a business. 

The abundance of good ideas are not always driven by profit first and foremost, but rather wellbeing of whānau, kaitiakitanga or guardianship of the whenua (land) and taiao (environment), whakapapa (lineage and tradition) and culture to name a few. 

Tipu Ake Tonu has been created in recognition of that disconnect, to provide purpose-fit business start-up and growth support that empowers people, Māori or otherwise, to succeed. 

We recognise that by servicing individuals, whānau (families) and hapori (communities) we can effect positive change and drive economic success. 

We offer five main branches of service:

  1. Business Start Up Support
  2. Business Growth
  3. Cultural Capability
  4. Community-Based Education (E.g. Home Ownership, Financial Literacy)
  5. Te Aka Kaipakihi (a revitalised HB Māori Business Network)

It is all summed up in our whakataukī:

He Uruaatea, He Kōkō Mōwai
Kia Tipu Ake Tonu
Excel with unlimited potential
Grow with absolute abundance

Who and where are your target clients? 

Our target customers are anyone looking to start a business or grow their business. For Tipu Ake Tonu it is about making sure we can add value to the journey and that we are the right fit for our clients. 

Currently most of our clients are local, though our aspirations and plans see us reaching further across the motu (country). We know that there is opportunity for growth as we discovered with our recent Business Start Up Programme for wāhine – Kurawaka. 

How and when did you first come up with the idea for your business? 

During the COVID-19 lockdown. We spent a lot of time talking online, sharing ideas and discussing ways to improve the wellbeing of our community. We both love business and know that Māori are naturally entrepreneurial and innovative. Growing entrepreneurship is a key component to enabling greater participation for Māori in the economy. 

What are three things about your business that you are proud of? 

1) Being clear about our purpose. Knowing that we are all connected to each other and our success is linked to theirs. It drives us. 

2) Being bold. Who starts a business in a global pandemic? We do. 

3) Seeing growth. It has been so satisfying to see the growth in those we are working with. Not just of their ideas or business but of them as people. When you get that double bottom line humming, it improves things not just for them but for their families and communities too.

How do you market your business and what advice do you have for others around marketing?

Tipu Ake Tonu is an extension of our separate consultancy businesses (Kōtare Services and Angel Promotions) and there is overlap with a range of other mahi (work) we both already undertake. 

We have been able to generate good word of mouth referrals and have some great champions for our cause. We back that up with the usual tools; website (blogs), print collateral, monthly EDM (electronic direct mail), media, networking and events.

The best advice we can give to others is to make sure you clearly communicate your purpose and the problem you are solving for potential customers/clients. Do it frequently and if you can, build an army of champions so that it is not just you waving the flag for your business.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in building your business so far? 

Time management. So we have gotten as savvy as possible. Utilising time and project management software and employing like-minded contractors to help us drive Tipu Ake Tonu.

What is the biggest entrepreneurship lesson you would like to share with other Kiwis thinking of starting their own business? 

Get comfortable with failure. Having both been in business or contracting for nearly 20 years separately we have been lucky enough to taste many triumphs but also eaten dirt. The failures are our lessons and learnings and getting to a place where you can honestly see them as such, makes you pretty much unstoppable. 

How has your business adapted to the challenges of COVID-19? 

We recognised that entrepreneurship would be one of the strategies of central government to lift economic performance. Coupled with the pivot situation being faced by existing businesses and the natural inclination of Māori to entrepreneurship, the demand for support services like ours would surely increase. 

There was no better time for us.

What are your plans for the next 12-18 months 

We have plans to expand some of our developed services, nationwide. 

What’s great about HB? 

Two Māori girls who whakapapa to other rohe in Aotearoa can call this place home, access support through places like Hawke’s Bay Business Hub and Te Puni Kōkiri Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, find the right resource and feel confident enough to launch a business during a pandemic. Along with all the usual stuff about lifestyle and how beautiful our region is, this is what is great about Te Matau-a-Māui to us.

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