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Earlier this month, Blackbird Team New Zealand - Sam, Tip and Phoebe - set off on a nationwide roadshow along with Ryan from Startmate.

Our goals were simple:

  • Introduce Blackbird to new startup founders, operators and their communities across Aotearoa

  • Help founders take their companies to the next level through Pitch Coaching workshops and Office Hours sessions

  • Spread the word about the Blackbird and Startmate programmes on offer to New Zealanders, from the Accelerator to Giants to Fellowships to First Believers

A roadie to remember

We launched our $60 million New Zealand fund in 2019. As relatively new kids in town, we hoped to bring a complementary perspective and set of resources to regional catalysts (and epic ecosystem partners) like Creative HQ, Ministry of Awesome, Soda inc. and Startup Dunedin. These teams are evidently having a huge impact with founder programmes like Costarters and Audacious.

Criss-crossing the country from Auckland to Invercargill, we were blown away by the quality and variety of technology innovation taking place across the whenua.

Founders in Christchurch got a direct taste of the Startmate Accelerator experience during a Mentor Roulette session. Think speed-dating, but for your start-up: 7 x 15 minute sessions with investors and operators from the local community like Imche Fourie, Michal Klar, and Alex Fala.

Our journey finished up in Auckland with a series of panels hosted by Microsoft including an Engineering session featuring technical leads from Halter, Multitudes and Seachange, and a first-hand account of Startmate’s Accelerator and Fellowship programmes from recent participants.

Reflections from the road

We definitely noticed some regional flavours as to what ambitious Kiwis are working on (like hospitality tech in Queenstown, agtech and industrial process innovation in Christchurch and social impact innovation in Wellington).

But it became obvious that there is real heterogeneity within each region too. A fintech founder in Invercargill might be working away on something that’s unique to Southland, yet have a heap in common - business model, customer, regulatory challenges - with a founder in Hamilton. How can they get to know one another?

This got us thinking: there seems a real opportunity for all of us who care about Aotearoa’s innovation economy to help grow the connective tissue between regions. We’re a collaborative bunch: supra-regional knowledge-sharing, virtual collaboration and connections should be New Zealand’s competitive advantage.

What’s Next: Cultivating the connective tissue

We think Startmate’s community is an amazing starting point. Startmate exists to supercharge founders, operators and investors across Australia and New Zealand. With all content being delivered virtually, there has never been a better opportunity for Kiwis to make the most of Startmate programmes.

Startmate is neutral territory - a Switzerland, if you will - that relies on mentors and coaches to deliver its programmes. Harnessing this community Startmate can help our whole ecosystem raise the bar, from founders to operators to investors.

If you’re reading this, there’s likely a way you can get involved, whether it’s by applying for a programme yourself; volunteering as a mentor or coach; sponsoring a Fellowship; or just spreading the word.

Visit Startmate for next steps, or hit up [email protected]

Ka kite anō au i a koutou

Thank you to all the regional partners who hosted us and brought together their local communities around our roadshow events: Soda, Inc; Start-up Taranaki; COIN South; Start-Up Queenstown Lakes; Start-up Dunedin; Ministry of Awesome; CreativeHQ; Territory3; and to the Microsoft for Start-Ups team who sponsored and joined us on the road.

And if you have any suggestions for our next roadshow - content, locations, speakers you’d love to hear from - drop us a line: [email protected]