Tairāwhiti start-up weekend boosts entrepreneurial morale

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A 54-hour start-up weekend in Tūranga Nui a Kiwa, facilitated by Tāirāwhiti's impact house 'Taiki E' has helped East Coast entrepreneurs get one step closer to realising their goals of establishing their own businesses.

From Friday night through to Sunday night, entrepreneurs put their ideas to the test and raced against the clock in a three-day intensive start-up competition.

“There were tears... we only had 54 hours, a lack of sleep, many ups and downs, but those are the key lessons in this workshop. And they aren’t just ideas, they're embodying their dreams and chasing their ideas, and they pursue the knowledge within that,”, says Cain Kerehoma, who is the ‘ecosystem builder’ for Tāiki E.

The grass-roots programme has found support from Amazon Web Services (the technical services arm of giant Amazon).

“One of them (AWS NZ staff) was a judge, one was a mentor, and this week their group came to share their knowledge and assist our businesses.”

Now in its third year, the start-up weekend saw 31 pitches to a panel of judges. Many of the ideas were centred on food sovereignty, and increasing household knowledge about growing vegetables. 

“The unity of us in the East Coast to uplift our sovereignty, it's up to us to find solutions for our problems, to uplift ourselves, so that's one of the main things of our time.”

Eleven teams made it through to the final, each receiving $5000 in support from AWS.

“The main thing is pouring out the love for each other, everybody here are volunteers, mentors, judges. This is a programme of support, and we're using these tools and initiatives to support each other, so that's the main theme of this programme.”

The winning three teams will receive access to business development support.