Farewell to Big Ears

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After more than two years with the Biz Dojo, we are sad (and proud) to say that BigEars is leaving the nest to move to their own office in downtown Wellington! It’s been an amazing experience watching them grow into an inspiring international business, and they’ve been doing it with style, evidenced by their recent success at the Wellington Gold Awards. Kath and Pepper have enjoyed Wellington’s daily quiz time with the enthusiastic (and trivia-savvy) BigEars team members, and they will be missed!

Stu, the systems admin and configuer said, that while moving to a new office will be a great experience, “The Dojo is special, because the people who work here are from all different fields and walks of life. There’s no hierarchy in a coworking space, so everyone is on the same level, and it’s fun! I’ll miss that.”

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While it is a bit sad to watch them go, it’s also a reminder that this is what the Dojo is about. We’re a home for innovation, and when the Dojo’s finest innovators reach a certain level, it’s only natural that they move into the world to carve out their own space. We’re amazed at the strides they’ve made in the time we’ve known them, and we’re excited to see what lies in store for them in their future! Thanks so much for a wonderful few years, BigEars, we look forward to seeing you around Wellington!

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Pixel Jam Goes Off at the Wellington Dojo

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This past weekend, Pixel Jam invaded the BizDojo Wellington, for a 48-hour competition in game creation. Game developers and artists came from the region, and even as far afield as Palmerston North, to compete for the title of Pixel Jam Champion 2013. They brought with them the most impressively kitted-out desktop CPUs that the world has ever seen.

Coordinated by a pair of Victoria University students, Pixel Jam has entered its third year running, with a record-hitting 63 participants. Pepper Curry and Katherine Field were on hand to witness the hard work everyone put into the event, and the outcome was incredible.

What was this year’s theme, you ask?

The tried and true YOLO.

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"You Only Live Once" ended up factoring into each game in a big way, and the winners took the prize for creating a Yolo Road Trip that would give the Safe Teen Driver campaign a heart attack. Other interpretations included single-hit kills, themes around seizing the day, and power-ups that allowed the player to live better/faster/stronger.

Most amazing was the amount of great game content the participants came up with over the course of just 48 short hours. Full-fledged games, great concepts, and original ideas came from all directions during the final presentation, and the four Judges (of PikPok, MiniMonos, and NZ Gamer) were clearly impressed by the ability of the teams. GameBuilder, Unity, JavaScript, and even Haskell were utilised in the creation of the programs, and art styles ranged from 3D-rendered worlds to 2D pixel art.

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It was great to have an opportunity to fully experience and showcase Wellington’s budding game talent in such an immersive way, and the high level of participation and engagement was a great indicator of the tech gaming industry growth that is clearly in Wellington’s bright future!

Startup Weekend Success!

Pepper Curry, the Community Assistant from BizDojo Wellington, was one of the competitors in the Startup Weekend Wellington event that took place last week. She had some great luck with her team, taking second place in the competition, as well as acquiring some interest in the continuation of their concept idea. Here, she catches us up on the action:

Whew, what a weekend! After the earthquake last Friday, 150 people were packed into the BizDojo Wellington for the opening festivities of this season’s Startup Weekend (Social Enterprise edition). Massey University would host us for the rest of the weekend, but due to the closures on Friday, we all got cozy in the Dojo for opening pitches.

About 40 of the participants lined up along the aisle to pitch their ideas to the masses, who may or may not have been listening as they munched their burgers, chatted about their ideas, and started figuring out which concepts they’d like to support. I sat fiddling with my name tag, feeling a bit guilty about not having an idea to pitch. It was, after all, Social Enterprise weekend; a topic near and dear to my heart. If I don’t have an idea to save the world in a sustainable fashion, then I’m a bit of a failure as a greenie, aren’t I?

But then it struck me! An idea! No time to suss it out, I ran straight into line and delivered my pitch before I could stop myself. Everyone who pitches then has to go and draw up a poster of what their idea is, and all participants walk around with 5 stickers to post on their favourite ideas. The top 10-20 posters with the most votes get to stick around, and then it’s a mad dash for all to join a team.

I was surprised to see that someone else, Miles, had a really similar idea to my own, and we ended up merging together and earning a great number of votes. Soon, people started approaching us looking for work. We ended up pulling in a great UX designer, Dana, that I knew from before, and also the effervescent Aimee Whitcroft, who brought some great business and logic acumen that helped us along our way. We decided to stop at four, and we sat down and got to work.

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Photo credit: Mark Tantrum

From then on, we were a team, rocking through the Social Enterprise Edition Lean Canvas in a single night. At 1 AM, we called it quits and went home, only to wake up the next day to conduct market validation for our plan. Eschewing the advice of the mentors to go out on the street and talk to strangers, we instead turned to more specific resources, people who worked in industries that we believed could be market targets for our product. We were tired, cranky, and got a bit bitchy with each other, but we toughed it out. Throughout the second day, we had to pitch several times to get our skills sharpened, and by the end, Aimee was a wheelin’ dealin’ pitching machine. Saturday was a 16-hour day, and we were all babbling idiots by the time we dragged ourselves into bed at the end of the night.

With advice from the mentors, a good push from the event crew, and the surprising tenacity and motivation of our team, we built a UX, a basic front-end system, marketing materials, a logo, and a killer presentation, all for showcasing at our final pitch to the VIP guests, judges, and other teams. The final day was really tough, as we knew we were on a short deadline, and we had to crank out a lot of material. We had already had enough tension back and forth, and at this point, we had settled into a smooth groove of just working through each issue as quickly as possible and getting back to work. I literally finished our presentation at the last second, slamming my laptop shut and lugging it down to the presentation room just before they kicked everyone out.

We were the final pitch, and I was amazed at how great everyone’s ideas were! We watched 11 other pitches that night, and I can honestly say that most of them were completely original, amazingly designed, and seemed like things that should definitely exist in the world. There were apps, concrete product development, reinventions of old technologies, and propositions for improving lives. It was fantastic.

Although our idea was unconventional and utilised a rather arcane business model, we ended up winning second place in the competition! The judges appreciated our originality, and also our attitude, which was basically to ignore advice that didn’t work for us and keep true to our core beliefs. This enabled us to build something unique, and also well designed.

After receiving such great validation from the Startup Weekend crew, our peers, and our market research, we are confident that our idea is a solid one, and while I can’t discuss the finer details of it publicly  we’re in talks to refine it and get it to a point where we feel good about releasing it into the wider world, either as a general use system or specifically tailored to developers and designers. I had no idea that I would end up with a great social enterprise idea that could potentially “change the world” as they say…and Startup Weekend is specifically geared for just that, inspiring people to sit down with each other and build something better than any of them ever could have done alone, all in one 54-hour period. Wild, right?

Proudly introducing… The Better Work Tour with Alex Hillman

The Biz Dojo has been an advocate for the collaborative work space since the launch of our first space on Auckland’s K Rd in 2009. Four years, another city, and two spaces later, we’re all about joining forces with other like-minded humans who are passionate about activating awesome communities. 

When Nick and Jonah met Alex Hillman from Indy Hall at a coworking conference in Brisbane, they liked the cut of his jib. World domination was planned, schemes were plotted, and now we’re excited to bring Alex across the world to share his tales of wisdom with us. 

So, we’d like to proudly introduce…. 

The Better Work Tour with Alex Hillman

What Coworking Can Teach Us About the Future of Work

Alex founded IndyHall in Philadelphia back in 2006 and has grown it to become a coworking community that its members and other coworking spaces look to for inspiration. He has also runs a boutique collaboration consultancy, creates amazing events for his community, and got involved in Tony Hseih’s celebrated “Downtown Project" in Las Vegas.

The Better Work Tour sessions will explore the effectiveness of coworking, the ingredients to an thriving innovative community, and how we can apply this mechanism at the organisation, precinct and city level. 

The Interactive Workshops will allow for extended Q&A with Alex, where people can bring specific ideas and challenges from their own community to discuss. 

Alex will be traversing the country and sharing his thoughts in Christchurch (9 Sept), Wellington (11 Sept) and Auckland (13 Sept). 

Check out the event page for more details.. 

 We’ve got some amazing heavy-weight partners joining us to help bring Alex over:

Auckland Airport - who are in the midst of their own exciting collaborative space development - have generously come on board as our Platinum Partner to present the NZ tour. 

Vidak are also supporting the tour as a Gold Sponsor. They’re experts in their field of beautiful office furniture- and have been for 23 years. They’ve long been a friend of the Dojo family, and they’re absolute pros at creating inspirational workspaces. 

In Christchurch, we’re partnering with CPIT - Skills for Canterbury. Not only will we be using the great CPIT campus on Madras St, but the lucky breakfast seminar attendees will be served deliciousness from the student restaurant. 

Massey University are kindly hosting the Wellington events in the beautiful Te Ara Hihiko (the new College of Creative Arts building). 

Finally, in Auckland, amazing architects, Warren and Mahoney are really excited to be supporting the event, and we’re teaming up with Survive and Thrive 2013 -  NZ’s smart-thinking event for innovative people working in the creative sectors. Alex’s sessions will run alongside this annual conference at AUT’s fabulous Sir Paul Reeves Building.   

So get in quick as spaces are limited! 

There’s more information over on the event page, or head straight over and get yourself tickets for Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch

Keen on Zines?

The cool kid on the publishing block is definitely the Zine (pronounced ‘zeen’) and our Wellington Community Assistant Pepper has just released her latest ‘Press Zine’ – making her one pretty cool lady!

Pepper, along with her partner Peter (wow that’s a lot of alliteration right there and some more is coming right up) are a collaborative collective called ‘Subterranean Mountaintop Seaside’, and their Zine is about doing a lot with a little.  

“Because we do so many things - writing, drawing, music, cooking, gardening, street art and graphic design – it had been hard to figure out how to present all the things we love and make it as a cohesive piece.

“We’re interested in showcasing the beauty of Wellington, New Zealand and the world, as well as suggesting little ways that people can enhance their daily lives without spending lots of money.

“We include recipes, diagrams, art, photography, bits of information, music and movie recommendations, and more!”

Now, attention those who haven’t read anything actually printed on paper since, well, a long time ago! Zines are publications that are generally made by amateur publishers and artists looking for an inexpensive and creative way to communicate with the world at large. According to Pepper they were traditionally hand-drawn, collaged, photocopied, and distributed amongst friends and mailed out to far-off fans. But with the advent of the internet (damn that thing has a lot to answer for), production of zine’s partially collapsed and they became less common in print, but the upside is that now they can be digitally available.

For Pepper and Peter, Press Zine was a natural choice because they wanted to do something unique that created a direct line with readers, which could be sold for as little as possible both online and via mail/shops. And also because they just enjoy making them!

“Zines are unrestricted by pre-existing notions concerning content. A zine can be about anything, and they have a very loose cultural value,” says Pepper.

“I like them because they free the creator up to be creative, instead of worrying about formatting, marketing and cost. They also create an intimate interaction with the reader, because there’s no middle man between you and them.”

Pepper thinks they are a great way to get something handmade into your life and have direct contact with artists.

“They can exist wherever there is access to a photocopier and there is also very little restriction, versus publishing a magazine or a book where you have to go through a more extensive production process and generally spend a lot of money and time dealing with other people.”

So what’s coming up next for Pepper, Peter and Press Zine? Their ultimate goal is to make it free, either through sponsorship or reader donations. And Pepper has her heart set on a few other changes.

“I think the next issue will be twice as big and in colour, based on how it’s been going. The Dojo’s sponsoring our printing, and that’s been a huge help!”

Buy Pepper & Peter’s Press Zine here ($2 for a hard copy or $1 for a digital PDF)

Whitireia’s next entrepreneurs!

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Last week our lovely Wellington BizDojo Community Manager, Katherine Field, was asked invited along to Whitireia Polytechnic’s Business Entrepreneurial Class in Porirua, where she was interviewed by a group of third year students eager to pick her brain for insight into the world of entrepreneurs.

The interview was about an hour long, and was an opportunity to start a free range discussion about entrepreneurship in New Zealand. Then I was able to ‘turn the tables’ on the students by asking them to work on an issue relevant to my work.”

Katherine used her time there as an opportunity to do some brainstorming around promoting market expansions into Wellington, what businesses could gain from it and also discussed the need for co-working. She also asked the students to think about their own career development, what value they could add to smaller companies as business students with fresh ideas and getting to where they want to be in the future.

With some interesting insights into other cultures and ideas around linking to Asian markets, Katherine was very impressed by all of the valid points that the group came up with.     

“The students had really interesting questions around working styles and the fit of the entrepreneur into businesses, as well as how teams are made up to move a business forward and the mix of ideas people alongside people in supportive roles.”  

WIP it, WIP it real good!

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We are stoked to have front row tickets to watch budding business WIP, a recent Lightning Lab participant and brand new resident at the BizDojo in Wellington.

Since Demo Day a month ago Rollo Wenlock, CEO and co-founder, says things have been all go for the WIP team, which is fine with them!

“We’ve been working on pulling together our first major round of investment and we’re also doing the same thing we always do, which is to keep building new and awesome features into WIP!”

The guys were quick to take up an opportunity to spend time as residents at the BizDojo, easing their concerns about what would happen when Lightning Lab came to an end.  

“We feared there would be a loss of the natural cross-pollination that goes on when lots of different people are doing exciting, creative things in a shared space. But once we got to the Dojo we knew we had nothing to worry about on that front!”

Well we think it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship! (BFF’s?)

So what is WIP? It’s a beautifully simple video workflow platform that lets you watch, share and comment on work-in-progress videos, so you get better feedback faster. Rollo says the product takes away the hassle of lengthy email chains and phone calls to clients and with WIP, all the communication is where it should be, right on top of the video.

At the moment the WIP team is working towards launching Version 1.0 of their software later in the year and with a massive amount of work to be done for the release, having the Dojo as a base is going to be a huge help in getting it done.

“Being in a new environment that’s as well set-up as the Biz Dojo is always invigorating, and having a proper coffee machine doesn’t hurt either,” says Rollo.

As a company that aims to make collaboration easier because it is something they strongly believe in, they see collaboration-friendly places, like the BizDojo, as the future of the working environment. We certainly hope so!

“It just doesn’t make sense these days to sit in tiny little rooms working in isolation, it’s not how our brains are wired. So for us we’re just really happy to be a part of the Dojo community,” says Rollo.

Right on brother from another mother! 

Haaaaave you met Pepper?

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Pepper Curry is the new Community Assistant at BizDojo Wellington, and is excited to be here helping out with events and streamlining day-to-day operations! She has a background in fine arts, as well as being a live performance VJ with audio-reactive programming skills. She brings with her a variety of other skills including graphic design, iOS device repair, and knitting.

Pepper was born in Auckland, but has been living in the States for the vast majority of her life, in such exotic locales as Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, and most recently…the glorious San Francisco. She’s cultivated a great working knowledge of startup culture from working with Apple retail, and also can roll a mean burrito if you’re hungry.

She has a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts, with a focus in performance art and installations. She spends her free time gardening with her partner, Peter, knitting like a boss, and working on a zine that may or may not ever get published. 

Since moving to Wellington, Pepper had been looking for the right place to work, and was inspired and excited by the amazing culture of innovation and creativity in the city:

“I had been looking for a company that aligns with my desire to create alongside innovators, as well as being a part of something that was more collective and collaborative than hierarchical. BizDojo seems like the perfect place for both of these things! I am excited to be a facilitator for the creative aspect of business, and to form connections with New Zealand’s best and brightest,” Pepper says.

Need Help Getting Your Creative Business Off the Ground?

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ART Venture is on the lookout for candidates for its 2013 programme. Up to 12 entrepreneurs in the creative sector will be awarded a place on the year-long programme, valued at up to $38,000, including specialist coaching and a seed fund pitching process.

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Petra & Bay are Finalists at iD Dunedin Fashion Week

Remember the Facebook campaign we did last year for 10 hours of free photoshoot time on the BizDojo Co.Space Infinity Wall? In return, the winner had to splash some paint on the wall.

As keen supporters of young and emerging creatives, we chose Petra Benton & her friends as the winners to shoot lookbooks for their graduate collections.

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Have you met Kelly & Blair?

imageMeet Kelly and Blair, our new interns from Boston Uni.

We’re stoked to have had some new Boston University interns join us for a few months! Kelly and Blair are filling the void in our hearts left by Jocelyn, Annie and Emily, our Boston Uni interns from last year. You girls were amazing and we still miss you every day!

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Nick Barrett Competed for Hult Prize in Shanghai

Our Auckland resident Nick Barrett, founder of Imagistory, has returned from a busy trip to Shanghai. He was invited by AUT to be an alumnus member of the team representing New Zealand at the entrepreneurship competition, Hult Prize.

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Crystalnix – From Russia with Software

Last June we had a Russian software development company, Crystalnix, join our pool of international residents at the Wellington Dojo.

Crystalnix was founded in 2008 by Roman Kudiyarov and Dmitry Lyfar in Omsk, Russia.

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After launching, their exceptional work was instantly picked up by several businesses worldwide. Driven by the global success, the founders felt it was time to start looking for a more internationally connected base for the company.

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Snakk Media Lists on NZAX

This is a video from the Snakk NZAX listing launch party. Max Flanigan is in the thumbnail pic of the video. He comes in the first time at 0:50.

Last week was an exciting week for Auckland BizDojo residents Max Flanigan and Rhonda McHardy from Snakk Media.

On Wednesday 6 March, Snakk Media listed on the NZAX with a bang: Shares went from an opening price of 6.5 cents to 16 cents on a handful of trades within the first two hours, and closed the week at 20 cents on good volume putting Snakk’s market capitalisation at $41.3 million.

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Coworking – Hell of a Lot of Wisdom to Share

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In the past few years, Coworking Conferences have been popping up across the globe everywhere from Paris to Tokyo. The concept for these conferences was conceived in 2008 in Austin, where the biggest Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC or “Juicy”) still takes place. (Read more about the background on this Deskmag article.)

The purpose of these conferences is to share learnings and discuss the future of the coworking movement regionally and globally. Last weekend’s Coworking Conference Australia, held in Melbourne, was the first one of its kind held in Australiasia.

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