Meet The Teams

Introducing LOAN SMASHERS: Building a network where companies can recruit interns, and help their students pay off chunks of their student loans.

Team: Shannon, Heidi, Steph, Jade and Stacey

On their team: “We all kind of had our own ideas and groups but then those weren’t really working out so we decided to get all of us together.”

On applying for Venture Up: “I just felt it was going to give you that experience that was going to be the foundation for whatever you wanted to build on top…. I felt that this was going to be a really important and core thing that would pretty much set you up for life.”
“I haven’t started uni yet, so I thought this would be a really good … I’ve always done things like Young Enterprise’s EIA weekend – it’s really rushed and you don’t get that depth of knowledge that you need … creating a business in 72 hours is not that realistic!”

On their biggest challenge: “Our business idea has kind of gone back to scratch … We thought we’d create one network joining three different groups together – businesses, volunteer groups and students, but then we realised it would involve three separate target markets which complicated the whole thing.”
“We also think quite similarly. We’re a good team, we still have a lot of discussions and we all have different skills – we don’t agree on everything all the time. We’re just quite similar in our backgrounds”

Introducing SOHLER HOMES: Providing a range of portable rooms on wheels to cater to low income families and help combat the housing crisis in South Auckland and around the country

Team: Norsa and Tasi

On their goals: “We have the same passion for the Pacific community and we want to help with an issue which they’re facing at the moment – and hopefully find a good solution to it”

On Venture Up: “To work in a business project independently… I wanted to actually start up something of my own that outlines my passion for my people “
“I saw it as an opportunity to expand my knowledge in business, and gain a lot of experience. It’s also about moving from one group to another – not always staying in the same place and getting to work independently and working on my own ideas, getting to experience stuff alone as well as with our Venture Up people. And hopefully gain some knowledge from those students as well.”

On their biggest challenge: “Both of us are from PI so we have a PI perspective. We both live in South Auckland, we face different experiences than other people from other sides of Auckland – so there are other sides to bring into this project, something that we might not recognise ourselves”
“Also our business model – trying to decide how we’re going to gain profit, who’s paying for what, we’re still trying to see where the cash flows. We both don’t take accounting so we find numbers challenging. We are looking forward to meeting the mentors, hopefully they can help us.”

Time for the next instalment of our Venture Up team introductions. Check out what EL Paleo and Flatpak, our two pre-existing YES companies, have to say!

Introducing EL PALEO: Producing gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, Paleo friendly chocolate for health conscious consumers who don’t want to sacrifice taste.

Team: Sarah, Hannah, Raniella, Shannon and Jess

On their team: “We started our team last year as part of Young Enterprise Scheme. We had five members, three of them left at the end of the year. And then this year coming to Venture Up we gained three new members and it’s great!”

On why they chose Venture Up: “This was a really great opportunity for me to discover what the business world is all about, stepping up from the Young Enterprise Scheme it’s really opened up a lot of doors for me and I’m really excited about what’s going to happen next!”

“I applied for Venture Up because I thought it was a great opportunity. I’d never really done anything like going outside of home and going to the North Island by myself, and I thought I’d really enjoyed business , so I thought ‘why not?!’”

On Venture Up so far: “Whenever I sit here and listen to peoples’ stories I think ‘oh my god that’s amazing, they didn’t even need university and look how far they got’. So it’s taught me that I don’t need university to fulfill my dream and that is to own a successful business. VU has really helped me.”


Introducing FLATPAK: solving storage issues on quad bikes to allow farmers to carry tools, hay bales, farm dogs and more!

Team: Emily, Anika, Alysha and Kryten

On their business idea: “We’ve been excited about it for a long time – this just seems like the perfect opportunity to really get it off the ground.”

On their next step: “Now we’re looking at validating our idea to understand the issues that our customers face – something that we never thought about through the YES programme, so it’s quite interesting seeing how that process goes ahead. And scary!”

“We’re all kind of finding our feet at the moment and seeing how we all work together and things like that, but we’re looking to start talking to retail sellers like Honda, PGG etc. And then we’ll start the designing process – talking to fabric designers and fabric scientists”

On applying for VU: “The reason I applied for VU was – it just popped up in my inbox and I was like ‘uh, yeah, sweet. Looks good! Might as well. Why not?!’”



This is the last installment of our ‘Meet the Teams’ posts! We sat down with the next three teams to talk about what they’re up to, and how it’s going now that we’ve passed the halfway point.

ILLUNO: Creating a healthier energy drink for people who don’t want to pump themselves up on caffeine, guarana and sugar just to crash and burn a few hours later.

Team: Bradley, Aditi, Lilia, Wilson, Ben

On what they are excited about: “the prospect of having an actual product by the end of this week, and advancing our learning. Living. Being alive. Breathing. Also we have an ice cream fight tonight, I reckon that will be a highlight.”

On pitching: “Winning the brief 30 second pitch (judged by Rhys Faleafa last Friday) was a highlight. Spur of the moment and a real team effort – that was good.”

On team building: “We like to go on bus trips. When we have meetings, we like to take random bus trips… We work together and live together – it really brought our team together to a point where we’re like a family now.”

On their biggest challenge: “Mentor whiplash. We had a lot of very experienced, very successful people telling us opposing things- work on your product! No, work on your brand! Back and forth. Which was hard because we were still trying to find our own identity – I mean we didn’t even have a name. So now we pick and choose and go with our gut.”


KUDOS: Offering a website – a centralised place to share memories about a person and share condolences when someone passes. After a while, all those shared comments and memories will get compiled into a book to be shared around the family and kept as a memorial record.

Team: Michael, Eli, Jonathan, Chance

On their highlights so far: “Wellington Chocolate Factory. Tim Bennet, Anna Guenther, Amanda Santos. The food’s been quite good. Nerf wars in the hall, Tim Alpe from Juicy- he’s the man.”
“Basically it’s the chocolate factory, great speakers, nice food, and meeting with our mentors. Our mentors have been great.”

On their biggest challenge: “Finding our 9 points of difference. Our value proposition – standing out. Also Eli has been away for a little while, and we missed his banter and input. Obviously that held back our productivity, but we’re back into it now.”
“We also try to make our company fun – which might seem at odds with our product but we think it’s important in our company to keep a balance and joke around a bit when we’re dealing with something so serious”

On divvying up their workload: “Elijah is the product owner, Jonathan in charge of tech, Chance and Michael do marketing and sales and comms. It works quite well. And we all share the same role as chocolate eaters.”

ENGAGE 24: Developing an app for schools and tertiary institutions to gather honest feedback on the spot from students – a quick and easy way for educators to get regular feedback, utilising the increasing trend towards BYOD in schools and push notification capabilities

Team: Sam and Varoon

On their achievements so far: “We are close to achieving our goal of 5 school signed up to pilot our product – we’ve got 4 out of 5 either on paper agreements or soon-to-be on paper agreements.”

On piloting their app: “We did a 60 second pitch in front of the sponsors of Venture Up – one of whom is Victoria University. One of their senior liaisons came and asked when we could get our product out. We said 2 months. He said, can you do it faster? And we said, how much capital do you have? So we’ve ended up with a one week pilot, starting in a couple of weeks. So we went from 2 months to 3 weeks.”

On the difficulties of market validation: “We get different responses from everyone we meet with. Every single meeting we do, we schedule for half an hour, but it always goes overtime. Somehow it always goes from market research and market validation, to product validation or product development… It’s great having a demo which you can bring out and show people.”

On organising their workload: “We started a Kanban revolution. One of the first things we did was set up a Kanban board. Branding – that’s been on the to-do list since we got here… We have so many things to do, some of it has ended up on the window too. And now everyone has one!”

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