The Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp helps young entrepreneurs to build a business over one summer by using skills and networks available within Wellington's Victoria University and the wider Wellington business scene.
The Bootcamp has been running for five years now and we signed on as a premier partner of this awesome initiative in 2014. Since then BizDojo Wellington residents have had the pleasure of sharing their summers with the Bootcampers, eager to build their ideas and further their horizons.
At BizDojo we’re proud to be in a position to sponsor some of the bright teams who’ve entered the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp which means they become a resident of BizDojo, at a reduced cost. This gives them the financial freedom to delve deeper into their startup businesses.
I sat down with Chris Mather from Point Zero, Connor Finlayson from Hatcher and Ramon Telfer from Calming Stone, who have all become sponsored residents since the leaving the Bootcamp. All three business have gone from strength to strength as they constantly build, evolving and innovate their businesses.
What Summer were you part of the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp?
Point Zero: 2013 - 2014
Hatcher: 2014 - 2015
Calming Stone: 2015 - 2016
Did you have your idea before attending the Bootcamp?
Point Zero: Yes, I started it with my best mate in College, we were 14 and he called it One Legged Crab *laughs*.
Hatcher: No, we didn’t even have our idea until halfway through the bootcamp. We were initially going to work on automating building consent process!
Calming stone: I actually had my idea way before the bootcamp. In my second year at Vic I entered a design competition to solve a problem you cared about, so the concept for Calming Stone was created.
What inspired you to enter the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp?
Calming Stone: I hadn’t thought of entering until I was asked by one of the facilitators. To be honest I was hesitant but it blew my mind.
Hatcher: I entered the bootcamp as I had an idea for another app that would help people connect to play tennis together.
Point Zero: I’ve always wanted to run my own company and I started a few companies in high school but they didn’t go very far. I decided to go to University because I didn’t have the resources to run my own company at the time and then once I finished my degree it was suggested I attend the Bootcamp.
How much as your idea changed since Bootcamp?
Calming Stone: It hasn’t changed so much as it’s constantly evolving. I soon realised I couldn’t do everything on my own and if you you’re going to take this seriously you need to build a team and structure it around you.
Hatcher: A lot. First it was all about having a good time in town, then we realised how difficult it is for bar and restaurant owners to make good marketing decisions, which is why we started working on an analytics tool that tells them who, when and what they should market. Now, we are creating a bot that allows us to make the entire experience of going out finding lunch, having dinner, catching up with all friends even smoother.
Point Zero: We still offer the same services but have changed our target market dramatically, we started off producing games purely for entertainment but now create interactive experiences that can educate people about companies products and how they work.
What’s the current stage of your company?
Calming Stone: We’re on prototype three which is hopefully the last prototype and it’s taken us to a whole other level. It’s very exciting and we can’t wait! Our aim is to launch Calming Stone on the 10th of October which is Mental Health Day.
Hatcher: The team has changed quite a bit with new people coming on board and others leaving. Over the last few months, it has been a bit slow but we’ve had great opportunities to work on some side projects in the meantime. But now we are back with a clear vision on what we want to achieve and how we want to achieve it.
Point Zero: We’re in the early growth stage seeking our second round of investment. We’ve also just completed a Hollogram display for ‘Omnicom energy’ which shows how their electrical generators work.
If you had to pick one, what was the best thing you got out of the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp?
Calming Stone: For me it was realising you need to build an awesome team and take your time to find people who also care about what you believe in. Finding cofounders is kinda like dating.
Hatcher: The bootcamp opened the door to the most exciting, stressful, rewarding and tiring career path in the world. It has opened up opportunities to work with some fantastic people, work on some awesome projects, pitch to some incredible people (VP of Product for Toyota Australia, Marketing Manager of Lexus and more) and most importantly given me the freedom to work on things I think are worth working on.
Point Zero: My team. Being a part of the Bootcamp was the first time the whole team could focus on what we wanted to do which was really great.
If you could give one recommendation to people looking at registering for the next Bootcamp what would it be?
Calming Stone: Have an open mind. Really focus on what is the best way to solve the problem? Also be willing to be social and meet heaps of people. Cos after Bootcamp ends you’re back in the real world.
Hatcher: Connect with people that are a few years ahead of you. They will be your biggest allies and they will able to show you how to deal with building and running a business.
Point Zero: Go with your gut. At the end of the day it’s your dream so you should follow your passion. Be assertive and stick up for what you believe in.
Over 100 Victoria Bootcamp Alumni have been produced over the 5 years and Thursday the 21st of July marks the first Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp Alumni Showcase where Hatcher and Point Zero will join other Bootcamp alumni to take the stage at Te Papa. It's an exciting and scary time for these companies, so make sure you're attending to see what this awesomely passionate next generation of entrepreneurial talent looks like.
Caitlin is the MarComms Gal for BizDojo Wellington. She enjoys working in the BizDojo almost as much as hanging out with her foster cat... almost