Tauranga is, in many ways, at the forefront of a shift towards social enterprises. More and more we’re seeing businesses prioritise causes and community before profits and Not-for-profits look for sustainable economic engines to support their work, rather than rely on funders. As entrepreneurs increasingly move into this space, we’re determined to give them all the support, learning opportunities and networks they need to succeed.

On March 8 a new round of CO.STARTERS begins, with a whole new batch of locals ready to pick the brains of our entrepreneurial experts, who will mentor them along the way. One of the CO.STARTERS facilitators is the lovely Maria King, who we had a chat with about her journey and why she got involved.

CO.STARTERS is a place where people come together to start businesses together. And nine entrepreneurs will be doing just that come March, when the second CO.STARTERS@Venture Centre course takes place.

You don’t have to be a start-up with a brand new idea to benefit from CO.STARTERS as Waihi Beach’s Victoria Menary, who took part in the first course, proves. Victoria owns a bespoke homewares business, Minnow, with her husband. Minnow creates beautiful, functional homewares using socially and environmentally responsible practice.

Victoria is passionate about design and things that work well and damage the planet as little as possible. As a result, Minnow focuses on sustainability and having softest environmental impact possible. Their products have a long life and good death. For instance the wooden shades Minnow produces use reclaimed copper wire recovered from broadband damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes. They have previously won a coveted Bronze pin in the Best national design awards for their work.

Victoria did the first CO.STARTERS course last year to work out which direction to take her business in next and found it incredibly beneficial.

“CO.STARTERS has been really valuable. I have been in business for four years, so a lot of the nitty gritty stuff of starting up I had done the hard, slow way. But what we covered was really valuable and useful going forward with our new products,” she says.

Victoria says Minnow focuses on having attainable prices so their products are not exclusive. They work hard to support socially, environmentally responsible, locally-made producers in their supply chain and the internet to market their products. At the moment, their business uses e-commerce, Instagram and Facebook, alongside their hugely supportive wholesalers (design stores around the country) to get their message, and product, into the hands of customers.

Minnow custom-makes its componentry and has created a bamboo clock and standing floor lamp to be launched next year. It was these two products, and custom spirograph clocks (which can be ordered today through their website) that she focused on during CO.STARTERS.

“The content of the course was really useful, but the main value was the chat around the table, talking to everyone else – we were all in the same position and having the same struggles,” Victoria says.

“Hearing from speakers – locals who have grown their businesses, or had specific expertise – and their sharing of their good stuff with us was really valuable too.”

If you think CO.STARTERS may help you, or your business, enrol for the next intake today. Click here for details.

- Venture Centre works to connect people on enterprising journeys - with each other and the mindset, skillset, toolsets, networks and resources they need - to build an ecosystem that delivers real-world, learn-by-doing events, activities, projects and experiences, and more... This would not be possible without the support of Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District councils.

If you would like to add your support or get involved with this work to help build entrepreneurially capable, digitally and commercially empowered communities who contribute and benefit from the resulting prosperity and wellbeing, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to email us at info@venturecentre.co.nz.

Kurt Cordice was among the first to complete CO.STARTERS@Venture Centre. Read his take on it...


Codebrite returns in 2018

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As we begin the school holidays, parents across the region are no doubt wondering how on earth they’re going to entertain their kids all the way through until the end of January.

Have you had FOMO since you missed out on Ace the Gram's amazing Powering On workshops at Basestation last month? Don't worry, our friends at Likeable have rounded up all the best bits for you.

You may have seen recently that Venture Centre has launched a site called Powering On. Chances are you’ve stumbled across our site, either because you saw something in your local paper, or on one of our Facebook pages. Or maybe a friend or family member told you about it. Either way, we know you’re probably wondering what Powering On is and why we created it.

Last month Brite NZ, one of Venture Centre’s highly engaged student enterprises, took out one of the top two prizes at the regional finals of the Young Enterprise Scheme with their ingenious LED light, the iBrite.

Venture Centre is partnering with Soda Inc to increase its startup programme offering.

TGASW17 multi-skilled mentors bring a wealth of experience, skills and perspectives to the event. 

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