For someone that gets carsick, typing this blog in the back of our Jucy caravan while we drive to across Central Otago wasn’t the smartest move I’ve ever made. But, watching the terrain and inspired by the folk we’ve met, I thought I should share what we’ve seen and done and learnt so far on our South Island Roadie.
Our road trip kicked off on Tuesday, with Kelsey, Nick and I converging on Queenstown. After a delayed start (nothing like a diversion to Christchurch so we could find a bigger plan to fly in on) we arrived in beautiful cool Queenstown. Barely a cloud in the sky, dotted with parachutes and gliders weaving between the hills.
Innovation Queenstown, Queenstown Resort College, and the University of Otago hosted 12 entrepreneurs for the first stop on our South Island roadie. We had everything from a fashion start up to brewers to winemakers learning about the fundamentals of equity crowdfunding. We shared stories from our learnings, and heard more about the local experiences of the founders from Queenstown, Wanaka and Cromwell. Of developers working in hostels, ex Google employees finding work internationally but not in NZ, and entrepreneurs desperate to create companies that solved local and global problems.
We had the invite of a place to stay from one of our alumni, Craig, who created the Wonky Donkey man, and spent the night talking about life, creative funding, and watching shooting stars from his spa pool.
In the morning, we thought that the ice on the windshield would be easy enough to scrape off. Only after a first attempt did we realise that the ice was actually on the inside of our caravan, making us a bit late for our first meeting of the morning.
While our Chair completed some work skypes in the van, we met with a local entrepreneur to talk about her start up and Queenstown. After one of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had at Bespoke Cafe, we jumped in Ting’s car to see the magical spaces she works from (at Sherwood). We were sold.
On the way to Invercargill we stopped in Cromwell, to visit Brendan who had attended our session the night before. He’s starting up an urban winery in Dunedin – bringing Central Otago grapes into the inner city to make his wine, and then bring it back to Central until it’s ready to consume. We got to taste test it a bit early.
In Invercargill we were met at the Pride offices, and quickly shuttled to the Community Trust of Southland board room, where 35 locals converged on the offices to hear more about crowdfunding (and experience some beautiful local brews, care of Nash and Invercargill Brewery).
We talked about crowdfunding for not for profits, had a gentleman break out his bubble blowing hat (he told me he was a better bubble blower than I was!) and met founders, social entrepreneurs, and event organisers.
After a few (awesome) Invercargill Brewery beers, we headed out for dinner at Louis’ with some of the attendees. We learnt about the local economy, films, attempts to keep young people local, Swedes (the vegetable, not the people), and why everyone there stayed in Invercargill.
In the morning, we headed over to Invercargill Brewery (in our PJ’s) for a shower and a tour.
After our tour, we met up with the Love Local crew to learn more about urban farming, vegetable bags, feeding locals who live below the poverty line and Brexit (because, Brexit even affects folk in Invercargill!).
Thanks so much to the 50 entreprenuers, founders, and doers that we met with over our first two days on tour. Here’s to you, you inspiring people.
Next up: our talks in Dunedin, Timaru and Christchurch!
Big thanks to Jucy for sponsoring us to take this entire road trip, and to Innovation Queenstown, the University of Otago, Queenstown Resort College, Pride Real Estate, Innov8 Invercargill for all supporting this leg of the trip.