A young approach to age old problems

Published Nov 13, 2019

“There’s no problem so great it can’t be solved” — Barbara Coloroso

Living up to this belief, the teams from Viclink’s latest Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp intake are working to solve a wide range of problems that could lead to truly positive impact in their communities.

The aim for this year’s intake of graduate students—the ninth Bootcamp since its inception in 2010—remains the same: to give them the opportunity to take their ideas and test them to see if they are viable as social enterprises or businesses—while at the same time growing essential ‘soft skills’ that are widely sought-after in the job market. 

But what has changed is where the programme is delivered. This year marks the first in which the Bootcamp will be delivered from The Atom innovation space at Victoria University of Wellington’s Pipitea Campus.   

“The new venue makes a lot of sense, given the natural fit between Viclink and the Victoria Business School (VBS) which teaches entrepreneurship,” says Emily Sullivan, Bootcamp Programme Manager and Viclink’s Student Entrepreneurship Manager. “It will further strengthen our existing ties and help us both to achieve our shared goal—i.e. to develop student entrepreneurs who can make a real difference in the world.”

The seven teams congregated at The Atom on Monday, 11 November at the launch of this year’s programme. So what sort of ideas will they work to develop over the next 12 weeks? 

While studying for his Masters of Design Innovation degree, Steven Almond developed a clever sofa design—in keeping with the idea of a circular economy—that could potentially make furniture more sustainable. He knows his prototype works, and he’s registered the design, but Bootcamp is helping him to take on the real test—can he turn it into a sustainable business? 

Team Dyaus, Deepak Karunakaran and Nishanthi Sivam, is developing a product that uses aerospace data to remotely assess riparian plantings (vegetation alongside waterways) for both environmental benefit and return on investment. Riparian plantings help to filter pollutants such as nutrients and sediment, reducing stream bank erosion and providing shade to lower water temperatures.

Jordan Lankshear, Tan Nguyen and Thomas Littleworth came up with an idea in the VBS Entrepreneurship class MGMT 307 to help people working in dangerous occupations—such as forestry and fishing—stay safe while working away from their home bases. Emergency Scan is the name they’ve given to the tech they’re developing to help emergency services and first responders to access personal information about workers in situations where they can’t communicate it themselves. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the same Entrepreneurship class also incubated a second team of young entrepreneurs. Sameer Vithal, Hahn Son and Joel Hassan are taking the idea they explored in class and expanding upon it further at Bootcamp. The team is looking at how they can connect people who need a hand with a job today—big or small—with people who are available to help. 

After noticing—then becoming frustrated by—the amount of paper waste created by retail transactions (i.e. till receipts), Tom Clark started thinking about possible technical solutions. He and his fellow students Shiv Gandhi and Chris Parry formed Team ETec to explore the problem from a customer’s perspective during Bootcamp, to ensure that they settle on the right solution before building and testing a prototype. 

Geoff Hoggins and his team mate Kendall Grace are looking to build a business that uses engineered and cultured biological agents to remediate environmental contaminations caused by heavy metals or oil spills for example. The team will be looking at validating the market and considering what steps they need to take to make it viable. 

Born out of Tukiri Tini’s passion for taonga Māori, and Kāmaia Takuira-Mita’s design and business administration skills, Toi Whakairo currently sells customised traditional whakairo (wood carvings) online. Wishing to expand into kākahu (clothing) and eventually moko (traditional Māori tattoos), the team will use the Bootcamp experience to validate their market before committing to their dream of opening a store in Wellington. 

“Yet again, we’ve got some amazing teams on board and we’re excited to work with them and our wonderful sponsors—Deloitte and Chapman Tripp to name only a few—to see where these ideas can progress to,” says Emily.

For more information on the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp, please visit the website or email Emily Sullivan.