ThincLab Sprint Teams

Part 1 of a 2 part series looking at how to build a high performing startup team by ThincLab advisor Eduard Liebenberger.

Entrepreneurs are some of the most driven people on the planet, but they all started from the same point: with a passion for their product and not knowing if their big idea would be a huge win or lead them straight back to the drawing board. Much has been written about startup success and what the most important elements are. Timing, market, value proposition, access to and amount of capital, and connections are all crucial. …


Image Credit: Renea Mackie

The pandemic induced global economic speed wobble of 2020 raised awareness that economies remain fragile since the global financial crisis. Furthermore it becomes increasingly more apparent by the day that we must urgently shift to more sustainable and environmentally sound forms of economic development if we are to survive as a species. As a nation in the spotlight right now, New Zealand has an opportunity to lead with change. But we need a vehicle to drive this process and we must shift the mindset of the nation towards environmental entrepreneurship.

Institutional leaders such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) and…


Image Credit Jeff Foust Creative Commons BY 2.0

Sir Richard Branson. Astronaut. The words of former International Space Station commander Chris Hadfield, as he pinned astronaut wings on the eccentric billionaire’s lapel today. Branson, ever the showman, was reveling with the crew of SpaceShipTwo, having returned safely to Earth after a brief sub-orbital journey to the edge of space. The occasion represented the culmination of 17 years of toil by commercial spaceflight company Virgin Galactic in its quest to offer the experience of a lifetime to paying customers.

Branson founded the company in 2004, working closely with well known aeronautical engineer Burt Rutan in pursuing the goal of…


Image credit: P. Spence

Paul Spence is a business advisor and programme presenter with ThincLab at the University of Canterbury Business School.

What do an image stylist and a home handyman have in common? The answer is that they were both among a group of diverse and highly motivated Work and Income clients looking to improve their situation by setting up in business for the first time. Start Me Up is a pilot programme sponsored by ChristchurchNZ and Ministry of Social Development aimed at supporting their ambitions.

The driver for Start Me Up lay in the sharp jump in unemployment rate after the 2020…


Kaitōrete Spit Farm. Image Credit: P. Spence

The recent announcement of a government backed joint venture to develop an aerospace centre at Kaitōrete Spit is significant on many levels. Not the least of which is that the project wisely takes a stewardship approach in conjunction with local Māori. But in order to fully realise this exciting opportunity, we need to redouble our efforts in building a pipeline of talent, whilst encouraging a diverse range of supporting technology ventures across the engineering, software and design sectors.

Kaitōrete Spit was actually the original choice by RocketLab for its New Zealand launch site back in 2015. But delays in resource…


You see big companies do it all the time, particularly in the tech sphere. They continue to evolve, testing new products and new markets, attempting to spread their tentacles far and wide with new and exciting ideas. In today’s fast-changing marketplace, constantly churning out and acting on business ideas is becoming critical to business success. Gone are the days when you could find a comfortable spot, and stick faithfully to it.

However the consequences of not validating your business, product or market idea could be enormous. Indeed, it could spell the end of your business altogether, by leading you to…


FFA Challenge finalists and programme facilitators
FFA Challenge finalists and programme facilitators

Last week saw the culmination of an eight week accelerator journey for our Food, Fibre and Agritech Supernode Challenge participants. The programme was designed and supervised by Dr Rachel Wright at University of Canterbury Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE) and was co-presented by ThincLab advisors Paul Spence, Geoff Brash and Neil Hamilton with the support of facilitator Michelle Polglase and back office crews from UCE and B.Linc.

The grand finale offered up a diverse selection of early stage companies with an amazing array of skills and technologies. …


New Zealand Growth Capital Partners analysts Maria Jose (MJ) Alvarez and Byron van Vugt dropped by ThincLab during a flying visit to Christchurch. The pair have been out and about meeting early stage founders and talking about their role within the innovation ecosystem as seed co-investors.

They are part of the young and talented team that form the new face of the government backed fund that was previously known as NZVIF. Growth Capital Partners operates the Elevate venture fund and the Aspire seed co-investment fund. Elevate is a $300M funder of funds that reinvests into other venture capital funds across…


Jonathan Ring and Dr Aaron Marshall

“Where there’s muck, there’s brass”. So the saying goes. But in the case of University of Canterbury technology startup Zincovery it’s more a case of, wherever there’s horrid industrial waste there’s zinc. So when chemistry student Jonathan Ring and his Masters supervisor Dr Aaron Marshall discovered just how much of that waste was going down the drain and leaching into the environment, they decided to do something about it.

With environmental stewardship becoming an increasingly hot topic and local manufacturers queuing up seeking help, the chemistry whizzes dreamed up a prototype to test drive processing collected waste. With the support…


In late 2019 Sam Yu found himself in the executive suite of a well known global airline pitching Karen Walker designed wool-filter face masks to a senior manager, with the goal of convincing the airline to include a mask in every business traveller’s goodie bag. The management team appeared a bit sceptical and ultimately passed on the opportunity. Nobody could have imagined that in just a few short months, almost the entire fleet would be grounded as a global pandemic took hold and that masks would become essential pieces of kit for everyone.

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