We are experiencing a period of unprecedented change … Some are calling it “The Great Acceleration” or the “4th Industrial Age”.  In fact, we’ve probably experienced more change as a species in the last 35 years than the entire accumulated history of humanity and it’s getting faster. We are on an exponential curve to who knows where…  and spoiler-alert…  know-one really knows exactly what will happen next… 

Our most prophetic experts work off a linear mind-set and are regularly being proven wrong or confounded by real life events like the GFC, BREXIT or the Trump presidency as recent examples.  Each of these phenomena went completely against the prevailing predictions and it’s brought into question every component of what makes a society… financial systems, politics, law, education, medicine… try and name a pillar of society that isn’t currently or about to be disrupted in some fundamental way.  I haven’t even mentioned robots, Artificial Intelligence or the fact that we are not too far from being able to extend human life indefinitely. 

What does all of this mean for the communities that you and I are in right now? 

What will it mean for our children who are facing a future where most of the current blue collar and white collar work (as we know it now) will be replaced by automation in some way or other?   What we do know is that what got us here is simply not going to get us there. In short, we are facing some grand challenges (like climate change, food security, population growth) …and the world as we know it is about to disappear.

As Einstein so eloquently put it:

“…The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” 

We need a wholly different level of thinking…    enter the MISFITS…

There is small band of unlikely misfits that have felt a call-to-action…  a call to find out more…  a call to leave the standard narratives and pioneer new futures.   There are many names for these misfits, some are called innovators, inventors and visionaries others are called disruptors, trouble makers or crack pots.  Then there’s a special breed of misfits called Entrepreneurs… 

Like most societies New Zealand has been quietly fostering entrepreneurship…  mostly on the fringes however more recently this has grown much more mainstream.   The reality is that we need our Misfits more than ever.

Here are three reasons why we need entrepreneurship:

  1. 21st Century Gold Rush!  The Great Acceleration presents both the greatest threat and the greatest opportunity of our time. It’s not the big that eats the small anymore, it’s the fast that eat the slow.  New Zealand may be small but she can be fast if she wants to…  Entrepreneurs play a critical role in speeding our economy up and helping to make sense of the emerging exponential trends.
  2. Can the old guard actually cut it?  Most New Zealand businesses are either latent or sustaining in their innovation efforts and their boards tend to be poor reflections of the markets they operate in. I’ve often heard this described as ‘cycling downhill’.   Entrepreneurs can change this narrative…  fast!
  3. Who is better equipped to find the right future for us?   How might we find a future where humans have learned to prosper and live in harmony with each other and the planet.  We need to consciously select the future we want and this means creating the ecosystem conditions where the best ideas thrive and toxic ideas are killed.

This kind of natural selection could generate an as yet unimaginable Utopia…  I’m not saying that Utopia is guaranteed, I am saying that the odds of getting to a Utopia go up if we generate lots of options and subject them to conditions that promote the best and starve the worst.   The big recurring question for me is; what can the New Zealand Startup Community do to get stronger, better and faster?

“What can the New Zealand Startup Community do to get stronger, better and faster?”

Jane Treadwell-Hoye recently shared her story about a search for a startup tribe... Her story really resonated with me and it got me thinking about the kind of changes that need to start happening to help our burgeoning startup ecosystem reach its potential.

Value having values!!

Let's start with Values...   Highly functional groups that can routinely create astonishing results tend to have an underlying sense of purpose and a fundamental set of common values.

The Startup ecosystem in New Zealand has been maturing nicely over the past decade or so and the time seems right to begin talking about what it means to be a part of a wider movement that could literally change the economic fate of the nation in the face of unstoppable change.

Build bridges not walls

What our little nation lacks in size it can more than make up for in coherent and intelligent use of exponential methods like the Lean Startup.  The thing is, we can’t get there with an ‘I’ mentality…  Our base start-up culture needs to move towards a ‘WE’ mentality.  We'll know this is happening if inter-org collaboration is the norm as opposed to the exception... 

There’s a lot of wisdom in the old adage: “It takes a whole village to raise a child” …  It’s difficult enough getting something to scale and go global and we do ourselves a disservice when community orientated groups compete with each other.   So the question is, how might we remove the handicap of adversarial and competitive value-sets in favour of an abundance mind-set? 

Double the rate of learning

To create a network effect that joins up our existing ecosystem and gets us closer to a Complex Adaptive System, we need stronger and better functioning organisations...  The best way to do this is to speed up the collective learning cycles across the network of meet-up groups, various organisations and volunteer groups.   Startup Weekend New Zealand is due for a summit in Auckland next week and is one of the few collectives that span the entire nation and is in a unique position to be the initial connective tissue that has brought together all who feel the calling. Is this a catalyst for a wider conversation about Startup Community Values?


I think this is a conversation that needs to happen at a level above the cocktail party and mosh pits of the startup scene… a national level... a collective level.  Thing is…  there is no forum to form a collective dialogue that can connect the amazing set of community groups, economic development agencies, accelerators and investor groups… in other words, how can we connect the village that will raise the child? 

We are actively seeking to connect and move this conversation forward...  If this rambling post resonated with you then please reach out and connect...  

There's always room on the island for more misfits :-)




Have a look at our friends commenting on the same topic: #startupcommunityvalues

Jane Treadwell-Hoye: https://medium.com/@JaneTHoye/my-quest-to-find-my-startup-tribe-2c3896592d8#.tkxtnfkkk

Dan Khan: https://blog.zeropoint.ventures/towards-a-shared-operating-system-for-values-led-startup-communities-902282234cc7#.2e3zkx153

Lenz Gschwendtner: http://lnz.me/post/2017-03-03-my-journey-discovering-my-values/ 

Dave Moskovitch: https://dave.moskovitz.co.nz/2017/03/03/building-the-entrepreneurial-community-we-want-to-live-in/

Pascale Hyboud-Peron: http://venturecentre.co.nz/blog/item/183-navigating-our-future

Mike Riversdale: http://www.hackmiramar.org/april-2017-wellington-bizdojo/

Sarah Day: https://medium.com/@sarahday/gold-in-them-hills-a-supporter-view-of-a-values-driven-nz-startup-ecosystem-c6ec3b8921e8#.ma66lpixd