In 2014 and 2015, Ākina worked with Contact Energy and the Department of Internal Affairs to offer its first Launchpad, a programme to get social enterprise ideas off the ground.
Over six months from October 2014 to March 2015, 11 teams with big ideas worked intensely with the support of mentors, developing, testing and getting their ventures ready for investment and funding. This culminated with the Launchpad Pitch Day on 31 March 2015 where the 11 teams delivered presentations to more than 300 potential partners, supporters, funders and investors.
The teams were from Kaikohe in the north to Queenstown in the south, working on enterprises at different stages of development, with a variety of objectives and challenges to explore during the programme. Team members were a mixture of students, recent graduates, professionals setting up joint ventures between existing organisations, and people who are developing start-ups in their own time, while working.
The programme was designed to work around the teams, so most of the work happened where teams were based, in their own time. There were monthly stages known as ‘sprints’. Each sprint was initiated with a two-day workshop, with teams developing their ideas according to the objectives that had been set for the six months.
The teams gained from:
- A powerful and supportive learning environment – provided by a close-knit group of teams supporting and inspiring each other
- A structured development pathway with clear timeframes and milestones
- Learning how to use business innovation processes to build sustainable and successful business models
- Support and guidance from a dedicated team of handpicked professionals and social enterprise experts
- Access to a network of world-class mentors from all sectors across the country
- A pathway to future funding – opportunities to engage with a broad range of external funding partners (to secure grants, loans, equity, hybrid arrangements etc as required)
- The potential for ongoing coaching and support from Ākina after the programme has concluded.
Each of the Launchpad teams were mentored and coached by a dedicated support team, led by a staff member from Contact Energy, and guided by one of our venture managers. In addition to their support, we recruited people from a variety of professional backgrounds to join these support teams, including our partners KPMG and Vodafone, AUT MBA graduates and other professionals who provided practical support throughout the programme.
If you’re interested in getting involved as a support team member in the future, drop us a line.
Funders and Investors
Ākina ran a competitive process to recruit the teams for the Launchpad programme, receiving 134 applications. We took 65 teams through warm-up workshops around the country, then conducted two rounds of interviews with 15 shortlisted teams to select the 11 final teams.
The result is a cohort of social enterprises with clear purpose, validated business ideas, business plans and investment or funding propositions to deliver on their mission. Where appropriate, Ākina is also providing ongoing support for the teams after the programme.
If you are currently funding organisations focused on social change or are interested in new opportunities for impact investing, we’d love to hear from you.