Rowan Yeoman, Mentor

I’ve invested and worked in startups in NZ and the US over the last ten years. I was part of the team that helped Alan Froggatt, the Climate-X project lead, establish Startup Weekend in New Zealand, and more recently, I’ve been involved in social enterprise. I’m a senior consultant with ākina, and we work with social enterprises across New Zealand. Also, in partnership with ākina, I’m creating a new process for funding and supporting social enterprise using the Social Lean Canvas.

If we use the old tools, we’ll get the same results

I’m interested in how we can use the power of business models and impact models to solve big problems. More specifically, how groups of people can come together and use those tools to solve big, complex problems. We need that level of thinking now more than ever. Climate change has become a huge problem precisely because humans have failed to come together in the past to solve the problem.

Magic happens when people are put under pressure

The value of this pressure cooker environment which we’ve tested across 50 startup weekends across NZ, is that magic happens when people are put under pressure around a purpose. There are challenges and tough moments along the way, but what is really valuable is people can take the lessons they’ve learned and apply the skills and tools in their lives.

There’s a rhythm about a mentoring role at an event like this. At the start, it’s about asking difficult questions and giving the team space to process those questions and learn as they go. Over time, you become more prescriptive and supportive. I spend a lot of time helping the team work through the models. I try and make sure they are all on the same page and help facilitate the group process.

I’m excited about the ideas that will spread out from here after the event

The ideas are a by-product of the learning that will happen. Ultimately, I’m hoping the people involved in this first event will be so inspired that it will lead to another event and another event and another. It’s a numbers game to some extent. Doing one event is great, but doing events across the country in different organisations will help build the scale we need to come up with the solutions we need.

Rowan Yeoman

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