Migrant-focused app put under the microscope at R9 accelerator

Photo by Creative HQ
Andrew Bailey, whose venture MiBiz wants to make it easier for new migrants to succeed in business in New Zealand, shares his experiences over the first three weeks of the Accelerator…

Week 1 was billed as ‘Bootcamp’ and, after grabbing a table to settle our team at for the next three months, making the all-important connections to WiFi and printers, and generally orientating ourselves at Creative HQ, we had a steady stream of workshops to get to grips with lean start-up and some of the other methodologies we’ll be using.

Velox Innovation covered innovation fundamentals and the importance of having fast learning loops, especially in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) situations. Boost Agile took us through the basics of agile development. Glenn and Nick from Creative HQ took us through what investors look for and lean start up respectively.

There are lots of tools and thinking out there that have been developed for the start-up environment and for our team of three it’s been about trying to take all of that – plus what’s worked for each of us in our previous work environments – and figure out what will help us as a new team. A few initial takeaways:

  • We’ll be using Kanban boards to visualise our work, with weekly prioritisation and retrospectives and daily stand-ups to keep us on track and focusing on what matters.
  • We want to challenge ourselves to uncover our biggest or riskiest assumptions and test them as soon as possible. Getting the ‘build-measure-learn’ cycle kicked off as soon as possible helps with that.
  • We’ve adopted a bit of a team mantra around “focus, speed, follow-through.”

In the two weeks since bootcamp (and during it!) we’ve been busy connecting with people who are immersed in the world of new migrant business – stakeholders, government agencies and business owners– to understand their experience and challenges. Each phone call or meeting opens up another constellation of interested parties, so there’s a ton to do!


Image: Creative HQ

One person we met is Abdurahman. He was born in Somalia and lived in a refugee camp from the age of four until he moved to New Zealand at 19. He studied and completed a Bachelor of Business Studies at Massey University but couldn’t find a job when he graduated, so decided to start selling his famous hot sauce – Jonnie from MiBiz met him selling it at the market next to Te Papa in Wellington. Abdurahman has managed to get his ‘Barkhad’s Hot Sauce’ into one New World supermarket but has found it a struggle to get the funding he needs to scale up his business. 

Image: via www.barkhad.nz

New Zealand is one of the most diverse countries in the world – 1 in 4 people here were born overseas, compared to the OECD average of 1 in 10. When people like Abdurahman can be successful we all win. Unfortunately, currently businesses run by migrants face challenges that mean they are less likely to succeed than businesses run by people born here.

To help address this we need your help – please get in contact with us if you, friends or family are running a business and have come to the country in the last five years or so. We’d love to hear and learn from your experiences.

The R9 Accelerator, a Better for Business initiative delivered by Creative HQ, brings together a mix of public and private sector people to work on opportunities to make it easier for businesses to interact with government.