Venture Up: On jumping off wharves, playing ping pong and learning how to nurture the startup 'baby'

A bunch of budding entrepreneurs, most just fresh out of high school, are learning the rudimentary lessons of life on the startup speedway. Aditi Gorasia finds the first axiom: startups don’t do 9 to 5.

A lot of the Venture Up  programme attendees are participants fresh out of high school, with our methodical 9 to 3 classes. The biggest take-away from Venture Up is how we apply the skills we hone, outside course hours.

We haven’t been shy putting our new-found lessons to work outside the programme.  We saw persistence in practice, as is with the case of  is El Paleo’s (one of the companies in the Venture Up programme) who kept pestering our chef Patrick (whose surname we don't know) (shout out to Patrick who is loved by all and should continue making those brownies for dessert) until he agrees to help make chocolate for selling. ‘Homework’ could also mean spending our Saturday night at the local bar conversing with the bartender on potential flavour mixes for our “healthier energy drink”, attempting to sales pitch to inebriated groups of people over the Sevens weekend, which is what my company “illuno” did.

Not a 9 to 5 pursuit

We learn the stark reality -- that startups can never be a 9 to 5 desk job, where we only work throughout the day. Working on a startup, you’re constantly showered with opportunities to improve your existing model, and our attachment to our businesses mean that we can’t help but seize every one of these.

We have always been told to keep our personal and professional lives separate but there’s something about having your own startup that ensures you can’t.

Mike Riversdale who came to speak to us, used an apt analogy, describing our team as a baby, that needed to be nurtured and cared for and held close. As such the entire group of us spent countless hours bonding and interacting with each other, where living together makes this all the more easy.

Bonding time at Venture Up

We spent our time trash-talking over games of ping-pong or pool, building up healthy competitive attitudes that keep us motivated. We jumped off the waterfront for a swim: a challenge for a lot of us, formulating us into risk-takers. We threw ice cream at one another, because in the midst of this new adult world it’s vital that we remember how to laugh and not take group conflict too seriously.

Venture Up is filled with 30 of the most talented individuals I know. The prospect of not seeing them every day after  the programme ends is a heart-breaking notion but the networks we have made -- with potentially the country’s most successful future entrepreneurs -- are something that we will always hold dear to us, especially if one of us ever ends up making a lot of money.

As the time to our final showcase grows closer (February 18th) , our momentum is rapidly increasing in speed. So hang on for the ride and stay tuned for the rest of the ride.

This is part of a blog series about Venture Up (www.ventureup.co.nz), a business accelerator programme for 16 to 21 year olds. The writer is a 16-year old, who will be heading off to start university life. She and her team are hoping to build a business making healthy energy drink through their company illuno.