Four weeks in: Feeling the pressure at the R9 start-up accelerator

Tender Chat: Natalie & Catherine (Left to right)
Catherine Taylor from R9 Accelerator’s Tender Advantage team wants to enhance the success of companies doing business with the NZ Government. Here, she shares her experiences over the first four weeks of the R9 Accelerator.

We are at T-2 months to Demo Day.

This means we have just 8 weeks to focus on building a minimum viable product, testing it with the market (allowing enough time to pivot like Princess Odette in Swan Lake) and prepare our venture for Demo Day, the grand event, where we pitch to a large audience of qualified investors.

Exciting? Yes and also a tiny bit terrifying when we realise how much we have to do in so short a time.  It is a fantastic opportunity to be able to work on a problem with the support of both business and government and we want to make the most of every minute.

Our team is on a mission to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to do business with the government.  Almost $4 billion per year is spent by businesses just responding to government tenders and many businesses are put off even trying to bid because of the complexity in information and processes.  This is especially true for smaller businesses, yet 97% of NZ enterprises consist of small businesses.  

30% of the workforce works for enterprises with fewer than 20 people and these businesses are an important source of innovation and invention. They play a vital role in the NZ economy and we are all missing out on the potential economic and community benefits if they do not go after, or win, public-sector spend.  If we can grow NZ businesses and maximise returns on public sector spending, we can achieve the best result for everyone living here in NZ.

We are now 1 month in and it has been 4 intense 60-hour weeks – not including the initial week on ‘bootcamp’ to prepare us for what was to come. We have been focussed on connecting with people involved in all elements of the procurement process while gaining insight into the needs and the challenges they face.  We have also been looking at the emerging trends in this space around the world and starting to capture solution ideas, mapping them to the problems they solve.

A large part of the first month has been about making the most of all the training, coaching and access to experts that the R9 Accelerator has to offer.  We get an awesome office space in Wellington CBD, contact with instructors and advisers worldwide and a plethora of networking opportunities. This includes both peer ventures and mentors (who might be successful entrepreneurs), programme graduates, venture capitalists, angel investors, corporate executives and the powers-that-be in the public service.

I am lucky to be working with a team of great people.  Kurt is our magician developer and a master of functionality while Nat from MBIE is our super-connector, who holds relationships throughout the whole of government and is a service designer extraordinaire.  We are also lucky to have had the help of Sam when we started out. She’s our social media queen, and has a lot of contacts in this space and is fabulous at capturing the look, the feel and the cool.

We’d love to hear from you and be of help to your business or agency if we can. If you have experience with tendering and would like to be involved in a pilot, please contact us on 027 509 9052 or email us at tenderchatnz@gmail.com.

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.