Startup Weekend gets serious about social enterprise and education

We all want to make the world a better place, but the 120 or so entrepreneurs gathering in Auckland next month for Startup Weekend are more serious than most.

“All business should be able to do good in the world,” says Laura Kerrison, marketing lead for Startup Weekend Auckland. With the record amount of technology systems out there for problem solvers to leverage in this modern world, Startup Weekend believes it’s time to start solving problems and managing the future.

The global movement with 45,000 members is back in Auckland next month, for a weekend of filtering through the best businesses ideas on the block. For the first time since the event’s inception five years ago, Startup Weekend will narrow in on two key focus areas – education and social enterprise – in a move that signals the importance of using business to solve key issues facing society today.

“Startup Weekend isn't just about creating startups, it's about empowering our community to have the skills, tools and attitude to create a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem within Auckland,” said Startup Weekend global facilitator Rowan Yeoman.

At the second and final 54 hour event for this year, developers, designers, marketers, managers and entrepreneurs alike will be encouraged to share their ideas for businesses that make real, positive impacts.

Education will be considered in the broadest sense to identify better systems of learning in the school of life.

“By connecting sectors, disciplines and diverse groups of people, we will develop insights into the many different needs, fears and aspirations for education,” says Kerrison. “We also want to challenge our attendees to consider what education for the future might mean; if the jobs today no longer exist, how do we adapt and learn for the changing landscape? As transportation, cities and lifestyles change, what does that mean for education?”

For social enterprise, the event will centre around using business to unlock creative, impact-driven processes for approaching problems. For Startup Weekend social enterprise is defined as “an impact driven mission which uses businesses to fulfill that mission". For this reason, attendees create an impact model, which is supported by a business model.

These attendees may show up with a problem they want to solve, or an idea they already have. And throughout the weekend they will go through a validating process, which typically changes or expands their mission. There will be up to 20 mentors at the ready to help, with an expert in education and social enterprise each, who are still to be confirmed.

"The impact extends far beyond the weekend – their ideas can make a tangible difference and benefit communities here in Auckland and all around the globe,” says Kerrison. A previous success story from Startup Weekend in Wellington, is Kendall Flutey of Banqer, who validated her a financial literacy tool for children now backed by Kiwibank, and was interviewed by Idealog here.

Participants become part of the Startup Weekend alumni community and are promised lifelong friendships and network connections. Attendees “walk away with a co-founder or employee in areas that are hard to tap into otherwise,” says Kerrison. And awards are given out with practical prizes including mentor sessions and workshops. 

Previous Startup Weekend judge and the founder of Vend Vaughan Rowsell said the event is “seriously awesome".

“New Zealand has so much untapped potential in the tech space, Startup Weekend taps that potential and boy do the floodgates open,” he says. 

Startup Weekend Auckland is held 18-20 November, 2016 at Massey University’s Albany Campus. At $99 per person, tickets are available at Eventbrite.

Watch what went down at the May Startup Weekend: