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BizDojo launches Founders Central, aimed at filling gaps in support for entrepreneurs

Co-working and collaboration operator BizDojo is expanding on its mission to grow the New Zealand founder community through the launch of an initiative called Founders Central. Now, it’s put out a call for the private sector to get behind it too.

BizDojo co-founder Jonah Merchant says over the years of observing startups and entrepreneurs’ journeys into business, he’d noticed gaps in support.

To get some actual data on this, Merchant and BizDojo co-founder Nick Shrewring quizzed contacts in the entrepreneurial community on issues related to founding a company.

They found that 37 percent of entrepreneurs wanted more appropriate resources, 20 percent called for increased openness and 12 percent of those surveyed said that it was confusing navigating the current landscape.

“We are keen to do something about that, but we are not interested in shuffling the deck-chairs,” Merchant says. “We want Founders Central to be truly helpful to our founders community and complementary to the other great things happening now across the New Zealand ecosystem.”

Founders Central will provide education and mentoring around investment and business makeup with BizDojo investors-in-residence, Greg Sitters and Ken Erskine.

Merchant says Founders Central will be collecting data from founders, experimenting with solutions, looking at the results and then repeating the process.

“We are applying a founder logic to the very solutions being crafted,” he says.

Shewring says the overall aim for Founders Central is to empower founders and support them with an innovation ecosystem.

 “As New Zealand’s only national coworking provider, we see BizDojo playing a key role in achieving this,” Shewring says. “BizDojo is a place where founders come for support, guidance, connections and advice to help them and their businesses thrive.”

The government recently announced its support for fostering entrepreneurship and innovation in its 2017 budget, with $372 million towards a more innovative New Zealand through the Endeavour Research Fund, R&D at Callaghan Innovation, tertiary subsidies and university research funds.

But Founders Central wants to rally the private sector to also get behind entrepreneurship, via helping fund its initiative.

Shewring says it’s providing a way for founders to get through the stresses of entrepreneurship and creativity and emerge out the other side with a successful business.

“We know the need is there, but we cannot do this alone, so we are calling on the ecosystem to help us,” he says. “With time we can get programmes running on our own dime, and we are committed to doing that - but a collaborative approach will mean faster deployment which will be better for everyone.

“Our wish for Founders Central is that it will help founders on their journey and ensure they achieve the vision they’ve set for themselves.”

The initiative launched this week, with more programmes to be deployed and announcements to be made over the coming weeks.

Enquiries of interest for the initiative can be made at the Founders Central website.