Taking The Leap: Robett Hollis adds fuel to his entrepreneurship ecosystem

A new event coming to Auckland is promising to be not just a single day of networking, but the launch of an entire entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Networking. It’s one of those multi-syllabic words some of us love, but others abhor. But let’s be frank: it’s an important way not just to navigate the often-choppy waters of the business world, but simply to prevent oneself from simply sinking.

That’s where The Leap comes in. The New Zealand entrepreneur’s festival will be having its debut event on Friday, 11 November at Auckland’s Q Theatre.

The brainchild of Robett Hollis, an ex-professional national champion snowboarder who at one point was ranked second in the world who now runs Aranui Ventures (which owns several interests including Frontside, one of Aotearoa’s leading content agencies with clients including Skycity, NZ Basketball, Veuve Cliquot and Heineken) and created ColabNZ (a large network of creative shared workspaces) and founded the NZ Entrepreneurs Conference – among many, many other things he’s done – the event will feature more than 20 speakers from an incredibly diverse array of disciplines.

“It’s happened so organically,” explains Hollis of the process of putting the event together. “We didn’t even have a website. This is purely a starting point for what it’s going to become. My intention is very pure. It’s not only about getting inspiration, but connection with peers. I think good things happen when like-minded people get together.”

Among the speakers will be Alejandro Davila (New Zealand’s first VR movie maker), Rachel Ji (a 16-year serial entrepreneur featured on the Huffington Post), sporting hero Tawera Nikau, longtime business journo Andrew Patterson, angel investor Rudi Bublitz, e-commerce multimillionaire Iyia Liu, Rhythm and Vines founder Hamish Pinkham, and Haka Tours’ Ryan Sanders. Hollis also adds that Heineken will be served at the event by a robot named Baxter, provided by Callaghan Innovation.


Although they come from different fields, Hollis says the speakers are all connected by their passion and willingness to take risks. “People just want to connect with others,” Hollis explains. “It takes a different mindset to be brave enough to just jump and go.”

The speakers also reflect the importance of diversity in networks, says Hollis. “With entrepreneurship it’s about diversity of thinking. You can’t just stay in one lane [in the business world]. Otherwise you’ll get stuck.”

And Hollis isn’t shying away from proclaiming he thinks the event will be the start of something much bigger. The Leap will coincide with the launch of, an online entrepreneurial platform. And Hollis also says he will be announcing a “big project” at the event itself. “Everything I do is driven by passion,” he says. “I think this will become the biggest platform for entrepreneurs online and on the ground in New Zealand.”

The Leap kicks off beginning at 10am on Friday, 11 November. Tickets can be purchased here:

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