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2016 Innovation Heroes takes a bow

The Innovation Heroes Roadshow has been touring the country since the 10th, and Idealog was at last night’s Auckland event to glean some ideas, get inspired and applaud wildly, as New Zealand’s biggest innovators came together to explain how they did it.

Highlights from the night include:

Lisa King, Eat My Lunch

Eat My Lunch (a lunch delivery service that donates one school lunch to a Kiwi kid in need for every lunch a customer buys) is the kind of business that manages to impress you with the cleverness of the idea and skill of its execution, and give you the warm fuzzies at the same time.

Along with two partners, King is tackling a very real social problem – Kiwi kids going to school hungry – by providing consumers a way to easily and deliciously give back to the community.

King described the ethics of the ‘buy one/give one’ model, the importance of taking a leap of faith in business (an especially big leap considering it was an untested charitable model) and described how the company went from a zero capital, home-based business to exceeding their three year forecast in eight weeks.

“I guess you could call that inaccurate forecasting”.

Key quote: “This is a model that can work in any city in the world…where there are haves and have nots”.

Stephen Henry, Kode Biotech

Kode Biotech’s amazing anti-cancer treatment is impressive enough, but almost as impressive is Stephen Henry’s ability to describe the complex science behind the idea in a clear, concise way.

Equally lucid was his relation of his from invention-mad youngster (“I used to live for the inorganic rubbish collection – you could pick up stuff from the side of the road and build whatever you wanted”) to his time at university (never has “I eventually received a couple of doctorates” been said so blithely), to the most shocking revelation of the night – that he has fathered sixteen (read that again, sixteen) offspring. 

Henry also paid tribute to the resilience he sees as crucial to Kode Biotech’s success and entrepreneurialism in general.

Key quote: “I’m not an innovation hero; I’m an innovation survivor….The key to our success is the ability to survive – being around long enough for luck to say hello”.

Innovation Heroes, hear their story – Stephen Henry from NZ Innovation Council on Vimeo.

Dale Clareburt, Weirdly

Weirdly is an online recruitment tool built on the belief that hiring people whose values align with those of the company should be first and foremost, with skills and experience coming second.  

If that sounds like a radical idea, it is, especially the way Clareburt described it last night.

“We have to start thinking of candidates like customers,” she says, “and giving candidates control of the process”.

Clareburt used the podium to explore what innovation means to her and how that’s affected her career.

“Innovation,” she says, “is where invention meets impact”.

“It’s hard to do – really hard – but it’s also cool and addictive as well.

Key quote: “You can’t change the world in one fell swoop. It’s something you do every day”.

Toni Moyes, 8i

81 COO Toni Moyes has come a long way. Starting her career as a solicitor, policy advisor and economic analyst, a natural curiosity and willingness to ask questions paved the way for her leap, headfirst, into the thrilling world of VR technology.

After confessing she was still reeling from Henry’s paternity claims (as was the rest of the room), Moyes talked about her unusual path to innovation success and how seeking answers invariably provided her with opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have presented themselves.

“I was trying to answer a question,” she said of her early investigation into innovation and entrepreneurship. “What kind of business could make a difference to the country?”

“I was curious and I kept being curious until I got to my right time and my right place”.

Key quote: “…and yes, Ashton Kutcher is one of our investors”.

Innovation Heroes, Hear their story – Toni Moyes from NZ Innovation Council on Vimeo.

Glenn Martin, Martin Jetpack

Anyone who has spoken with Martin – or seen him speak ­– knows that he’s a charismatic and hilarious orator. He’s also an amazing advocate for doing…stuff – with some caveats. One of his favourite points is that he doesn’t ‘believe in himself’.

“I don’t believe in myself,” he says. “I believe in maths. Two plus two equals four”.

On this – that lack of self-belief – he is adamant: “A reporter once stuck a microphone in my face and said ‘Do you really believe your company is worth $800 million?’. Of course the Scotsman in me said ‘Fuck no’.”

Martin Jetpack however – both the product and the company ­– is by all accounts amazing. I addition to his outstanding achievement in getting the project off the ground, so to speak, he also claims to hold the world record as the fattest man to ever fly a jetpack.

Key quote: “Believe in maths and marry the right woman. Because when it came time to test the jetpack…Well I weigh 100 kilos”.

Innovation Heroes, hear their story – Glenn Martin from NZ Innovation Council on Vimeo.

Jonathan has been a writer longer than he cares to remember. Specialising in technology, the arts, and the grand meaning of it all, in his spare time he enjoys reading, playing guitars, and adding to an already wildly overstocked t-shirt collection.

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