Once a month we have a group of "friendly dragons" (aka Team Soda) that come together to hear pitches from startups and review the progress being made of those in Soda startup programmes.

The newest addition to Team Soda is Trina Pohatu-McQueen. Get to know her more below.

I have been a working professional since the age of 15. I didn’t finish high school, I don’t have a degree but that hasn’t stopped me from creating a pretty amazing career that spans over 15 years, across public, private and Iwi sectors. I’ve run successful teams and offices, delivered projects that have impacted communities and worked for some incredible organisations like Ministry of Health, Sport NZ and Department of the Attorney General (in Perth) before moving into Iwi organisations (Ngati Ranginui, Tamanuhiri Tutu Poroporo Trust and now Waikato-Tainui). My focus is now on empowering our people through business in my role as Whanake Advisor at Waikato-Tainui.

What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about empowering people to see their own potential, embracing their talents and showing them off to the world!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Left my life in NZ at 21 and moved to Perth with no real plan on what I’d do, when I got there!

Choose a movie title that best describes the story of your life?

I honestly can’t think of one, my life has been an incredible and unique story so far. Maybe I’ll make my own one day.

What is the professional achievement you are most proud of?

There are so many – setting up a residential home for our young people, going through Oranga Tamariki to have a safe interim space to live, establishing a business start-up fund, helping businesses to get large contracts and getting to where I am in my career.

Where are you looking to head in the future?

I want to help build successful businesses whether they are mine, or whether I support other people to build them. I want to create the ultimate work-life balance, that allows me to do what I love for a career and still have lots of time to be a great Mum and Wife. I also want to support other women to have the same.

What, or who are you a “closet” fan of?

Beyonce! Not just because she’s an incredible entertainer, but she is also a savvy businesswoman who has generated intergenerational wealth, which is one of my biggest drivers.

Who has inspired you most or influenced where you have ended up now?

My ancestors are always top of mind for me. I remember what they had to go through and what they accomplished – they’re a constant source of inspiration for me.

Which four people, living or dead, would you most like to eat dinner with? What kind of dinner party would it be?

My Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather, my Grandfather and our ancestor Tamanuhiri. We could sit around our Marae and talk about their past and what their aspirations were for their descendants and get their perspective on the world as it is today.

A piece of advice you would give your younger self.

You don’t have to know everything about something to give it a go! The quicker you can fail at something the quicker you can succeed at it. It’s unheard of to get something perfect the first time you do it, the only way to get good at something is to continuously try it and improve.

If you have an idea for a startup and want to pitch to our friendly dragon’s den, click here to find out how.