Auckland based founders Hayley Fung and Nathanuel Mills created UpdateCove to give local residents increased visibility and a voice on ongoing construction works. Their all-in-one solution empowers government agencies and construction companies to engage with communities and stakeholders more effectively. They recently completed Soda's LIFT programme.

Tell us about UpdateCove...

UpdateCove is a community engagement platform that provides tools for two-way interaction between communities and those running projects, as well as feedback and sentiment analysis. Our key features include customisable project websites to share important information with the public, integrated communication tools to collect feedback and AI-powered reporting.

How did the idea for UpdateCove come about?

Nathanuel and I have a combined 16 years’ experience in construction and tech and are extremely passionate about digital transformation. Having experienced the problem we are trying to solve first-hand, I found existing engagement processes inefficient while managing projects in various roles in the industry and have constantly been privvy to public frustrations on how construction projects affect them. With these in mind, I was driven to use technology to innovate better ways of engaging with communities and tracking trends across projects.

How has Soda's LIFT programme helped grow your startup?

For a start, Soda has done an excellent job with matching us to the perfect mentor and getting him onboard. LIFT has helped us hone in on strengths and weaknesses within our founding team and focus our efforts on activities that would add the most value to our growth. Through this programme, we have developed new skills, derived greater insights into our customers and product and set long-term goals going forward. Soda has also provided additional support through their network of connections who have given us expert advice in areas we were struggling in. And of course, the financial support gave us a boost in creating a better MVP and launching it sooner.

Tell us about your mentor?

Our mentor Michael Ashcroft has given us invaluable guidance over the last few months, empowered us to think big and kept us accountable! We have learnt so much through him sharing his experiences and industry knowledge, and it was always great having someone to go to for help with key questions and overcoming major hurdles. Together we have worked on our go-to-market strategy, customer segmentation and value propositions, as well as pricing. Our mentor gave us a lot of confidence to start reaching out to potential early adopters, which has really given us a huge leap forward in accelerating our growth.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Our mentor Mike has been great with providing plenty of good advice, but the most memorable one so far has been not to wait too long to launch our product - there is no need for it to be perfect, it's much more beneficial to get it in front of users, collect feedback and iterate! Also to really put myself out there and out of my comfort zone, especially with sales; the worst someone can say is no, and regardless, you'll still learn a lot in the process.

What stage is your business at now?

We have gained our first customer, launched our MVP and started to really drive forward with our go-to-market strategy. Our graduation from the Soda LIFT programme coincides with us starting Creative HQ's Incubator, so over the next six months, we'll continue to grow and build on the groundwork we have laid with our mentor and Team Soda.