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Meet the judges for NZ Startup Bootcamp 2019

March 16, 2019

 

This year’s judging panel for NZ Startup Bootcamp is absolutely stellar! With pros from four very different corners of the business world: Dame Julie Christie, technology entrepreneur Vaughan Fergusson, eco-man Malcolm Rands, and Idealog’s busy editor Elly Strang.

 

We asked them the same three questions so you can get to know them a bit better.

 

Read more to learn about how Vaughan’s mums big bet during his childhood paid off, how Elly scored a last-minute interview with Titanic director James Cameron, what instrument Malcolm used to play in a Glam Rock band and what Dame Julie regrets.

 

Vaughan Fergusson:

 

Vaughan Fergusson is the founder of Vend, a New Zealand high-growth tech success story, and founder of The Pam Fergusson Charitable Trust who run initiatives like OMGTech!, Mana Tangata and Voluntari.ly to help teach innovation and technology to kids of all ages and backgrounds.

 

He was EY's Tech Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014, a judge for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year programme and is the vice-chair of the NZ Hi-Tech Trust celebrating the NZ hi-tech industry through awards and education.

 

What got you into your line of work and how did you end up where you are?

 

My mum bought me, and my brothers, computers when we were kids in the 80’s. We always grew up with computers and so became curious about how to make them do magical things. What was remarkable was that our mum was a solo, unemployed mother of three, and in a wheelchair, and at the time a computer would have cost the same as a new car, and no one had them at home. She took a big bet.

 

What are you looking forward to getting out of the NZ Startup Bootcamp?

 

I like finding out who the upcoming entrepreneurs are, seeing big ideas and as a judge it’s a great way to make friends with the happy winners and many new enemies with everyone else who didn’t ;-)

 

Tell me something not everyone knows about you? (funny, inspiring, uplifting etc)

 

Every year I do a crazy challenge like running 1,000km, getting a paid singing gig, or riding a bike around the world.

 

Elly Strang:

 

Elly Strang is the editor of Idealog, an award-winning business media brand that goes out to the tech, design and innovation communities within New Zealand.

 

She has an expanded knowledge of New Zealand’s design, tech and start-up sectors and has written more than 500 stories on New Zealand businesses and entrepreneurs in her time at Idealog, including working closely with start-ups on pitching their stories through a video series called Elevator Pitch.

 

Elly won Best Journalist in the Industry/Trade category at the 2017 Magazine Media Awards and was also named a Rising Star finalist.

 

What got you into your line of work and how did you end up where you are?

 

I loved writing stories from the moment I could hold a pencil. Looking back on the stories about princesses and dogs I used to scribble down as a five-year-old, they have gotten decidedly better over time thanks to a bit of formal training. Idealog was the first publication I interned at while at University for my magazine journalism paper. After being shipped out to regional newspapers and covering many a dull council stoush, it felt like a breath of fresh air talking to entrepreneurs and creatives about ideas that might change New Zealand, and even the world. I did a stint working at another business title before coming full circle in 2017 to rejoin Idealog, and I stepped up formally as editor in 2018.

 

What are you looking forward to getting out of the NZ Startup Bootcamp?

 

I’m excited to meet the people behind the start-ups and hear their brilliant ideas. The humans behind the business ideas and the motivations and inspirations that led them to forming them is always one of the most interesting parts of the business journey for me.

 

Tell me something not everyone knows about you? (funny, inspiring, uplifting etc)

 

Last year, I was over in Sydney for the Vivid festival and got a surprise call up to interview James Cameron (Avatar and Titanic’s director) but the catch was I had 30 minutes to prepare my questions on deep-sea technology (his other area of passion besides filmmaking) and get to the theatre where he was about to speak at a sold-out show. It was nerve-wracking to say the least, but we had a great chat, and he was surprisingly down to earth for a guy worth US$700 million – apart from when he told me he didn’t need to worry about traffic when going into work on Avatar 2 at Weta in Wellington because his helicopter flew him in and out each day. This was the story that resulted from that.

 

Malcolm Rands:

 

Malcolm is a true eco champion, having founded New Zealand’s first permaculture ecovillage in 1986 with his wife Melanie.

 

He built a track record in the not-for-profit sector before co-founding ecostore and its not-for-profit arm Fairground Foundation in 1993 as one of the Worlds first Social Enterprises.

 

He’s been honoured with the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment’s Green Ribbon Award twice, the New Zealand Order of Merit, and ecostore has twice been named New Zealand Sustainable Business of the Year.

 

What got you into your line of work and how did you end up where you are?

 

I was working in the Community Arts sector and living in a permaculture eco village, I decided to see if I could invent a new way of funding projects I believed in whilst also proving it is possible to create a successful ethical business selling real goods at an affordable price. ecostore is now around the world and I now help run the Fairground Foundation.

 

What are you looking forward to getting out of the NZ Startup Bootcamp?

 

I enjoy the energy of new start-ups and like to help where I can.

 

Tell me something not everyone knows about you? (funny, inspiring, uplifting etc)

 

My first job was dropping out of engineering school and going full time in a Glam Rock band (think early Bowie) in the early seventies. I played keyboards and sang.

 

Dame Julie Christie:

 

Dame Julie has extensive governance and industry experience in media, business development, hospitality and sport.

 

After 25 years leading an international television production company, Dame Julie served on the Boards of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise including chairing the international grants fund, Rugby World Cup 2011 and Mediaworks.

 

She is currently on the Board of Tourism West Coast, a Trustee of Development West Coast, is on the Steering Group for New Zealand's participation at the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, as well as chairing the Board of the Ngāi Tahu Tourism-New Zealand rugby joint venture, The All Blacks Experience.

 

What got you into your line of work and how did you end up where you are?

 

When I was 27, I was a newspaper journalist who was made redundant when the paper closed down. I couldn’t get a newspaper job so I took a two-week contract as an assistant on a corporate video production. The lights literally came on! TV was for me and the rest is history.

 

What are you looking forward to getting out of the NZ Startup Bootcamp?

 

I’d love to see companies looking to start a business in New Zealand, not a New Zealand business. Think global from day one, I say.

 

Tell me something not everyone knows about you? (funny, inspiring, uplifting etc)

 

My regret is that we did not change our flag when we had the chance. It was our opportunity to come out of the shadow of Australia at a time when we, as a country, were going ahead in leaps and bounds internationally. We had our chance to no longer be mixed up with Australia. We blew it.

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