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What is Startup Weekend?

Imagine you are an aspiring business person, an entrepreneur, walking into a room on a Friday night with an idea scribbled on a napkin, and walking out at the end of the weekend with a company, a team and even revenue! That’s a typical Startup Weekend. Startup Weekend works by delivering the opportunity to learn how to start a business and promoting entrepreneurship in local communities . This is an event that brings together developers, designers, marketers, product managers, startup enthusiasts and members of the community who can support them. Together they  share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups- all in a 54 hour week-end.

How does it work?

Startup Weekend begin with open-mic 60-second pitches that result in the formation of small teams around the best, most viable concepts. Teams spend Saturday and Sunday focused on customer development, validating their ideas and building prototypes with the help of experienced mentors. On Sunday, teams demo their products and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts and win valuable business start-up prizes. The real value of a Startup Weekend is the learning and getting connected. Through active participation in the act of creation participants, mentors, sponsors and judges develop deeper relationships than a typical networking event. People find potential co-founders, key partners, mentors, validate ideas and experiment with business ideas in a risk-free, fun environment. For many, it’s their first step into entrepreneurship. The Startup Weekend Community is arguably the largest network of existing and aspiring entrepreneurs in the world. They are creative, influential and driven. We are proud to bring this amazing event to Tauranga on November 7th 2014 and to be a part of this type of innovative collaboration. For the official intro about Startup Weekend see this video.

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Nov 7
  • Registration Starts
  • Dinner & Networking
  • Welcome & Speakers
  • Pitches Start
  • Attendees vote for the top ideas
  • Teams start forming and discussing ideas
  • Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Nov 8
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend
  • Lunch
  • Call for needs & skills
  • Mentors help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!
  • Dinner
  • First 5 min Pitch Practice
  • Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Nov 9
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Call for help (this is self motivated, so don’t be shy)
  • Lunch
  • Mentors arrive… ASK QUESTIONS
  • Team leaders briefing
  • Go to Art Gallery
  • Judging & awards
  • Wrapup
  • Go home!
Gold Sponsors
Silver Sponsors
Bronze Sponsors

Tina Jennen

Tina Jennen works in the startup community in Tauranga and her two primary roles include:

1. Venture Manager for Plenty of Innovation at Enterprise Angels where she helps grow angel membership and sponsorship, as well as building capability in entrepreneurs prepping for investment pitch.

2. Executive Manager for the PlusGroup of Companies at Newnham Park Innovation Centre, where she primarily supports Robotics Plus and the Research & Technical division.


Nicole Fougère

Nicole is a Kiwi by birth but she grew up traveling and living all over the world from a very young age. An avid skier, swimmer and fun-lover, Nicole came back to Auckland in 2008 and co-founded the eLearning product Litmos, which was acquired by California-based tech company Callidus Cloud (NASDAQ: CALD) in 2011. After a few years in San Francisco she is back in NZ co-founding a new venture, Revert.IO, doing cloud-to-cloud backup. Nicole looks after the blogging, marketing, branding, and social side of the business.

Peter Wren-Hilton

‘Peter is founder of Wharf42 and a co-founder of the recently Callaghan Innovation approved technology incubator, WNT Ventures.

Wharf42 has partnered with the Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, CA to establish a network of mentors and advisors to support startup and early stage ICT businesses connect with Silicon Valley. Based in Tauranga, Peter is working with startups across New Zealand to help them ‘Cross the Chasm’.

Darren McGarvie

Business Coach

Darren’s corporate career culminated with four years as Bank of New Zealand Managing Partner for the Central Plateau region. Darren successfully led this substantial business growing revenue 12% through the Global Financial Crisis (2010-12).

Darren is an ICEHOUSE Business Coach working closely with Bay of Plenty SME business owners to develop their capability transforming their personal and business lives and helping them achieve more by doing less. more...

Claire Mcgowan


Claire McGowan is an accomplished director, with experience in the venture capital and investment banking industries. She also has experience in personally building and growing companies. Claire has an MBA and PhD in Microbiology from the University of Otago and also holds various director positions with science and investment organisations. Her passion is in assisting entrepreneurs and inventors to build successful companies and provide them with opportunities in industry, network development, education and investment.

Claire Rogers

Director of Sun Media Ltd

Claire and Brian started Sun Media 14 years ago. The company has shown huge growth since its inception, including the introduction of SunLive 5 years ago, which is now the 3rd most viewed news website in NZ.
Claire has a background in marketing, and focuses on the business and marketing side of the company.

Claire says, she loves everything about their business (most days)! When not working 24/7, she enjoys growing organic vegetables, cooking, running, kayaking, and good red wine!


Clare Swallow

GM of Digital at Cucumber

Clare is currently the GM of Digital at local Digital Agency Cucumber where her days a filled with helping companies and start-up’s engage their customers online. Clare was part of the 2012 Tauranga Startup Weekend winning team and the 2013 organising committee. When Clare is not working or hanging out at Startup Weekend’s she is completing her MBA - focusing on the impact technology is having on NZ businesses, mentoring Young Enterprise teams and helping local exporters see the benefits of digital through her role on the Export BOP Executive Committee.

​Rudi Bublitz

Angel Investor & Business Mentor   |   LinkedIn

​Rudi Bublitz is an angel investor, business mentor and co-founder of the new kid on the block angel investor group, Flying Kiwis. He learned business by doing as co-founder of a UK based SAP consultancy that grew from 2 to 400+ staff in less than 10 years before it was sold in 1999. A repeat offending mentor at Startup Weekends, Innes48, Spark, Lightning LAB, and most weeks at the Angelic Drop-In. ​ ​He ​loves testing business model propositions and evolving them with enthusiastic entrepreneurs.​

Monika Levinson

Leadership Coach   |   LinkedIn

Monika Levinson is a Leadership Coach in the San Francisco Bay Area, moving to New Zealand in late 2014. She is passionate about supporting startup entrepreneurs with their teams: Identifying team compatibility, strengths and development opportunities, and facilitating their growth and cohesiveness on all fronts. She provides virtual and in-person leadership coaching from startup to Fortune 500 companies. Her first exposure to NZ was as a mentor to several of the Lightning Lab 2014 CEOs and their teams. Monika holds a PhD in Organizational Psychology.

Rab Heath

Entrepreneur, technologist and adventurer

Rab Heath is an entrepreneur, technologist and adventurer - “I guess I just really like business, computers and well, doing cool stuff…” With a background in digital marketing and as a strategist, you’ll find Rab working with GridAKL, the new tech innovation precinct being built in Wynyard Quarter, Auckland. As a Community Activation Coordinator Rab is working on new ways to increase New Zealands capability to enter specific global technology niches. Recently, Rab teamed up with Vaughan Rowsell (founder of Vend) and nanoscientist Michelle Dickinson (AKA Nanogirl) for the next big project, OMG Tech!.. an initiative to enable all Kiwi kids to get hands on learning through access to the latest and greatest technology. Driven by collaborating with amazing teams, going on crazy adventures and working on projects that fulfil his passion for technology and business, Rab champions learning through doing, taking calculated risks and following your dreams.

Sam Kidd

Has been involved in the creation and management of a number of business over the last 15 years ranging from food and retails through to the online tech space where he is a founding member with the online project management software now has been up and running for coming on 8 years and has over a million registered users worldwide.
Sam is involved with the marketing and support of users globally.

Pamela Ward


Pam is a designer by trade, with experience in UX/UI design, branding, sales, marketing, and product management. Her first startup (KidsGoMobile) went through the Lightning Lab accelerator programme in 2013. While taking a break from chasing the startup dream, Pam is designing the UX & UI for a new app being developed by leading Agritech company, ReGen. She is also running an internship programme (Summer of Tech) that helps IT & design students get work experience with NZ's most innovative companies. Pam loves helping entrepreneurs validate and refine their ideas, and she'll be pushing SW teams towards creating user-centred solutions.

Tony Snow

Tony is 1st Time mentor for startup weekend, and wishes that it was around when he set up a few ventures. Some have failed and some have been successful allowing a range of experiences to pass on. After taking some time off for family and further education, set out on a consultancy role and then finding himself directly in the IT industry and the growth/ opportunities that this offers for business and its people. more...

Julia Charity

Founder - Look After Me

Dr Julia Charity is a self-taught Entrepreneur and Founder of Look After Me - New Zealand's Homestay Network. Julia brings a rigorous Award-winning science background, robust Project Leadership and a strong track record in communications to business. Julia has built 'Look After Me' into New Zealand's fastest growing and largest Homestay Network. Actively involved in the Rotorua Entrepreneurial community (through Rotorua X), Julia is also an experienced business/creative writer and presenter. She recently won 'People's Choice' and came runner up at Rotorua's Start-up Entrepreneurs Event. Julia is encouraging participants to try Start-up weekend because it offers a real-life snap shot of what Entrepreneurship is really like. You'll be constantly thinking on your feet, pushing boundaries, exploring the uknown, tapping into connections and talent that can help your idea.

Ana Vieira
Andrew Nimick
Ben Rickard
Carolyn Feasey
Ellyn Brunskill
Elyse Wyatt
Jo Allum
Pascale Hyboud-Peron
Quentin Pidduck
Saraniyaa Sukumaar
Steven Vincent
Tim Uckun

Saasu, a very kind sponsor

by Ana Vieira

Tauranga Startup Weekend welcomes another sponsor to the event: Saasu. Saasu is a cloud-based, online accounting software to meet the needs […]

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