“You don’t know what you don’t know!” One of the big goals for the Kōkiri accelerator programme is to give Māori entrepreneurs access to support and resources that can help them fulfil their potential and grow their ideas and businesses.

This year Datacom has provided the programme support in the form of mentoring and expert advice, including hosting a one-day session where entrepreneurs from the Waikato region spent time presenting their business and product concepts to mentors and getting practical advice and feedback.

“Our mission is to support Māori-led start-ups that have high-growth potential to develop their business capability and wellbeing, through tailored experiential based learning, supported by mentors, coaches, and experts in a safe and culturally responsive learning environment,” says Saara Tawha, GM of Te Wananga o Aotearoa’s Innovation Development Group.

“It takes a community to raise a startup. It’s really valuable to have Datacom as part of our community, sharing their knowledge and expertise and being an enabler for our Māori entrepreneurs so they are able to prepare themselves to be part of the New Zealand startup ecosystem. It is a huge benefit to us as Kōkiri to have Datacom on that journey with us.”

The mentoring at Datacom including feedback on pitches and practical insights around MVP (minimal viable products) and the importance of product iterations and considering how a product or platform will be able to evolve and grow as demand changes.

Datacom mentors sharing their knowledge in a group
Mentors from Datacom and partners provided shared their expertise throughout the day.

“The breadth of talent on display was incredible and there are some very strong businesses in the group with significant potential. It is a privilege to play a part in helping test and strengthen some of the ideas and hopefully accelerate the pathway for these entrepreneurs and their companies,” says Datacom’s Diana Kirkland, from the Transformational Engagements team.

Companies taking part in the Kōkiri mentoring day included an indigenous learning design and strategy company, the Culture and Design Lab, an accessible tech-driven mental health support company MyMeca, specialist GPS tracker company Hiwa Systems, and Urutapu – a company committed to providing sustainable and culturally appropriate funeral services that preserve and revitalise cultural traditions around funeral practices.

Urutapu co-founder Erana Roa said the session helped create a pathway which made “understanding and knowing what our pitch is a lot easier to deliver”.

Erana Roa and Pania Roa presenting
Erana Roa and Pania Roa founded Urutapu Funeral Services as a way of honouring traditions and respecting the environment.

Overall, Saara Tawha says the day was invaluable for preparing the businesses for the next stage of their journey.

“What I really noticed was the creation of new focus – being able to use the feedback from the Datacom team to focus people’s thinking, to identify the next task of the rank enables us to move forward faster, which is huge."

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