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Universal College of Learning

I've Never Been to Startup Weekend.  What's It All About?

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 400 past events in 100 countries around the world in 2011.

The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups. If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, register now for the best weekend of your life!



Sep 12
  • Registration & Networking
  • Dinner Time
  • Welcome to #swpalmy
  • Fire Pitches Start
  • Attendees vote for the top ideas
  • Teams start forming and discussing ideas
  • Home to sleep!


Sep 13
  • Doors Open, Coffee - Yum!
  • Brekky & Coffee (mmm, coffee!)
  • Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend
  • Lunch
  • Call for needs & skills
  • Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!
  • 1 minute updates
  • Dinner
  • Practice Pitches
  • Home to sleep!


Sep 14
  • Doors Open
  • Breakfast & Caffeine Time
  • Practice pitches round two
  • Lunch
  • Practice pitches round three
  • Dinner
  • Awards
  • Home Time!
National Sponsors
Fuelled in Palmy by

Conrad Wilkshire

General Manager, Advice & Insurance, FMG

I have strong links with both the farming and financial services sectors'. More latterly my focus has been with FMG as we set about building on the Mutual's positioning as New Zealand's leading rural insurer. Prior to this I have farmed on my own account and had 20+ years in the banking sector including two years offshore. It all started with an opportunity to take up a farm cadetship on Smedley Station located in Central Hawkes Bay and a corresponding scholarship to go to Massey University in 1985 (B.Ag & Dip Bus Studies - Valuation).

I have a philosophy that great teams can achieve great things. While I have gained a lot of insight from my experience outside of the primary sector, I'd highlight my strongest business achievements as giving the rural sector a much stronger voice and purpose through the businesses I have been associated with.

Annette Main

Mayor, Whanganui

Annette is currently in her second term as Mayor, having previously served on the Manawatu Whanganui Regional Council for twelve years.

Her background is primarily in tourism and she is currently the owner of a rural accommodation business and a small urban food manufacturing enterprise specialising in growing the value of local products.
She is a strong advocate for enabling those with innovative business ideas to bring these to fruition, providing advice from her own experience and support from the existing business community.

Tracy Thompson

CEO, Polybatics   |   Google+

Tracy is an expat US citizen who has worked in senior capacities for seven start-ups including LifeScan (Johnson and Johnson), BioTrak (Roche) and Cholestech (NASDAQ: CTEC) recently acquired by Inverness Medical. In addition to his start-up experience, he held senior management positions in the merger and acquisition business of the $1.7 billion life sciences division of Agilent Technologies (formerly part of Hewlett-Packard) and GeneChip manufacturer, Affymetrix.

Nikki Maw

Director of Strategic Development, UCOL

Nikki Maw is the Director of Strategic Development at UCOL, currently focused on quality teaching initiatives and improving educational outcomes for Maori students. Previously she has held roles project managing for the New Zealand Teachers Council and as an Evaluator on a number of national policies and programmes. As an Educational Researcher she has worked at Massey University and the Institute of Education, University of London. She is a member of the Palmerston North Youth Sector Network Steering Group and leads the Educational, Training and Employment subcommittee for Palmerston North. Her current interests include gamestorming and serious play.

Andy Lowe

CEO, Te Manawa

Andy has 20 years working in museums, beginning at Te Papa in 1994. Andy started his career as a casual model maker and exhibition installer and went on to become Project Coordinator for Models and Forms working towards the new museum. He spent 14 years at MONZ/Te Papa in exhibition development, exhibition management and developing touring exhibitions to travel overseas including Body Odyssey and Whales- Tohora.

This experience took Andy to the Waikato Museum in Hamilton where he worked as an Exhibitions Manager for 4 years and then as acting CEO for 6 months.

In 2012, Any took on the role of CEO at Te Manawa, developing Te Manawa under the concept of Museum without Boundaries - opening up the museum to all in a relevant, contemporary and edgy way.

His qualifications include - Automotive Engineering, The Arts- French, Te Reo Maori and creative writing. He has strong interest in kaupapa Maori, languages, history, science, technology and the arts. Andy’s an artist interested in scale - big or small. He worked as puppeteer for adverts and on Brain Dead - one of Peter Jacksons not so famous early movies!

Local Supporters

Gareth Lawrence

Founder, MediaSculpt

Managing director and founder of MediaSculpt - who have provided software development services to US based corporate clients in the financial services sector for over 12 years

Rachel Hoskin

Head of School, Photography, Arts and Design, UCOL

Rachel has worked as a creative in the advertising world and has been lecturing graphic design for 11 years. She is now managing the Photography, Arts and Design school at UCOL and is passionate about exploring new ideas and helping develop people within their fields.

Craig Colman

Director, Colman Creative

Craig comes from a Graphic Design background with extensive experience in Branding, Graphic Design, Printing and Website Design, having worked for an established Graphic Design Business. It was a drive towards producing exceptional results that led Craig to establish Colman Designs Limited as his own Graphic Design Company specializing in Branding.

Melvin Narayan

Financial Controller, Mediasculpt Ltd

Melvin has worked at Mediasculpt Ltd, for the past 6 years and acting as a Financial Analyst to MediaSculpt's key stakeholder Rapid Ratings International Inc for the past 8 years on a daily basis to provide and improve the quality of the products and services being delivered. Also assisting in Integration and Acceptance Testing, supporting the development of training and implementation material, participation in the implementation, and providing post-implementation support. Melvin is also an Associate Chartered Accountant

Andy Whitson

Account Manager.

Andy works at Colman Creative and is the man to help take your idea to the next level, and get you thinking 'outside the box'.

Jane Donaldson

Technology Transfer Advisor

Jane is a trained accountant who has worked for the big guys in London and SMEs in New Zealand. All that experience gives her a good understanding of how business operates. She snifs out research that has business potential.

Stuart Edmunds

Stuart is involved in a number of startups focussed on addressing the skills gap in industry. Additionally he recently founded the New Zealand Institute of Sales. This is the only national, cross-industry professional organisation dedicated to elevating the sales profession in New Zealand through professional development, peer networking and industry awards among members who support, work-in and lead sales organisations.

Sue McMaster

ANZ Business Banker

currently working for ANZ in Business Banking, lending to Businesses ranging from startup's to the long established. Previously worked for 'not for profit' organisations with key responsibilities around finance and external relationships. Other experience includes management of swimming pool complexes and gyms, Café/Deli, accountancy. Spare time is spent training and coaching Ironman Athletes to achieve their goals.

Kim Ross

Multidisciplinary Designer

Kim specializes in Service and Social Design Thinking to enrich an experience or service. Human centred design delivered with clean Graphic Design skills.

Mark Hargreaves

Regional Business Manager (Acting) Vision Manwatu

As a business generalist I enjoy the challenge of improving operational effectiveness, in areas of operations, structure , performance management, marketing /sales tactics and strategy. I enjoy the challenge of implementing change and challenging teams/people to adopt new process /systems.

John Freebairn

Partner - Fitzherbert Rowe

John grew up in Feilding and Wanganui. He practiced law in Wellington for several years before returning to Palmerston North and becoming a partner in Fitzherbert Rowe in 1988. John is an experienced lawyer with a general scope of practice in business law. He has particular expertise in insolvency law and is an Associate of the Arbitrators and Mediators Institute of New Zealand, Inc. He is the Chairman of the Board of Arohanui Hospice, a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Palmerston North and is involved and provides legal advice to a number of other charities and community organisations.

Liam Hehir

Solicitor - Fitzherbert Rowe

Liam’s family arrived in the country in 1842 and has been farming in the region since 1855. He has retained an interest in farming and is a former columnist for Straight Furrow. His main focus is on general business law and he has a particular interest in intellectual property. Liam provides advice to a number of community groups and organisations. He is also a member of the Rotary Club of Palmerston North and is a columnist for Fairfax’s daily broadsheet the Manawatu Standard.

Dr Lorraine Warren

Dr Lorraine Warren is a Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Director of the Centre for Strategic Innovation in the School of Management. Currently based at Massey University.

Trudy Pearson

Trudy has a background in the Finance and FMCG sectors as an Human Resources Manager, a former business owner of an online sporting goods store and values her role as a parent.

Her heart has been internally wired to assist others achieve greatness & is one of the foxes from The Brown Fox Collective based in Palmerston North. The Brown Fox is a social enterprise committed to developing a creative, resilient and sustainable community by working with local and regional makers, food producers, artists, performers and creative small businesses to increase their networks, connections and sales opportunities. She is also the person to have on your team when it gets all serious at Karaoke.

Richard Dryden
Dave Craig
Nick Gain
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