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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!
  • Dinner
  • Mid weekend check-in, status reports, call for help
  • Home to sleep!


Sep 14
  • Doors Open
  • Breakfast & Caffeine Time
  • Call for help (this is self motivated, so don’t be shy)
  • Lunch
  • Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS
  • Gut check. Start prepping for presentations
  • Dinner
  • Judging & awards
  • Wrapup
  • 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

Martin Goodyer

Commercialisation Manager

Martin is BCC's commercialization manager responsible for assisting companies to achieve their research and development objectives. BCC is a MSI Regional Business Partner, a nationwide network of organizations that help companies access funding, information, training and development. Martin manages this partnership and assists companies with funding applications for new technologies, products, processes or services. Funding projects range from new product development to engaging with world class experts in crown research institutes and universities.

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.

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

Richard Dryden
Dave Craig
Karen Old
Nick Gain