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Universal College of Learning

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

Startup Weekend Dunedin 2K15 from Jose Mathias on Vimeo.

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 20
  • 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 21
  • 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 22
  • 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

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.

Peter Vullings

No. 8 Wire Specialist

Peter is a creative entrepreneur and inventor. He is the founder and CEO of Pixelthis, a mobile game/app development studio, the winner of last year’s Innovate Manawatu awards with his V-Electric scooter concept, and has 7 pending patents for inventions in various fields from software to mechanical engineering. Through his ventures, Peter has had input and insight into a wide range of start-ups from innovative app-based cycle computers, to farm management tools, to game-based diagnosis of medical conditions.

Del Shaw

Founder, Giggle TV

Del is the founder and Director of Giggle TV. Having been an entrepreneur and a business man from a young age Del has a vast business background. He has learnt a lot from the school of hard knocks since his first business Mad Dels, a takeaway shop in Terrace End to Giggle TV, the largest digital signage network in NZ. Over 20 years he has built and sold many successful businesses, he is a real techie and thrives in watching start ups develop and succeed.

Christina Gomes

Managing Director, Aridon Ltd.

Christina is the co-founder and Managing Director of a start-up business: ARIDON Limited, which has developed and patented an alternative building solution for the Australiasian market. Christina has 16 years’ corporate experience in account management, market research, product development and project management. Christina’s strength is getting to the heart of the problem quickly and identifying the path of least resistance to solve the issue.

Shareena Sandbrook

Director, Frogparking

Shareena has been Palmerston North-based parking technology development company Frogparking’s Director and Marketing Manager since its inception in 2010. Shareena has multiple qualifications in business and management, including an Executive MBA, and has an in-depth knowledge of start-ups having been previously involved in a number of successful ventures including Spidertracks, which developed the world’s first portable Iridium tracking device designed primarily for aviation, and The King of Cars, Manawatu’s hottest car yard.

Jill Nixon

ANZ Business Manager

Jill has been in the financial services industry for over 20 years. Spanning from Auckland to London to Wellington and back home to Palmerston North where she is now a senior Business Banking Manager for the ANZ. During the last 10 or so years in Business Banking, Jill has encountered many startup businesses and always enjoys the challenges they present - the enthusiasm and commitment that she sees from the founders - and most of all being able to assist in small but significant way in getting startups off the ground.

She helped organise last years inaugural event which was a huge success - and is looking forward to what 2013 can offer!

Local Supporters

Warren Bebb

General Manager

Warren Bebb is General Manager of BioLumic, a seed stage Startup that develops technology to drastically improve returns for horticultural companies through the application of targeted UV light. He was previously the Business Growth Manager at BCC, where he worked with early stage technology businesses to define their direction and accelerate their development.

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.

Bette Flagler

Co-Director, Sugar Bar Communications

Bette Flagler is the co-director of Sugar Bag Communications Ltd. As a scientist-turned- writer and editor Bette is arguably the first journalist in New Zealand to focus on the commercialisation of science. From 2003 to 2010, she regularly researched and wrote about the biotech and medtech sectors

James Bell-Booth

Startup Manager, BCC

James is a successful business development and sales professional. He has successfully lead all areas of sales and channel development for software export companies into North America, Asia and Great Britain. Among his client relationship are leading companies in the computer hardware market including - Intel, AMD, Dell Inc, HP, Acer, ASUS & Sony Corp. James' passion is helping New Zealanders take their products, knowledge and passion to the world.

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

Lynn Hamilton

Mobile API Developer, Xero   |  

Lynn Hamilton is the Mobile API Developer at Xero. She writes the API framework used by Xero's iOS and Android applications. She's interested in all things mobile related, and has a passion for business intelligence and user analytics. She's been writing code since she was six and likes kittens.

Shelley Ashton

Word Salad

Shelley started a business consultancy in London when she was 19 concentrating on investment banks. After 13 years running her consultancy business, Shelley moved to NZ for the lifestyle. Writing has been a huge part of her work and the part she loves the most. Her clients are varied - Meat exporting organisations, sawmills, IT companies, design companies, Councils, Business Consultancies, Drug Agencies - because everyone needs some form of writing for their business.

Dr. Mandy Rudge

School of Photography Arts and Design, UCOL

Mandy is passionate about project management and supporting people to creatively solve problems. She knows that, with the right support and the right attitude, people can achieve more than they ever dreamed of.

Amanda Linsley

Amanda has many years experience in business development, project and interim management and is passionate to pass her knowledge onto SME businesses, particularly those in the start-up phase and helping them to succeed. She has ‘walked the walk’ having previously set-up and operated three businesses in the UK taking two through to sale/acquisition

Kent Hamilton

Mechatronics Engineer, Callaghan Innovation

Kent Hamilton is a Mechatronics Engineer who works at the Callaghan Innovation in Wellington. He works with scientists, engineers and technologists in the superconductivity, cryogenics, magnetics and power fields to get the work done that will enable technologies in the future to be more powerful, more reliable, faster, lighter and more efficient.
Kent also has interests in photographic technologies, human interface methods, industrial design and science communication.

Nick Churchouse
Jeremy O'Donnell
Dave Craig
Wendy Bruce
Karen Old

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