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Startup Weekend is where entrepreneurs, developers, and designers get together to form new businesses in a 54-hour marathon of inspiration, perspiration, collaboration, and fun! We attract people with all skill levels in a friendly, welcoming, yet challenging environment.

People with technology related ideas share their ideas, form teams, build products, and launch new start up companies. Web developers, designers, marketers, product managers and start up enthusiasts come together to pitch in and develop ideas into working business models. You don't have to have an idea of your own either. You can come along to share skills and work on an idea that takes your interest.

This year, there is a focus on developing ideas from the rural and food production sectors. We want people to come forward with ideas on primary industry innovation and how to improve things on the land using technology as tools.

So if you have a killer idea, can write code or make a widget, or can design things then join us at the best entrepreneurial event Hawkes Bay has ever seen!

Get your tickets now.

Why attend a Startup Weekend?

  • Learn how to startup through doing it instead of just reading about it
  • Build your network by spending a weekend with Hawkes Bay's doers and makers
  • Meet potential co-founders, there’s no better way to find people you want to work with
  • Step outside of your comfort zone – Try your hand at something new
  • Actually launch a business – Over 36% of Startup Weekend startups are still going strong after 3 months
  • Get face time with local tech and startup leaders as coaches and judges
  • Join a global community of over 45,000 Startup Weekend alumni, all on a mission to change the world
Want more reasons to come?

10 Reasons to come

What happens at Startup Weekend?

Startup Weekend starts on Friday evening 1st August, with an icebreaker game and dinner, and then people have 1 minute to pitch their businesses concepts to the crowd. 8-10 concepts will attract viable teams around them. By late Friday night, you will have sketched out your concept in some detail and everyone will have roles assigned and an inkling of how they’re going to achieve their goals over the weekend. Saturday morning is all about validation – you’ll be contacting potential customers and finding out if there’s really a market need for what you’re building. If not, you’ll need to pivot based on the information you’ve picked up by “getting out of the building” and talking to people. Meanwhile, your developers and designers will be furiously building your products (or mock-ups), and your team will be attracting partners, advisers, and customers. You’ll need to start preparing your final 5-minute presentation on Sunday morning, because your team will need to pitch it by dinner time. After that, prizes will be awarded to the best teams. Where you go from there is up to you. Exciting businesses have come out of Startup Weekends, but the real value is in the skills, new friends, and access to resources you require. Whether you are just want to find out what the world of startups is like in a fun environment, you’re a developer or designer looking for the next big thing, or an entrepreneur looking for a team to turn your idea into reality, Startup Weekend is a fantastic way to test your own abilities and meet great people along the way.

Today’s the Day!

It’s not too late to sign up to Start Up Weekend Hawke’s Bay – there are still places available for coding developers, graphic designers and non-technical roles like in marketing or sales until 5pm today.

Buy your tickets today.



Aug 1
  • Registration Starts
  • Welcome & Speakers
  • Dinner & Networking
  • Half Baked Game
  • 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
  • Time to wrap up


Aug 2
  • Arrive, breakfast
  • Who needs help?
  • 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
  • Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Aug 3
  • Arrive, breakfast
  • 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!
Tier 1 Sponsors
Tier 2 Sponsors
Tier 3 Sponsors
Tier 4 Sponsors

Suse Reynolds

Founder - Angel HQ

Suse Reynolds is the founder of Angel HQ, the Wellington region's angel network. She currently sits on the Board of Angel HQ and is an enthusiastic believer in the ability of angel investment to make the world a better place. Suse was formerly the Chief Operating Officer and GM Investment at Grow Wellington.

Michaela Vodonavich

Regional Manager, Icehouse

Michaela Vodanovich was born in Hawke’s Bay and has spent most of her career working in various senior management roles for fast paced, global companies and medium sized enterprise. Michaela has a passion for Hawke’s Bay business and is highly motivated to see the regions businesses grow, diversify and succeed in local and international markets. Michaela has held General Management positions for a variety of companies in the business to business and business to consumer markets in both distribution and manufacturing. This General Management experience has given Michaela a solid understanding of the challenges businesses face on a daily basis, as they look to develop a sustainable business model while focussing on growth and innovation. Michaela’s expertise is in leadership, sales and marketing strategy, change management, development of client management programs and developing high preforming, multi-functional teams. Currently Michaela is the Regional Manager for The ICEHOUSE Hawkes Bay.

Sir Graeme Avery

Graeme has some 50 years export market development experience – 33 years with his former international medical publishing business Adis International and 17 years with his new wine business, Sileni Estates. In 2000, Graeme founded the Hawke’s Bay Wine Country Tourism Association and Hawke’s Bay Food Group, including the highly successful Hastings Farmers Market which was instrumental in creating the national farmers market movement. He is a former Chairman of the National Food, Wine and Tourism Network, an organisation he was also instrumental in founding to help make a difference to marketing New Zealand’s food and wine tourism regions internationally.

He was a member of an Agri-Food Thought Leadership Group of the Riddet Institute at Massey University, a national Centre of Research Excellence, that in June 2012 developed a major report on a growth strategy for the NZ agri-food industry.


Hal Josephson

Founder of Mediasense

Hal Josephson is the Founder of MediaSense, an international business development firm specializing in trans-border economic development, strategic marketing and special project management. Clients have included: Apple, Motorola, AT&T, Electronic Arts, Reed-Midem, Australia Multimedia Enterprise, NZTE, ATEED, and Hong Kong Cyberport.

Innovation, Biz Dev, Strategy, Media, Digital, China

Mandy Rudge

Senior Lecturer - Idea School, EIT

Mandy is a Senior Lecturer at Ideaschool, EIT, where she applies her skills in research, project management, mentoring and Design Thinking for the benefit of students in Visual Arts and Design. She is an avid supporter of Startup weekends after experiencing the wonder of the process in Palmerston North. This will be her third Startup weekend.

Michelle Valler

Manager & Chartered Accountant

Michelle is a Chartered Accountant who has been with Crowe Horwath (Accountants and Business Advisors in Hawke’s Bay) since 2007. She works with a diverse range of clients and industries and is passionate about business growth. By getting closely involved with her client’s business, she understands their challenges and helps them grow and achieve their goals. This includes working with her clients on developing and improving KPI’s, business processes, strategies, industry benchmarking, managing cashflow and improving margins. She is excited about being involved in the Startup Weekend and is looking forward to supporting entrepreneurs achieve their dreams and goals.

Wayne Baird

General Manager

Wayne is a shareholder and General Manager of Structural Concepts Ltd. His business focuses on design and consultancy for commercial buildings throughout New Zealand. He has been living in Hawkes Bay since 2001. Wayne has a passion for growing businesses and has lead teams from some very well known local and global businesses during his 30 year career. These include Telecom NZ, Enza, UnisonFibre and Cogent Communications.
Having been a mentor, in past years, with the Young Enterprise Scheme, Wayne is keen to add his sales, marketing and negotiation skills to Start up Weekend. He will provide an on target approach that will challenge your thinking.

Paul Dutch

Making Facilitator at the MakePlace   |  

Paul is an Aerospace Engineer who has applied his broad skills to a large variety of product design projects. Working in his chosen field he worked in Europe before immigrating to NZ. He has a special interest in the Maker Movement and has opened a MakerSpace called The MakePlace in Napier. With the MakePlace he tries to help budding entrepreneurs with big ideas by providing them with the resources and network they need to succeed.

Maker Movement, Innovation, Crowd Sourcing, 3D printing, Product Development

Matthew Miller

For the past ten years, Matt has managed online businesses, designed web applications, and formulated digital marketing strategies for many organisations, in both the private and public sector.
He is especially interested in marketing high-tech New Zealand products and services to a global audience. In 2007, Matt co-founded Mogul, a rapidly-growing digital marketing and web development consultancy based in Hawke’s Bay.
Matt provides Mogul's clients with research-based digital marketing strategies and expert advice about the best technology to use for any project.
In the weekends Matt likes to get away from the computer and enjoy the outdoors with his young family, as well as indulge his hobbies of photography, cooking, and playing the piano.

Andy Blackburn

Andy is a Director of the New Zealand Innovation Council which is dedicated to connecting NZ business to their next step in growth through innovation.
Andy is a Director and facilitator of the evaluation team for the New Zealand Innovators Awards 2011 – 2014. This is a national stage to celebrate and inspire New Zealand business innovation.

Mark Thomas

As co-founder, CTO and President of Right Hemisphere for over 14 years, Mark helped build a global software company based in New Zealand and Silicon Valley. Right Hemisphere is believed to be the first NZ Tech company to have raised US venture capital and this was with perhaps the most prestigious VC company in the valley, Sequoia Capital.
Mark’s visionary leadership and passion created a company that delivered world-beating 3D visualisation technology. Enterprises such as Boeing, Bell Helicopter, Nike and Northrop Grumman have significantly benefited from the products developed here in New Zealand. In 2011 Right Hemisphere was acquired by SAP AG, the German global software company and Mark continues to work on innovation as the manager of SAP Imagineering in NZ.

Pam Ward


Pam is a Designer by trade who has experienced the challenges of founding a tech startup. Her company (KidsGoMobile) went through the Lightning Lab accelerator programme in 2013, and she is currently running an internship programme (Summer of Tech) that helps NZ companies employ local tech students. Pam loves helping entrepreneurs validate and refine their ideas – with a background in UX, she'll be pushing teams towards creating user-centred solutions.

Geoff Brash

Co-founder, SLI Systems

Software startup co-founder with expertise in software development, business management, marketing and finance. Geoff is best known as co-founder of SLI Systems, a leading SaaS based site search company. Geoff has a mix of technical and business skills and has held a variety of roles including Engineering Manager, VP of Marketing, and CFO. Geoff is chair of Canterbury Software, Inc., a trustee of the Ministry of Awesome, and adviser to a number of software companies. Geoff has an MBA from Massey University.

Tina Jennan

Venture Manager

Tina 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.

John Bell

Massey University Business Development Manager (Hawke's Bay)

John is the Business Development Manager representing Massey University in Hawke’s Bay. Previously John was Director of the MBA programme at the University of Otago and prior to that, was a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Otago. He has over 20 years’ experience consulting to local and national businesses and organisations. His areas of teaching and consulting interest include business strategy and planning, brand management, entrepreneurship, market research and professional services marketing. During his time at Otago, John initiated, developed and ran the highly regarded Master of Entrepreneurship Programme as well as executive education courses and numerous undergraduate and post-graduate courses. In 2008 John moved with his wife and son to Hawke’s Bay, where they have a 22ha pip and stone fruit orchard.

Rochelle Alder
Gareth Pearce
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