He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata

Rob Vickery

Translation: What is the most important thing in this world? It is people, it is people, it is people.

As per usual with all of my mentoring, I always pull out more valuable knowledge from the mentee than what I think I impart onto them. Testament to this, I was shared this Māori proverb by Josh Faraimo, who is one of the entrepreneurs in the 2020 Kōkiri cohort and it will stick with me forever. This proverb strikes at the heart of venture capital and reminds me that we are not just investing in cool tech, we are investing “in people, in people, in people”.

So what is Kōkiri? Kōkiri is a Māori business acceleration programme, based on kaupapa Māori values. Developed within Te Ahikōmako and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, in Hamilton, Kōkiri offers a 12 week programme for impact-positive, early-stage Māori-led enterprises to set them off on a haerenga (journey) towards sustainable growth.

Back in February, I had the good fortune of being invited to meet with Aisha Ross, Aubrey Te Kanawa, Saara Tawha and the rest of the team at the Hamilton offices and I was blown away by the depth of the programme and impact it has made on Māori and Pasifika entrepreneurs.

I walked away from the kōrero (meeting) knowing that I wanted to get involved as much as possible. Shortly thereafter, Hillfarrance became a Partner in the programme and I a mentor for latest cohort of startup companies.

Over the last few months and during the pandemic, I have had many a Zoom kōrero with the team and covered everything from term sheets and valuation methodology to pitch deck construction and financial modelling.

During this time of global unrest, the Kōkiri programme has provided me with some much needed ngākau pai and I am delighted to have made so many new e hoa (friends).

For those of my friends in the venture capital and angel investment community, I thought I would give you a quick rundown of the companies in the latest cohort. I have already committed to leading the pre-seed round of one of these companies (TBA) and I would urge you to take a look at the list below and contact the Founders directly if you are interested.

Meet the 2020 Kōkiri Cohort

Kwotimation is a SaaS start-up that makes quoting for construction and building work easy by streamlining the pricing process saving contractors and customers time and money.

Ture™ is an online marketplace that allows better access to legal services and free information about the law in Aotearoa, including the NZFreeLaw podcast.

Nau Mai Rā is New Zealand’s first Māori power company that reduces energy costs for households while sharing their profits with whānau to support their marae or other Māori initiatives.

Indie (website TBC) shares and preserves indigenous languages through a unique new platform that features content from established and up-and-coming indigenous creators and storytellers.

Stay Native is a social enterprise that helps indigenous whānau and hapori (communities) to build, promote and share authentic cultural experiences with travellers.

Barrett Dynamics is a whānau-led R&D venture filling a significant gap in the renewable energy space with grid power storage solutions and aims to reignite solar power as an energy alternative.

RH Innovation is an agri-tech business that helps farmers to apply the right amounts of nitrogen or water for optimal farm performance such as reducing costs and environmental impact.

Ticketspace is a ticketing start-up that supports event organisers and customers to make the whole ticketing experience easy for any events size, from small functions to festivals & concerts.

StreetLevelOne is a digital advertising agency that repurposes storefront windows into multitouch local marketing platforms to empower people to support, search and spend locally.