New champion for tech entrepreneurship

Launch! manager Simon White.

Hemp, surfing, nachos and diabolo yo-yo.

That is no random list, it represents answers to questions on Launch! Coworking’s new residents’ wall, like; Line of work? Hobbies? Favourite food? And interests?

The wall is not the only new thing at the coworking space — enter Simon White.

Mr White was born and raised in Tairawhiti on his parents’ sheep and beef farm at Waerenga-o-Kuri. He landed his “dream job” as Launch! Coworking manager a month ago.

“Launch! combats Tairawhiti’s geographical isolation. If we can encourage tech entrepreneurship in-region, then we can help boost productivity through non-material means,” he says.

“An economy based on non-tangible tech products means there is less waste and almost zero marginal cost of producing extra units.

“The ability to scale is boundless.”

Coworking itself is new to the region. Launch! officially opened in May this year during Tairawhiti Techweek ’18.

The result of Ngati Porou Holdings Company and Activate Tairawhiti’s idea for a regional tech hub, Launch! got the green light for funding from the Eastland Community Trust board in March. It is run via regional economic development agency, Activate.

Residents can rent permanent or hot-desks as individuals, remote workers or businesses with up to four FTEs.

Launch! also acts as the perfect stopgap for businesses moving to Tairawhiti — case in point Straker Translations — and with all the perks offered, it is easy to see why.

In return for the cheapest coworking rates in Aotearoa, residents have 24-hour access to the space, coffee, Launch! events, ultra-fast broadband, printing and even a ping-pong table.

Mr White fits the coworking bill himself. He’s in the start-up phase with two businesses on surprisingly different ends of the spectrum — horticulture and human resources.

The first is Hemp Solutions, a hemp foods retail and grow operation he co-owns with his brother.

Since September Mr White has been selling hemp products, including hemp seed oil, at the Gisborne Farmers’ Market — the first hemp product allowed — under the retail brand Gisborne Hemp Company.

Due to a law change last month, Gisborne Hemp Company can now sell hulled hemp seed too, a “game changer” for the New Zealand hemp industry.

Mr White says the response has been “fantastic”, which he attributes to a global shift in values and understanding around health foods.

“Hemp seed is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Now the stigma around hemp is changing, its potential as a viable rotational crop for farmers is being realised locally and nationally.”

Working at Launch! means Mr White is surrounded by like-minded people while he manages the space and builds his own businesses.

“I love collaborative environments and how much potential Launch! has for a place like Tairawhiti. Plus, I get to directly influence the space’s vibe and atmosphere.” he says.

His second start-up is No Worries Consulting, a human resources and health and safety consultancy — a good fit for the Otago University Diploma of Human Resources Management graduate.

Mr White also has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Otago Univeristy, with a major in economics and a minor in psychology.

His love of psychology did not take long to manifest in Launch! life.

Tuesday “Lunch and Learn” sessions have been replaced by “Brain Hacks with Si” — a 30-minute session every second Tuesday that covers a different area of psychology.

Brain Hacks with Si is open to the public too. Stop by Launch! above The Works, from 12.30pm onwards and you’ll see members scattered across beanbags sipping fresh coffee, while Mr White delivers a high-energy presentation via the big screen — complete with a bit of banter and a few laughs.

“I am passionate about people learning basic psychology for their own mental health and wellbeing,” he says.

“In recent years especially, pop-psych and things like mindfulness have increased in popularity. I wanted to give Launch! members this added perk, to help improve their working and personal lives.”

Mr White’s own personal life embodies all the things that make Tairawhiti, Tairawhiti.

“The work-life balance here is real, the surf is great and there are so many opportunities.”

For fun Mr White surfs and spends time with friends, his girlfriend Liv and their dog Zeus. He also plays bass for Shifty Peaks — the band of mates celebrated their first gig at the Dome Bar a couple of months ago.

“Although lately for fun I’ve been working. I show up early to Launch! every day because I just cannot wait to get stuck in!”

Managing Launch! is more than a job to Mr White. To him and the growing number of residents, Launch! represents a vehicle for Tairawhiti to realise its tech and entrepreneurial potential.

“Coworking should be energetic, buzzing and vibrant. A place where diversity is encouraged, and no idea is a bad idea.

“We’ve got a way to go yet but honestly, Gizzy is pumping at the moment and not just the waves.”

Hemp, surfing, nachos and diabolo yo-yo.

That is no random list, it represents answers to questions on Launch! Coworking’s new residents’ wall, like; Line of work? Hobbies? Favourite food? And interests?

The wall is not the only new thing at the coworking space — enter Simon White.

Mr White was born and raised in Tairawhiti on his parents’ sheep and beef farm at Waerenga-o-Kuri. He landed his “dream job” as Launch! Coworking manager a month ago.

“Launch! combats Tairawhiti’s geographical isolation. If we can encourage tech entrepreneurship in-region, then we can help boost productivity through non-material means,” he says.

“An economy based on non-tangible tech products means there is less waste and almost zero marginal cost of producing extra units.

“The ability to scale is boundless.”

Coworking itself is new to the region. Launch! officially opened in May this year during Tairawhiti Techweek ’18.

The result of Ngati Porou Holdings Company and Activate Tairawhiti’s idea for a regional tech hub, Launch! got the green light for funding from the Eastland Community Trust board in March. It is run via regional economic development agency, Activate.

Residents can rent permanent or hot-desks as individuals, remote workers or businesses with up to four FTEs.

Launch! also acts as the perfect stopgap for businesses moving to Tairawhiti — case in point Straker Translations — and with all the perks offered, it is easy to see why.

In return for the cheapest coworking rates in Aotearoa, residents have 24-hour access to the space, coffee, Launch! events, ultra-fast broadband, printing and even a ping-pong table.

Mr White fits the coworking bill himself. He’s in the start-up phase with two businesses on surprisingly different ends of the spectrum — horticulture and human resources.

The first is Hemp Solutions, a hemp foods retail and grow operation he co-owns with his brother.

Since September Mr White has been selling hemp products, including hemp seed oil, at the Gisborne Farmers’ Market — the first hemp product allowed — under the retail brand Gisborne Hemp Company.

Due to a law change last month, Gisborne Hemp Company can now sell hulled hemp seed too, a “game changer” for the New Zealand hemp industry.

Mr White says the response has been “fantastic”, which he attributes to a global shift in values and understanding around health foods.

“Hemp seed is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Now the stigma around hemp is changing, its potential as a viable rotational crop for farmers is being realised locally and nationally.”

Working at Launch! means Mr White is surrounded by like-minded people while he manages the space and builds his own businesses.

“I love collaborative environments and how much potential Launch! has for a place like Tairawhiti. Plus, I get to directly influence the space’s vibe and atmosphere.” he says.

His second start-up is No Worries Consulting, a human resources and health and safety consultancy — a good fit for the Otago University Diploma of Human Resources Management graduate.

Mr White also has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Otago Univeristy, with a major in economics and a minor in psychology.

His love of psychology did not take long to manifest in Launch! life.

Tuesday “Lunch and Learn” sessions have been replaced by “Brain Hacks with Si” — a 30-minute session every second Tuesday that covers a different area of psychology.

Brain Hacks with Si is open to the public too. Stop by Launch! above The Works, from 12.30pm onwards and you’ll see members scattered across beanbags sipping fresh coffee, while Mr White delivers a high-energy presentation via the big screen — complete with a bit of banter and a few laughs.

“I am passionate about people learning basic psychology for their own mental health and wellbeing,” he says.

“In recent years especially, pop-psych and things like mindfulness have increased in popularity. I wanted to give Launch! members this added perk, to help improve their working and personal lives.”

Mr White’s own personal life embodies all the things that make Tairawhiti, Tairawhiti.

“The work-life balance here is real, the surf is great and there are so many opportunities.”

For fun Mr White surfs and spends time with friends, his girlfriend Liv and their dog Zeus. He also plays bass for Shifty Peaks — the band of mates celebrated their first gig at the Dome Bar a couple of months ago.

“Although lately for fun I’ve been working. I show up early to Launch! every day because I just cannot wait to get stuck in!”

Managing Launch! is more than a job to Mr White. To him and the growing number of residents, Launch! represents a vehicle for Tairawhiti to realise its tech and entrepreneurial potential.

“Coworking should be energetic, buzzing and vibrant. A place where diversity is encouraged, and no idea is a bad idea.

“We’ve got a way to go yet but honestly, Gizzy is pumping at the moment and not just the waves.”

What is it like at Launch!?

by Sophie Rishworth, while spending a few hours working at Launch!

Gisborne man Trevor Shaskey runs his health and safety business Safety 101 from Launch! He was going to work there temporarily and then relocate to a CBD office, but there are too many positives at Launch! He’s staying.

The network of people, the great energy, there is no office bully — it’s everyone working together, he says over the coffee machine.

As well as Gisborne businesses, people have relocated from Christchurch and Auckland to work there too. Launch! also has people who work remotely for international companies.

Put simply, Launch! is a collaborative, shared office space upstairs from The Works Cafe Restaurant & Bar in the Inner Harbour.

People can rent a desk there permanently, or a couple of days a week — whatever suits.

You can hot desk, which means grab a new spot whenever you arrive, or pick the same place every time.

There is a modern, breezy feel to the place, which has an atmosphere conducive to independent productivity.

There is also ample desk space, plenty of plugs, the bricks of the old freezing works make a cool backdrop on the walls and only a slight murmur can be heard around the room. A private meeting room is available to retreat to for private meetings over Skype, and couches, bean bags and a real coffee machine all add to the ambience.

A new initiative is a giant residents’ board where people can write down their personality on sticky notes.

Topped by a selfie taken on a Polaroid, people list their favourite food, movie and pet peeves, to name a few examples. A quick read through and you feel like you know your “colleagues” a little better.

For those who have made the relocation to work in the regions, one of the biggest blessings is the time saved on commuting. Their daily two-hour commute has gone to two minutes. There’s even a shower at Launch! for people who like to bike or run to work.

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