Kōrerorero #10

/ Kōrerorero blog / 5 Aug 2021 / Katie Hickmer

Korerorero Title

Welcome to our Q&A series Kōrerorero .. a forum to discuss and share insights, inspiration and advice from voices of founders and investors within the Kiwi start-up community.

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Conversations with Michael Carden of Joyous, AskNicely and Narrative

 

With multifaceted experience, Michael is no stranger to the worlds of start-ups, corporates or venture capital firms ...

Michael Carden is the founder of Sonar6, a HR SaaS company that was acquired by NASDAQ:CSOD in 2012, co-founder for Joyous (employee feedback SaaS), was the Chair of Promapp (process mapping SaaS acquired by Nintex), AskNicely (an NPS SaaS company) and Narrative (AI driven photo desirability) - both of these later companies are also in our Aspire fund portfolio, Mike is also a Limited Partner of Icehouse Ventures Tuhua Fund 2, Blackbird NZ, and previously sat on the NZTE Beachheads Advisor Board.

        

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What series of events led you to become involved in start-ups and then to found your own ...

I got made redundant from a large corporate 20 years ago and decided to find something more meaningful to do with my life than being a stiff in a suit.

 

What role does your Chair/Board Advisor for start-ups play ...

I feel there are three distinct roles;

  1. Help with the capital plan, structure and raising investment
  2. While I believe in founder-led businesses and management owned strategy, it’s useful to pattern match across businesses to have input into strategic thinking
  3. Provide counsel/coaching to the CEO, and other founders.

 

What advise for Kiwis with a big idea would you offer to help them become founders of a start-up ...

There are functional requirements of all tech start-ups.

  • You will need deep domain expertise (in whatever field you are applying tech to) ie; James Broadbent at Narrative knows all about being a professional wedding photographer.
  • You’ll need tech expertise - proper stuff, not just prototype stuff, how you actually build at scale. ie; Steffan Levet at Narrative knows how you build tech.
  • You need experience in how to run a tech business. So Narrative brought in Kirstie Marsh.

Too often I see one or more of these missing for too long.

Plus, many entrepreneurs chase market opportunities where either the TAM (total available market) is too small to ever build a big business, or the average deal size is too small to make the unit economics stack up.

 

Where do you source insights and knowledge from to keep ahead of the game with tech innovation ...

I just stay on multiple Boards so I can see what others are working on. Plus, I investigate lots of potential investments each year for our family office.

 

How do you encourage collaboration within our tech ecosystem ...

At Joyous we open source every thing that is working for us. So for instance, we have an excellent parental leave policy which we think can work for other tech companies. But we’d also like their input. So we get something to a useful point, then we open source publish it.
Read this example HERE 

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Our Aspire NZ Seed Fund is a generalist early-stage investment fund that invests in Kiwi start-up companies with a focus on four technology areas/sectors; Software, Health-tech, Deep-tech and Agri-tech.  Narrative, Joyous and AskNicely all fit within the Software sector.

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Join our Kōrerorero

This is our 10th Kōrerorero of the series.

Are you a founder of a Kiwi start-up, or a start-up investor, who's keen to share your insights as part of this series? We'd love to hear from you! 
Drop us an email at marketing@nzgcp.co.nz and let's chat.

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