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A meeting of minds for future innovators from NZ and the US

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18 March 2020

Over summer a group of 22 entrepreneurship students from the University of Portland travelled to New Zealand to learn about our entrepreneurial ecosystem. While here they were connected with Velocity students from the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The visit was inspired by Peter Rachor, the University of Auckland’s Hynds Entrepreneurial Fellow, who had previously worked at the University of Portland.

The visiting students were Entrepreneur Scholars, or E-Scholars, a competitively selected group of University of Portland undergraduate students who create new business ventures, social enterprises, as well as innovative products and delivery models for organisations. Velocity students and the E-Scholars had the opportunity to meet, compare and contrast entrepreneurship practices, programmes and ecosystems between New Zealand and Oregon.

“The E-Scholars all had ideas ranging from sports, food and nutrition to oil and gas, with plenty more in between,” says Nicholas Bing, Velocity ambassador, who met with the group.

They discovered huge similarities between Auckland and Oregon in terms of the “chill” culture and the friendly attitude of the people in general. However, they also found New Zealand’s business landscape incredibly different, being mostly made up of small to medium enterprises, and learned quickly that New Zealand is often used as a testing ground for new ideas in a western market. Diversity and racial integration was the most significant value they saw while attending meetings and visiting around Auckland.

“Although America is firmly profit-driven in comparison to New Zealand, both student groups understood the value of having an entrepreneurial mindset along with a strong focus and need of being proactive in the environment you are placed in. This made me appreciate the work we do at Velocity and the value we have for entrepreneurs–being self-driven and committed to excel,” Nicholas says.

Delaney Huffman, one of the E-Scholars and a tax intern at Delap LLP, says: “Overall I learned so much from this trip. I love how many small businesses are in Auckland, how diverse the culture is, and how accepting everyone there is. The attitude New Zealand portrays is exactly what I want from my future business.”

Regarding the Velocity Programme, Delaney says, she “loved how students were in charge of the programme and collectively decided how it was being run. I think this is perfect! Students should be deciding what they want to do within the programme since it is about them”.

“I was really surprised to see how much we all have in common with the Velocity students. We all share a very similar understanding and love for entrepreneurship. Most of us want to help support the community and people around us and just want to make a small difference in the world for the better,” Delaney says.

“Auckland is definitely filled with a good attitude toward immigrants and I guess that can be partially (if not mostly) attributed to the fact that immigrants play a crucial role in New Zealand’s demographic and economy,” says E-Scholar Ernesto Zurita Ruiz, a Cost Engineering Intern at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“One of the things I appreciated from Auckland was how well-assimilated the Māori culture and its people are in New Zealand culture and business. I love how Māori introduce themselves through their traditional greeting that speaks of their mountain. The world could learn more from New Zealand.

“What also makes New Zealand stand out is the concept of Kiwi ingenuity. You all take great pride in that and it is pretty true. You all are much more open-minded when it comes to social and environmental issues. I think that your environment that favours small businesses over corporations is what allows you all to find opportunity in any small corner or crack in the sidewalk. The concept of Kiwi ingenuity seems to be more of a small subsistence, a small side gig, or a motivation to make a social impact over large profits,” Ernesto says.

Since returning home to the United States, the Velocity and E-Scholar students have kept in touch. A new international network has formed amongst motivated future innovators who will no doubt stay connected for years to come.

James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson

social media

18 March 2020

Over summer a group of 22 entrepreneurship students from the University of Portland travelled to New Zealand to learn about our entrepreneurial ecosystem. While here they were connected with Velocity students from the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The visit was inspired by Peter Rachor, the University of Auckland’s Hynds Entrepreneurial Fellow, who had previously worked at the University of Portland.

The visiting students were Entrepreneur Scholars, or E-Scholars, a competitively selected group of University of Portland undergraduate students who create new business ventures, social enterprises, as well as innovative products and delivery models for organisations. Velocity students and the E-Scholars had the opportunity to meet, compare and contrast entrepreneurship practices, programmes and ecosystems between New Zealand and Oregon.

“The E-Scholars all had ideas ranging from sports, food and nutrition to oil and gas, with plenty more in between,” says Nicholas Bing, Velocity ambassador, who met with the group.

They discovered huge similarities between Auckland and Oregon in terms of the “chill” culture and the friendly attitude of the people in general. However, they also found New Zealand’s business landscape incredibly different, being mostly made up of small to medium enterprises, and learned quickly that New Zealand is often used as a testing ground for new ideas in a western market. Diversity and racial integration was the most significant value they saw while attending meetings and visiting around Auckland.

“Although America is firmly profit-driven in comparison to New Zealand, both student groups understood the value of having an entrepreneurial mindset along with a strong focus and need of being proactive in the environment you are placed in. This made me appreciate the work we do at Velocity and the value we have for entrepreneurs–being self-driven and committed to excel,” Nicholas says.

Delaney Huffman, one of the E-Scholars and a tax intern at Delap LLP, says: “Overall I learned so much from this trip. I love how many small businesses are in Auckland, how diverse the culture is, and how accepting everyone there is. The attitude New Zealand portrays is exactly what I want from my future business.”

Regarding the Velocity Programme, Delaney says, she “loved how students were in charge of the programme and collectively decided how it was being run. I think this is perfect! Students should be deciding what they want to do within the programme since it is about them”.

“I was really surprised to see how much we all have in common with the Velocity students. We all share a very similar understanding and love for entrepreneurship. Most of us want to help support the community and people around us and just want to make a small difference in the world for the better,” Delaney says.

“Auckland is definitely filled with a good attitude toward immigrants and I guess that can be partially (if not mostly) attributed to the fact that immigrants play a crucial role in New Zealand’s demographic and economy,” says E-Scholar Ernesto Zurita Ruiz, a Cost Engineering Intern at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“One of the things I appreciated from Auckland was how well-assimilated the Māori culture and its people are in New Zealand culture and business. I love how Māori introduce themselves through their traditional greeting that speaks of their mountain. The world could learn more from New Zealand.

“What also makes New Zealand stand out is the concept of Kiwi ingenuity. You all take great pride in that and it is pretty true. You all are much more open-minded when it comes to social and environmental issues. I think that your environment that favours small businesses over corporations is what allows you all to find opportunity in any small corner or crack in the sidewalk. The concept of Kiwi ingenuity seems to be more of a small subsistence, a small side gig, or a motivation to make a social impact over large profits,” Ernesto says.

Since returning home to the United States, the Velocity and E-Scholar students have kept in touch. A new international network has formed amongst motivated future innovators who will no doubt stay connected for years to come.


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