I miss Canada

I have two homes and I like them a lot.

Both places are (historically) recognised for the people they create and the way they conduct themselves. Generation after generation.

They are Canada & New Zealand and I’m fortunate to see and feel their similarities daily.

Sometimes I’m requested (read: demanded) to explain where home really is given I’ve now lived in New Zealand for 5 days short of 5 years (knowing this makes more sense in a minute).

There is no single answer to this question but here’s a somewhat defining day. Four years ago during the 2011 Rugby World Cup my two homes played one another. The outcome was inevitable and our support was obvious throughout.

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This year a few Canadians lost the right to vote in the 2015 Federal Election (by a few I mean 1.4 million or ~ 4% of Canadians). These are Canadians who have resided outside of Canada for greater than five years.

Although theoretically, I am still within this window… practically, I am not. In order to vote I was required to provide very convoluted evidence of an impending (and permanent) return to Canada. Something I cannot commit to – now or ever.

I’m not here to grandstand about the details of overseas citizens voting in Canada’s Federal Elections.

This is yet another example of the self-serving policy changes Canadians have become used to by the current Conservative government.

As long as I’ve been around Canadians have been known for being honest, kind, and respectful people. These days when you read the news – we don’t act like that. We disregard global policy out of misguided self-interest. We back out of current obligations and avoid new ones.

Canadians haven’t changed, its leadership has.

I miss the old Canada.

I miss the Canada I grew up in.

Today is hopefully the day of change I’ve been waiting to see for the (five days short of) five years I have loved you from afar. Make the right call today Canada, it’s time.

Sincerely,

WS.

Will Stewart

Canadian citizen & big fan of the place (even if I can’t really vote anymore)

PS. GO JAYS

A week in Morocco

It usually pays to plan ahead (by usually I mean pretty much always). While travelling last year after the World Cup & Gringoing around Peru I didn’t plan at all… and it worked out great.

Case and point was when John & I stumbled across $499 flights from Sao Paulo to Paris with a catch: we had to spend a week in Morocco. Given neither of us had been to Morocco/Africa before we were pretty into it. Then our friend Ian decided to meet us because why not get your camel licence in the Sahara.

Fast forward many months and I finally put together a quick vid. from our trip. Morocco is sweet.

A social enterprise is an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximise improvements in human and environmental well-being — this may include maximising social impact rather than profits for external shareholders.

I love social enterprises. I tend to care more about companies which have three bottom lines instead of one: people, planet and profit.

The thing about social enterprises is they’re different — this scares a lot of people.

Social enterprises challenge the norm because there is no legal company structure which truly recognises this approach. People and teams literally have to figure out how to maximise their multiple bottom lines in their effort to make New Zealand (and beyond) a better place. Again, this scares people.

We currently have two companies running campaigns doing it differently. These social enterprises are using the two different channels of project and equity crowdfunding to fund the things they care about.

EAT MY LUNCH

What’s the most impressive thing you’ve done in the last three months?

Well Lisa King and Iaan Buchanan, Co-Founders of Eat My Lunch (EML), have served up 50,000 lunches to hungry Aucklanders in the first twelve weeks of opening their kitchen. Seriously, it has all happened out of the kitchen of their own house.

EML is doing things differently. They operate a ‘buy one, give one’ model. So you pay $10 and you get a lunch is delivered to your workplace and they deliver another lunch to a Kiwi kid at a low decile school who may have gone without it.

In their first twelve weeks they’ve fed more than 25,000 kids.

This is a business with purpose beyond pure profit and this confuses some people. I had a conversation with someone last week about EML who told me:

“A company like this shouldn’t be saying they’re a business and do charity work. What they’re doing is profiting off children.”

I don’t quite see it this way. EML are solving two problems:

  1. Many Aucklanders want a healthy lunch option but few pack their own, and
  2. There are many Kiwi kids who go to school without lunch.

Lisa and Iaan are providing people with a healthy option and using that money to do a little bit of good for some of the thousands of children who wouldn’t otherwise eat.

Instead of just doing the bare minimum of making a profit, they’ve decided to also help solve another social problem the country has.

‘Buy one, give one’ has been a successful business model in other shapes and forms globally. Companies can be built, turn profitable and make a difference beyond a financial return for shareholders. People shouldn’t be talked out of doing this, they should be recognised for doing things differently. Doing things better.

eml_hero

OOOOBY

Ooooby (it stands Out Of Our Own BackYards) is a company which has built an online platform to help communities deliver fresh local fruit and vege directly to people’s doorsteps.

The company was founded in 2010 through the realisation and understanding that the world’s globalised food structure was failing us at a local level. Tomatoes from Australia, grapes from Italy, apples from Canada — when much of the food we need is grown and produced locally!

Ooooby have helped deliver more than 70,000 boxes of fresh fruit and vege to more than 5,000 happy customers.

Ooooby’s founders and core team put mission before money when they launched their equity campaign. Ninety percent of company shares of Ooooby Ltd have been transferred to a charitable trust dedicated to helping our local food systems. Investment into Ooooby comes with the caution that any dividends paid must be put towards projects in this spirit.

This is different than any equity crowdfunding offer New Zealand has seen before.

It’s interesting reading the NBR comments about this story, Ooooby’s social and environmental focus was is bound to rub the old fuddie-duddies the wrong way. By the way this article was great and made very evident this offer is not a ‘normal’ investment, so thanks NBR.

Here is a good comment (and of course it’s anonymous):


NBR

What Anonymous User #3 has neglected to understand is that the growers supplying Ooooby receive 50% of the market value (e.g. what it’s sold for) compared to a standard 30% with supermarkets.

Also as outlined in their Information Memorandum they have a very defined plan on how this money will be used.

Spoiler alert: it isn’t on Fijian getaways — it’s on building this business and making greater impact.

Ooooby’s achievements and mission are admirable, alternative, and really challenge New Zealand’s current offering of entities.

Social enterprises, impact investing and this whole new space of people doing, and investing in, things for more than just money lacks understanding with a lot of Kiwis. Whether that changes now or never, PledgeMe is working with awesome people and companies to help them fund the things they care about… because we care too.

Matakana Box

———————— & as of this post:

Eat My Lunch has raised +$45,000 towards a goal of $180,000 in their Project Campaign to help fit out a commercial kitchen to feed more hungry Aucklanders (big and small).

Ooooby has raised +$75,000 towards a minimum of $200,000 and a maximum of $800,000 through their Equity Campaign to help grow their team, enhance their systems and assist in setting up new Ooooby Hubs.

(I originally posted this on PledgeMe’s Blog)

Remember the movie Wall Street?

It’s that 126 minute long (fictional/realistic) summary of what’s completely wrong with the finance industry. There’s this particularly famous quote by the main character Gordon Gekko:

“Money never sleeps, pal!”

I’ve heard this quote recycled by Investment Bankers and Fund Managers in relation to their occupation and to capital raising. I get it: you go hard or go home.

The irony is they’re pretty wrong. They sleep, eat, socialise, and (hopefully) exercise. Their work – unless seamlessly and continuously transferred from New York to Singapore to London – pauses with life outside the suit and glass skyscraper.

Equity Crowdfunding actually doesn’t sleep.

When we take breaks to live life our technology and platform keeps turning over: pages load, videos stream, offer documents are read and money is invested. At all hours. On all days.

PledgeMe is now ten successful campaigns deep since Nov 2014. When our second capital raise closes at 10PM 24 July we will have raised somewhere between $2.8 and $3.2 million dollars for Kiwi companies.

Ten successes later here is when pledgers utilise our our platform to invest**

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Notes:

  • All 24 hours have seen investors pledge on our platform
  • 45% of investors pledge between 6pm-midnight
  • 47% of investors pledge during ‘regular’ hours (9am-5:59pm)

Financial Technology has made Gordon Gekko’s mantra a reality in the investment context and PledgeMe is here to use this power for good not evil, pal.

———————–

** Yeastie Boys aren’t included because they’re awesome and raised a world record half a million dollars in half an hour; therefore would have messed the data up (yes Yeasties’ you are the exception & not the norm)
** PledgeMe 2 – our second equity raise isn’t included because it hadn’t closed at the time of this post.

There was no fooling about it on 1 April 2014 when the Government legislated changes permitting equity crowdfunding as an additional framework of capital raising and investing for Kiwis.

Equity Crowdfunding was a USD $1.1 billion industry globally in 2014 (a growth of 182% year-on-year) and places New Zealand in the unique position of being on the forefront of this sector in many ways.

One year and one week into this uncharted ‘FinTech’ territory and it’s impressive how both Kiwi business owners and investors have embraced this new opportunity.

This brand new channel for companies to raise funding is already helping to bridge a capital gap that a lot of companies face when they’re starting up or growing.

Here’s where equity crowdfunding campaigns are at (7/4/2015):

  • Campaigns: 16
  • Successful: 8** (Snowball Effect 5; PledgeMe 3)
  • Current: 7** (PledgeMe 5, Snowball Effect 1, Equitise 1)
  • Unsuccessful: 2 (PledgeMe 2)

** PledgeMe currently has one current/successful campaign

With five equity campaigns live there has been nearly $250,000 of investment through PledgeMe‘s platform in the past 24 hours. Part of this investment saw SellShed blow by their targeted raise, meaning when their campaign closes on Thursday they will receive all pledged investment less PledgeMe’s 5% success fee.

The thing that I find most powerful about equity crowdfunding is that as the sun sets around NZ (or greying skies turn black if you live in Wellington) and traditional capital markets retire for some rest:

Equity crowdfunding platforms don’t sleep.

FinTech platforms don’t operate in the way traditional capital investment does.

That’s because click throughs, page/video views, offer doc. downloads, likes, re/tweets, shares, posts, mentions, comments and (most importantly) investors and members of your crowd don’t keep office hours.

———————

Editor’s note: I’m happy to update the above statistics that two PledgeMe campaigns closed Thursday 9 April. Both were successful and have resulted in a collective $917,000 of capital raised for SellShed and Pineapple Heads, meaning nine successful raises and five current opportunities. 

In my last post I discussed anticipation, and how research shows we more favourably anticipate experiential purchases over material ones.

The period of anticipation is an opportunity for increased revenue through sponsorship activation, strengthening your strategic partnerships and up-selling.

This is not a one size fits all initiative and to add real additional value to your consumers you need to:

  • Segment your customer base;
  • Find an initial subset to target;
  • Create new value specific to them.

Initially, locate periods of increased sales.

Once located, try and identify possible source(s) for this spike. Examples are: changes in your price, active or recent promotional campaigns, or any other unplanned traction received.

Next, segment the data over this period.

Look at two main consumer elements:

  1. Demographics: age, gender, occupation, hometown etc.;
  2. Behaviour: nature of purchase (solo, couple, group – family, friends), new vs. repeat purchaser, relation to time of year etc.

So… you’ve found initial target(s).

Now you need to know:

  • Why they purchased then;
  • What they need between purchase and consumption.

This can be done in a number of ways. I recommend:

  1. Direct contact. Depending on size and scale we’re talking either a phone call or personal email.
  2. Small survey. To get a better response rate offer some sort of reward or prize. Remember, the more you’re asking for the better the reward needs to be.

What are some good examples you’ve used or experienced to collect customer feedback?

One of mine is being asked to fill out “The World’s Shortest Survey (2.7 seconds)” by Grist.org… who can say no to that?

What was your highlight of:

  • last summer?
  • 2014?
  • the last five years?

What are you looking forward to most:

  • next summer?
  • in 2015?
  • in the next five years?

Your answers to these questions are likely to involve doing something rather thanbuying something as popularised more than a decade ago by Psychologists Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich in their paper “To Do or to Have? That Is the Question.”

A recent paper “Waiting for Merlot” co-authored by Gilovich takes this a step further by researching the differences in anticipation during experiential and material purchases. The key finding was that the anticipation of an experience is more exciting and pleasant than that of a material purchase, regardless of price, and experiential anticipation actually adds to the total value of a purchased experience.

Simply put: People positively anticipate their return trip to Hawaii for example, but don’t feel the same way about buying a new television.

So, someone has committed to an experience from you or your business… what are you doing to capitalise on this positive anticipation?

  • What is your plan from purchase through to consumption?
  • How do your sponsors and partners fit into this plan?

This opportunity begins at the point of purchase, not the point of entry.

What does this mean?

  • Anticipation is a valuable property to achieve additional revenue and increase brand association.
  • It’s a chance for sponsorship activation and for focusing on value adding strategic partnerships to better serve your consumers.

Pre-consumptive timelines are going to vary, so it’s important is to look through data and find common paths, or lines taken, to initially target (this is your low hanging fruit.)

These lines to consumption are created through analysing your sales data to determine some common subsets within segments (follow up post.)

This was originally a LinkedIn post

Paris at night by bike.

After realising the most economical – and most awesome – path back to New Zealand would lead me towards Europe for the first time in my life it forced me to make decisions on where to go and what to see on this whistle-stop tour.

After three months logging serious kilometres on buses around South America I was over the idea of any time consuming or overnight travel, so my soft play on arrival for a 12 day tour was moving at my leisure from Paris, through Brussels and Amsterdam before ending this visit in Stockholm.

Two of us were making our way from Morocco and fortunately a friend from Victoria moved to France two years ago for his Master’s and has since landed a job in Paris. So not only did we have a place to crash, we also had home court advantage on the: who, what, where, when and how of Paris. It really doesn’t get better than that.

One of the first nights in town we met up for dinner and a few drinks ‘after work’ (for Nick, that is). As the night was winding down (or so I thought) we started discussing how amazing this city is and how we as North Americans aren’t as fortunate to have the rich history and architecture that makes Europe… Europe.

Ten minutes later, the three of us had set off on a late night bike tour of Paris. We rode the streets for 2-3 hours and every few minutes we were stationary looking at one of the most magnificent buildings you’ve ever seen. Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Pompidou, Saint Chapelle, Champs Elysees, Bastille… you get the idea.

Another interesting thing to note with our adhoc tour is the whole thing was done using the city’s transit system, where a transit pass (day, week or month) entitles you to use Paris’ bicycles. So we rode the city to the first hours of the following day on city bikes, using the designated bike lanes. Between a pass and Uber the city is yours… World class city (or as some would say ‘stud city’.)

I think I said the word ‘unbelievable’ about 100 times that night… because it was. That was an incredible experience and such an amazing way to see a city as beautiful as Paris. We were very fortunate to have local knowledge on our side that night; Nick was able to amplify my time in Paris immensely. That’ll go down as one of my favourite nights this whole trip.

To put the icing on the cake, the photo of us (shown above) at the Eiffel Tower is as epic as it is fitting. John’s Mum got into and won a fight with breast cancer as I was moving to New Zealand and since it was breast cancer awareness month the tower was sporting the familiar logo along with a brilliant pink lighting. Since we all left on our travels she has been our biggest fan throughout so it was a very emotionally charging picture to have taken and one we all will cherish.

Awesome.

 

I’ve spent the last few months of my trip essentially winging it. Never booking the next stage of my trip before completing the most recent. Be it travel by plane, train, bus or… camel?

With a return deadline to NZ approaching quickly I conducted some heavy research on options back. Counter intuitively, from Eastern South America the cheapest option was via Europe and after scanning some flights/routes I came across a suspiciously cheap flight from São Paulo to Paris (via Morocco). With another friend of mine looking at a similar timeframe on leaving South America for Europe he looked into it further and found a way to break up the flight at no extra cost – so we did, giving us a week in Morocco.

Morocco has always been on my radar as an incredible place to travel but it was never part of the plan on this trip. Fast forward to the end of September and the two of us found ourselves reuniting at the São Paulo Airport in the wee hours of the morning after going separate ways post-World Cup to catch a flight onwards to a new country and continent for the both of us.

Morocco is unlike anywhere else I’ve seen or been and going to an ex-French colony with a 99% Muslim population after almost five months in South America was a culture shock, to say the least.

We had another good friend who met us in Morocco for a pretty full on week. Going from Casablanca to Marrakech then onwards south for a 3-day trek which extended down to the Sahara Desert – and included camels and sleeping in tents in the desert.

After returning to Marrakech from our trek we decided to unwind by having a night out at Le Bar Churchill, which renamed itself to celebrate one if their most loyal customers – Winston Churchill. After a very long three days it was exactly what we were after – world class cocktails and entertainment. It was the perfect evening to cap off a very unplanned visit to Morocco.

After this I head to Paris to catch up with a good friend of ours who’s been living in the city for a couple of years before heading onwards to Belgium, Netherlands and Sweden to catch up with friends, new and old.

I know this flying by the seat of your pants story sounds very similar to what comes from a gamblers mouth after a winning big. I have definitely had a few wins and losses on the board by winging it – but this was a big win and a very cool, and unexpected, week in Morocco.

On, on.

Salar de Uyuni. Bolivia.

In line with other video updates, I’ll keep the copy to a minimum:

Here’s a highlight reel from the Salar de Uyuni (Salt Flats) trip, which went from Uyuni, Bolivia to San Pedro, Chile. This three-day; two-night trip is a massive highlight on my South American adventure and the Salt Flats themselves were a catalyst to me deciding to head south and not north six weeks ago, and after this experience, I know it was the right decision.

This place and trek is epic, I highly recommend making sure you do a tour to the Salar and see as much of Bolivia as you can if you’re planning to travel this part of the world (that is, unless you’re Israeli).

Beyond the tour itself I also was very fortunate to take the trip with an incredible crew of people and had an awesome guide, it made such incredible experience that much better. Jungle Speed reunion soon, yeah?

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia: