Here at Locus we are all about collaborating and eating. No wonder we were hot to trot to hear about collaboration stories, while being served breakfast at the latest E.A.T. Breakfast series hosted by NZTE.
The three speakers shared their personal and business experience on collaboration in a competitive world.
Judy Finn – Neudorf Vineyard and Family of Twelve
Judy is no stranger to the wine community in New Zealand. She and her husband started their viticulture and wine-making adventure in 1978, backed by fearlessness, aiming for excellence. Through trial and error and a great sense of community (and persistence) they built up Neudorf Vineyards. As the industry grew, they were one of the first of 3 winemakers in the country, so did the competition and (international) demand. Neudorf was looking for a smarter way to get themselves in the spotlights.
One thing to realize is that winemaking in New Zealand is an expensive undertaking and therefore really needs to positioned as an upmarket products, perfectly suited for export. The problem is that it is be incredible time consuming, not to mention costly, to travel around the world and get people to listen to a small boutique vineyard from New Zealand. The story of New Zealand however always resonated with people around the world.
This understanding formed the basis of Family of Twelve, a fraternity of twelve of New Zealand’s most prestigious and enduring artisanal wineries. A marketing collective that joins forces to share knowledge and promote New Zealand wine abroad and locally. Practically, this means they send a couple of the family members to conventions around the world, showcasing all New Zealand wine regions and the wines from the family members.
The model is underpinned by a simple set of rules: be a good person (generous and honest), make good wines (aim for excellence), and make decisions in 12 hours. As a result they not only cut back their individual marketing spends, they also gained a beautiful extended family that share the same values and love for the industry as a whole. It makes the work of selling easier and more satisfying.
Judy’s story showcases the power of teaming up with like-minded industry fellows to go beyond your individual capability. Without the Family of Twelve, Neudorf wouldn’t have been able to grow their international reach and contribute to the Industry as a whole.
Take away points
- Be fearless and aim for excellence. It will make you happier.
- Nurture culture inside your company as well among your peers. The result is incredibly valuable.
- Team up for greater (international) reach.
Karl Stevenson – Trimax
Trimax is in the business of manufacturing and distributing professional lawnmowers. Their professional equipment is used by some of the most prestigious golf courses around the world and even the royals in the U.K. Over the years Trimax has carefully built its brand and products on the back of a collaborative mindset.
Karl’s talk looked at the three Trimax focus areas that has led them to become leader in their industry, and more importantly created a great internal culture.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Trimaxx has gained lots of insights by involving their entire team. Asking for feedback and help, from the distributor all the way to the shop floor and accounts. By taking a slightly vulnerable position they improved their relationships and ultimately speed up their innovation. They also pulled in experts when needed and did a ton of real-life testing with the people who handle their equipment on a daily basis. This method creates buy-in across the board and leads to valuable insights.
Focus on your culture
You’re only as good as your team. Their sense of ownership and appreciation will lead to amazing teamwork. Opening up and letting people in, creates a great culture based on empathy and trust. A good company culture is caught, not taught. It needs to start from the top, so people feel genuinely part of something special. Don’t dismiss the importance of culture.
Mixing up your in-house tech team with contract manufacturers can have positive side effects. Rather than keeping all the knowledge to yourself, share it with your manufacturers. This creates a strong relationship and can push them to work in a more advanced and efficient matter. Which ultimately affects your bottom line.
Take away points, or better said ‘Karl’s great summary’
- Declare war on your ego
- Learn to love the insight – fall in love with the problem not the solution
- Love your customer and team
- Tease out tensions
- Create space, time and rituals
- Create a culture within yourself
Anna Guenther – Pledge Me
In 2012, after living and working all around the world, Anna came back to New Zealand and decided to start Pledge Me; a crowdfunding platform focused on helping kiwi’s turning their plans into reality. Anna’s ambition finally came to life when crowdfunding was made a legal form of capital and fund raising in 2014.
A close connection
The scene of crowdfunding is young, but the beauty is found in the accessibility of it all. Crowd funding is not exclusive to high net wealth investors. People like you and I can give money and be part of something pretty cool in return.
Unlike other platforms such as snowball and Kickstarter, Pledge Me focusses on involvement of friends, family, customers and fans of the individuals or companies campaigning. In a way it’s a far more emotional collaboration or investment, it’s more than just a monetary contribution. And the supporters are, not surprisingly, incredible loyal.
The types of projects that are run on Pledge Me strike a socially responsible cord, as they often affect communities around you. One of the greatest examples is the Eat My Lunch project, that was backed through the Pledge Me Lend model, and has brought lunches to over 180,000 kids in poverty. Every lunch you buy, the company gives a lunch to a kiwi kid in need. It’s crowdfunding of a different sort, helping our own communities and children that can’t ask for help.
Even though collaboration is at the heart of Pledge Me, Anna bought up the tough conversation of how often she sees structural sexism around her. When asked to contribute to an article and represent the female voice, she asked why me? The answer surprising and painful at the same time: there are not a lot of strong leading woman around.
Anna refused to believe this and crowdfunded a list to help the journalists of NZ easily find our leading ladies. Currently with 628 names on the list, this is an open platform. You can add those important leading ladies in your life to the list and help spread the word!
Anna did not stop there. She took a strong look at her own company and realised she needed to find a better balance. This resulted in an addition of two woman on her board, including a dame! Her mission to empower woman continues and she is part of a group of woman hosting a series of unconferences called:
It took Anna a while to say she is a feminist, a label that has been misused all too often. For Anna it is more about, well.. Getting shit done, through a simple lens: is it feasible, doable and valuable.
Take away points
- Collaboration has many different shapes and forms, but thrives when there is an emotional connection
- Be resilient.
- Be open minded and start change within yourself.