Those who’ve worked in a bar before know that changing the beers kegs can be a time-consuming and often mismanaged process. The process is ripe for refinement, which is where Serato and Vend alumni Adrian Wills saw an opportunity.
This led Wills to launch Trickle, a software for bars to manage every aspect of on-ontap beer’sbeers lifecycles from the moment it arrives in a keg, to the moment when it’s placed in front of a patron and slurped down. Its hardware component can also track theft and wastage of beers through gathering the data of every drop of beer poured (or spilt).
“Without giving away our secret sauce, there’s a lot more to recording and understanding wastage than just logging everything and knowing what wasn’t sold,” Wills says.
“With every drop of beer we record, we get a better understanding of the way beer moves through the business. Even some of the most experienced bar owners I’ve spoken to have been surprised at the level of insight we can give on
He says thanks to his experience of working at Serato and Vend, he’s well versed in how to take an idea that has been kicking around for a while and forming it into an actual product.
“I began talking to more and more people in the bar and beer industry and pretty quickly it started to look like it could make a good business,” Wills says.
He begun testing Trickle’s platform out in The Beer Spot on Auckland’s North Shore in late 2015. The bar had a lot of taps, he says, so it became clear straight away how he could help them manage the bar through tracking the sales and usage of beer with his software.
But life isn’t all beer and skittles. It was during this trial that he worked out some kinks in the hardware, while learning that spending a lot of time hanging out in beer chillers could have some adverse side effects.
“At my daughter’s first birthday last year, I couldn’t really make a speech at her birthday party as my voice was non-existent due to a minor bout of pneumonia,” Wills says.
“I spent more and more time in the giant chiller at The Beer Spot when testing out hardware, but I learned the hard way that if you don’t dress appropriately, a little cold can turn bad relatively quickly.”
Come 2018, Trickle has now helped changed more than 3,000 taps and pour more than 500,000 beers across New Zealand. It has also been refined down into two products: Trickle Flow and Trickle Management.
Wills says Trickle Flow helps bars have a clear understanding of where their beer is going to ensure they’re not losing revenue, while Trickle Management is a way for free-house bars (bars that stock a different type of beer, such as craft beer, each time they change the keg) to reduce the amount of time spent on managing the different types of beers.
“By the time you’ve calculated prices, plugged information about the beer into point-of-sale, generated menus and updated any other systems, you’ve easily lost 15 to 20 minutes per tap change. Trickle reduces more than 90 percent of that time and it can be dealt with by any staff member.”
Trickle is now powering several bars across New Zealand, and is keen to find its way into more bars here in Aotearoa and across the ditch. The business has been entirely funded out of the pockets of Wills and his wife Vanessa’s pockets, but a Callaghan Innovation grant in 2017 provided a boost for Trickle’s R&D.
While it’s early days yet, Trickle is also looking at an artificial intelligence type component that can predict what times kegs will run dry, or when fridges need to be well stocked for busy periods.
Wills is also looking to stop consulting for other businesses and make Trickle a full-time gig very soon, so he says he’s interested to form strategic partnerships with people or businesses that can help Trickle expand across the New Zealand and Australian markets.
Trickle has also recently been accepted into Vodafone Xone's 2018 accelerator.
So, what’s the big, hairy, audacious goal? Wills says when Trickle is distilled down to its very essence, the aim is to make it a platform for beer data rather than a service.
“My goal is that it becomes a way for everyone involved in beer to be able to operate more efficiently and be a better business because of what we can learn about beer through the data we collect.”
We’ll drink to that.
Cast an eye around your home or office and it won’t be able to travel far without coming across some sort of electronic device, be it phone, laptop, tablet or TV. Our production and consumption of technology is more rapid than ever, but it’s also costing the planet greatly.
A 2017 e-waste report by the United Nations University reports e-waste has reached record levels at 44.7 million tonnes – or the weight equivalent of nine Great Pyramids of Giza, or 4,500 Eiffel Towers. Only 20 percent was recycled properly, with 80 percent thrown into a landfill or discarded.
Back home here in New Zealand, people discard 100,000 tonnes of e-waste per year, while a 2018 United Nations report also named and shamed New Zealand as one of the world’s largest generators of e-waste and as the only OECD country without any national regulations.
Enter Mint Innovation. The Auckland-based company has developed a biotechnology solution that uses chemicals and microorganisms to turn waste into gold – or in other words, to recover valuable metals from electronic waste.
As well as this, the process it uses to do so is gentle on the environment and happens at the point of collection, instead of having to move the waste to landfill.
The company was co-founded by Dr Will Barker, formerly a senior executive at Lanzatech.
He left when the company relocated overseas and established a new venture, Mint Innovation, alongside co-founder Matthew Rowe in 2016. The company has been based out of Level Two deep tech hub (the former home of Lanzatech and Rocketlab) for the last two years perfecting the technology at a pilot scale.
Mint Innovation’s process works by leaching metals – including gold – from printed circuit boards, a thin electronic feature that is used in everything from computers, to TVs, to mobile phones.
Chief science officer Dr Ollie Crush says if these circuit boards aren’t recycled correctly, they can be extremely destructive for the environment.
“Waste printed circuit boards are a hazardous material comprising a mixture of heavy metals that may leach into waterways from landfill,” Crush says.
“Some printed circuit boards are collected for export to smelters for burning, with greenhouse gases produced as a by-product. Worse still, an unknown portion of waste circuit boards are exported illegally to developing nations, where the rudimentary extraction methods used result in catastrophic environmental and health outcomes.”
Crush says printed circuit boards make up approximately three to four percent of the 100,000 tonnes of e-waste that makes it into New Zealand landfill, which equals about $50 million of metallic value.
But even if someone was wanting to collect e-waste in New Zealand, he says there are no facilities locally to process them, so it has to be sent to smelters in Europe or Asia through a complicated logistics chain.
Mint Innovation wants to change this by having facilities that can leach the resources on site in individual cities. Most recently, it has partnered with Remarkit, an e-waste collector, to build a metal recovery plant in Auckland and carry out the process on a much larger scale than ever before.
“By recovering value in the city or region of collection, Mint Innovation can provide recyclers a faster and higher payback in a transparent and environmentally responsible manner. Furthermore, the metals recovered can be fed straight back into the local ecosystem, providing support for an evolving circular economy,” Crush says.
The park will be up-and-running in 2019. Currently, Mint Innovation is raising $4 to $5 million in private investment to build the plant, with Crush saying overseas funding options are also being explored.
Speaking of funding, Crush says this has been one of the biggest challenges. Even though there’s been significant amounts of capital raised from local investors and support from government agencies such as Callaghan innovation, the Ministry for the Environment and NZTE, the tech Mint Innovation is creating is breaking new ground, so is a resource and capitalintensive process.
Most recently, the company received a $80,000 grant from the Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund. Crush says this is going towards a study into how a New Zealand metal recovery plant should operate.
“Following completion of this project, we will be ready to invest the necessary capital to make this plant a reality,” he says.
And if all goes to plan, this technology could be rolled out across urban centres throughout the world. After all, Crush says the company has global ambitions.
“Each Mint plant deployed has the potential for returning tonnes of gold, copper and other valuable metals to any local economy,” he says.
"The founding team have a strong commitment to New Zealand and cleantech. As such, we are excited to be developing and growing the technology in New Zealand, while working hard internationally to deploy Mint's gamechanging technology across the globe.”
Do you remember that Pythagorean theorem you were taught in high school? Me neither.
Throughout the years Kiwis spend in classrooms, it’s fair to say there’s a lot of the schooling curriculum that goes in one ear and out the other. However, one topic that gets brought up time and time again is the fact that financial literacy – a crucial life skill – isn’t taught in schools.
In fact, the most children might interact with money in their younger years is when they discover some coins under their pillow from the tooth fairy, which isn’t exactly the best grounding for budgeting later in life.
When 27-year-old Brittany Teei’s professional tennis career ended, she wanted to do something to help kids learn about money from an early age and build self-confidence in their decisions.
She had spent a lot of time in classrooms due to her Mum Teri being a teacher and saw how children hailing from Māori and Pacific Island backgrounds, like herself, were often at a disadvantage due to being at the lower end of the income spectrum.
“For communities from my cultural background, financial education isn’t the norm and a lot of the offerings out there didn’t address the cultural issues and barriers we face,” she says.
So Teei founded KidsCoin – an online education platform using a mock currency called ‘KidsCoin’ that teaches kids, as well as their relatives, good money habits from an early age.
“The big idea [behind KidsCoin] is all about financial empowerment for our communities,” she says.
“It’s important for kids to learn about money when they’re young, because it’s kind of like riding a bike. If you learn how to ride the bike or how to swim, as you get older, it’s second nature. Money is something everyone has to deal with, whether you have a
It’s important for kids to learn about money when they’re young, because it’s kind of like riding a bike. If you learn how to ride the bike or how to swim, as you get older, it’s second nature.
lot of it or you don’t have any of it. By building the right foundations and those habits and mindsets in the kids while they’re young, it sets them up to have those skills.”
But she says the most important aspect of KidsCoin is it isn’t just a crash course in how to do tasks like paying taxes. Instead, she says it creates cultural change by empowering people to be confident enough to make informed choices when it comes to money, rather than feeling overwhelmed or out of their depth.
“My initial focus was on my own communities and it’s a different skillset they need to learn: self-worth, as in ‘I can, I do have the ability, if I put in some work and have some opportunity, doors will open, but I have to put in the work.’ If we just gave them money, they’re not learning their own power, so this is a way of restoring that mana and helping them recognise their own abilities through engaged learning.”
KidsCoin provides a way for kids to experience the ‘lifecycle’ of money in a safe learning environment, Teei says. Through the platform, kids take part in educational quizzes tied into numeracy and literacy curriculum and when they answer questions correctly, they’re rewarded with the mock currency.
But it’s not just finances gamified – they also have to pay taxes, can harness their savings and earn interest, and take out a loan. A rewards store lets the kids cash in their hard-earned virtual dollars to buy real experiences, such as a tennis lesson with a coach. It’s hoped that these teachings will guide the kids away from falling into poverty traps later in life.
Teei says she’s had people tell her KidsCoin should eventually progress to giving children actual money, but she says that’s not the point.
“It’s empowering because you’re building your skills, putting in hard work and feeling like you can earn money without having the hang-ups associated with real money.”
Another unique part of the software is it’s designed so that parents and grandparents of the children can also come on the educational journey and experience their own learnings about money.
“When you’ve got a 75-year-old kaumatua working with his or her grandchild and they’re having epiphanies around saving or digital education, there’s something really beautiful and powerful in that,” Teei says.
The software costs $5 for each child, while the company makes money from partnerships with corporate businesses who want to offer something to the kids. For example, Teei says if Air New Zealand wants more Māori and Pacific people to be in their digital and tech teams, KidsCoin works with them to tailor content around this and encourage students to check it out as a career option.
KidsCoin also works with social service providers and Iwi to try address key issues in these communities. Looking ahead, Teei says they’re looking to expand the business in terms of staff and tech capabilities. A few schools in the US are already piloting the technology to see if it fits in with their curriculum, while she has been approached from social enterprises further abroad who are also interested in the software.
And given the international interest, it looks like KidsCoin’s idea is right on the money.
Hello there. We've given the Elevator Pitch section a makeover thanks to our friends at Flick Electric Co, so you get to read about three awesome entrepreneurs per i ssue i nstead of j ust one. And, i n a new video series, we're profiling one start- up i n an elevator each month. Choice.