Istarted my career when I was 18 years old after dropping out of university. The year before I’d spent a gap year in Turkey where I was teaching English to children in orphanages across the country. When
I got back, I went to Victoria University, where I started a computer science degree. I was just one of just three girls in a class of about 500 males. It was pretty uninspiring and I felt I could spend my time a lot more productively elsewhere.
I ended up dropping out mid-way through my first semester to co-found this amazing app, STQRY. It’s an exploration app for museums and cultural sites. My parents were super, super disappointed – they didn’t get it at first.
Within the first month of developing STQRY I’d moved to Seattle and was pitching to some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies in the world. To get it off the ground I’d work 14 hours a day. Then, when I got home I’d teach myself about Agile software development, finance, HR, project management and how to take a concept to product management. I had to upskill quickly because even within the STQRY board there wasn’t a lot of guidance. Over the space of four years we’d raised $5.5 million from a US venture capital firm and grown the company to more than 50 people.
I then decided to leave and pursue my second startup, Non-Stop Tix, a ticketing platform built for small venues and artists that didn’t charge huge booking fees. I sold that pretty quickly to a local promoter.
During the past year and a half I’ve been evolving Passphere. It’s a ticketing and analysts platform to help large-scale events better understand their audiences. We’re launching in New Zealand in February, then going global in March. We plan to quickly open offices in Sydney, Amsterdam, Singapore and the US.
be easy, but it ended up being really, really difficult. We barely had any money for several years and
I remember a time when my siblings and I would care for ourselves because our parents were working so hard. They ended up opening their own business in Richmond, Nelson. It’s called Zara’s Turkish Kebabs and it’s still there, 21 years on.
I’ve got a really tight network of female founders in Auckland that I’m very close with. At the moment I’m spending four days a week in Auckland and the remainder in Wellington. That means most weekends I’ll be with Sian Simpson from Kiwi Landing Pad, Sharndre Kushor co-founder of Crimson Education and Lisa King from Eat My Lunch. They’re my tribe. We’re all on the same sphere, we share the same issues and the same pain points. It’s a really hard dynamic being a female startup entrepreneur in this world and they just get it.
On workdays, I need to be up and gone fast, so I love ease when it comes to my wardrobe.
I’ve narrowed my wardrobe down to 10 outfits and I just rotate through them because I don’t have time to think about what I’m going to wear. I’ve got my morning routine down to 20 minutes, it’s a fine skill now. I only buy from New Zealand or Australian designers. Even when I lived in the US for seven years I’d alway shop New Zealand made. I like to buy locally because you get the sense that international clothing brands, particularly in the US, are overproduced.
In the limited amount of free time that I have, I like to be active. Lately I’ve been going to the driving range to smash balls. It’s so therapeutic, you have no idea. And if I have some free time on a Sunday afternoon I’ll go for a run around Oriental Bay, go to the gym or play a bit of tennis.