el­e­va­tor pitch

Idealog - - ELEVATOR PITCH -

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

miss­ing beer.”

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.

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