Entrepreneurial ambassadors

Our ambassadors draw on a wealth of experience to help us promote entrepreneurship.

Aro Digital

The team from Aro Digital on Wellington's waterfront.

Based on the Oriental Bay beachfront, Aro Digital is one of New Zealand’s up and coming digital marketing agencies. In 2017, the founders of Aro Digital, Tim Dorrian and Jonty Hodge, met each other at a Victoria University of Wellington mentor event. When they got deep into conversation, they found they had a shared passion and goal to drive data-driven results that actually lead to businesses growth, and to help steer businesses away from wasting their hard-earned money on marketing cowboys. Fast forward three years, and Aro Digital is now a team of 12 (mostly graduates from the University) who dedicate their time and expertise to help businesses such as Meridian, Red Cross, and Weta Workshop use digital marketing to smash their goals.

Jesse Armstrong

A profile image of Jesse Armstrong.

Jesse Armstrong is the founder and CEO of Vaka Interactiv, the storytelling tech company behind 'Culture Lens', the world's first cultural storytelling portrait that brings storytellers to life. He is a passionate entrepreneur and believes mentorship is most effective when it is specific and calculated. Jesse specialises in design thinking, market validation and the art of preselling. He loves working with early stage start-ups to help them through the first stages of their entrepreneurial journey.

Richard Doyle

A profile image of Richard Doyle.

Richard Doyle is a Harvard Business School graduate and co-founder of award-winning US brewer The Harpoon Brewery which is known for its line of craft beer and cider offerings. In addition to being a craft brewing pioneer, Harpoon has been recognised over the years for its creative and inclusive business success. Harpoon’s awards include two-time member of the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest growing private companies, EY Entrepreneur of the Year, City of Boston Green Business Award, Boston Globe’s Top Places to Work in Massachusetts, and the Boston Business Journal’s Top Charitable Contributor. Richard is currently Chairman of Enjoy Beer, LLC—a company that partners with craft breweries to give them the resources of a big company without being acquired by a ‘faceless multinational’.

Oren Gershtein

A profile shot of Oren Gershtein by a lake with mountains in the background.

Oren Gershtein specializes in creating innovation ecosystems. IdealityRoads, the company that Oren founded, builds knowledge and management capabilities in innovation across academia, government and industry, with a focus on partnerships that foster economic growth. Previously, Oren was CEO of one of the top technology incubators in Israel, developing over 75 start-ups into globally-oriented businesses. Oren serves as a partner in CITES, an early-stage venture capital fund that is the first Israeli-style technology incubator in Latin America. He has been active in the Kiwi ecosystem for over five years as an advisor to Callaghan Innovation on innovation ecosystem projects including adapting the Israeli Technology Incubator model to the Kiwi ecosystem.

Lillian Grace and Ngapera Riley

A profile image of Lilian Grace and Ngapera Riley.

Lillian Grace and Ngapera Riley are both part of the leadership team at FigureNZ, an innovative organisation that promotes data as a language in which everyone can be fluent.

Lillian believes that societies and individuals will benefit when anyone can use data to inform their thinking without requiring intermediaries. She established Figure.NZ by taking the unique position that everyone is a user of data.

Ngapera is formerly the Global Director of the World Class New Zealand Network at Kea (and a Figure.NZ board member). She believes that everybody should have access to good information about our surroundings, and that this crucial to help us plan better futures together. Just as better access to data should be for everyone, Lillian and Ngapera believe that entrepreneurial thinking can help everyone too.

Adiraj Gupta

A profile shot of Adiraj Gupta.

Adiraj Gupta is founder and CEO of Crypto Launchpad, a blockchain due diligence company that provides independent due diligence, investment banking/listing, and security services to tokens and other alternative currencies in the blockchain space. He is also the driver of the Crypto Launchpad's charity work. On top of his work with Crypto Launchpad, Adiraj is Entrepreneur-in-Residence for The Strategist where he’s worked on national and international deals and is a member of the ISO 307 standards committee creating standards on Distributed Ledger Technology for the planet. He is also on the Momentum Wellington Investment Committee. A graduate of Victoria University, in 2017 Adiraj challenged Ian Williamson, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Wellington School of Business and Government, to do more to support student entrepreneurs. Adiraj and Crypto Launchpad subsequently became Atom #1, the first residents and test pilots of The Atom.

Marwan W. Jamal

Marwa Jamal by a sign that reads, The Atom.

Marwan has in-depth expertise in entrepreneurial and startup growth in multinational regions, including The Middle-East and the America. He has contributed to the entrepreneurial ecosystem globally and within KSA and the MENA Region through his role in launching and managing the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) chapter in Saudi Arabia and has now launched the GEN New Zealand chapter, promoting entrepreneurship across Aotearoa. Marwan has extensive experience in building and running acceleration and incubation programs. He ran the first Global Accelerators Network (GAN) accredited program in Saudi Arabia in Flat6Labs as well as contributing to the development of multiple university-based entrepreneurship centers. He has also launched multiple startups in the field of advisory and financial services serving small and medium enterprises in particular.

Kati Kasza

A profile image of Kati Kasza.

Kati Kasza is passionate about learning, skincare and start-ups. An arts graduate from Victoria University, the idea for Evolu, the company she founded in 1997, came after Kati worked as an international flight attendant. She could never find skincare products that were both ethically-sourced and could deal with air-conditioned interiors, time-zone changes, and abbreviated sleep, so drawing on her Hungarian family traditions and Kiwi ingredients she created her own. Kati hosted the first entrepreneurship event in The Atom: a ‘fireside chat’ for female students in June 2018.

Colin Kennedy

A profile shot of Colin Kennedy

Dr Colin Kennedy is a Senior Innovation Specialist at Creative HQ, New Zealand’s leading provider of structured innovation programmes for startups, corporates and government. Colin is also an Advisory Board Member for Future Leaders NZ. His previous roles include Head of Impact for Young Enterprise, Director of Programmes for Fulbright New Zealand and Principal Advisor for Student Civic Engagement at Victoria University of Wellington. Colin is always looking for ways to make trouble and create opportunities for innovators.

Stefan Korn

A profile image of Stefan Korn.

Stefan Korn is CEO of CreativeHQ and a key figure in Wellington’s entrepreneurship ecology. An experienced entrepreneur, strategist and investor, Stefan has a PhD in Neural Networks/Artificial Intelligence and an MBA in International Business. He has launched and developed many successful ventures in New Zealand through his private incubator WebFund and his angel investment company HyperStart. In 2010, he was recognised as New Zealander of the Year by North & South Magazine for innovation in parenting education for his start-up “DIYFather”, and in 2012, Wiley published Stefan’s book based on his entrepreneurial activities Successful Online Start-ups for Dummies.

Arama Kukutai

A profile image of Arama Kukutai.

Arama Kukutai holds degrees in law and business from Victoria University of Wellington, and has been an investor, company founder and entrepreneur in the Agribusiness sector for over 20 years. He served as Executive Chairman of PKW Farms, a diversified investment entity involved in dairy farming and aquaculture activities in New Zealand, Asia and Australia, and led the New Zealand government’s Trade & Investment agency in North America. He is a co-founder and partner at Finistere Ventures and has overseen the growth of Finistere’s global portfolio, which now includes offices in New Zealand, Tel Aviv, Israel, San Diego, Silicon Valley and Dublin. Arama also serves on the boards of, or advises, a wide range of companies, including AgGenetics, Biolumic, CropX, Growers Edge Financial, Plenty, Taranis, ZeaKal, as well as the Fresh Start and Sprout accelerators, and is an active commentator and thought-leader on Agrifood sustainability and investment trends.

Chris Mather

A profile image of Chris Mather.

Chris Mather is the founder of Point Zero, a digital agency revolutionising the way products and brands are promoted. Chris is often referred to as a ‘tech wizard’, one who uses the latest technology such as holographic displays and virtual reality to push the boundaries of what is possible in promotional software. His background in computer science has influenced Point Zero to develop content that enables customers to learn about and engage with brands in innovative new ways. Chris has been involved with the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp for many years, both as a participant and mentor, and is keen to help new innovative NZ companies get up on their feet and stay up.

Don Pettit

Donald Pettit

Don Pettit is an entrepreneur with a unique blend of major corporate innovation, serial entrepreneurship, and ongoing strategic and Brand consulting experience. Don has 40 years’ experience in the Beauty business, beginning in marketing with major companies like Procter and Gamble, and Estee Lauder, and on the way, founding and selling two multi-million dollar international Brands. He also built a significant consulting business in Strategy, Branding, innovation and Marketing after running a major Branding Agency in New York. Don has synthesized his experience into a multi-faceted approach to starting, building, and reinventing businesses and delights in helping emerging businesses.

Mary Quin

A profile image of Mary Quin with a mountain in the background.

Mary Quin’s career spans over 30 years with Fortune 500 corporations and start-up businesses in the United States, where she held senior management positions at Xerox, Avid Technology, and Kodak.  Mary obtained her BSC(Hons.) in Physics at the University of Canterbury before completing a PhD at Northwestern University in Chicago and becoming the first NZ woman to graduate with an MBA from Harvard. Mary returned to NZ as the inaugural CEO (2013-2016) of Callaghan Innovation. Mary sees huge potential for NZ’s tech-savvy entrepreneurs to grow global businesses by blending their distinctive individualism and creativity with a willingness to collaborate with others and tap resources worldwide.

Sonya Williams and Brooke Roberts

Brooke Roberts and Sonya Williams by a sign that says Sharesies.

Sonya Williams is Co-Founder and Director of the investment platform Sharesies. Sonya comes from a career in the start-up, software-as-a-service and banking communities where she has led global marketing and product management—specialising in product strategy, customer acquisition, engagement and retention.

Brooke Roberts is Co-Founder, Director, and CEO of Sharesies. Brooke has experience leading large savings and investment portfolios and start-ups, as well as experience in product management and global marketing.  A people person first and foremost, Brooke is fascinated by how behaviour drives outcomes.

Brooke and Sonya saw an opportunity to make investing more accessible and provide everyone the chance to grow their wealth. They are passionate about leadership, culture, making money easy and helping other young entrepreneurs on their journeys.

Suse Reynolds

A profile image of Suse Reynolds.

Suse Reynolds believes in the power of angel investments to change the world and has a portfolio of more than 20 investments, all of which she believes can do just that. Suse co-founded AngelHQ (Wellington region’s angel network with over 80 members and some high profile successes to its name) in 2006 and remains on the board. Suse has been a member of the Angel Association since its inception in 2008 and took on the Executive Director role in 2012. Suse is a member of the Wellington Branch Committee of the Institute of Directors, a member of the Viclink Momentum Committee providing commercialisation advice and support to budding student entrepreneurs and was recently appointed to Matu Ventures Investment Committee. Suse is keen to help connect young entrepreneurs with angel investors and venture capital.

Michael Sturtz

A profile image of Michael Sturtz.

Michael Sturtz found early success as a sculptor, fabricator, and product designer and earned his MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1999, he set out to reinvent the idea of arts education, founding The Crucible in Oakland which is now the largest non-profit industrial arts education facility in the world. In 2012, Michael accepted a teaching appointment at Stanford’s ‘d.school’ and founded The Stanford Creative Ignition Lab at Autodesk in San Francisco. In early 2017, Michael was invited to lead the prototyping lab at X (formerly Google X). Today, Michael is an internationally renowned speaker and a regular visitor to New Zealand, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.

Tui Te Hau

A profile shot of Tui Te Hau.

Tui Te Hau is interested in how organisations innovate and connect meaningfully with their audiences. She has built complex national innovation programmes from scratch, including Mahuki: the world’s first business accelerator for the culture sector (located within Te Papa). Tui has also been a New Zealand Trade Commissioner in Melbourne, General Manager of a leading creative digital agency, and Chief Executive of Creative HQ. Tui also led the Maori Enterprise Team of Trade NZ (now NZ Trade and Enterprise). A scholarship recipient for the 2017 Global Women Breakthrough Leaders Program and a finalist in the Government category of the Wellingtonian of the Year Awards 2017, Tui is passionate about entrepreneurship in the creative capital.

Phil Veal

A profile image of Phil Veal.

Phil Veal is a private investor and business leader with over 25 years of experience, across a wide range of industry sectors, in helping to make businesses more valuable. While based in Wellington, he has spent most of his career in New York City. Most recently, Phil was CEO of Rangatira, where he delivered double-digit compound returns to investors and led a portfolio of private businesses including Hellers, Tuatara Brewing, and Rainbow’s End. Phil is a civil engineer with a B.E.(Hons.) from the University of Canterbury. He also holds a post-graduate Certificate in Investment Banking from NYU. In 2018, Phil visited Wellington School of Business and Government and noted that we needed to reach out further into the innovation community, and that there was nothing here that celebrated the name of our building and NZs most famous innovator: Ernest Rutherford. These insights lead to us name our new innovation space ‘The Atom’.