Every once in awhile, you come across something so inspirational it sends shivers up your spine.
While watching The Martian the other night with Mr 12, they included a snippet from John F Kennedy’s Rice Speech, which JFK delivered when I was two years old. I’d seen the quote before, but I’d never seen the entire speech. It’s worth the 17 minutes to watch, not only for the inspirational content, but for the inspired way in which the speech was constructed.
This notion is at the heart of every startup, and indeed of most worthwhile human endeavors.
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
“But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun — almost as hot as it is here today — and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.”
Which begs the question: what happened to America in the last 54 years? Perhaps that’s the subject of a future blog post.
An enthusiast, investor and business mentor he can often be found coaching startup companies through the Lightning Lab Programmes or mentoring teams of early-stage entrepreneurs at Wellington Start Up Weekend.
Why is Wellington such a great place for startups? It all comes down to scale. “We are not so small we don’t have resources but we are not so large that we fragment into self contained inward looking groups. People really do want to work with each other in Wellington, even with people they don’t like. We all want to make Wellington better. And it helps that you can walk across town in 20 minutes – although it takes you 30-40 because you keep on bumping into people you haven’t seen in a while – it’s great. If I go to the airport and I don’t run into someone I know I feel cheated. It’s like family. That scale is very important and I don’t want to lose it. That’s all.” With Dave on board, I feel confident as a Wellingtonian that Wellington will continue to be a great place to start something up, for years to come.
Creativity is the spark that occurs when you combine seemingly unrelated things, shove an uncooperative idea into an unexpected context, or look at something familiar in a radically unfamiliar light. That spark of creativity is fun and essential, but much more difficult and rewarding is turning that spark into a steady flame or bushfire of enterprise through experimentation, empathy with your audience, and dogged determination. This is the task most start-up founders face
I recently arrived back in Wellington from the Startup Nations Summit in Mexico. On my flight from Auckland to Wellington on 29 November 2015, I passed over the Karori Rip just south of Mana Island.
The Karori Rip is an interesting phenomenon, basically a standing wave formed in specific tidal conditions in Cook Strait. In this case, it was high tide on the Pacific (left) side, and low tide on the Tasman (right) side. In the photo, you can see the wave roiling.
Then, on the same flight, approaching Wellington Airport from the north, I was welcomed back home by this:
I fall in love with Wellington over and over again. After being in the cities of North America with dubious air quality, she was truly a sight for sore eyes.
There’s only one thing I want to say today: Christchurch, you beauty!
When people ask me what I’m about, I tell them I’m building the future I want to live in. We’re all doing that today, here at Lightning Lab Christchurch Demo Day.
Look around you. The New Christchurch is filled with diversity and entrepreneurial spirit. We are transforming the brain drain from the quakes into a brain gain.
The New Christchurch was not prototyped with number eight wire and built in brick, it was laid out in a CAD system and is being fabricated in high-tech materials.
In The New Christchurch, the first question people ask you isn’t “what school did you go to”, it’s “what startups are you involved with” or “what countries are you doing business in”.
We’re building the future we want to live in, right here, right now. It’s a job too important to be left to government – they’re an important partner, but it must be led by people willing to take risks. Investors, that’s us!
While we mourn the losses from the quakes, we’re excited about that future.
Cantabs, you’re the most resilient people I’ve ever met. I want you to know that today, the rest of the country is here backing you.
So investors, don’t hold back. These Lightning Lab companies are The New Christchurch, and the future of New Zealand.
Let’s build that future together.
Address to the investors at Lightning Lab Christchurch Demo Day, 5 November 2015