Week Five at the R9 Accelerator… Disturbing the Universe with Nick Gerritsen… Pitch proposals of edible t-shirts and ‘Real Parenting’…? That’s what happens as part of #AcceleratorLife

Week five means that we’re almost half way through the R9 Accelerator programme…
Yet despite this, it has involved a LOT of firsts…

Problem Discovery vs. Success Discovery

All of the R9 teams have spent the last five weeks looking at ‘Problem Discovery’… In each case it has differed, but as a general they’ve been trying to narrow down the problem area, and to dig deep enough to find the real pain points.

Throughout, the teams are gathering data, not only abut the problem area (which as they research can change) but also the customers they’re focused on.

The difference comes when teams switch from looking at the problem, to looking at the potential solutions… Already we have teams who are looking at a different space than when the programme started.

Because the problems of one customer can be hugely different from another, the solutions also need to reflect this… The solution they find which suits both of the problem and customer is the winner – but to get to this point, the teams will change their problem, their customer, their solution… or just change their minds…

In the startup world, this is known as a:


– Ross Geller, Friends

Ross Geller – “PIVOT!” (image found here)

Lab Tech Life

For me, the week included facilitating sessions with some of the teams around rebranding.

One of these was the Business Buddy team, who are working to make exporting easier for businesses in New Zealand. By the end of the session, the team had decided on a new name – oneX – and I had worked up some basic sketches around the values they aim to provide businesses.

Later in the week, I ran a brain-storm session with the Tender Advantage team. They have been considering a name change, due to the value their solution may be able to provide within other industry sectors…

Kicking off the first One-Track Dance Party was Traject…
To liven up the atmosphere, and wake the teams up, we started the mid-week ritual of (now) One-Track Dance Party. Each week, a different team hosts as DJ, with their choice of track to pump out over the speakers and get everybody on their feet and moving about.

The week drew to a close with our first (and last) ‘The Bachelor’-style incarnation of our weekly Cohort meeting…
This essentially turned into a Compliment Circle, with people nominating each other to take a step towards the prize rose, before the challenge to pick it up with the teeth and no-hands was thrown down…

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New branding for Business Buddy – now oneX
Brain-storm session with Tender Advantage around renaming
One-Track Dance Party
The Bachelor-style cohort meeting

Do I dare disturb the universe? – Nick Gerritsen

Nick began his talk with a bit about his past life – both as a commercial lawyer and an advisor within NZ Government… and how that has lead him to become a leader in innovation and social enterprise.

With a talk titled ‘Do I dare disturb the universe?’, Nick came, spoke and challenged all of the R9 teams to think not only about the big picture, but the bigger picture:
What impact could their project have on the world ecosystem…? Could their work initiate changed perspectives, making people question morals…?

These were all the sorts of questions that Nick posed to the teams, along with finishing his talk with a challenge:
The following week, all teams would have one opportunity to pitch (for 2 minutes) for a spot at Wellington’s 7×7 event a few weeks later…

Teams would be judged on:
• Best pitch delivery
• Strongest articulation of solution
• Most transformational concept on a scale of innovation, social responsibility and global perspectives

Picture – Nick presenting his “Do I dare disturb the universe?” talk

R9 vs Lightning Lab XX: Round 1

This was one of the first (official) crossover events between the two accelerators, and an opportunity for the teams to find out how others were coping with the pace and workload involved.

In preparation for the event, we encouraged the teams to practice their elevator pitches on us – and some even has us pitch their opportunities back to them!

The night went really well – and I think it’s safe to say – we were blown away and really impressed with how all of the teams did with their pitches. There were a lot of laughs after the ‘official’ pitches too, as we divided the entire group into (mixed cohort) teams. They then had 10 minutes to come up with a pitch formed from 5 randomly* chosen words…
*the words were themed, with teams picking 2 technologies, 2 adjectives and 1 audience for their product/services

I think my two favourite pitches were:
• Soilent T-shirts – providing nourishment from clothing, and reducing the amount of materials disposed annually…
• And Real Parenting – the quantum mechanic-drone, which would discipline your children while you did more important things…

Picture – Our impressive haul of pizzas for the event…
(I was laughing too hard to take any photos during the event)