Written by SWTeam

Serial entrepreneur Maria Stockman is volunteering a wealth of experience in multiple sectors and the whole process of starting, growing and exiting a business to the participants of Startup Weekend.

Q: Tell us a bit about your dealings with the entrepreneurial world so far?

"I've managed and grown two audiology businesses, one for an employer (Bay Audiology) and one of my own, from which I successfully exited (to a Danish multinational). 

To grow my own, I needed to be innovative in my approach to differentiate myself from the big boys; I did so by focusing on service delivery rather than products.

When you're thinking about Audiology, it's tempting to only think about the clinical and therefore patient-related care aspects of the profession. My experience, however, is that private sector audiology is probably the hardest sales and marketing work you will ever do (who did you ever meet who wants to spend many thousands of dollars on hearing aids?).  

These experiences have given me a good grasp of start-ups, finance, investment, scalability, team building, customer focus, marketing, biz development, systems, assessing/negotiating investments, IP strategy, etc. and crafting/negotiating licensing deals. 

Q: Tell us a bit about why and how you can help Tauranga Startup Weekend participants?

It sounds like I've been through it all!  But there is always more to learn.  My latest endeavour is a high-tech non-invasive sensing and detection company. We are focussing first on the aviation/border security markets, commercialising IP purchased from AgResearch (CRI). We do sophisticated scanning, at the moment mostly with X-ray. I'm a co-founder, investor and am also in the Executive Director role right now. 

I’m one of those annoying people who can see the overall picture clearly – but I can dive into the detail if I need to. That can help Tauranga Startup Weekend! I have a knack for being able to describe the 'how' of actually 'getting stuff done’. Having said that, I prefer to stay in the overall picture space, hence my love of governance.   

I suppose the super-power I'm bringing to Tauranga Startup Weekend is to be Master-Question-Asker! I ask many, many, many questions – doesn't sound like a super-power? Well, from experience, asking good questions is the best way to get clarity and sharpen focus on what you are trying to do. It allows you to understand the landscape from many angles and get to the crux of things – critical if you want to do a realistic opportunity assessment (the opposite of risk management, I like to be positive), create a winning business strategy and carry that through to plan/project implementation.  

I'm a values-based and human-centric entrepreneur. When seeking how best to address/solve a problem I focus on BOTH the customer and business sides of the problem equation and my preference is to take a longer-term view (as opposed to the short-term, high shareholder return at any cost approach you may have seen here or there).   

The sectors my board roles have covered include education (ECE, tertiary and professional), sport, critical response, philanthropy, science & technology, agriculture and health.  

Of other bits of knowledge and experience that might be useful to some budding entrepreneur in Tauranga... I know the baby-boomer and aged populations well (from my audiology business experience). I grew up on a dairy farm and spent time with NZ Young Farmers – so I understand the primary sector; I have a Science (BSc) degree – main areas include biochem, chemistry, physiology, pharmacology.   

Q: Tell us a bit about why you think TGASW is a good thing? 

Tauranga Startup Weekend is an excellent, short, sharp intro to starting a business. Where else can you, in one weekend, get to understand and practice using the tools used worldwide to identify a problem – a real one – that people will pay to solve and start building a solution.

But more than that it also allows you to build a network – people who can work with you on your startup – team mates, mentors, experts. No entrepreneur can do it alone. You'll need a team if you want to move forward after the weekend, and all for $99! Why wouldn't you do it!? "

Come and meet Maria and other exceptional business mentors on September 23-25 - Secure your spot here


Thank you to Tauranga Startup Weekend Sponsors


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