Incubate Applications now open!
Rotorua business owner Lee McKenzie urges others to apply for Incubate, a 12 week programme that helps start-ups or newly established businesses and social enterprises succeed and grow.
McKenzie owns Ace Company an online retail store for racing drones, parts and accessories to primarily the New Zealand market, but is growing their export sales. He started the business 18 months ago and has a goal to become the leading Drone Racing brand in the country and take drone racing and freestyle mainstream.
Drone Racing is quickly becoming a popular sport and is a growing industry. ESPN, Mountain Dew, SKYTV, and Red Bull are all investing in drone racing overseas and there are now professional athletes in the industry.
McKenzie graduated from the Incubate programme in March, which is run by Firestation, the Bay of Plenty’s business growth centre and delivers the programme in partnership with Rotorua X. It is also supported by Employers and Manufacturers Association BOP.
“It’s a great, affordable programme that gives you valuable tools to move forward with your business. The sessions are reasonably intimate and easy to feel comfortable in.”
He originally applied for the Incubate programme to help improve his business acumen and get guidance on how to realise his dream for company. McKenzie said the programme delivered this with some extra benefits as well.
“I had some amazing businesses in the programme with me that I could draw off their experience. I’m going into another Firestation programme for the networking opportunities as well as the material. Plus, I just loved the learning,” he said.
He received one-on-one coaching sessions and group training modules to build business capability to help develop and grow a sustainable organisation and would highly recommend it to others.
“The aspect I enjoyed the most about the incubate programme was firstly the training, it was great to be in an environment where you were learning through the material provided.”
“In addition, it was incredibly valuable to receive feedback from other participants as well as providing feedback to them. That room got so chocca full of ideas and inspiration,” said McKenzie.
Incubate gives participants coaching and training to set goals, implement actions and increase overall success through business planning. At the end of the 12 weeks they present their business plan to the group.
The big focus from the programme is encourage participants to implement what they have learned and make progress in the business.
“The biggest change we made as a direct result of Incubate was to completely overhaul our branding, which changed our business culture and has had a massive impact on how we do things.”
“The best part is I’m proud of our new brand and am happy to show it off. The old branding I was a bit hesitant about it,” he said.
Applications are open for the next round of Incubate. The programme is generously subsidised thanks to funding from Rotorua Lakes Council.
The retail cost of the programme is more than $3,000. Thanks to additional support from Firestation and Employers & Manufacturers Association BoP, organisations that receive the subsidy can participate in the programme for as little as $49+GST per week.
There are a limited number of subsidies and free placements. Free places are reserved for non-profit organisations or those individuals who have limited income or resources.
Alternatively, organisations can guarantee a place in the programme by funding themselves with an investment of only $129+GST per week. This not only confirms participation, it also includes extended individual coaching time and a complimentary pod (desk) in the Firestation co-working space for the duration.
Applications close Wednesday 26 April with the programme commencing mid-May. It requires a time commitment of 2-3 hours per week. Rotorua businesses and social enterprises are invited to register their interest online.
Firestation Incubate includes:
- Eight group sessions covering topics such as Growth Mindset, Marketing Essentials, Sales Strategies, Employment Law, Online Marketing, Business Essentials, Finance Essentials and Pricing.
- Two one-on-one coaching sessions.
- Final session all participants must present a business plan.