Exceptional entrepreneurs: Collaborate

At the BNZ Start-up Alley recently, a Wellington team made up of four young women took home a bonus prize for their app that matches young people with volunteer opportunities that are relevant to their skills and interests. Hear what co-founder, Holly Norton, had to say about creating the app and her team's hopes for it.

BNZ Start-up Alley is a celebration of New Zealand start-ups. Held in February this year, it was a place to see businesses doing great things in the social enterprise and technology world, who are seeking to scale rapidly and establish themselves as a long-term, sustainable businesses.

Wellington team, Collaborate, took home the bonus prize for their mobile app that matches people with volunteer opportunities. The app enables charities or community organisations to post specific tasks (such as short-term web designing or social media campaigns), and connect instantly with skilled volunteers who indicate interest.

Collaborate co-founder, Holly Norton (top left), says that “to win a prize as the only the social enterprise in the group of finalists was especially important.”

“Humane tech was a key theme of the conference and for us, who are working at the edges of this really emergent space, the award really validated what we are our working on and our vision.”

Holly adds that the advice from the judges and the inspirational speakers really made for an amazing, surreal experience.

Why an app about volunteering?

It seems a great thing right? To contribute to the world and society with an app such as this. A sore point for many though is wanting to volunteer but not actually being passionate enough about anything available to actually go for it.       

This is exactly the pain point that Holly and her team sought to address.

“We all found it hard to find opportunities where our skills could really add value and make a difference. We wanted to find projects that would get us excited, that would work around our busy lives and where we felt we were really using our skills to their full potential.”

After speaking to over 80 charities and influencers, they found that they shared their frustration. For charities, finding the right volunteers is costly, time consuming and adds to resource pressure. They need access to reliable volunteers, with specialised skills at specific times.

So the team decided to create a solution for themselves and their community. That is what Collaborate does – creates instant connections between charities and communities need with the people who can help.  

Enhancing our potential as human beings

Collaborate’s aim is for their app to become a part of everyday life. They work off the premise that Kiwis are famous for their ingenuity and generosity and that people who volunteer feel more connected to the community and help create community resilience.

“We want to connect every New Zealander’s ideas and unique skills to where they can make the biggest difference in their communities,” says Holly.

Holly adds that technology is about enhancing and enabling our incredible natural potential as human beings.

“If one thing has been made really clear to us through this process it is that connected with the right opportunity, absolutely everybody has something incredible to give."

 


Emily is a Senior Advisor in the Deloitte marketing team who knows that behind every great business lies a great story. She loves talking to inspiring people who are thinking outside the box to create a thriving SME sector in New Zealand.