MEET JONNIE & STEPH - GovTech Accelerator
LLGT Jonnie & Steph


With only a few weeks left until applications close for individuals, it’s time to get up close and personal with the minds behind the 2018 Lightning Lab GovTech. We caught up with Jonnie and Steph (our Progamme Director and Programme Manager) for a cuppa and a chat about their power routine, what gets them out of bed in the morning and a few tips and tricks for prospective applicants.


Power snack?

J: Hard to beat a nice piece of liquorice coupled with dark chocolate.

S: Popcorn.

Power tune?

J: Some space-jazz. If you are not familiar with the genre, The Comet is Coming is a good starting point.

S: Beyoncé & Jay-Z‘s new album or anything by Beyoncé really!

Power routine to get you through a crazy day?

J: Mostly coffee and music.

S: Write a killer to do list, get outside for some form of exercise, and good coffee.



Tell us a bit about yourself.

J: I joined the team at Creative HQ as an Innovation Specialist 18 months ago to work on the Creative HQ run R9 accelerator – one of the first government-centric accelerators in the world, which was lead by MBIE. This was on the back of being the co-founder of MiBiz as part of the R9 accelerator the previous year. Before that, I was at Toyota New Zealand for six years focusing on corporate innovation and continual improvement. And I’m now the Programme Director of our inaugural Lightning Lab GovTech which is really exciting.

S: I’ve been working with entrepreneurs for the past four years at the Young Enterprise Trust, as well as being a partner in the youth-led investment fund, First Cut Ventures. In 2015 I took part in Creative HQ’s Venture Up programme where I launched a company called Filtr which I sold last year to my business partner. This was a great experience that gave me a greater understanding of the efforts of running a startup. I joined Creative HQ team earlier this year as an Innovation Specialist and have worked on a lot of different things since then including designing and running an entrepreneurial programme for the Wellington ICT School.


Share something that inspires you.

J: The fact that so many of our civil servants are not willing to sit back and do things the same old way that they have always been done, but instead are actively wanting to improve and challenge the status quo. Being part of that, and seeing it come to life is definitely an inspiration.

S: Good people surround me! I get to work with people who have had amazing careers, and entrepreneurs who are solving significant problems in exciting ways. My friends are doing incredible things in the entrepreneur space in New Zealand and around the world.


What are you most excited about for GovTech 2018?

J: It has been hugely positive to see private companies supporting this initiative and see it as a huge opportunity for NZ. Spark has chosen to support us for the next three years which is a massive win for us. Our intention for this collaboration is to bring the two sectors together – we are excited about the enthusiasm and willingness that is being offered to CHQ.

S: I’m excited about the potential of this opportunity both for government and citizens. Solving challenges in the GovTech space benefits such a wide range of New Zealanders, and I can’t wait to see the outcomes. My main goal for this programme is to support all players involved in developing more efficient ways of tackling current challenges.


What advice would you give potential applicants?  

J: My advice is to make sure you find the right balance in your team, be open to external feedback and be willing to reinvent the wheel if necessary. Be prepared to have all your thinking challenged – I went through an accelerator as a participant two years ago, and thought I knew about being “lean and agile” – the accelerator was on whole different level though.

S: Be prepared for a life-changing experience. Lightning Lab challenges even experienced entrepreneurs – if you are coming into the programme with no experience in this sector, get ready to be exposed to an exciting new way of thinking. My best advice is to be open-minded, resilient and adaptable – all characteristics that we look for in applicants!

Applications are now close.

Want to keep hearing more about the Lighting Lab GovTech Accelerator? Stay up-to-date by signing up here.

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