Profile: Tuia Group
Could you describe your company and its business profile?
Wellington-based Tuia Group is a professional services firm that offers business consulting, investment and economic development advice, as well as commercial legal advice.
We also have an incubation investment arm, Tuia Innovation, which takes on entrepreneurs and emerging businesses.
We work with clients across public and private sectors as well as Māori, Pacific and indigenous groups and organisations.
What are the core values of your company?
Tuia, which means to connect, bind together or unite, is about pulling together the threads of traditional values and modern commercial perspectives, with opportunity.
We value innovation and new thinking. We have to be excited by the projects we take on, so we look for disruptors that, where possible, seek to grow the Māori economy particularly, but also the New Zealand economy more generally.
The Māori economy is heavily focused on the primary sector, often referred to as the three Fs – farming, forestry and fisheries – so diversifying into sectors such as technology, science and R&D is a big driver for us.
We don’t want these so-called new technology economies to bypass the Māori sector, so every activity or project we invest in is about trying to tap into these growth industries.
How would you describe the profile(s) of your (prospective) customers?
Our prospective partners are Innovators who seek to make a difference.
They are not drawn from any one demographic; rather they are companies, clients, and entrepreneurs who want to deliver commercial and economic value back into their communities.
We do work particularly to assist Māori to extract better returns from their assets and the opportunities available to them through science and technology-driven innovation.
How do you engage your (prospective) customers?
We’re connected to a large number of sectors and networks, and advise a lot of clients in the Māori sector, where our firm’s partners are quite high-profile.
We are also part of the innovation network, with partners in the accelerators, funders such as New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, the New Zealand Venture Capital Association and the Angel Investor network so investment opportunities come to us.
In some cases, companies may have come to us for advice on issues like structure or preparing themselves for an investment round, and we like the project so much we shift from being an advisor to taking a stake as an active investor in their business.
What were your challenges in finding sponsorship partners and how did you select them?
The biggest challenge is finding sufficient projects of good enough quality that tick all the boxes for us. It’s not just finding a good product, but also making sure we like the team behind the business.
We spend a lot of time asking questions of the people involved to test if we like thnem or not. We’ve walked away from various opportunities because we simply couldn’t gel with the person driving the project.
Sometimes the direction of the project is not clear and doesn’t suit our investment profile; people mistake science and research for innovation.
One of the methods we thought would assist this sector – and also help connect us with them – was co-sponsoring the 7×7 event, where seven organisations get to present for seven minutes about their project or cause.
It showcases the fact that Wellington is full of entrepreneurs and fresh thinkers in all sort of spheres.
Among the businesses profiled are a good number of NGOs and blended value businesses or initiatives that present a business opportunity within that forum.
Could you describe the value shared and received beyond the dollars?
The process of creating ideas, finding the right people to work with, building a business proposition and learning about the market creates a whole series of benefits both to the people inside that process and to those around it.
There is an excitement and enthusiasm within this process that creates a community and gives those involved licence to think about innovation and ideas.
One product that comes to the table may spark an idea for another product or project within the group.
Creating this environment – a space or network or community that excites and inspires innovation – is a huge benefit outside of creating successful businesses.
Another key benefit for us is being able to plug business ideas or opportunities into sectors that we know well, like the Māori sector, to see if that can create a benefit for that community.
*Disclosure: Giddy Up’s founder has known the Principals for 30 years in a personal and professional capacity. He respects their work to grow NZ Inc.