Aspiring Kiwi entrepreneurs alerted as Chorus launches NZ start-up franchise

As part of the Gigatown prize, Chorus funds the Co.Starters franchise in Dunedin for next three years.

Aspiring entrepreneurs in towns around New Zealand will soon have the opportunity to turn their ideas into sustainable and thriving businesses when an internationally-renowned start-up franchise launches in New Zealand this week.

As part of the Gigatown prize, Chorus is funding the Co.Starters franchise in Dunedin for next three years.

The programme involves working with communities to establish a platform that brings people together to learn from one another, and create a strong support network for business start-ups.

According to the telco, the programme helps nurture inexperienced entrepreneurs at a grassroots level, before they are ready to approach the usual vehicles for innovation and business development.

Other towns that competed in the Gigatown competition have also put their hands up for the programme, with Gisborne, Porirua, Nelson and Wanaka all funding the franchise to help grow local businesses and build a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in their towns.

Co.Starters has played a key role in the innovation ecosystem in Chattanooga – the United States city that inspired Chorus’ Gigatown competition.

Chorus says that a 1Gbps fibre broadband service, similar to what Dunedin now has access to, has “completely rejuvenated” Chattanooga - it has been transformed from a town with serious socioeconomic challenges, to a vibrant tech hub with entrepreneurs and start-ups setting up shop to take advantage of the new high speed broadband network.

Enoch Elwell, founder of Co.Starters, and his colleagues, Rebekah Marr and Will Joseph, will travel to each of the New Zealand town’s in June and July to implement the programme.

The group will also attend events in Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland to speak to New Zealand’s innovation community.

Launched in 2013, the programme is now located in more than 45 towns and cities across the United States, with thousands of people participating each year.

Elwell says he is looking forward to working with New Zealand’s budding entrepreneurs.

“In my time working with start-ups in Chattanooga, I’ve learnt that providing business support is incredibly valuable, but the best way to help start-ups are through connections and community,” Elwell adds.

“I’m thrilled to be launching Co.Starters in New Zealand. In the next few weeks, I’ll be working with local leaders to help them take the first steps in accelerating the growth of creative small businesses and build a culture of collaborative community support in their towns.”

Chorus Chief Commercial Officer Tim Harris says throughout the Gigatown competition, the power of local communities rallying together to achieve a common goal was significant.

“The Co.Starters programme presents more opportunity for communities to collaborate together and support aspiring entrepreneurs to explore their ideas and turn them into action,” he adds.

“We’re excited about bringing Co.Starters to Dunedin, and seeing what the local community can achieve with the new 1Gbps service over Ultra-Fast Broadband. It’s fantastic to see other Gigatown competitors are also embracing the programme.”

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