Kevin Whitmore, Innovation Advisor at Callaghan Innovation, has been mentoring Ego Identity, a venture from our Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator 2.0, to provide insights on the entrepreneurial mindset, building new products and the emerging technologies that can enable solutions.
We spoke with Kevin to find out why he chose to get involved.
Hey Kevin, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’ve been in Japan and Singapore for the last 10 years, initially in Finance and then creating my own fintech company. Back in NZ, it’s time to give back. My days are filled, at present at Callaghan Innovation, helping companies that are investing in R&D along with a fair bit of time educating and working with emerging tech such as blockchain.
What made you want to be involved in Lightning Lab?
I’m keen to share some of the knowledge I’ve built up running companies. What worked, what didn’t and learnings from the trenches.
I’m a big fan of pragmatic “hacks” and concepts that can have a massive impact on founder efficiency. If there’s an obstacle, learning to “go around” and all that that implies. Corporate mentorship and guidance is one thing, but startups need to hear the war stories and the practical and understand that some things get ugly and that’s often OK.
What do you feel you get back from mentoring?
Creativity and ideating around new and better ways of doing things are hugely inspiring. The process is addictive. Helping unlock that side of people is awesome to watch. Particularly when it’s someone who didn’t know they had it in them or who thought creative thinking is something you’re born with.
Top 3 things you look for in a team/venture before you commit to mentoring?
- Some form of subject matter expertise. Doesn’t have to be anything specifically but they need to have shown they have the nous to dive in and own something.
- Sufficient balance of blue skies and pragmatism. Too little of either makes it harder to gain credibility and differentiate your product or service from the pack.
What do you think the market needs to progress?
Collaborative regulation. Things are moving fast now and want to move faster.
To do so there needs to be an appreciation that regulation is there for a reason and is there to safeguard the broader populace. Likewise, we need a nimbler way to update legislation or operate in a legislative sandbox when it starts to creak and groan and becomes outdated. ICOs and digital identity are good examples of needing to meet halfway.
Interested in being kept up to date with future Lightning Lab programmes, make sure you’re on our mailing list.