Here we celebrate the region’s entrepreneurs and innovators who are leaving their mark on the world, while living the famous Taranaki lifestyle.
Each episode features a prominent local entrepreneur, making waves both nationally and internationally with their trailblazing spirit and can-do attitude. They'll share their successes, ah-ha moments and celebrated wins, as well as their struggles and behind the scenes failures. Our guests also reflect on how being from Taranaki influences their work and the lives they lead.
Hosted by long time business advocate and honorary Taranaki local David Downs, this series illustrates the thriving business environment within Taranaki by telling the stories of everyday people who've been able to achieve remarkable things.
Taranaki is a region where the unique natural and entrepreneurship ecosystems collide to create a place where people can flourish and achieve their full potential. Nau mai haere mai, we welcome you to hear our enterprising stories like no other.
PowerUp S3 E6 Hannah Hunt
It’s one thing to listen to podcasts, but what about producing them? Hannah Hunt and Laura Leadbetter started Roar Collective with a shared love for the platform, but not much experience in actually making podcasts. Four years on, they’re one of New Zealand’s only podcast production companies with an impressive list of corporate and celebrity clients.
In this episode of Venture Taranaki’s PowerUp podcast, Hannah talks us through the journey. It includes how they signed up their first big show before they even had any recording equipment, growing a family while also growing a business, and how they got access to the kind of advice that helped them to grow.
She also reflects a lot on how they’ve done it from Taranaki. Hannah has a big emphasis on work-life balance, which is a big part of why she moved back to the region after years away. It’s a great look into the Taranaki lifestyle, and how the regional culture gives people a productive work and home life.
PowerUp S3 E5 CJ Mahony
CJ Mahony left school at 16 and started a transport company as a bit of a side hobby. Nearly 20 years later, he employs 35 people and is the man behind one of the largest commercial developments in South Taranaki in living memory.
CJ’s AGTRANS business has grown and shifted to be a popular crane transport option in the oil and gas industry. At the same time, his desire to put a permanent driveway to his work site has seen him purchase a 67 acre farm that he’s developing into a $12 million commercial and residential business park. He makes it sound like no big deal because he’s that kind of guy - he’s even bought himself a bulldozer and is pretty much doing all the earthworks himself.
This is a real can-do kind of yarn. CJ has a no-fuss confidence about him, and there’s an element of humour in the way he describes big things as being quite straightforward. But there’s no doubt there’s a strong intellect, a boatload of practicality and plenty of know-how about him, and it’s helping him do big things in a growing community.
PowerUp S3 E4 Elliot Taylor
**Content warning: this podcasts discusses issues around mental health, addiction and abuse**
Elliot Taylor created Throughline to help people in distress get access to critical helplines. In just a few years, it’s grown to offer more than 1,400 helplines to people in more than 100 countries.
This is a fantastic example of using technology to solve problems. Research shows the huge impact helplines can make, but it’s not always easy for people to find the best one at the right time. That’s what Throughline does.
Elliot reflects on how he started and grew the company from his home in rural Taranaki, building technology, getting funding and connecting with people all over the world. His mantra of approaching things like an experiment is evident throughout - it’s a great example of what a tech startup looks like, and the difference it can make.
PowerUp S3 E3 Nick Jackson & Brett Rogers
Nick Jackson and Brett Rogers reckon New Zealand’s goal of being carbon-free by 2050 isn’t ambitious enough. They think we can grow the country’s renewable energy by 600%, and use it to export energy around the world.
They’d know too. As energy sector veterans and directors of energy consulting firm Elemental Group, Nick and Brett are at the forefront of helping people to solve energy needs with cutting-edge technology and future-proofed solutions that are fit for the changing global requirements.
In this episode of Venture Taranaki’s PowerUp podcast, they talk about why they’re so optimistic for the future of energy generation, and what the transition might look like. Elemental has already had success helping countries in the Pacific Islands and Caribbean to transform their energy generation, and they discuss how it’s all possible from Taranaki, while also enjoying a lifestyle to go with it.
PowerUp S3 E2 Joe Emans
Joe Emans was once an engineer in the Middle East. Now, he’s a brewer in Taranaki. But he’s not just any brewer - his award-winning Three Sisters brewery is one of the region’s best, and it holds pride of place with a bar and restaurant in one of New Plymouth’s oldest buildings.
The Three Sisters story is a really good one. Joe talks about selling his first batch of beer when a local restaurant ran out, and how he turned a hobby into a business. He’s passionate about the ongoing challenge in making new types of beer and collaborating with both national and international brewers.
Local communities need local drops, and Three Sisters is right up there with the best of them. But while many people might like the idea of running a brewery, Joe is actually living it. From getting started to mastering the process to crowdfunding his very own bar, this is a great look behind the scenes to see how it’s all done.
PowerUp S3 E1 Morgan Maw
Boring Oat Milk has been an unmitigated success since its launch in 2021, smashing sales forecasts and playing a big role in the growth of milk alternatives in Aotearoa. But it’s been much harder than it’s appeared, and Taranaki-born and bred founder Morgan Maw describes it as a “seven-year overnight success.”
In this episode, Morgan and host David Downs talk about how she’s always been a “hustler”, the three years of planning for Boring Oat Milk that nearly bankrupted her (twice), developing the branding, launching in a COVID-19 lockdown, and how that actually worked well.
Boring is a case study in how to succeed in the retail food space, carving out a niche with a strong disruptor brand, a delicious, healthy product, and a commitment to doing things the right way.
Morgan is articulate and passionate about her business, but also about her lifestyle. Having recently returned home to Taranaki, she’s a huge advocate for the region’s accessibility to nature and the way it gives her a work-life balance she couldn’t have in the city.
PowerUp S2 E6 Cathy Clennett
Hydrogen-fuelled trucks have started hitting the roads in NZ, and the impact on our emissions is massive. Taranaki company Hiringa is at the forefront of global efforts to slash emissions in transport, and the progress they’re making is incredible!
This episode of the PowerUp Podcast is about how they’re doing it - pioneering green hydrogen fuel, developing fuelling stations and delivering hydrogen-powered vehicles is a huge three-pronged mission, but they’re making it happen.
Taranaki has been an energy stronghold for years, and Hiringa is leading a transition that will cement the region as a global leader for the sector in the years to come.
PowerUp S2 E5 Joop Verbeek & Carmen Castro-Verbeek
IncaFe is all about good coffee done right. It takes effort though - sourcing beans directly from remote plantations in South America and Indonesia, paying above-market rates for quality and developing their own compostable packaging. But to founders Carmen and Joop, it’s worth it.
This is a great yarn about how a can-do attitude can help a local business to compete in a global market. IncaFe has become a leading supplier of quality coffee to cafes all around New Zealand, and Carmen and Joop’s dedication to doing it the right way makes their story all the more inspiring.
PowerUp S2 E4 Sonia Kiser and John Burling
When you’re fixing chainsaws at 7 years old and making motorbikes at 10, you’ve clearly got a knack for using your hands. This was John Burling growing up, and it’s no surprise that innovations from his back shed have gone all over the world.
John is the man behind Carac Group, a family owned and run engineering company in Eltham. In this episode of the PowerUp podcast by Venture Taranaki, John and his daughter, CEO Sonia Kiser, talk about how this small firm grew from John’s shed to seven factories.
John’s appetite for risk and ability to spot an opportunity (like getting involved in the America’s Cup) is as impressive as it is funny. This is a great yarn about a risk-taking, old-school tinkerer going global with innovations that are literally life-saving.