Submission to NZ Venture Capital Fund Bill

Today I was invited by the New Zealand Parliament to address their Finance and Expenditure Committee about my submission to the 2019 Venture Capital Fund Bill.

Here’s my submission:

Steve-Outtrim-Sep-2019-Submission-to-the-Venture-Capital-Fund-Bill

There were a dozen submissions in total. I was pleased to see the Ākina Foundation calling for many of the same things as me.

Here is their submission:

Akina-Foundation

New Zealand is punching above its weight when it comes to innovation but we still have a long way to go to be a worthy competitor to Silicon Valley. I hope the Committee listens to my recommendations and uses this opportunity to massively accelerate Kiwi entrepreneurship.


I’ve received some good feedback about my presentation to Parliament. People can’t believe how bored the politicians looked. I was the last speaker of the day, at the end of a 2 hour+ session, so they probably wanted to wrap it up. I was pleased that the Chair Dr Deborah Russell acknowledged and supported my point on inclusiveness.

The following submission was sent in by John Holt, who founded the Kiwi Landing Pad which has helped more than 6000 New Zealanders launch their businesses in San Francisco and elsewhere. I agree with everything he’s saying, he has some great ideas about metrics.

Submission_-Policy-Statement-on-the-Venture-Capital-Fund-Act-September-20th-2019

Kiwi Suspicious Death at Burning Man

Fatalities have become a regular thing at Burning Man; so far this year there have been two (possibly three with a motorcyclist from Reno killed on the roads outside the event), as well as a plane crash which left 3 people injured (1 seriously).

Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Medical tent to find Shane “Wingman” Billingham, a 33-year old Burner from New Zealand, dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. He was found unresponsive in his vehicle at his camp Beats Boutique. Police are treating the death as suspicious.

From Stuff.co.nz:

Shane Billingham was found dead in a vehicle at the festival, held annually in Nevada, United States, at 6.30pm on Thursday (US time).

The death 33-year-old, from Great Barrier Island, has been deemed suspicious by investigating US authorities.  

The Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office said a post-mortem found Billingham has “a concentration of carbon monoxide in his blood which would be considered poisonous to human life. Preliminary toxicology showed the presence of controlled substances to be an exacerbating factor”…

A friend of Billingham’s told Stuff the Kiwi was a “great guy” who travelled a lot and dabbled in lots of things, but loved music.
“[He was] just a joy to be around … He was very creative, loved playing and being involved in all types of music.”

A fundraiser started by Billingham’s sister to bring his body home has raised $13,795 from 186 people in 9 hours.

Great Barrier Island is the sixth-largest island in New Zealand, about 100 kilometers from Auckland. Its population is 939.

Wingman was an experienced Burner, having attended in 2014 and 2017:

Wingman at Burning Man in 2017. Source: Facebook

The Reno Gazette-Journal has an update with further details:

A spokesperson for the Burning Man organization said Billingham was discovered unresponsive in his vehicle at his camp, Beats Boutique, at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Bystanders immediately began CPR and emergency responders arrived shortly after. Billingham was then transferred to Burning Man’s onsite emergency care center where he was declared dead by an on-duty emergency physician shortly after. 

Steve MacWithey, lead of Beats Boutique camp where Billingham was staying, said Billingham was one of his best friends.

“He was one of the best people I’ve ever known,” MacWithey said, burying his face in his palms as he wept…MacWithey described his friend as a hard worker, a lover of sustainable farming and someone who could always be counted on. Billingham was tall, blonde, handsome and bore a resemblance to Kid Rock, he said.

Makeshift memorial for Shane Billingham at Beats Boutique. Source: Jenny Kane/RGJ

Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen issued a statement about the investigation into the death.

From Radio New Zealand:

Police were investigating the death as “suspicious,” Pershing County Sheriff’s Jerry Allen said in a statement.

“Preliminary toxicology showed the presence of controlled substances to be an exacerbating factor,” he said.

“Quantitative analysis of the toxicology will not be available for a few weeks.”

He said Pershing County Deputies responded to a report of a death at the festival on 29 August (local time).

“The male subject had already been transported to the Rampart medical tent, within the confined area of the festival,” Mr Allen said.

“Coroners were advised by doctors on site they had already declared the male subject deceased. The scene was secured to be investigated and a deputy coroner transported the decedent to the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy.”

An unconfirmed report suggests that he fell asleep in his car with the air conditioner running, too close to exhaust from a generator.

Source: Facebook

Rest in peace, Wingman. Kua hinga te tōtara i Te Waonui-a-Tāne.


Image: Facebook

Kiwi Invents Ultimate Tiny House

skysphere-728x400

Playa-ready? The Skysphere can withstand Category 3 winds on its 50 ton movable base, and it delivers beers on command. Imagine a few of these techno treehouses together, joined up with rope bridges and ziplines, maybe a slide or two…

Palmerston North, where the first Skysphere was erected by farmer/inventor Jono Williams, is very close to official Burning Man regional Kiwiburn. Kia kaha cuz!

From collective-evolution

You have to see this to believe it. Situated amongst the hills of Palmerston North in New Zealand, The Skysphere is the brain child of Jono Williams, whose passion for mechanical engineering and design led him to construct the steel structure. When Jono began working on the project he didn’t even know how to weld, but along the way he learned all the skills needed to build his dream. Overall, he estimates that over 3000 hours were spent on its construction.

Being a typical Kiwi bloke, Jono has installed an automated beer dispenser. Yes that’s right, an automated beer dispenser! Whether you think this is over-the-top or not, you have to give it to Jono — he is definitely creative and has the ability to engineer a high spec treehouse that runs on solar power. He had a vision and simply decided make it a reality: he just modelled it on a computer, did some Googling, and built it. It was that simple.

Built to withstand an 8.5 earthquake and 200 kilometre an hour winds, Jono’s Skysphere even has a ‘Zombie Mode’ built into it, just in case things really hit the fan. And absolutely everything is automated, from the lights and doors to the fingerprint reader. Unfortunately, if you are Jono’s 251st friend you won’t get inside, as his fingerprint reader can only account for 250 people! Jono controls everything, from working out how much power he has generated from the solar panels mounted on the roof, to the level of lighting, to his entertainment system, all run by an app. To top it off, this fully transportable high tech treehouse has a star view platform which gives Jono and his 250 friends access to the universe and a spectacular night time vista

[Source: collective evolution]

This is the sort of thing we have to do in New Zealand, to keep the orcs out.

Image: My Photo journeys / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Image: My Photo journeys / Flickr CC BY 2.0