Welcome founders to New Zealand’s Incubator for Startups with Global Ambition!

Our 9-month incubation programme was built to help you master the skills that successful founders need to compete and win.

We are founder-focused and results oriented. We have built an incubator programme that is designed to help you develop critical leadership skills, understand your market, perfect your product, win customers, and attract investors.

In 9 months’ time, you’ll not only exit a better startup executive with a stronger business model, you’ll gain a cultural understanding and intelligence of Tangata Te Tiriti that you can share with the world. We hope you’ll apply today!

Kia ora,

– Marian

Marian Johnson is CEO of Ministry of Awesome.

Marian Johnson is CEO of Ministry of Awesome.

Kicking things off

If your application is accepted by the evaluation panel, you’ll receive a letter of invitation that formalises your participation. Upon acceptance, your journey will begin under the guidance of Jeffrey Ling, Head of Startups at Ministry of Awesome.

From kick-off, Jeffrey and his team will keep you accountable for bi-weekly progress and ongoing guidance. 

Jeffrey Ling leads incubation programmes at Ministry of Awesome.

Jeffrey Ling leads incubation programmes at Ministry of Awesome.

First up we conduct an assessment of your business against our Startup Strengths Matrix to determine where you are excelling, where you need additional support, and how we can best match you up with our Experts in Residence (XIR) and Global Mentor Network.

This assessment, much like a WOF for your vehicle, creates a baseline of capabilities we want to help your meet before completing the incubator. It both helps you understand where you are in comparison to other founders and what areas of focus need to be prioritised to make you a successful venture.


We then architect a personalised Startup Development Roadmap based on your matrix assessment to develop timelines, goals, and key milestones for your 9-month residency. Your roadmap will define:

  • What are the priorities for each month and how will I measure progress?
  • Who are the key relationships and connections I need to make?
  • What resources and skills do I need to acquire to build my team?
  • What gaps do I need to address to find product-market fit?

Now that you have a plan in hand, we’ll want to make sure your house is in order from a legal and financial perspective. You’ll meet with Wynn Williams to ensure you’ve got your legal foundations in order and EY to ensure you’ve got a good start on your financials.

Throughout your cohort, Wynn Williams and EY are available for office hours to check in with when you need guidance. They can help assess your books and agreements to protect your interests and keep you in a favourable position for investors.


Will you participate onsite or remotely?

Te Ōhaka, the NZ hub for high-growth startups, is the home of Ministry of Awesome and the Founder Catalyst incubator in downtown Christchurch on the Ara Institute campus.


Every individual’s needs are different. Whether you thrive in a high-energy environment, or prefer the quiet of your home office, Founder Catalyst can support you in your journey.

All participants who opt-in for onsite participation will receive a full-time desk assignment at no cost. Remote founders can hot-desk when visiting but otherwise will rely on ZOOM calls for most peer-to-peer and advisor connections – and those invaluable meetings with your programme manager.

Monthly Goals, Weekly Action

With your Startup Development Roadmap, you’ll have a clear set of goals for each month that will help you focus your time and attention.  Bi-weekly accountability sessions with your programme manager will enable us to assess your progress, identify what expertise or resources you may need to tap into, and begin to connect you with the appropriate expertise for the issue(s) you are facing.

Depending on your pressing needs, in a typical week you might:

Participate in peer-to-peer groups with other founders in Founder Catalyst. These sessions let you share in the stresses, wins, and losses that are part of the entrepreneurial journey.

Peer-to-peer support and self-help is one of the most highly rated benefits that our participants talk about after incubation. The ability to confidentially share insights, lessons learned, and connect with others who share your frustrations and ambitions makes for an impactful sounding board.

Cheerful group of young people studying together at round table in college library, focus on African American girl smiling

Attend an expert workshop by guest speakers on purposeful outcomes that is pertinent to your personal development or the needs of your startup.

These sessions are interactive and intended to allow you and your fellow founders to dive deep into issues you face and leverage that expertise.

Meet one-on-one with one of our Te Ōhaka Experts in Residence (XIR) who provide ongoing, catered support throughout your incubation experience. These seven individuals represent the curation of a “startup A- team” with specific expertise high growth startups need to succeed.  These expert operators are frequently available to you as you grow.

More than a simple meet and greet, our programme leaders make sure the XIRs are engaged and following you along your journey and lending a hand to keep you moving forward and making progress on your Startup Development Roadmap.


You’ll also gain access to the Te Ōhaka Global Mentor Network who can assist you when particular challenges or opportunites arise.

You’ll be able to tap into a truly diverse global mentor group with deep experience and specific domain experience that will help you navigate sticky situations or gain an introduction through a door that is otherwise difficult to open.


Preparing for investment

As you are finding product-market fit, getting early customers on board, and progressing you’ll likely need outside capital to expedite your growth.

Raising capital, especially for the first time, can be daunting. You’ll build a strong skillset over the course of your incubation to get you ready to raise capital effectively.


As you gain momentum and get a product into the marketplace, you’ll be able to attend Investor Office Hours with the many venture capital and angel investor partners we funnel deals to.

In these early sessions, you’re not asking for money yet, but instead presenting your business and showcasing the progress you’re making. This is a chance for you to build rapport, understand what investors find important, and hone your story.

Investors will provide you guidance on how you’re positioned and help you begin to hone in on the KPIs, customer growth projections, and financials that will put you in a stronger position to raise money.

When you’re investment ready, you’ll have access to pitch to our investor partners. Unlike other programmes, this happens when you’re primed and ready, not based on the calendar of the programme.

Because founders all have different levels of progress, some are ready to invest within a few months of incubation. Others may not raise until the end of the programme.

When you’re ready, we’ll help you get all of your pitch documents, financials, and materials ready so you’re in the best position possibly to tell your story for investment.


Exiting Founder Catalyst

So what happens as your participation ends? It really depends on you – and the success you’ve found.  Many teams decide to:

  • Keep the momentum going by applying to join national accelerator programmes like Startmate, Lightning Lab, Electrify Acccelerator, Sprout, and others.
  • Raise capital, start to build a team, and move out to your own space.

And – many teams don’t go on to build their venture for any number of reasons but none are sorry that they went through the experience.

Whatever your pathway is, we’ll continue to be here to support your success

Still have questions? Check out our frequently asked questions.