Who We Are

Our Mission

Ministry of Awesome is the starting point for entrepreneurs, startups, and innovators in Christchurch. We deliver the support, guidance, capability training, and networks entrepreneurs need to succeed.

Entrepreneurs and innovators are key to Christchurch's successful future as the city of opportunity. And, for these change-makers, there is no better place to be than Christchurch, a city whose ambition is to lead in its approach to sustainability, innovation, and a collaborative economy.

Our Story

Ministry of Awesome was founded by the ambitious, forward-thinking team of Kaila Colbin, Sacha McMeeking, Sam Johnson and Vicki Buck with support from Grant Ryan, Jules Cone, Huia Lambie, Kimberley Gilmour, Jackson Rowland and the Rata Foundation (and many more!) as a way to make things happen in post-earthquake Christchurch. At a time when no one was looking, when people had ideas and room to play, we gathered together to activate our networks, break down barriers, cut through the red tape, and enable people to envision our inspiring future city.

7 years on and our city is now taking shape. There is a palpable feeling of transformation in the air and the city buzzes with newly arrived entrepreneurs, visionaries and innovators. Ministry of Awesome is the starting point for all of these change-makers and their early stage high impact, high growth ideas.

Our Team

Marian Johnson

Marian is our Chief Awesome Officer. She is an experienced business strategy and growth leader having bootstrapped at local tech startups as well as exercised the executional power and resource of multinationals like Universal Entertainment and Discovery Networks. She has a passion for creativity and the beautiful optimism of this innovative 21st Century.

Marian Johnson

Chief Awesome Officer

Helen Shorthouse

Helen is in charge of Awesome Projects for Ministry of Awesome which means that she is working hard to ensure Ministry of Awesome supports the startup and innovation ecosystem with exactly what it needs to succeed. Helen comes to us from ChristchurchNZ where she was Strategic Tech Lead and is known for being a driving force in our tech eco-system, helping raise Christchurch’s profile as a leading tech and innovation city.

Helen Shorthouse

Manager, Awesome Projects

Jacob Varghese

Jacob is our Startup Activation Coordinator. He was an investment banker before joining MoA and is passionate about entrepreneurship. He loves to work with young entrepreneurs and new businesses, particularly in digital technology, fintech and transport sectors. He is an Economics graduate with a Post Graduate Diploma in Business.

Jacob Varghese

Startup Activation Programme Coordinator

Milena Pascuzzi

Joining us from Argentina, Milena recently landed in Christchurch and has found a new home at MoA as our Awesome Intern. She has a background in event management and is currently involved in a fitness startup; she is passionate about entrepreneurship, community, traveling, and experiencing everything that her new hometown has to offer.

Milena Pascuzzi

Awesome Intern

Robin Smith

Robin has a background in healthcare, fitness, social entrepreneurship, coaching and mentoring. As a strong believer in holistic success and wellbeing, she has spent the last 8 years coaching and mentoring people to accomplish their goals. She is passionate about empowerment and challenging young people to think outside the box.

Robin Smith

Lab5 Facilitator

Md Emrul Ahsan Mehedi

Mehedi has a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce majoring in Marketing from the University of Canterbury. Mehedi is passionate about marketing, analytics, digital communication and entrepreneurship. He has participated in the Fulbright CCI Program and an alumnus of the US State Department. He loves traveling, discovering new things and connecting people.

Md Emrul Ahsan Mehedi

Awesome Intern

Board of Trustees

Kaila Colbin

Kaila is the co-founder and trustee of Ministry of Awesome, is the Curator of TEDxChristchurch, NZ Ambassador to Singularity University and the founder and director of New Zealand social media consultancy Missing Link. She is also a PMP® certified Project Manager, Chairman of the Board of the New York-based Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts, Deputy Chair of CORE Education Ltd, and a member of the Advisory Board for the Christchurch Transitional Architecture Trust.

Kaila Colbin

Co-Founder & Chair

Geoff Brash

Geoff is the founder of GBJ Innovation. GBJ is working with various organisations, entrepreneurs, and startup companies to help startups succeed in New Zealand. Prior to GBJ, Geoff was a co-founder of SLI Systems and held positions of CFO, VP of Marketing, and VP of Business Intelligence. Geoff is the Chair of Canterbury Software, a mentor and organiser for Startup Weekend, directed Lightning Lab Christchurch and holds an MBA from Massey University.

Geoff Brash

Trustee

Rachel Triplow

Rachel is passionate about helping people reach their goals. She has more than 15 years experience as an intellectual property lawyer in NZ and the UK, and has learned that innovators are often not aware of the details necessary for running an effective business. Rachel is currently working as General Counsel for intellectual property investment company Powerhouse, and is also founder of aRc intellectual property through which she helps individuals on a case-by-case basis.

Rachel Triplow

Trustee

Lloyd Mander

Lloyd Mander is a successful entrepreneur with extensive experience in leadership and governance. He brings startup experience at all levels, from starting a company to taking it through a high-growth period to negotiating its successful sale. He also has governance experience in the not-for-profit sector, currently serving as an Independent Trustee of Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust, and volunteers with Business Mentors NZ and the Young Enterprise Scheme.

Lloyd Mander

Trustee

Trainers + Facilitators

Geoff Brash

Geoff is the founder of GBJ Innovation. GBJ provides support to startup companies by supporting the startup ecosystem, providing direct one-on-one startup support, and operating startup ventures of its own. Geoff is the Programme Director of the Christchurch Lightning Lab Programme, committee member and former Chair of Canterbury Software, Trustee of Ministry of Awesome, and Board member of Canterbury Angels. Geoff holds an MBA from Massey University.

Geoff Brash

Nick Burns

Nick is a technology company founder who built a multi million dollar international business and successfully exited to a Fortune 10 company 10 years later. Nick has extensive international experience in complex sales and trains and coaches entrepreneurs to achieve sales success.

Nick Burns

Kris Morrison

Kris leads the corporate, technology, and startup advisory team at Parry Field Lawyers. He is an expert in business structuring and IP law.

Kris Morrison

Steven Moe

Steven works with the Corporate and Commercial team at Parry Field Lawyers, he has extensive experience in working with startups.

Steven Moe

Nicola Devine

Nicola is an expert in media and marketing strategy and works with global clientele. She is the founder and Creative Director of Tanker Creative.

Nicola Devine

Kit Hindin

Kit is a serial entrepreneur who has over 20 years of experience in design and creative industry, including 17 years of running a design business and 5 years running and innovating a organic food business.

Kit Hindin

Krista Pritchard

Krista Pritchard is a Business Coach to SMEs & start-ups and was the Service Lead for Lean Business Analysis at Assurity Consulting Ltd. She brings over 12 years of experience in understanding & communicating need, strategic & benefits analysis, & project leadership. She helps individuals & organisations better understand the value of initiatives so that they can prioritise and act in a way that drives benefit.

Krista Pritchard