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Monday, 22 April 2019 12:02 pm

Former Dunedin students bring young business to Wellington


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Young entrepreneurs from left, George Lill,22, Jonathan Heslop,23, Jeremy O’Connor,22.

A group of young entrepreneurs no longer need McDonald’s WIFI after setting up in Wellington.

George Lill, 22, Jonathan Heslop, 23, are co-owners of Shakti Mats NZ, a business that sells acupressure mats.

“Our first nine months with Shakti Mats NZ was spent traveling around New Zealand in a tent using McDonalds free WIFI,” George says.

Previously they have been based in Dunedin, Queenstown and various campsites all over New Zealand.

“It’s hard to get a company to take you seriously when you have to meet them in a fast food restaurant. We’re currently working out of our new lounge.”

Jeremy O’Connor,22,  has joined George and Jonathan in Wellington to start a second business called Big Think, a tutoring programme that will focus on study and exam techniques leading up to this year’s NCEA exams.

Jeremy believes that with the opportunities e-commerce presents means they can choose to operate from anywhere.

“When we were starting off Big Think, we thought where would we like to live? Wellington is such a wonderful central hub of activity and progressiveness and when it comes to tutoring students, you can do it anywhere” Jeremy says.

“Wellington is very open minded.  It’s difficult to sell acupressure matts in small South Island towns,” Jonathan says.

“This is the first time we’ve had a location for work that isn’t a tent or McDonalds.”

Jeremy, who was previously working in an office in Auckland, is rapt that working from home means catering is so close.

Owning their own business is all about the freedom and opportunity, George says.

“You can sort of get lost when you go to Auckland. This whole business is about freedom, even though Auckland might have bigger business prospects it would mean having to sacrifice what we started it all for,” Jonathan says.

Seeing people go straight from university into a 50 hour working week was a big influence for George when deciding to start his own business.

“I’m able to think less about my working week and more about my working year.”

However as young business owners, the trio initially found it hard to get taken seriously.

“When you’re selling an alternative health product as a 20-year-old finance student, you run into some challenges,” George says.

“They had the attitude of no facial hair, no knowledge, which is why I grew a moustache.”

The group encourages any young people who have a good idea for a start-up business to take the plunge, especially when you are young.

For more information see their websites below.

Shakti Mats NZ:

Big Think:   

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