Student's research shapes new ecentre programme

Massey Master of Management graduate Hattaf Ansari's research into investor culture unearthed a better approach for start-ups looking to secure local investment. 

A new 12-week programme from the ecentre at Massey University offers tech start-ups their best chance of securing early stage investment – by not thinking about investment at all.

The Sprint Launch programme is a unique proposition, drawing on Massey Master of Management graduate Hattaf Ansari’s ground-breaking research. He found that early customer traction, and thinking global from day one, generates local investor interest.

Mr Ansari’s study of 88 New Zealand early stage investors, angel investors, venture capitalists and members of crowd-funding groups, found local start-ups tended to use the United States model of getting “investor ready”, which differs markedly from the interests of local investors. 

Ecentre chief executive Jackie Young anticipates the Sprint Launch programme will generate significantly better results for start-ups looking for investors.

“We’ve taken aspects of our successful entrepreneurship programmes and adapted them based on the results of Mr Ansari’s research.

“Market traction and early revenue are key considerations in the decision to invest by New Zealand investors. Rather than the traditional get-investment-ready approach, the Sprint Launch programme will instead focus on early revenue and customer acquisition. Founders will spend less time perfecting their pitch and more time creating momentum.”

“Companies taking part in the Sprint Launch programme will have one clear mission: to get paying customers onboard as quickly as possible,” Ms Young says.

Ecentre chief executive Jackie Young says the new Sprint Launch programme is based on ground-breaking research.

Culture matters

Mr Ansari’s research is the first of its kind in New Zealand.

“Until now there has been no data on the behaviour of New Zealand investors and how New Zealand culture impacts on their criterion for investment in early stage ventures. We are hugely fortunate to be able to draw on Mr Ansari’s findings, which have potential to change the fortunes of local start-up businesses,” Ms Young says.

The Sprint Launch initiative is made possible with the support of EY, ATEED and Hudson Gavin Martin.  ATEED general manager business, innovation and skills, Patrick McVeigh, says helping to turn start-ups into successful businesses is a significant driver for the regional economy.

“Providing innovators with the right mentors and support to take their product to market can be the difference between success and failure. The ecentre Sprint programme is a robust model, and we look forward to following the process of entrepreneurs taking part,” he says.

Sprint Launch is a three-month programme that takes start-ups from functional prototype to first customers by facilitating mentorship, business development, customer acquisition and capital. It fills a gap in the market for start-ups that have validated their business model and developed a prototype and now need to fast track their customer acquisition.

“Participants can tap into our global network of industry experts, business partners and senior executives. Each company in the programme is matched with a business mentor and an ecentre alumni who has been there and done it before. We also offer introductions to our network of angel investors and venture capitalists, help with company formation, accounting, legal and IP advice,” Says Ms Young. 

Companies interested in applying for the next Sprint Launch programme can complete the application online at  

For Hattaf Ansari’s full research paper, email

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