Small business: Kiwi entrepreneurs - Emily Sutton

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Emily Sutton of Formed (fashioned from life) is completing her Masters of Entrepreneurship

Emily Sutton of Formed. Photo / Morgo Conferences
Emily Sutton of Formed. Photo / Morgo Conferences

Emily Sutton was given the opportunity to tell her story of her new fledgling business at last week's conference for entrepreneurs, Morgo, held in Queenstown. The 21 year old, with a science degree has created lockets, using biotechnology. Each locket contains a living organism contained which grows over a series of weeks to bloom in vibrant colours or designs change over time. Watch Emily's YouTube video here.

What is your idea?

In a nutsell, it's a single cell organism, really securely enclosed, a bug within a case that does not need air. At this stage it is lockets but there are other uses for this idea - wall art, iphone cases.

What did you do when you first thought of this?

I pitched it at the Startup Weekend in Dunedin. This experience gives you the knowledge that you are able to start a business. At the start of the weekend I pitched it. You need to get votes. I never thought that mine would be chosen or that people would love it but I really got the idea that it was possible. The name Formed came from a really long brainstorming session with the team at Startup Weekend.

Having seen a number of entrepreneurs in action at Morgo, what traits do you see in entrepreneurs that you recognise in yourself?

I have seen entrepreneurial traits here and think I possess some of them. Those that I don't have I am hoping to acquire. It's about not necessarily knowing everything but being able to do everything. We entrepreneurs won't give up, we tend to be stubborn.

Has your family had anything to do with your chosen route of entrepreneurship?

I was raised in a science family. Dad, is a physicist with Callaghan Innovation and Mum, is a professor in management at Victoria University. Put them together and what I am doing makes sense - commercialising biotechnology.

What other entrepreneurial things have you done?

I founded SciCo, the Science Student Community of Otago. I didn't think of it as being an entrepreneurial but that there was an unmet need. I had a great group of friends to help and we operate mainly on Facebook.

What do you do from here?

I am a one woman team looking to recruit. I realise I would have to be very competitive. We are looking for an industrial designer to come on board with experience in the jewellery industry.

You also work with the fashion-savvy Liz Odey of the blog, stylemeoddley?

Liz Odey is a customer who we feature on the website. She is a fashion student based in Dunedin too. She loves new fascinating, quirky products and jewellery. She is really intrigued with the concept and is giving amazing input into the design and emotional aspects. It is really grounding knowing which aspects of the product development are the most important. We're really trying to build the relationship up from the customer to form the jewellery - it's all about them.

What constraints do you have and knowledge have you learned?

Money - it's the expertise that comes with the people we can hire. Being an entrepreneur is invigorating and fun but I have learned to follow the voice of the customers.

Who have your mentors so far been?

Dave Moskovitz, global facilitator of Startup Weekend and a professional director and Mark Nield, startup coach at the University of Otago among others.


Next week: And speaking of never being too old to start a business, proud son, Tim Lightbourne, co-founder of Invivo Wines, got in touch recently to let me know about his Dad's business. It seems his work life is busier than ever even though he has passed retirement age. I'd love to hear your stories of businesses you have set up post-retirement, a time when you can really pursue your dreams with no worries about the mortgage hopefully.

- NZ Herald

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