ilabb’s Jeremy Johnston looks back on his Supersize SME journey.

Read here for Jeremy Johnston's final take on Supersize SME.

I can't believe we began this BNZ Supersize SME journey way back in April! It seems like just a couple of weeks ago that Matt and I were pulling together our pitch to present to Mike Hosking, Shelley Ruha and John Holt in the hope that we might become one of the three SMEs to access this awesome mentoring opportunity.

Fast forward nearly five months and we're fast approaching the pointy end where it's all drawing to a close, and we look to ensure that what we've learned is cemented into ilabb's business as the new norm, the relationships we've made are continued (even though the program is finished) and we continue to develop ourselves and the ilabbfamily team to live by our values and strive for the strategic initiatives we've planned out with the support and guidance of our mentor Matt Headland, Chief Commercial Officer at NZME.

Since my last blog, both Matt and I have taken some time out of the business to have a bit of a holiday, recharge our batteries, and ready ourselves before we go all guns blazing into the summer – our busiest and most full-on time of year. I am stoked that we could take some time out and trust that our epic ilabbfamily team are keeping ilabb running amazingly well without us being here. A huge high five to our team!


I thought I'd try to summarise our journey over these five months to give you a taste of what it's been like to be a part of BNZ Supersize SME.

Unlike the other two SMEs (Flexo and Orbica), ilabb has been around a bit longer so we are pretty well established, and the mentoring we wanted was focussed on wholesale or business-to-business (B2B) sales leadership – ilabb selling to our retailers across the country. We also wanted to work on how we engage across all sales channels to achieve consistency of end user messaging; closely linked to this is our desire to 'know our customer' better.

A huge amount of our work with Matt Headland was centred around getting insights from his vast experience of how to manage sales teams, reviewing the way we did things and challenging us to make changes or press the reset button to better align with our future goals. Matt has an awesome mix of commercial experience and has worked in some creative industries, which gave him the perfect perspective to understand what we were trying to achieve.

This work is still ongoing, but we are making great progress with getting some new programs up and running to support and nurture our strong relationships with B2B partners that we hope will continue to reward us as we move forward. We were also able to access loads of information from Matt's customer insights team and use this to craft a new approach to the entire sales and marketing approach within ilabb.

ilabb family Farm Jam 2018 (supplied)
ilabb family Farm Jam 2018 (supplied)

While the BNZ Supersize SME program is concluding, we intend to continue catching up with Matt Headland and continuing to get further advice from him as we continue to progress.

Matt Saunders has been working hard on a refreshed approach to marketing, trying some newer-generation collaborations to connect all sales channels together, and enhancing or tweaking some of the existing programs we've been running. This has allowed us to be more creative and more commercially focussed, and should hopefully broaden our reach. I don't claim to be a guru at marketing so I take an interested back seat with this stuff, but I do get excited with the ideas that the crew come up with, and chip in with my opinions every so often.

We have an exciting collaboration that we've been keeping under wraps until now. I can give you a heads up that the collaboration is with Sony, but I'm sorry we still can't share the full details (and besides, that would ruin the surprise!) So watch out for it – it's gonna be a little different.

Matt Headland and the Supersize SME program have also connected us with loads of other contacts across our time in the program, including meeting up with Shelley Ruha to talk over ilabb's growth strategy, attending the Sales & Marketing Jam with Kiwi Landing Pad, and chatting about the creative aspects of the business with agency Creative Directors to invoke alternative thinking.


Ilabb certainly received some awesome brand exposure throughout the campaigns running behind the program: BNZ's billboards, NewstalkZB interviews, NZ Herald articles and the website.

It was great to connect with the other SMEs throughout the program, catch up and hear about their progress – they're all good guys.

That just about wraps it up, other than to acknowledge all the people involved in tying everything together. To pull off such a successful program, and help us to connect up with such a diverse range of business mentors, takes massive effort - from both Matt and myself, we'd like to thank you all so very much.

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