Nick Egerton, manager of the Hatchery Programme, the Icehouse's business incubator.

At what point in my new business should I approach The Hatchery?

People might come to us with a minimal idea or business research. A number of people come in with just an idea. It's never too early. I do see people with multiple ideas, however you need to be able to talk or focus on one. People can come to the Hatchery Entree sessions, see other entrepreneurs and ask some questions to get a taste of how things work.

What percentage of entrepreneurs will emerge from The Hatchery with a bona fida budding business?


A high percentage of the entrepreneurs who approach us leave with a plan for a new business. We take a "fail fast" approach. We would rather people make a decision not to go ahead before taking unnecessary loans or or undertaking unnecessary expenditure.

What are the main elements of the Hatchery programme and what gaps do they
seek to fill?

Successful, high performing businesses have the three components of clear and effective leadership, smart strategy and outstanding execution aligned and working together. In many of the businesses that come to The Icehouse, the people responsible for all three of these areas are the same person,the owner or owners.

The programme focuses on the What, When and Why of the business so that the owner of the business can work on the right things in the right order and engage the right resources to help them achieve their goals.

The Hatchery programme is run over three monthly sessions of up to four hours each in a three month period and has the following components:

Establishing the leadership plan and priorities for the business: Why do you want to make a dollar?

Creating and testing the commercial model for the business: Can you make a dollar?

A high-level market / customer need of the value proposition: Who is going to pay you the dollar?

Throughout the three-month programme there will also be tactical work done outside of these three areas, sometimes engaging other resources. This can include creating sales and marketing materials, thinking about go-to-market models, market research and feedback, gathering facts and figures and other such work.

Is there such a thing as a successful entrepreneur personality that you see?

A lot of them come in with a real lack of confidence - their idea is brilliant but do they have the tenacity and belief in themselves? We bring in that with the leadership part of the programme. You see their heads lift and their eyes widen when they realise that they have a real business idea. I believe there is an entrepreneurial personality - the most exciting thing is seeing an unbelievable person with the right support, succeed. They need to have resilience and tenacity to come back from failure and want to continue.

Do you put your young companies in touch with mentors? How do you make the match?

With DirtyMan's Mike and Tracey Orange, I was their mentor during the Hatchery and they are now with Ken Leeming, formerly of Heinz Wattie and Goodman Fielder. He's got a brilliant background.