Energise Learning

Moving Your Life a Step

What is Coin South?

(06 October 2020) | Article by Hemal Amarasekara

Coin South is an Innovation and investment network which was established in  2019. The company was established in accordance with the Southland Regional Development Strategy.

According to Louise Evans, the Regional Development Strategy wants to have 10,000 more people living in Southland, and part of the strategy will be to diversify the economy by creating more job opportunities through innovation.

Coin South is an incorporated society which has five strategic partners, and 13 corporate members. The strategic partners are: Community Trust South, Environment Southland, Southern Institute of Technology, Southland Chamber of Commerce, and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu. All the partners have invested in Coin South and provide a range of supports to govern it.  Coin South’s key objective is “For the community  by the community.”   So Coin South is a beginning pathway for small business investment.

What are the main activities of by Coin South?

Coin South’s role is to foster the network of startups in Southland;  they want to talk with anyone who has ideas and will help them to figure out what the next steps are and how to progress through to investments. There are a lot of people who have ideas, and some have businesses which are diversified, so Coin South can figure out what stage of the business people are at and connect them with the right skills, funding and people that can help. When you first come to Coin South, either via social media, or word of mouth from someone already in the community, they usually start with the activator sessions, which is a kind of a roundtable discussion about the business.  This is an excellent chance for people to share their own story. The most important thing is that Coin South works very closely with Great South and other agencies which help small businesses to grow.

Another important part is, you will encounter a lot of expertise all together in the room which is a great opportunity, with lots of different connections and networks, and will help you to get to the next step in your business.

What unique experience will SIT students gain by joining Coin South?

The big thing that SIT students will gain by joining Coin South is networking opportunities,  as Coin South is connected to large numbers of corporate members.  In addition, around 100 founders come through the door so students would gain a transparent view of the pathways to investments and they too will start learning the business backgrounds and how to get the business to scale.

Also, Coin South is the hub for innovations in Southland, so students can keep on coming back and continue to learn from workshops and network with people.   In particular, if a student has a specific question with regards to their startup business, Coin South has organised a day called Coin LAB, which will be held once a month, where the student can book an appointment and will have the opportunity to speak with a lawyer, accountant or a banker, free of charge, for a half an hour.

How can SIT students join  Coin South, and is there a membership fee?

Coin South is free for any founder, startup, or entrepreneur. The main idea of Coin South is to work on the generosity of others where everything is free of charge. But Coin South does expect that the student respects the time offered by each person,  and especially requests they come well prepared to any meetings, especially  Coin LAB appointments. This is the only thing that Coin South expects from everyone, including SIT students.

If a SIT student has a business idea, what support could Coin South provide to initiate the business?

Coin South has a programme called Coin Canvas, which is a one-page business plan which compromises in-depth questions concerning the business idea. So when a student comes in, Coin South will provide a form for the student to complete.   This will enable Coin South to understand and identify any gaps and indicate what type of people the student needs to connect with and what kinds of help and resources Coin South can provide to move the student onto the next step of the business. This is then shown either to the lawyer or any other professional during the Coin LAB meeting so that everything is streamlined and the student does not need to explain the whole story to the professional;  this makes everything easy and possible.

What does Coin South expect from SIT students?

Coin South does not expect much from students:  only that students know of its existence and talk about it, and get to know what it is and what it does, and what types of opportunities and services it provides for small businesses and startups.

Does Coin South offer Job internships for  SIT students? If so, how can students get information about this?

Many businesses come through Coin South needing a  variety of different skills – in particular, there is a huge demand for marketing by small businesses,  but the thing is, they don’t have time to train someone, so it’s hard to provide internships. So they are looking for individuals who are proactive and have the initiative to fill the space on their own. Coin South itself does a lot of customer validations for these small businesses, and if anyone would like to help with these events,  it would be really great. Coin South itself can give a lot of networking and training for such internships but cannot expect the employers to provide such things for interns.

How can SIT students gain information about events conducted by Coin South?

Students can get connected with the newsletter, which goes out once a month or via email. Otherwise, they can follow the Coin South on Facebook, which is regularly updated or go to the website.

Every month Coin South hosts one activator session for people who have not been to Coin South before,  which is a brand new business idea. And also every month they host a morning marky, which is a morning workshop about the different barriers that a lot of entrepreneurs face, such as finance, marketing or how to pitch something or how to build a team. Lots of broad topics which are very necessary for these businesses.

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Who are you? Are you a brand? Do you want to build your brand?

(29th July 2020) | Article by Hemal Amarasekara

What is a Brand?

A brand name is nothing more than a word in the mind; A brand name is a noun, a proper noun, which like all proper nouns is usually spelt with a capital letter. You are a brand, and if you want to be truly successful in your personal, professional career life, you must consider your self as a brand and act accordingly.

How many Trademarks in the world?

Do you know there are 1,200,000 trademarks registered in the UK government? Just imagine how many additional millions of names and logotypes registered with other countries around the world. The power of a brand lies in its ability to influence purchasing behaviour.

Think, in New Zealand water is absolutely free, you may go to a restaurant,café for dining and you can have your water for free. Every person in New Zealand has access to good clean water out of the tap.

Generally, there is no need to buy water from Countdown or Pak n Save. But think Perrier water bottle priced at $ 10 and Pump water priced at $ 2. Perrier water in New Zealand selling 50% more than Pump. That is the power of branding.

You tell me, 



Can you make happy everyone, you may be the most admirable person in the world but can you make satisfied everybody? In my opinion, NO. I believe if you want to make everyone happy the best thing you can do is sell Ice-cream. 


 Can a successful brand appeal to everybody? Absolutely not!

Think Chevrolet. What comes to your mind now is, large, small, cheap, expensive, Inexpensive, car, truck
van. Chevrolet put its brand name for everything. In 1980 and 1990 the best-selling automobile brand was Chevelort. So what t hey did was, they wanted to sell more cars to increase their profitability in the short run, so they introduced ten separate
car models.

Cavalier, Monte Carlo, Malibu,Lumina, Camro Caprice, Corsica-Beretta, Metro Prizm.

General consumer doesn’t remember like this. They remember only one brand name for each product.

Now have a look at Ferrari as a brand, if you ask from any person what Ferrari is? The answer will be an expensive fast driven sports car. They did not use the mega branding strategy for their products portfolio.

Just ask from your self, How many teeth you have in your mouth? I believe 32.but Procter and Gamble (P&G) introduced 38 varieties for us. So can you remember what flavour did you brush today morning?

Are you for some, or for all?

Think about Men’s favourite product, and every man remembers Gillette. You may extend your product line to gain short term sales revenue. However, in the long run, you will weaken your brand name. If you want to build a strong brand for your self or your organisation, you need to contract your brand, not expand it. You are for some, not for all!


As a person, when you do some work over and over again, you will be more influential and specialise in your routine work. Same goes with your brand. The brand becomes stronger and stronger when you narrow its focus.

In Invercargill, there are many coffee shops, Caltex, FB pies, Auction hose, Global Byte Café, Colombus Cofee, and many more.

Invercargill many students are studying at SIT. when I ask what is your favourite coffee shop most of the students’ answer is “Starbucks.”

So what did Howard Schultz do? He is the founder of Starbucks. He Narrowed his focus and specialised in world-famous Coffee. That’s why you and I spend an extra dollar for Starbuck coffee.


  What do you think about Sandwiches, every Mom and Pop shop sells sandwiches. So if you are hungry now, and you want to eat footlong lunch, what comes to your mind? SUBWAY.

Fried De Luca, the founder of Subway, narrows his brand only for submarine sandwiches. There are more than 250 Subway outlets only in New Zealand and globally more than 40,000 outlets.

What he has done is concerned operation strategy. When you make only sandwiches, you will be pretty good at it. So as an individual, when you focus on one thing, you will be specialised in that, and you will become a brand in your category. Good things happen when you narrow your focus.

 Building a Brand is not easy; 


Building a Brand is not easy; it is incredibly hard. I was working for DSI tyres in Sri Lanka we were exporting bicycles tyres for more than 40 countries, and for me to build DSI tyre brand in Brazil market was incredibly hard.

Why? To compete with major brands like Kender, Schwalbe, Leverone, Caloi, you need to have a hefty advertising budget. So what is the best option? Merge with leading tyre manufacture in Brazil to enter to the market, which is Caloi. In Brazil, most of the bicycle parts were imported from China, and due to the Anti-dumping tax in the year 2013 DSI tyres were the first to enter to the Brazil market.



 Today Brand is born, not made. To enter a market or generate publicity, you need to be first in the market. Which means you need to be in first in a new category.

What comes to your mind if it is Xerox– The first plain-paper copier

What is Playboy -The first Men’s Magzine.

What is KFC     -The first fast-food chicken chain.

What is CNN -The first cable news network.


Everyone can’t be visionary, like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Bill Gates

I believe you no need to build a super cool innovative product to the market, everyone cant be visionary, like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Bill Gates.

But you can create a super niche category in your own industry and be the first in that category. Keep doing small changes every day, which will make a more significant impact in the future.


Now you tell me, my friend?