Joining a band can be a lot like doing a startup company. So there must be a little bit of bluegrass moonshine in the blood of banjo picking, guitar strumming Sean Whitaker who has played a part in developing a number of homegrown food and beverage brands in recent years. Now he’s advising companies within the ThincLab-Food South programme.
Sean has a diverse business background including running his own project management consultancy and providing leadership and tertiary training for project management practitioners. Having completed post-graduate degrees at both Lincoln University and University of Canterbury, Sean gained a wealth of experience delivering or advising on projects for major corporates as well as government sectors across New Zealand and Australia. At one point he was even involved in a collaboration with NASA.
Whitaker’s part-time role at ThincLab involves advising company founders on business growth and capital raising strategies. He’s been keeping busy with a range of companies from a truffle farm through to a vegan food manufacturer, with a particular focus on scaling for global growth. An appreciation for cultivating a global outlook was ingrained in Sean from an early age in fact, having grown up in a military family with postings within the multi-ethnic commercial hub nations of Malaysia and Singapore.
When asked about how we can boost business across the region Sean points out that, “Canterbury is under appreciated as a home for great start-ups”. He’s a big believer in training and mentoring for early stage founders, including encouraging young entrepreneurs from secondary schools and university. Something that aligns well with the ThincLab Canterbury ethos. “Entrepreneurialism needs to be framed as a legitimate career and not just something that people fall into accidentally”, he says. He also thinks it’s time to rebrand the city of Christchurch from Garden City to the City of Innovation. Perhaps we could even do both?
Are you a founder of a growth stage business with global ambitions? ThincLab Canterbury is supported by ChristchurchNZ to provide free advisory to eligible companies on strategy, capital-raising and international growth. Contact ThincLab for more information.