GridAKL Startup Hub Watch: James Hurman and Previously Unavailable

 In General

As we move at pace toward the end of 2017, the GridAKL Startup Hub team at GridAKL / John Lysaght are keen to explore, celebrate and muse on the wins of the people that call Lysaght home. It has been a big year for the folks of Lysaght, from product launches to pivots, press and progress; and today we are talking James Hurman and Previously Unavailable.

For a little background, Previously Unavailable joined GridAKL not long after the project got off the ground. As one of our ‘O.G’ residents at our prototype space Polperro; James Hurman and Previously Unavailable were one and the same. A desk perched at the end of someone else’s pod, a fancy red chair tucked in under it, and a collection of cool pencils and pens that the team would snaffle up when he accidentally left them in a meeting room. However, it was not long before James’s innovative and creative work was a bustling business. First, he hired a contractor, followed by full-timers and when GridAKL moved down the road to the GridAKL / John Lysaght Startup Hub, James came along, now with his own pod and a team by his side.

Beyond simply adding desks, Previously Unavailable has evolved over the years into “a ventures company, specialising in the rapid creation of innovative products with untraditional business models.” PU work as co-founders of new start-ups and corporate ventures, and 2017 has been a big year for James and his team – full of VR, toothbrushes and storytelling.

Brushing up – Toothcrush
Wins: Launch, award nomination, growth and expansion
A finalist for this year’s Innovation Awards, Previously Unavailable’s Toothcrush takes the ease (and the waste) out of the everyday habit of brushing your teeth with a fresh toothbrush. Users sign up for an eco-friendly toothbrush subscription – and it’s an idea that has worked. The business has taken off strongly gaining “5,000 subscribers and an average of 20 new subscribers every day in New Zealand”, within a few months of launching.

With local success under their belts, it is probably not at all that surprising that James and the rest of the Toothcrush team turned their attention offshore launching into the Australian market this year too.

In the press
This toothbrush entrepreneur from New Zealand is banking on Aussie smiles‘ –  Australian Antill
This startup makes adorable eco-friendly toothbrushes by subscription” – Collective Hub
Home-delivered toothbrush service sets sights on global growth and toilet paper” – Stuff Business Day

Bringing brand to startup – Storytech 
Wins: Launch, helping startup founders
Sometimes the line between success and failure for startups can be simply in the communication of what they do. Seeing this and understanding the power of strong messaging and a great story, James launched Storytech.

“Storytech is ‘brand strategy in a box’ for startups and young companies. Developed by internationally acclaimed New Zealand brand strategist James Hurman, Storytech brings world-class brand story tools into a single day process delivered via online video for $500.”

The process is clear, simple and easy to use; allowing founders to help hone their own story instead of outlaying large amounts of time and money to get someone else to do it for them. More than that, it enables them to do this with confidence, being guided via an online process by James, an expert in this field.

You can sign up for a free trial, and try it out for yourself over on the Storytech website.

In the press
Storytech: James Hurman’s plan to help one million startups tell their stories” – Idealog

A story in another way – The boy and the lemon 
Wins: Launch, collaboration, kiwi story going global
Not happy with building a toothbrush empire, helping businesses find their story, or putting together a study on innovation in New Zealand’s corporates, James set about teaching a generation of Kiwi kids to be lucky. His children’s book “The Boy and the Lemon“, is already a successful title in its own right. But this year, James turned the story of a boy tackling the problem of a giant lemon landing upon his house into an augmented reality title.

“The tech is based off using the illustrations on each page of the book as markers, which the free-to-download accompanying app on a phone or iPad picks up when pointed at the illustration.

The Method team have then redrawn and animated the illustrations as overlays to the story, with the augmented reality version showing the drawings ‘popping out’ or leaping off the page.”

In the press
New Zealand’s VR/AR storytelling capabilities go global with The Boy and the Lemon” – Idealog
As reading struggles to take hold with many young New Zealanders, can technology help? Make suggestions, win books” – Idealog

Previously Unavailable is one of 63 businesses at the Startup Hub – GridAKL John Lysaght and James Hurman is one of over 100 residents that call BizDojo @ GridAKL home. As we head towards the end of the year we will be highlighting wins, stories and lessons from Startup Hub residents. This blog post was written by GridAKL / John Lysaght Building team member Anya, if you have a story you think she would love to write about tweet her about it.

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