We’re very excited to welcome Lauren Merritt, Vodafone’s new xone and Innovation Manager, to the xone team! Previously she led Ministry of Awesome as the Chief Awesome Officer for over 3 years, an organisation supporting early stage entrepreneurs to take the first steps in developing their ideas for startups, businesses and social enterprises. This work focussed on building the Christchurch entrepreneurial ecosystem in a post-earthquake context, and has led to Lauren being an admired figure within the local startup scene. Some of the Awesome startups/people they’ve advised, activated and mentored in the past include SHAREaCAMPER, Bennetto Chocolate, and Virtual Medical Coaching, and they’ve played huge parts in sponsoring SingularityU New Zealand Summit, TEDxChristchurch and Tech Week. They run weekly Coffee & Jam sessions at the EPIC Innovation Campus, a great place to see ordinary people doing extraordinary things, meet people and learn about other events in Christchurch, as well as hosting various Start-Up Activation workshops including Activator Caffeine Adventure. Lauren developed Ministry of Awesome to keep up with Christchurch’s regeneration and we see these skills as very beneficial to the xone companies that we work with.
Inspired by her sister with cerebral palsy, Lauren’s passion is in supporting people to live a life they love. She managed the southern branch of StarJam working with young people with disabilities in performance, resettled refugees in the US and runs leadership programmes for a personal and professional development company. She holds a degree in International Relations, National Security and Global Systems from San Diego State University and also speaks Spanish (“soy milk is milk introducing itself in Spanish” – Lauren). In her ‘spare’ time you can often find her in Lyttelton hanging out with her dog Tui.
We’re stoked to have you join the team, Lauren!
— Ben, Hannah & Louis