29-year-old Wellingtonian Guy Ryan was recently named the 2015 Young New Zealander of the Year for his work helping young Kiwis realise their entrepreneurial goals and navigate the numerous obstacles, providing inspiration for peers both in his home country and here across the Tasman.
Since starting up Inspiring Stories, a growing movement of young Kiwis who want to change the world, in 2011, Guy and his team have built up an enviable amount of events and partnerships and nearly 5,000 young New Zealanders have been directly involved in their programmes.
These include the flagship event Festival of the Future, which aims to inspire people to lead and innovate, and more recently, Live the Dream, an accelerator programme for the next generation of social entrepreneurs to develop a viable enterprise model and 90-day plan to execute it.
Inspiring Stories is based out of a co-working space, The Biz Dojo, from both Wellington and Auckland, making it their business to be thoroughly connected with a quickly growing start-up scene.
What’s even more impressive is that Inspiring Stories focuses on social change for good, providing end-to-end assistance supporting young social entrepreneurs to develop their ventures.
Inspiring Stories has a number of growing relationships in Australia and globally and recently had the co-founder and CEO of YGap, Elliot Costello and Jan Owen, the CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians over in New Zealand.
What is the story behind Inspiring Stories?
Before launching Inspiring Stories in Wellington, Guy had been making surfing and skateboarding films with friends but started to develop more of a social conscience.
He was particularly inspired by environmental activist and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, who he was introduced to while he was in NZ on a speaking tour.
“I remember feeling almost sick that our leaders had known about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions for decades and not done anything about it,” he told Anthill.
“This was an entry point to learning more about a whole raft of complex and interrelated issues, that seemed to be swept under the carpet all too often.”
Rather than taking a staunch activist approach, Guy wanted to focus on giving visibility to those people creating positive solutions.
“I became more and more interested in the idea of social entrepreneurship and enterprise, and felt the best way to learn was to dive right in.”
Changing young New Zealanders’ lives
Inspiring Stories has grown from just an idea to a vibrant national organisation in a matter of four years but Guy says that perhaps the biggest achievement has been the impact they have had on young people they have worked with.
“Quotes like “I’ve learnt more in the last 10 weeks than I did in five years of university” shouldn’t be taken for granted,” he pointed out.
Guy remarked that their work is really starting to get noticed, and the recent government investment of $500,000 and the 2015 Young New Zealander of the Year Award are huge validation for that.
“Our endowment, the Future Fund, will have grown to $10 million by the end of 2015,” Guy revealed to Anthill, about what’s next for Inspiring Stories.
“This year, leverage and scale are our biggest focus. We’ll be rolling out a new regional developing strategy that will see 20,000 young people become better connected, capable and confident social entrepreneurs by 2017.”
“By then, Inspiring Stories will be New Zealand’s biggest investor in youth-led innovation, providing seed funding and tailored support for our most promising young social entrepreneurs and their ventures,” he predicted.
Guy Ryan was even asked to open for TEDxWellington 2014
Check out his speech below.