Company-X senior consultant Ben Judge.

Āhau was sharing ancient wisdom using modern technology and asked Company-X to help prepare for the next stage of its growth.

Āhau developed software using Distributed Ledger Technology to help Māori communities capture, preserve, and share important historical information.

“There's a great cultural asset within our communities but none of that stuff was really happening online,” said Āhau Kaiwhakahaere (chief executive) Ben Tairea.

“We were seeing a lot of that information and that activity being lost because our communities are now living in different cities and countries. What is important now is capturing our stories, because it is an oral tradition held by our elders, and with every elder that passes, we lose a part of that. Our focus was to transition the cultural practice of sitting around and telling stories whenever we are together to telling stories into the digital space.”

Āhau is a mix between genealogical database and a social media platform.

Āhau sought funding from Callaghan Innovation to help pay for the next phase of product development to take the data platform to a wider audience, both in Aotearoa and overseas.

Building a prototype data platform requires a different skillset to applying for grants and delivering more features.

Āhau approached Company-X for broad and deep technical help with its development plan.

“We wanted a project plan for strategically designing future innovation,” said Tairea.

“We are a young company of software developers and engineers. We do not have the expertise of working on large scalable projects.”

“We liked the direction we were heading in but wanted to think about what the next few years might look like for us, and what sort of capital we might need to be able to move into that space, so it wasn't just us taking our best guess,” Tairea said. “That's why we came to Company-X.”

“They knew there were capability gaps they needed to address to complete the grant application. Having access to people who could fill those holes was a necessity,” Company-X senior consultant Ben Judge said.

Before helping Āhau with forward planning Company-X insisted on looking back on Āhau ’s technical foundations and completing technical due diligence. Company-X also recommended the need to highlight Āhau ’s areas of technical risk.

“What we got from Company-X was that before they could help design a project that was going to fit our company, they needed to better understand how we operate, and where the areas are that we need to resource a little bit more,” Tairea said.

“That was where this idea behind doing a tech due diligence review came from. So that was impressive.

“I wanted to put together this project. And they were like, yes, cool, but we want to understand more about your company. And I am like, do not worry about that, you just write me this project around how your company would do it. And they were like, no, no, no, no, no. Because we would do it completely different than how you would do it, and we would have a different outcome to what you want to achieve. They wanted to go through this process of doing this due diligence and understand who we are and how we work before they do the project design – and now I can see why,” explained Tairea.

“After we had done that due diligence process, it was probably as equally valuable to not only the outcome that we had, but we actually had this opportunity to look at our company. And they asked some awesome questions, some things that we hadn't realised we were doing that we were already doing, and a bunch of stuff that we hadn't been doing that we realised we should be doing.”

It started with a high-level consultation between Company-X and Āhau ’s leadership and technical teams, with Company-X setting expectations around requirements.

“We wanted to ensure Āhau had every opportunity to get the most value out of our analysis and that would only come with valuable information from them,” Judge said.

This included Āhau spending a day filling out a questionnaire, followed by an interview digging deeper into the answers to uncover all the blind spots.

“Then we played back to them what we heard, and they had an opportunity to amend before we provided analysis that created a qualitative score across a bunch of dimensions.”

One of the biggest issues Company-X uncovered was Āhau ’s ability to provide user support for the product it had built.