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A passion for sustainability makes this mentor a perfect match

Soda has partnered with Venture Taranaki, providing mentors for its PowerUp Ideas Competition. Tesh is mentoring Karen Danenhauer, founder of MamaGaia, and one of the top five finalists in the competition.

Latesha (Tesh) Randall is the co-founder and co-director of Raglan Food Co which makes delicious and sustainably packaged plant-based products in Raglan. She is also a celebrant, writer (with three published books), Myers-Briggs personality coach, and self-confessed lover of doing too many things!


We asked Latesha a few questions about the mentoring process.

What is your area of expertise?

Brand strategy and marketing would be my main areas within the company currently, but I also dabble in HR (creating a fun work culture has been a big part of our journey), and I’m very interested in sustainability.


How long have you been mentoring for?

This is my first experience mentoring with Soda however I’ve had a relationship with Soda ever since moving to Raglan nearly nine years ago. I wrote articles about some Soda ventures and have sponsored the Innes48 hour start-up challenge and spoken at Soda events.

I’ve been really enjoying the mentoring process! This venture grabbed my interest because of its focus on sustainability. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity to help one of New Zealand’s up and coming entrepreneurs.


Tell me about the business you’ve been mentoring?

I’ve been working with MamaGaia - a venture focused on simplifying sustainability and using waste that would otherwise end up in landfill, to create beautiful, useful products. They currently have a range of soap dishes, with other exciting things in the pipeline!


What excites you about this business?

I love the local, community focus, trying to solve Taranaki’s plastic waste problem and save plastic lids from ending up in landfill. I also am excited about the creativity and possibilities for future products that can be made from recycled plastic.


How have you been able to improve their business?

I’ve helped MamaGaia through a rebranding process – we’re now looking fresh, funky, and ready to share our story with more potential customers! We've also been through a recruitment process to expand the team and bring on a new marketing and admin assistant which frees up the founder, Karen, to work more on the business strategy and production capability.


What have you enjoyed most about this project?

I've appreciated Karen’s openness and enthusiasm for the process. She’s a busy lady, working night shifts as an emergency doctor and a Mum of two, but has still given lots of energy to the project and is truly dedicated to helping solve the plastic problem that we’re facing.


What is your favourite part of being a business mentor?

It’s a privilege to share my skills and experience with others and see them achieve results with some support behind them. We all need cheerleaders along our journey, and I love the chance to be that cheerleader for others.

Soda has partnered with Venture Taranaki on PowerUp – an exciting new initiative encouraging growth and innovation in the region. Since February, 50 of Taranaki’s budding entrepreneurs have been attending Venture Taranaki’s PowerUp Co.Starters programme. The eight-week workshop series helped participants build their business plan and learn about starting and growing an enterprise. Five finalists were selected for the PowerUp programme (the equivalent of Soda’s Lift Lite programme) to take their business to the next level. The PowerUp finalists received one-on-one mentoring from Soda mentors.


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