Building Connections through Product Innovations

Hosted By Lauren Conaway

InnovateHER KC

See All Episodes With Lauren Conaway

Katherine Sandford

Today's Guest: Katherine Sandford

Chief Executive Officer - UBCO

Ep. #924 - Building Connections through Product Innovations

In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Lauren Conaway connects with Katherine Sandford. Our guest is the chief executive officer of UBCO (Electric Adventure Vehicles). Together they discuss how businesses can set up connections and create experiences through product innovations.

Covered In This Episode

What are things that an entrepreneur should possess? Well, according to Katherine and Lauren’s conversation, there are three inherent things one should not miss. Great leadership skills, ability to network, and thirst for innovation—if you have these three, you’re on your way to success.

Their conversation also led to other topics. They discuss how you can create business relationships out of nothing. Moreover, they discuss how your family can influence your journey and entrepreneurship style.

Get Started with Full Scale

Learn more business tips and tricks from Lauren and Katherine. Tune in to this Startup Hustle episode today!

Business Podcast for Entrepreneurs


  • The Katherine Sandford backstory (01:59)
  • On ecosystem building and development (06:14)
  • Securing funding by leveraging your role and experience in the ecosystem (08:37)
  • How to foster relationships out of nothing (10:06)
  • Reasons why Katherine went back to New Zealand (11:52)
  • The impact of her family on Katherine’s entrepreneurship journey (13:59)
  • Katherine’s leadership style and her family’s influence (16:32)
  • On being a woman in a male-dominated space (20:00)
  • How to earn trust in business (22:00)
  • A list of Katherine’s great wins (26:45)
  • Do motorbikes give you a sense of adventure? (32:59)
  • Connecting with your environment through a silent vehicle (35:38)
  • Advice that can make your entrepreneurship journey easier (38:42)

Key Quotes

Innovation can be found in every corner of the world.

– Lauren Conaway

First and foremost, you’ve got to know yourself. I think really understanding what drives you and what’s important to you is a great starting point. And then trust yourself. So once you’ve kind of worked out who you are and what you want, just get on with it.

– Katherine Sandford

I’m kind of speaking for all of womanhood. But, you know, one of the things that you have to do is not only do you have to advocate for your ideas and for your tactics and processes. But you also have to advocate for your own credibility in these spaces.

– Lauren Conaway

Sponsor Highlight

Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by Full Scale. Now, business innovation and tech product building can be done quickly and affordably. Full Scale has a team of software developers, engineers, testers, and leaders ready for long-term projects. And they have the platform to help manage that team efficiently. So tell them your technical needs today!

On top of that, check out our Startup Hustle partners. These organizations support the startup community and may have the services that your business needs.

Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

00:00.00 Lauren Conaway
And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHER KC. And, of course, I have to tell you about our fabulous episode sponsors. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by Hiring software developers is difficult, we know. We hear about it all the time. We see it all the time. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. They have a platform to help you manage that team. They’re going to help you get your technology product off the ground so quickly, so efficiently. Visit to learn more. Now, today, I’m actually really excited about this conversation, and I have several reasons. I do have to tell you that Jessica, one of our Startup Hustle producers, has been hyping up this interview for me for like a couple weeks now. She is so excited. I’ve gotten so excited. But today, we’re going to be talking to Katherine Sandford, and Katherine is the chief executive officer of UBCO – Electric Adventure Vehicles. Katherine, welcome to the show.
01:04.54 Katherine Sandford
Thanks for having me, Lauren. Great to be here.
01:08.90 Lauren Conaway
Wonderful. I think it’s great that you’re here as well. And I’m going to go ahead and kick it. And I’m going to ask you to tell us about your journey, Katherine.
01:19.60 Katherine Sandford
Well, I grew up in a small New Zealand town. I’m the eldest of a family of four, and I have three younger brothers. That had quite an influence on my journey overall. Over time, I’ve worked in quite male-dominated companies and sort of worked in very male male-centric industries. I’ve worked in, so the learning that I had, I think growing up very supportive parents. Um, my dad was probably the one feminist I even knew. So yeah, having younger brothers was wonderful training for what I’ve ended up doing across my career.
01:57.70 Lauren Conaway
Oh, that’s awesome.
02:06.78 Lauren Conaway
I imagine where you were, whether you are a little bit of a tomboy or not. Okay.
02:11.60 Katherine Sandford
No, I wasn’t. Actually, I was quite a girlie girl and growing up in the 60s; quite protected, I think, by my parents. Their only daughter and so on. I was probably a bit more of a girl than a tomboy.
02:25.30 Lauren Conaway
Okay, well, you mentioned that you would come up through male-dominant industries, and actually, you and I share that in common. Ah, so the bulk of my career was spent in aerospace and automotive. So whenever I talk to a woman who was able to not just survive but thrive. In those industries, I always get really excited. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
02:47.26 Katherine Sandford
Yeah, so I started my career actually in a hospital, working and supporting patients as a medical technologist. But um, after having children, I landed a job and a company called Trimble which was a Silicon Valley-based public company focused on the geospatial industry. I was about employee numbers, I think um and one of the very few women working in the business at that point in time. And so I was there in the end for more than 20 years, and the company grew to be really large, and I remained one of you know, while the number of women grew over time in terms of senior roles I was one of the very few female leaders in the business. And so it was, you know, an interesting journey.
03:44.79 Lauren Conaway
So yeah, I can imagine it. It always is and so tells us about what you do now.
03:52.47 Katherine Sandford
So today, I’m leading a really exciting New Zealand-based startup. I guess we’ve probably posted a startup. We’ve been around now for about 7 years. I’m so getting into that scaleup phase.
04:06.22 Lauren Conaway
04:08.32 Katherine Sandford
We were about to join about a year ago in this role but have been involved in the business since almost the beginning. I actually came in as an angel investor who wrote a mini check back in 2016 and joined the board.
04:21.64 Lauren Conaway
Oh wow.
04:26.12 Katherine Sandford
Um, supported the founding team to develop their ah go-to-market strategy and recruit some of the early team members and then had the opportunity to take on the Ceo role last year and, having you know, worked. Internationally for most of my career, having a really solid international network in being really interested in supporting the New Zealand technology ecosystem to be successful. On a global scale. There was an opportunity there for me to kind of leverage my skills and do something meaningful. Um, plus the team is just amazing. So some really talented folks in different parts of the world. It’s been. Yeah, it’s been just incredible.
05:17.88 Lauren Conaway
Yeah, it sounds like it, and you mentioned that the technology ecosystem that you are operating within tells us a little bit more about that. I’m always fascinated to hear that global perspective on ecosystem building and development.
05:33.82 Katherine Sandford
Well, I think, um, you know, I worked most of my career with ah with a global sort of perspective, and I spent 15 years actually living and working offshore, and certainly the North American technology ecosystem, you know, is quite well-advanced startups. Been around for a long time, and you know you’ve had lots of unicorns, and you know it’s quite well known. Um, globally, you know, the funding and investment side of things is also well evolved, and I guess taking a look.
05:57.44 Lauren Conaway
06:10.32 Katherine Sandford
In New Zealand, I came back for family reasons after having been away for so long. It was just, you know, something I needed to do, and so I was looking for a bit of a challenge, but when I started to understand what was going on here in New Zealand.
06:17.16 Lauren Conaway
06:26.44 Katherine Sandford
We’re probably ten or fifteen years behind what was going on in North America, but so much invention, so much potential. There’s so much amazing r and d going on in the universities and crown research institutes and lots of little startups. Had incredible ideas but really a lack of capability around commercialization and scale-up. We’re a tiny, you know, set of islands in the bottom of the South Pacific, and it’s a long way to market if you do think globally, and so there are lots of challenges associated with that.
07:00.58 Lauren Conaway
07:04.96 Katherine Sandford
Um, I felt that I had something to offer in terms of experience and bridging in many ways leveraging my network, you know, and bridging to international opportunity and just you know helping out so prior to this role. Ah. Been helping a number of startups and tech companies to understand you know what it might take to be successful offshore.
07:28.60 Lauren Conaway
Sure Well and I love that global approach certainly media technology. Innovation can be found in every corner of the world. So it’s really exciting. I always love hearing those stories.
07:38.86 Katherine Sandford
I just.
07:43.29 Lauren Conaway
Now you have been able to leverage your experience and your role within the ecosystem into a successful fundraise for your startup. Can you talk to us a little bit about that. Actually you know it looks like you’ve gone through several rounds of fundraising.
07:58.34 Katherine Sandford
We have been through several rounds of funding and you know with all of these things. It starts off with friends and family, some early preceding money coming in from you know, early believers and the founders and then you know getting a bit more formal through Angel and um, you know. Early-stage investment and then we went into a series a round which was when I was perhaps a little bit more involved in the business and bringing in venture Capital for the time and so you know the learning there is that it’s all about relationships. Um, you know you’ve got to have a great product. A great market opportunity. But the development of those relationships and finding the right fit with investors super important and then over time we’ve done you know a number of other raises. We’re in the middle of one now. Um the markets are a bit more challenged. Then it’s been historically just given everything that’s going on in the world. But again it comes down to building that rapport with those that you might want to partner with. It’s kind of like a marriage. It’s a long-term thing so you’ve got to get that right.
09:08.72 Lauren Conaway
Yeah, well and I’m Curious. You know what are some of the best practices that you employed to build those relationships because it’s really difficult to just build a relationship out of nothing. Um, it is a pity I’d be curious like what are some steps that you have taken. To Foster those relationships.
09:29.37 Katherine Sandford
I think getting to know people understand what drives them. You know I mean it often starts with a coffee and you know it advances to dinner and spending time um in the. And the instance of our series round I actually spent about eighteen months courting our lead series investor and actually working for them and a number of their other portfolio companies to really understand what drove them and how they supported the companies. Um, you know what? What was important to them and that felt a massive degree of trust and ultimately resulted in investment and substantial follow on investment as a consequence. So that’s been a 5-year plus relationship now. Um. And so it was getting. You know this is getting down and deep in building and trust it takes time.
10:28.10 Lauren Conaway
Yeah, yeah for sure and you know when you look at it deals flow um being able to foster it make those connections and having access I think is a pretty key part. Of that journey and clearly you’ve been able to establish yourself very very strongly to that global audience. Really I mean you’re from New Zealand but you’ve worked in different countries across your career different leadership rules I’m I’m actually. Curious, I’m going to drill down on you for just a second. I hope you don’t mind but what I need is to go back to New Zealand.
11:08.00 Katherine Sandford
Um, actually my mom got sick and my mother was a nurse. Um, she had never had a sick day in her life. You know we had to be really really unwell to get to be taken to the doctor. Um, when we were growing up. She always sort of took care of us. She’d been the carer. My dad had had poor health you know over a number of years and she’d always taken care of him so when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a real shock. It hit me harder than I had expected. You know I’d been this kind of globe trotter. Very independent person who wasn’t really sure whether I’d ever come home. But yeah, that hit me pretty hard and so it took me about a year to work out how to get back and maintain a role within the company I was in you know and not let all of that. Go. Um, and so I commuted backwards and forwards from the Us home a few times during those twelve months and ultimately negotiated to be able to continue my job from here. So yeah, it was. It was a family driver and I wouldn’t have thought that that would be the reason I’d come back, but it absolutely was and if. Fabulous decision to have made because sort of – ears on or 8 years on um mom is fit and healthy I’ve got my parents actually you know 15 minutes down the road and they’re in their early eighty now and it’s just joyous to be spending time with them at this stage of their lives.
12:34.51 Lauren Conaway
Sure Well and I’m so sorry that you and your family went through that but it sounds like you’re your mom’s on the mend like she is doing well. Okay, good. Yay.
12:44.17 Katherine Sandford
Yeah, she’s great now. Actually yeah, no, it’s actually hard to get an appointment with my parents. Their social life’s pretty significant and while Covid’s put a bit of a dent on that in the last little while. Ah um, they’re both fit and healthy and enjoying life. So that’s wonderful.
12:58.99 Lauren Conaway
Oh my gosh. Well that is incredible and I’m so glad to hear it now. Would you say you know you’ve talked about your family at a couple of different points here.
13:02.10 Katherine Sandford
Yeah, ah.
13:13.98 Lauren Conaway
Would you say that they are a driver for you or a teacher? Or you know how they have been able to impact your journey?
13:21.70 Katherine Sandford
I’ve learned so much from my family over time. My parents were both really hard working. You know my mother worked from when I was very young as I mentioned she was a nurse In. And she worked so I think from a work ethics standpoint and at a time when a lot of women didn’t work a lot of women would stay at home Ums I had that I had her as a role model in that regard and I think you know I said my dad was the feminist I knew he was so encouraging of her being out in the world. Doing her thing and making her mark and enabling her the space to you know to do what she wanted to do with her career. You know, taking care of me and my brothers so that she could be out doing that. So you know that was significant. My dad had his own business.
14:10.28 Lauren Conaway
14:13.73 Katherine Sandford
Um, and so you know I learned early on how hard it is to run your own business and be a family person and provide for your family.
14:23.75 Lauren Conaway
See way to wait. You’re telling me that you saw an entrepreneur at work. Saw how hard it was and you decided to do it anyway. But does that mean you’re gloriously mad just a little bit.
14:33.60 Katherine Sandford
Ah, yeah yeah I guess so it’s just completely insane I think a lot of the time. But yeah I mean I had that exposure really early on and then my brothers you know and. Their own ways of each did their own entrepreneurial thing and that’s been incredible. We. We’re a pretty tight unit. Still I’ve got close to a little bit further away and then another one you know on the other side of the world but we get together as often as we can and when we do it.
15:10.76 Lauren Conaway
Yeah I love that I always love hearing the family stories of entrepreneurs because I think you have to be a special kind of person to become an entrepreneur. You know it’s one of the things I always tell people I’m like it’s one of the most gloriously difficult.
15:10.90 Katherine Sandford
This is special.
15:27.52 Lauren Conaway
Wondrously fabulous things you will ever do with your life. Um, and so I always love hearing those origin stories like how did you become an entrepreneur and it often goes back to family and it goes back to that nurture piece and so I do have. Ah, another question about your family. You know we’ve kind of talked about their influence in your life. But what about their influence on your leadership style? You know what? Actually I’m going to ask you for a partner. I’m going to ask what your leadership style is and who and how you think that came to be.
16:04.11 Katherine Sandford
Ah, my leadership style is very collaborative I think again, you know being part of a family and a bunch of boisterous brothers. Um, yeah, I learned to negotiate and navigate. That sort of family dynamic early on I was encouraged too as ah, you know as a little girl and as I got older to you know to take on things that stretched me and challenged my abilities. And you know I was given the freedom to make choices. I didn’t know if I didn’t like something. I didn’t have to stick with it but I would have to be able to explain why that didn’t work. So um I think I’m a collaborative leader. I’m ah I think I’m very effective. Delegator I believe in setting goals and expectations and then allowing people the freedom to get on and do their work I certainly believe that everyone has capability. You know that. That contributes and that it doesn’t all stop with me. Um I also am a very strong believer in diversity of thinking and the value that that brings to the table and you know in terms of business and being successful. So yeah I suppose those are some elements.
17:22.13 Lauren Conaway
17:31.33 Katherine Sandford
Leadership style that has helped me get to where I am.
17:33.30 Lauren Conaway
And where and where did you learn those? So just some of them. You know I mean honestly we don’t. We don’t have the kind of time I’m sure to like to delve into a long-term session on that. But like you know you clearly got that work ethic from your parents. You know you learned to speak up around your brothers.
17:40.83 Katherine Sandford
Yeah, ah.
17:50.55 Katherine Sandford
I think in the corporate world. You know you get lots of training and things you get lots of access to helpful tool sets. But it’s really I’m an applied learner, I suppose, and I’m more of a risk taker than I ever thought that I was so you know.
17:51.40 Lauren Conaway
What else?
18:08.70 Lauren Conaway
18:10.51 Katherine Sandford
Jump jumping on a plane with 2 infant children and going to live in Paris for a year in support of my husband’s job at that point in time actually but you know not speaking the language not having any clue what we were going to never having been to that part of the world before was a massive risk.
18:29.18 Lauren Conaway
Just sure.
18:29.91 Katherine Sandford
Um, it was game-changing in terms of us as a family and what it has enabled us to do but it also opened my eyes to a bigger world and in opportunity and diversity and the value that having those experiences can be so you know from a. From a leadership standpoint I’m also always encouraging those who I work with to take on things that might challenge them in ways that are, you know, quite unique and often and extremely scary when you know before you do it but will be. You know, it will be kind of life-changing.
19:04.00 Lauren Conaway
19:09.52 Katherine Sandford
Um, you know I think as a female leader and ah and a large global corporate heavily male-influenced. You know that provides its own unique set of challenges. You need to find your voice and who probably works.
19:24.67 Lauren Conaway
19:28.63 Katherine Sandford
Work harder than many to or many of your male colleagues to you know to be seen and heard in a meaningful way and you know and it and it takes time. Um, but I think you know one of the joyous things for me when I left my corporate life was. The feedback that I had from many younger females who I really didn’t know at all but they had they’d seen me and hurt me and watched what I’d done and were really um, positively influenced by that and it was probably at that point that I realized the almost a responsibility that I have as a female leader to you know, just keep doing what I’m doing and to um, continue to be you know heard and out there hopefully making a difference for the next generations.
20:08.29 Lauren Conaway
20:16.40 Lauren Conaway
Yeah, yeah, well going back to something that you said in there because I just find it so interesting and I’ve mentioned this before on the show listeners. But I’m going to say it again. Ah, you know when you’re a member of a historically excluded or marginalized um identity group. You know one of the things that gets really frustrating at times and Katherine please correct me if I’m kind of speaking for you here as well. I’m kind of speaking for all of womanhood. But you know one of the things that you have to do is not only do you have to advocate for your ideas and for your tactics and processes. But you also have to advocate for your own credibility in these spaces. So there’s like this additional layer of work that you have to do. Because you need people to trust you people do business with people that they like and trust and you have to like as a woman I know that I have had to work harder in that vein actually than I ever had to work in coming up with the ideas and coming up with the execution. It was more. What work do I need to do to get you to trust me and to understand that I am credible within my field and that you should listen to my advice versus. This is the product. This is the service. This is what it does. This is what it can do for you and this is how it can solve your pain points and your problems and so you kind of have this double-edged opportunity when you’re working with people. Have you found that or am I just kind of talking out of my ass here.
21:48.71 Katherine Sandford
No I think you’re right on the money law and it’s um, you know that’s pretty spot on. You know I think one of the things that’s actually helped me um, is that I’m really a generalist and I’m actually interested in just lots of things and so I can. I can plug myself into um you know different market segments or conversations and actually have you know, be interested. Um and know enough to be a little bit dangerous. And that’s kind of helped.
22:21.57 Lauren Conaway
Yeah, yeah.
22:24.67 Katherine Sandford
I’ve been really, you know, really adaptable and sort of flexible in and around that so you know I I studied chemistry and human nutrition at University Well um, you know? And yeah, although I see no now I know enough to be dangerous when it comes to battery chemistry and you know.
22:32.31 Lauren Conaway
And you have ended up somewhere wildly different. So sure.
22:43.62 Katherine Sandford
Running an electric motor vehicle company is um, you know that’s come full circle and I find that kind of fascinating and funny all at the same time and people would never guess that I would know anything about any of that stuff but actually I do know a little bit. Um, that’s been how helpful you know I ran.
22:58.85 Lauren Conaway
23:01.74 Katherine Sandford
I ran a utilities business and learned lots about you know, power distribution and transmission and again you know enough to be dangerous.
23:09.35 Lauren Conaway
I remember once I was working for an IT firm but we were getting ready to move offices and I found myself investigating um electrical circuits.
23:24.10 Lauren Conaway
And fire code and electrical load like trying to figure out how we could get like all of our servers and processors into this office building and I remember just taking a moment where I was like I cannot believe that this is my life. I would never have imagined you know as an English major in college like never would have imagined that this would be a part of my reality. I’ve had a couple of bosses that called me a swiss army knife and it sounds like you’re a swiss army knife Katherine I love that.
23:47.89 Katherine Sandford
Oh wow. Yeah, yeah, yeah, no I think I think that’s right and I yeah I mean a little bit the same I can tune my hand to most things I’m pretty practical.
23:58.87 Lauren Conaway
Yeah, well and I think I think it’s a matter of and this is very much a part of the entrepreneurial mindset. But I think it’s not so much you don’t have to know everything but you have to know how to learn and you know I have to know how to research and you have to know what direction to look in to find. The information and the tools that you need and that’s the key like you don’t have to know it all but you have to be able to figure it out right.
24:24.53 Katherine Sandford
Ah, yeah, no I think you’re right and I think it. Also you know again back to trusting that others know more than you do and knowing when to ask for help or you know to let something go and let the experts kind of deal with it. So that’s you know that’s an important thing too.
24:33.16 Lauren Conaway
24:40.12 Lauren Conaway
Well, I love that, and Katherine, you have given me a beautiful segue because we’re going to talk about expert software developers here for just a second. Just a reminder, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by Full Scale. They can help you find those experts.
24:42.20 Katherine Sandford
But um.
25:00.11 Lauren Conaway
Are you a founder? If you’re an entrepreneur and you have a tech product that you want to bring to market, but you’re not a technical person, Full Scale is going to help you out. They’re going to take that load off of your plate. They’re going to help you find an entire team of software developers who can help you build your dream product. When you visit, you can build a software team quickly and affordably. And they are there to help you do that today. We are here with Katherine Sandford, she is the CEO of UBCO – Electric Adventure Vehicles, and we’re talking about a lot of things. Ah, but we’ve, you know, kind of touched on leadership. We’ve kind of touched on, you know, Katherine’s background. I really want to delve a little bit more completely into this whole leadership thing, and I want to ask you. We’ve talked about some of the challenges that you have seen over the course of your career. But what have been some of it? What are some of the great wins that you’ve experienced? Those times when you were like, hey, I’m an entrepreneur, and this is awesome. I want to keep doing this.
26:06.29 Katherine Sandford
From a corporate context I think some of the wins related to being recognized as having capability to, to take the next step and or to be offered the opportunity to go and. Fell roles in another country or in another you know, part of the business that were um, you know had been held by people that I held in really high esteem and here I was um, being recognized as capable of taking that on so you know I’d see some of those sorts of things as. Is real wins um, others are having been able to enjoy the world with my family and so you know, but it’s a little bit abstract when it comes to leadership but you know the ability to go and live in a country to expose your children to things that they might never otherwise get to see and you know often you’ll go on a trip with your family and visit different places but we had the opportunity as a family to immerse in different cultures. Whether that be France. The UK, Germany, or the US over time and so you know they and themselves are great leaders within their context now as a consequence of that experience and I’m super proud of that. So I’ve just learned so much from them. And they’re on their career journeys they’re both sort of in their mid 30s now and you know and out there sort of changing the world in their own context. Um, and I’m you know I’m learning from them each day and they’re making me a better leader as a consequence particularly as I work with a number of people who. Are in that sort of age group and you know have their own kind of leadership struggles so it gives me a context that’s really meaningful. Um, you know I think the other is time has gone on as being acknowledged as. Someone who has something to offer and you know part of that’s been my doing I suppose in taking on the challenges that I have coming back to New Zealand and getting plugged into the ecosystem and the things we talked about earlier but um I think there’s you know there’s some joy in. And being acknowledged as having experience that’s valuable and um, you know and being asked to contribute and in different ways now. So yeah, those are all kinds of highlights for me.
28:42.20 Lauren Conaway
Yeah, they they certainly sound like it. Those are some pretty significant highlights. Um now what about wins for for UBCO. What what have you seen there like we talked about your your fundraising rounds but I I think I’m more talking about.
28:50.73 Katherine Sandford
29:00.63 Lauren Conaway
Your entry into the market and this changing landscape of, you know, sustainable energy and vehicles. So I’m curious to hear about the UBCO journey a little bit.
29:09.48 Katherine Sandford
Yeah, you know Abco has succeeded to this point and you know as I said we’re 7 years in by putting product into market very very early on and taking real customers using the product day in and day out. And taking all the feedback that came with that to you know to to integrate that feedback into the various generations of products so we’re at none generation now and as we really go into the US market as we’re doing currently where we expect you know, an excessive. Sort of 80% of our revenue to come from there over the next few years we’ve found product market fit in a way that I don’t think we would have if we hadn’t you know if we had have just come up with a product and sort of spent spent years developing it without getting any any sort of market feedback. So that’s the thing um the other is from a New Zealand business perspective thinking global from day one so really looking at the bigger world is providing the opportunity and then narrowing in as we have on on the adventure market in the us as being. The place where we can have the most impact covid’s been kind to us in many ways as a business because people are wanting to get out so outdoors you know they’re passionate about being out with nature and you know and free to roam after being locked down for some time. So um, that’s. That’s playing to our favor in terms of market success. Um, and you know we’re enabling people who perhaps have never thought about being on a motorbike we’re enabling them to have adventures that they never imagined. They’d have so. We’ve got a. We’ve got a vehicle that’s incredibly approachable, really safe to ride. It’s we’re we’re expanding the let’s say traditional power sports demographic into a whole you know bunch of users that have never ever done it before or those who perhaps did it. Decades ago and become a little bit more risk averse and and want to want to get back into it. So it’s you know it’s really interesting I might also add that you know for me I have never ridden a motorbike before in fact was quite terrified of them and. I am now thinking about getting rid of my car and just using my 2 by 2 is an alternative I really am.
31:50.60 Lauren Conaway
You’re a pro edit now like you would feel that comfortable. You’re just you’re zipping around all over the place. Ah.
31:55.33 Katherine Sandford
I just love it and you know and instead of sitting behind the steering wheel and just you know driving down to the store for a bottle of milk or you know into town I can get on the 2 by 2 and on down the road with a big grin on my face having this mini adventure and then I can, you know, get off road on the way home. So we’ve got this. Um, you know this on-road off-road capability that really is quite unique and as I say for someone who’s never ever done it before it’s It’s really kind of.
32:20.79 Lauren Conaway
32:27.68 Lauren Conaway
Yeah, do you feel like you know your utility vehicles? They’re going to be people’s gateway vehicles to even you know, let’s talk electric cars and let’s talk like all of these different.
32:28.49 Katherine Sandford
Life-changing lots of fun.
32:43.96 Lauren Conaway
Technological pursuits like do you feel like you’re kind of sitting on the precipice or on the leading edge of that.
32:48.54 Katherine Sandford
Ah, there is definitely that potential. You know I think people are thinking about knowing the environment and impact and when they’ve got access to ah ah you know to ah an electric adventure vehicle where they can get out and have fun. Definitely influenced in terms of what they might do and the yeah and four-wheel vehicle as a consequence of that. So we are without a doubt having influence on how people think about those things. Yeah.
33:18.46 Lauren Conaway
That makes me really happy, like even you just relaying the fact that you know I’m thinking about getting rid of my card. I think about how societally how car dependent So Many so many societies tend to be and so like finding that alternative. That’s it. Fun. That’s you you used the word approachable and I love that because it just says so much but that that is super cool. Um, So how does that feel like I mean you’re not just an innovator. At this point you’re a Disruptor. You’re changing the way people engage with transportation and really, you’re changing the way people engage with their own cities and their own homes right.
34:01.18 Katherine Sandford
That’s yeah I mean that’s super exciting I I think don’t probably step back often enough and and think about that sort of influence but it it it is and you know the the thing I. Probably love most is the joy that it brings people so you know we’ve sold a lot of product over time onto onto farms and and to farmers and you get these big Burly Dairy Farmers who you know have been using a combustion engine.
34:25.30 Lauren Conaway
34:35.58 Katherine Sandford
Farm bikes for years and years and they get on the UBCO by 2 and within a matter of hours. They’re, you know, more relaxed. It’s silent and I’d never expected that silence was a thing that we would hear as being a really major. A major driver but it’s true. You know and after the course of a week that yeah.
34:57.19 Lauren Conaway
I wouldn’t have thought that either but think about how much more fully. You’d be able to even engage with nature with your land like just looking around and you can hear it and you can see it and taste it and touch it.
35:13.33 Katherine Sandford
Ah, hundred percent and you know you imagine the dog running along beside the motorbike or when you can actually hear the dog breathing and you know you can talk to the dog or um or you can hear the birds we’ve got a number of customers who are using.
35:14.15 Lauren Conaway
You’re a part of it. That’s really cool. Piano.
35:31.96 Katherine Sandford
The vehicle in conservation sort of context and so imagine trail maintenance and that sort of thing and so you know got the silent vehicle that’s carrying all of the equipment that you need to to maintain a trail. You’ve got tourists who are walking along and they’re not disturbed by it.
35:44.31 Lauren Conaway
Yeah, yeah.
35:50.94 Katherine Sandford
By a noisy vehicle whizzing along the track. Um, you can still hear the birds. Um, it’s really light. You know in its footprint and so all of that is having a really positive impact on people in the environment and as I say you know it’s joyous. Um, not only getting the feedback but you see people just really thrilled to be having this experience that they didn’t really think about. Well they didn’t really think about it.
36:14.36 Lauren Conaway
I love that because really, you’re You’re not whenever I talk about Entrepreneurship. It’s one of those things where you want to see what a company is really selling. What is a startup like what pain points are they solving, what excitement are they generating because the fact is you’re not really. Selling vehicles I mean you are. That’s what you’re selling but like tactically but philosophically what you’re selling is that joy and convenience and fun and communication with the world around you like you’re selling so many things that have nothing to do with getting from point a to point b.
36:53.80 Katherine Sandford
Ah, ah, hundred percent um yeah I’ve been. I like to think of it in my own context as I’m having a mini adventure every time I get on the bike. Yeah.
36:53.60 Lauren Conaway
Would you agree like that? I mean that’s kind of what I’m taking from it.
37:03.63 Lauren Conaway
I love that your life is just poor adventures. Big ones and small ones.
37:10.31 Katherine Sandford
Yeah, little little tiny ones so you know I can go you know five miles down the road and grin all the way a little bit of wind in my hair and come back feeling really you know, really refreshed and energized. Yeah, it’s great. Ah I’ve got a visor. Um.
37:17.31 Lauren Conaway
Oh I love it. Wait wait wait wait but what about the bug in your teeth? I need to know about the pens in your teeth. Okay, all right? as long as you’re protected. That’s all we needed to see, let me.
37:29.79 Katherine Sandford
I’ve got a visor on my helmets. It kicks the bugs out. Yeah, yeah, important.
37:37.60 Lauren Conaway
Ask you this because Katherine I know you and I both know that not everybody is going to be able to run out and start their own sustainably powered fun utility vehicle company like they’re just not going to be able to do that. But what you can do and what you have to offer as an expert and someone who’s been. Working around startups and in entrepreneurship for a long time I’m going to ask you to share with our listeners some of your favorite advice and what are some things that our listeners could take home tomorrow or take home today. To do in their lives to foster that adventure or to be a stronger leader like what are some things that you’ve learned that might make their journey a little bit easier.
38:20.51 Katherine Sandford
I think, first and foremost you’ve got to know yourself. I think really understanding what drives you and what’s important to you as a great starting point. Um, and then to trust yourself. So once you’ve kind of worked out who you are and what you want just get on with it. You know, I think.
38:37.63 Lauren Conaway
38:40.42 Katherine Sandford
Um, there’s lots of ideas out there. Um, and you know most entrepreneurs will tell you they have ideas but and and amongst that is only one good one so you know I think it’s exactly yeah yeah, can’t try and yeah, do it all at once?
38:49.60 Lauren Conaway
You only work on 3 at a time. Yeah I mean you can’t that then you’re gonna be in a situation where you’re doing things and none of them. Well so don’t do that restraint.
39:02.17 Katherine Sandford
So focus is super important. Focus is good and engages with others. So you know this diversity of thinking, getting input from others from the beginning.
39:09.42 Lauren Conaway
And like focused focus is good. Yeah.
39:22.17 Katherine Sandford
Finding a mate, finding some co-founders is important and then I think you know your customers. So again, that focus becomes important with the 2 by 2 we know we put it out there and into the world and. Waited to see what people used it for before really deciding where we fit best. It’s really typically unique and what it does and how it can be used. But we’ve honed in on um, a demographic now that is really tight. We understand that customer really well.
39:42.82 Lauren Conaway
39:56.17 Katherine Sandford
So now we can target our marketing and ensure that we’re growing the potential around that persona in a meaningful way and I yeah I think that’s reported really really is.
40:01.34 Lauren Conaway
Oh man, that’s like the ultimate market validation though. I mean that’s what you did because you talked about the fact that you know you actually with the product you actually went to market relatively quickly. But then you were able to kind of take a step back. And see how that market would respond before you moved forward on you know, strategies and intact I that’s really powerful Katherine I don’t know if you realize how powerful that is.
40:30.77 Katherine Sandford
It’s super important and you know now we’ve got more than vehicles out there in the world and we’re able to go and survey customers on a regular basis and find out exactly what they’re using it for and you know and we truly have a cluster and a significant percentage of those. Customers who are using it in a very similar way and so that there’s real power in that to be able to you know to grow the business around that persona but also to consider the adjacencies to that persona that you know we can scale.
40:49.50 Lauren Conaway
41:02.90 Lauren Conaway
41:04.62 Katherine Sandford
Um, out into over time and really help to grow you know to grow the business but ah, but provide more people with the opportunity to have the same experiences as those who are currently loving owners.
41:07.66 Lauren Conaway
41:16.67 Lauren Conaway
Yeah, well, I love that, and I have loved hearing your story, and now we are going to come up on my favorite part of every show, and I’m going to ask you the human question, Katherine and usual.
41:26.67 Katherine Sandford
41:32.20 Lauren Conaway
I don’t let the previous conversation inform the human question, but I’m going to throw that out the window for you. So you’ve talked about the fact that you love going on mini adventures, and so I’m going to ask you to tell us if you could go anywhere and do anything little mini adventures on your UBCO bike. I’m sorry, forgive me, what would you do? Where would you go?
41:59.33 Katherine Sandford
There are some amazing trails in New Zealand. You can get off the road, explore nature, and be at one with nature. Gosh, there are a number of places that I’d love to get to when I have a little bit more time. Right now, I’m enjoying just locally and becoming more confident to be able to have those bigger adventures later on. So, definitely, New Zealand. Definitely, New Zealand.
42:25.90 Lauren Conaway
Oh, that is awesome. Very cool, all right. Well, I love that, and again, I just can’t thank you enough for taking the time to chat with us, Katherine. It has been lovely getting to know you and hearing about UBCO. And now, I really want one.
42:43.83 Katherine Sandford
Ah, we need to get you one. Yeah, you’re definitely a candidate, Lauren, so we’ll see what we can do.
42:44.98 Lauren Conaway
By the way, I just want you to know. Well, I will look forward to hearing about that for sure. As you’re talking, I’m like, I want to adventure, and I know that all of our listeners playing along at home want to as well. So definitely.
43:03.84 Lauren Conaway
Get that wind in your hair, folks, and check out UBCO. So I’m going to talk to you about our episode sponsors one more time. I don’t know if you have a tech product that you want to get out there into the world, that you want to birth and bring to the people. But if you do, Full Scale can help. They have the people. They have a platform that can help you build and manage an entire team of experts. Take things off your plate, make your life easier, and help you seamlessly roll out that beautiful tech product that you’ve been envisioning. When you visit, all you have to do is answer a few questions and then let the platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers, and leaders. At Full Scale, they specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. You will learn more when you visit And, folks, I just want to remind you here at Startup Hustle. I don’t know if you have heard, but we do have our own very own TV channel. If you go to and put in Startup Hustle, you will find Startup Hustle TV, where you get to see Startup Hustle hosts like myself, Matt DeCoursey, Matt Watson, and Andrew. We’ve got Kyle and Heather and all of these amazing Startup Hustle hosts. We come together. We put ourselves on video sometimes; it’s super embarrassing. But we tell the stories of entrepreneurship, and we tell our own entrepreneurial tales. We would love to invite you to be a part of that. So definitely check it out on YouTube. And also, I want to thank you, friends, for coming back to us week after week. You are the reason we are here. You are the reason that we do what we do. And you’re the reason we exist. We’re extraordinarily grateful that you choose to take time out of your busy schedules to listen to us week after week. We hope you keep doing it, and we will catch you on the flip side.