Elevate 2022

Practical Customer Engagement for Research Entrepreneurship

It’s crucial for entrepreneurial researchers to understand: who will be your customers? And what are their real needs?  

Sometimes the best way of doing this is to “get out of the building” and have real conversations with potential customers and stakeholders. But this experience can be daunting. 

Elevate 2022 is a free online workshop series focusing on end user and customer engagement for entrepreneurial researchers.  

It’s based on the successful Rewa Ake program, first developed with KiwiNet.  

The program will help you elevate your idea and find your market.  

You’re an entrepreneurial researcher eager to better engage industry and community stakeholders, or customers. You want to demonstrate engagement and impact from your research. 

Customer Discovery skills are an incredibly practical way of developing your engagement. 

Elevate 2022 is open to academics and HDRs, and will be offered to HDRs who apply for the Peter Farrell Cup. 

This is an ideal workshop series for researchers who are considering or engaged with developing an idea to market-readiness and who want to get more out of their industry-engagement.  

You will discover how to frame customer-centric conversations, develop searching questions, as well as learn active listening, language and positioning, customer discovery, segmentation and feedback. 

  • Four weeks, part-time 

  • Experiential online workshop 

  • Designed to demystify customer discovery and reduce the scare factor 

We have designed this workshop series to maximise your experiential learning. Upon registration, you will receive a short summary of the program to help you prepare for the series. 

The more you put in, the more you take out. Over the three weeks, between workshop 2 and 3, there is an expectation for you to talk to 10 or more prospective customers. 

Ian Storie is an independent consultant and UNSW alumnus. Ian specialises in collaboration best practice and large account management having worked with hundreds of organisations and over 2,000 researchers, scientists, engineers and professional staff across ANZ, India, South Africa, USA, UK, Canada, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

Ian has worked as a senior business development, client alliance and strategic marketing professional at organisations including General Electric, Siemens and CSIRO developing technology, research and engineering driven market segments including Education, Mining & Manufacturing, Agtech, Power & Water, Food & Beverage, Petrochemical & Refining, Healthcare & Pharma and Primary industries. Ian also has a long history of facilitating collaborations amongst Research Institutions, Multinationals, SMEs, State & Federal Government Departments, NGOs, NFPs and VC/start-ups globally. 

(Zoom links will be circulated close to time) 

  • Introduction to customer discovery 

  • Step by step process for engagement 

  • Managing customer conversations, defensive behaviours and confirmation bias 

  • Engaging with First Nations stakeholders 

  • Breakout workshops 


  • Preparing for your customer conversations 

  • Impact and commercialisation conversations 

  • Understanding insights and the different languages customers speak 

  • Entrepreneurship case studies 

  • Setup mentor meetings, customer conversations and dashboards for Workshop 3 

This is your opportunity to put into practice what you’ve learned during Workshops 1 and 2. During this period, you will be required to: 

  • Attend 1 x 30mins mentor meeting per week (from a choice of three available times). This will help you prepare and execute the customer conversation process 

  • Undertake 3 x customer conversations per week to practice, learn and adapt (up to 3 hours total each week). Prepare to give feedback to cohort during Workshop #3 

  • Update and post your customer conversation dashboards for review by mentors, who will provide ongoing feedback and suggestions to improve conversations and support weekly mentor calls  

In Week 4, you will prepare to give a 10 minute summary of your customer conversations, supported by a dashboard to reflect your results. 

  • Sharing insights from customer conversations 

  • Exploring the importance of identifying customer Problems and Pain points, and casting a wide net for valuable feedback 

  • Communicating in the language of ‘non-researchers’ 

  • What would you do differently? 

  • Reflections: Where to next?