News and Success Stories

Published 02 August 2023

Free guidance and counselling to support founder wellbeing from Callaghan Innovation

Callaghan Innovation is delighted to announce new initiatives to support founder wellbeing, including covering the cost of free guidance and counselling for founders.

Studies have shown founders to be at risk of mental health issues related to the significant pressures and stresses experienced in the early stages of establishing a new venture.

This year new global research published by founder advisory Startup Snapshot revealed more than 70 per cent of founders felt running a startup takes a major toll on their mental health. 36 per cent experienced burnout and 13 per cent had suffered depression.

We're taking steps towards addressing these issues by covering the cost of one-to-one guidance for any startup founder who has experienced inappropriate behaviour within the startup ecosystem, whether or not they are a customer.

The independent and confidential service will be provided by specialist external coaches who can help founders who have experienced inappropriate behaviour to talk about their experience, receive advice, and decide on next steps. This can follow a tikanga approach if requested by the founder.

If further support is required, we will also cover the cost of accessing an informal resolution service run by the same provider. This service is available now.

Over time, anonymised data from the provider will be used to look at any trends in the types of inappropriate behaviour being experienced in the ecosystem.

An open source Code of Conduct, co-created by Callaghan Innovation and innovation ecosystem partners, has also been made available online to anyone.

Uneven power dynamics in the startup ecosystem can leave founders feeling vulnerable to behaviour that is not acceptable. A Code of Conduct can help set up founder partners for success by clearly outlining acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

We encourage anyone working with founders to put a Code of Conduct in place to support healthy founder relationships. We also recently made having a Code of Conduct a requirement for our Founder and Startup Support Programme partners.

A trial programme is also planned which will provide free general counselling and advice for startup founders who are dealing with the intense everyday pressures of startup life. This service will be delivered by people who have experience working with founders.

We are committed to supporting the development of a dynamic, inclusive and diverse startup ecosystem. We look forward to continuing to support founders in their startup journey, and exploring new opportunities to support Kiwi founder success.

For more information on how we are helping support founder wellbeing, visit