Hangi-ng with Cody Stephens
The innovative Entrepreneur behind "Kiwi Cookers"
What’s the point of climbing someone else’s ladder when you can create your own? That was clearly what Cody thought and so he set out to start his own business, Kiwi Cookers.
After scrolling through Kiwi Facebook pages and seeing people asking about Hangi Baskets, Cody decided to give it a go and soon found the perfect business venture!
“When I got set up in Aus, I advertised on Kiwi FB pages looking for Fabrication work as I wanted to start a Welding business. Lots of people wanted Hangi Baskets, so after making a few I made a cooker and gave it a go. I loved the Hangi from it and how easy it was to use and the rest is history.”
Being able to cook a traditional Hāngi with ease and convenience is the best feature for using Kiwi Cookers smoker/steamer. An innovative take on an already popular style that makes cooking your food much easier and faster than ever before – all while still achieving great flavour! Not to mention the healthier way of cooking.
Over time, a lot has changed for Cody including his goals. He used to be motivated by money, but now he’s more interested in travelling and experiencing new things for himself than anything else.
If you’ve ever thought about starting your own business, this German, English, Irish, Maori (Ngāti Tama) entrepreneur shares some advice for you...
What inspired you to set up your own business? Being young and impatient when it came to climbing the career ladder. “If you don’t like climbing their ladder go and build your own”
Where did you get your entrepreneurial spirit? Are your parent’s entrepreneurs? Since kids, my brother Troy and I have always schemed and dreamed business ideas. Dad started his entrepreneurial journey around the same time I did so it’s great having him to bounce ideas off.
What was your key driving force in becoming an entrepreneur? The idea of creating something that is your own and the freedom it gives you to shape your life
Where did the idea of your business derive from? Ever since I was learning to weld, I would get asked, Can I make a Hangi keg cooker? But never did. When I got set up in Aus, I advertised on Kiwi FB pages looking for Fabrication work as I wanted to start a Welding business. Lots of people wanted Hangi Baskets, so after making a few I made a cooker and gave it a go. I loved the Hangi from it and how easy it was to use and the rest is history.
How did you come up with the name for your Business? I was struggling with a name for this product and an old Aussie workmate Matt use to call it my “Kiwi Cooker” and the name stuck.
Considering the competition in today’s business world, how would you highlight your Business competitive advantages? What makes it stand out of the others out there? We are lucky to be the only Australian based business making Hangi cookers but our main competitor in NZ, is a well-respected household name that has been around since 98 so for us to succeed we continually think of what the customer will need to achieve the best experience when using our product and keep offering fresh ways for them to enjoy it.
Who is the one entrepreneur to be your greatest example and inspiration? I take the good and bad business lessons from all my old employers, but my old boss Terry taught me the most. Hard work, smart business decisions with a positive loving attitude will make sure I succeed in life, and I don’t have to step on toes all to get to the top.
What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule? I’m a list person so writing down what I need to do each day then crossing off as much as I can.
What would your advice be to anyone thinking of starting up their own business? Just start doing things. Everything is a thought until you make it an action. Your business idea evolves and grows with you over time so just do something towards it each day or week.
What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in? Learning about yourself, what makes you tick or ticked off and why. Self-employment is a challenging emotional rollercoaster so you need understand how you react to things, areas for self-improvement and what’s pushing you through the dark times.
What sacrifices have you had to make since becoming an entrepreneur? Besides a full time wage. Lifestyle luxuries, friendships, relationships and free time are all things I feel I have had to sacrifice to grow as a person on my entrepreneurial journey
What do you enjoy most about what you do? I get the opportunity to work each day with one of my best mates. We cook yum meals, make metalwork masterpieces, scheme new ideas, and always have a laugh no matter what the day throws at us.
The Global Covid19 Pandemic has affected Businesses across the globe. Has this affected your Business & How? Do you feel there is enough support out there for MSME’s in your region? What support do you think is needed & most important? Initially it was good. It gave me the time to reflect on what I wanted out of life and I went full time with KC, sales picked up as people were stuck at home cooking. I hadn’t been on job keeper but in 2021 with lockdown #3 to 6 it’s been a lot harder to keep momentum mentally and financially from the stopping and starting. I think the eligibility dates for support needed to reflect each new lockdown but overall, there is not enough support as this pandemic continues to drag along and business are forced to be closed.
What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as an entrepreneur? Definitely the digital aspects of running a business. I have been on the tools for most of my working career so struggle with motivation to sit down at a computer and keep up to date with the latest technology.
What do you do on a daily basis to grow as an entrepreneur? Watch YouTube videos
What do you wish you knew before you started your business? What I was really getting into overall as a business owner and all the hats you have to wear starting a manufacturing business that does online retail, but you learn it as you go and don’t realise the burden
What best motivates you? How have your entrepreneurial motivations changed since you first started? When I first started it was for the idea of money use to motivate me but money comes and goes. Now its travelling and experiences. Getting my business to a point where I can travel with it is a great motivator
How Do You Manage Stress? I like to do yoga and just accept that sometimes things don’t go to plan and there is nothing you can do but make the most from the situation.
Do you have a favourite quote? It is what it is.