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Proud local company creating ideas that change everything
Proud local company creating ideas that change everything

The day before something is a breakthrough, to most people it’s a crazy idea. Not to Virtuo, it is where they operate on a daily basis.

Virtuo is a genuine Bay of Plenty innovation company, that works on special projects of high importance for many brands, both here in New Zealand and abroad. Their work has helped positively impact some great companies, from local stars Zespri, Heilala Vanilla and Sequal, to Allbirds, LesMills and Nike internationally.

Most organisations would agree they have plenty of ideas, but there is a wide gap between having an idea and generating a great one and realising it.

Understanding the day-to-day constraints many organisations face (which often inhibits innovation), Virtuo has been purpose-built to help CEOs, senior managers, start-ups, and entrepreneurs explore ideas that really matter for the world. The team then help realise new products, services and brands, helping those behind them get to market fast.

This is their virtue. And they are on a mission. They want to become the most influential design company of the 21st century, and this is a rallying cry alive and well in their studio in Mount Maunganui (coincidentally called “The Sandbox” for being a truly enriched place to creatively explore and experiment). Music plays while teams hum away. Large screens link them into the USA, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, China and other parts of the world. On the wall, there is a subtle ghost-written affirmation of their purpose that “ideas change everything” and “making it real is our virtue”. Then there is their makerspace area, a trove of tools and rapid prototyping equipment aplenty, building new thinking and breathing life into remarkable new concepts.

Whether it be a new food or beverage product, a consumer brand, biodegradable packaging or new agricultural technologies, there is an infectious and almost palpable energy in the air and you can’t help but feel they are changing things for the better.

Karl Stevenson, head of marketing at Virtuo states "we work as an extension and deeply supportive element for organisations, helping bring new products, brands and experiences to life rapidly and in creative ways”.

And the list of work achievements is impressive. Here is just a snippet:

  • An innovative instructor development programme for Les Mills International
  • A USA market entry strategy for NOHO - a beautiful, award-winning direct-to-consumer chair for Formway
  • A confidential new materials development project for Nike
  • Plant and Food Research’s first direct-to-consumer new Performance Nutrition Brand and venture business
  • Blue sky future concepts for the kiwifruit industry
  • Helping Callaghan Innovation design and activate ‘C-Prize’ – New Zealand’s a biannual technology challenge
  • An urban air mobility transportation app ImagineAir (like uber for city air travel) in California.

Now more than ever companies need to be imaginative to enhance the human experience.

Priority One has known Virtuo for some time now. The vision-driven values-based company has been highly active in supporting local grassroots initiatives, giving back to the community and empowering the wider 'we'.

Their tangible support of local initiatives includes Groundswell, YIA, Little Inventors, and the new Bay of Plenty Accelerator prototype, which offers fortunate entrepreneurs the opportunity to get started working within The Sandbox with full access to their services and network of this multiple award-winning product design and innovation company to catalyse game-changing new ideas.

Blythe Rees-Jones, Virtuo’s creative director says: “Design is a powerful engine to navigate changing markets, enter new global markets, and build a deeper connection with your future customers. Moving higher in value and forming more direct relationships with customers is vital for New Zealand export brands. Being strategic and highly creative helps them do it. It’s also a positive tool to embed and operationalise innovation within a company, connecting everyone around your customer to deliver new levels of value while more deeply aligning culturally together around your organisational purpose.”

Many of Virtuo’s collaborative projects are seeded this way. And Blythe says “for many others, it’s simply because they are awakening to the need to reduce waste and their impact on the planet, and so the question is - where do you start. This is where we operate”.