Life 101 Launchpad

A laptop sits on a table with the Life 101 Launchpad marketing website home screen on display

Life 101 Launchpad is a dynamic and interactive e-Learning platform that teaches rangatahi fundamental life skills.

We spoke to social entrepreneur Nick Carroll about new initiative Life101 Launchpad – an e-learning platform for New Zealand rangatahi teaching fundamental life skills around money management, personality, work readiness and more. Launchpad was inspired by Nick and his Life101 team’s ten-plus years’ experience facilitating in-person life skills workshops in Aotearoa NZ’s schools, prisons and probation centres.

Launchpad artwork by Finick Creative

How did Launchpad come about?

I started Life101 with a friend ten years ago. Originally, we ran a few school holiday programmes and then we had an article in The NZ Herald, which got read by one of the education departments in a correctional facility. They were looking at getting something together for people who were in the last six months of their sentence to help build up their life skills.

Where schools will teach the theory of something – like how to save money for example – we teach the theory, the how-to and the motivation to want to use the skills, which means our learners end up with a tangible outcome. The motivation to want to use the skills is all that’s needed to begin the workshops.

With Life101, we delivered life skills in about 10 prisons across Aotearoa New Zealand: including Mount Eden, Ngawha, Pāremoremo, and Auckland Wiri Women’s Correctional Facility. But we wanted to make a larger impact so that’s how Launchpad came about – it’s online and it’s for young people.

Sounds like Launchpad is made for a different demographic?

It’s for 16 to 20-year-olds. The last year of secondary school and the first couple of years of university or apprenticeship – that’s where these life skills are needed most.

We wanted to reach all young people with what we were doing in a way that won’t take them away from credit time.

If students have a free period or form class, teachers could run one of our workshops in that time or oversee it if the students wanted to do it themselves. Or – because it’s online – young people can do it outside of school, on their coffee break at work, or even on the bus to and from school.

How significant is it for rangatahi to have these life skills?

[Lack of fundamental life skills] is such a problem in society. We set out to create a course that is online, as short as possible, motivating, and covers all life skills. Everyone learns in different ways – you’ve got visual learners, auditory, kinaesthetic – so you’ve got to try and create a balance for each workshop.

How do you make it so it’s not boring?

We set up scenarios – like those books where you choose your adventure!

For example, if such and such happens, what would you do? You can choose A, B or C and then go down a certain pathway. That way, you learn by doing. You might get there and realise you failed by choosing the wrong pathway. Then the learner finds out the reasons why they failed and can have another go.

Sounds fun. Can you give me an example?

One’s a horror scenario. They’re at home watching a movie and someone drops off some milk. They drink the milk, wake up on the pavement and they’re 65… and they’ve got to try and live off NZ Super alone. They figure out their accommodation and food would be really crappy and they can’t afford to fix their broken tooth.

And then we build on that with what would happen if they had KiwiSaver in place, and how to save money and make adjustments.

What about topics that are complex – how do you create something a young person can grasp?

We always have four sections in a workshop. And the whole workshop is about an hour long. In the share market workshop, for example, they do a scenario around Jack and the Beanstalk where they buy magic beans and plant them. There are four different colours. And they pay $5 for four beans at the market. One of them grows. On the next page they can go back to the market and buy more beans. They can decide if they want to buy four of one colour, or one of each colour. The next day it rains, rather being sunny, and the original colour hasn’t grown but a different colour is now bigger.

They learn they can’t control whether the beans grow or not.

It’s a fun way of teaching about diversification and what causes shares to go up and down.

How do you make it appeal to a diverse audience?

You try and motivate people with the content and make sure it’s visually appealing. It’s got some animated artwork throughout the whole thing. And Phil, our main facilitator, has placed short videos on every second page – holding the participants hand through the whole thing and explaining in more detail. Because some people just like to watch videos.

Our scenarios have sound effects as well, which add to the experience. It creates fun and an emotional reaction.

Can people get in touch if they have a question about a course?

When it’s live there’ll be chats available – and a community space – so people can meet and discuss topics with people who have done the course and who’re in the same space. We’ve got some software we’re looking at to create these communities.

What’s the big dream?

It would be great for it to be free for all young people. Then all people. If it’s free, there’s no barrier. One way we want to achieve this is through corporate sponsorships.

What do you help young people achieve?

We want them to feel confident in the real world. For example, one of our workshops is on flatting – so learning how to move out of home, understand their money, and use it wisely. And then set up automatic payments into investments like KiwiSaver and Sharesies, for example, which have the potential to make them a lot of money – over their lifetime – with very little effort.

We have a whole workshop on debt – so they don’t get stung by credit cards and buy now, pay later schemes. We even have an activity where it demonstrates the lifetime cost of something. Like what happens if you buy a coffee a day for $5, how much that will cost over a week, a month, or a year.

One coffee a day for 60 years is around $110,000!

What do you think about KiwiSaver?

It’s one of the best things the government’s ever done. For people, as well as the economy in general. Because that’s a pool of money that can be invested in businesses which will continue to grow the economy. All that money’s going into business to grow business.

A big topic is money and financial literacy. What’s another key focus?

Learning about personality types is also a big part of the platform. Young people do a personality quiz to understand themselves better. So they learn about their strengths and weaknesses, what annoys them and what motivates them. Everyone’s different. The quiz helps them understand why a certain friend gets frustrated with them – it’s because they’re the opposite personality type. And then we cover how to communicate better with teachers. One scenario is they’re a leader of a university or school project and they’ve got four people in their team. They’ve got one of each personality profile and they have to decide how they take charge and which personality profile should do each part of the project.

They’re learning how to identify what personality type someone is and how to communicate – and negotiate – with that person better.

It helps them understand themselves better as well, what they’re good at and which career pathways might suit them best.

How can people connect with you?

You can sign-up to our mailing list here. We’re on your usual socials: TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.


Two Sparrows proudly built the marketing website for Life 101 Launchpad. View the website here: