The last 18 months have been a global whirlwind, with COVID-19 causing mass disruption to the way people, businesses, governments, and nations operate. However, for Kiwi duo Elizabeth McNaughton and Jolie Wills, providing accessible support in times of adversity has been front-of-mind for over two decades.
After working in large scale disasters around the world, including the 2006 Indonesia Tsunami and 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the pair decided that in order to tackle the increasing level of disruption happening globally, they needed to expand beyond just working with one person, one community, and one disaster at a time.
The result: Hummingly – a New Zealand owned-and-operated business that combines their collective experience in disaster management with cognitive science and the insights of 100 crisis leaders from around the world.
In what Co-founder and Director Elizabeth McNaughton believes to be the only offering of this kind globally, Hummingly provides tools and products that have been designed to help audiences deal with tough times. It’s known for its variety of card packs – Doing Well, Cards for Calamity, and most recently, Pandemic Pack – which are designed to provide practical and easy solutions en masse that don’t rely on face-to-face interactions.
“Globally, this is a really new concept”, says McNaughton.
“We made our card decks after realising that there was nothing else out there like it. When the world got disrupted with COVID-19, Hummingly’s purpose took on a whole new form. It was clear that support was required en masse and at scale, so our response was to develop a specialised Pandemic Pack that helps navigate people through these times.”
Over the last 18 months, Hummingly has transitioned from selling single card decks, to pellets of card decks, observing a 200% increase in sales internationally.
McNaughton attributes some of this success to New Zealand’s reputation for compassion, kindness and crisis leadership. These factors were also a key drawcard for the business to become a FernMark licensee.
“Hummingly is the Kiwi export that speaks to New Zealand’s approach to lead with compassion, as well as the values of trust and authenticity. People want that. They respect the New Zealand brand and want to engage with a product that represents and encapsulates New Zealand thinking.”
A recent example is Hummingly’s work with Australian Red Cross, which started with the unprecedented Black Summer fire season and has continued through flooding, droughts and the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 7,000 packs of Hummingly ‘Cards for Calamity’ decks have been rolled out nationwide to essential service workers such as fire fighters, farmers, frontline nurses and members of Government.
“Incredibly, our cards ended up everywhere. In just one week we received all sorts of feedback – from nurses who carry our cards in their work lanyards, to a rugby club that made a calendar out of them, and a local radio who reads one per day,” says McNaughton.
“Loads of large corporates, including Qantas and Rolex and thousands of others, have downloaded Hummingly’s free Pandemic Pack with simple, practical tips that help to reduce the cognitive load that so many have experienced since the pandemic.”
McNaughton says Hummingly’s ambition is to become the ubiquitous global brand that people go to in the tough times. Their next venture is to break into the United States market, having already made inroads with UC Berkely in California and Tulane University in Louisiana.
“It’s our view that the FernMark values of trust, authenticity and innovation reflect what we have built with Hummingly. Our research has shown us that being a Kiwi business is a real advantage when tapping into overseas markets – it shows that we have something special and unique to offer.”
The pair has plans to digitalise the business to become more accessible overseas. This will require significant investment, so the business is surrounding itself with strategic partners, such as the FernMark, that help to create these connections.
McNaughton is excited to be taking part in the Deloitte accelerator programme, and Hummingly is also a semi-finalist in the SheEO 2021 Venture Cohort.
“We’re delighted to be semi-finalists. At heart, while we are a small company from New Zealand, we are also female entrepreneurs who have come out of disasters to do disasters differently.
“We want to do this during the tough times and ultimately, to fulfil our mission, which is to get the world humming again. Our ambition matches the size of the problem – we’re ready to go global.”
To find out more about the Pandemic Pack and other Hummingly products, visit hummingly.co