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Go Innovate! win allows baby business to grow

Beverley Walter and Massey student Jessica Halley celebrate after winning the University's Go Innovate! competition.

The winners of Massey University’s 2017 Go Innovate! competition may be new to the world of business, but they won the judges over with their passion for their fledgling social enterprise. 

Social anthropology student Jessica Halley and friend Beverley Walter pitched their startup Gurgl to the judges and walked away with over $22,500 worth of prizes. The duo’s novel business idea is a “baby clothes library”, where subscribers receive a box of pre-loved baby clothes every month. They then return the clothes their child has outgrown so they can be recycled again.

“Textile waste is a huge environmental problem,” Ms Walter told the Go Innovate! judges, “and everyone knows young children grow so fast they don’t get a chance to wear out their clothing. Through Gurgl, parents get good quality, affordable clothing while also doing their bit for the environment.”

Gurgl subscribers will receive a box of pre-loved baby clothing every month, reducing textile waste.

A startup with a strong social conscience

Ms Halley said the pair were already working closely with community groups to collect clothing and were now developing their marketing and distribution channels. 

“It’s a socially-aware brand that people really want to be associated with so we’re just looking for advice and support to take it to the next level. With help, we can save perfectly good clothing from going to waste, and give it back to growing kids who need it,” she said.

When announcing the winner of Go Innovate!, chief executive of Massey Ventures Mark Cleaver said Gurgl offered a “compelling” proposition.

“Gurgl has strong social and environmental values and it serves a need that everyone can relate to. We think they are onto something,” he said.

The prize package for winning the competition will provide the duo with much-needed support to grow their business – $3500 seed funding from Massey Ventures; a place on the ecentre’s Sprint development and mentoring programme, worth $1800; and a software and services package from Microsoft valued at US$12500. 

The social enterprise has already established a Facebook page (@GurglNZ) and will also leaunch a PledgeMe campaign on October 31.

Smart switch idea comes second

Second place was awarded to Haswell for their smart switch, which allows switches to be controlled by a smartphone without using wi-fi. “Our vision is to redefine the smart home,” said Haswell’s Adipa Fonseka and Pramodya De Alwis. “We are starting by reinventing the light switch.”

The pair went on to outline their plans for a smart socket that would enable the remote control of appliances, even if they are not “smart” appliances.

About Go Innovate!

Go Innovate! is an annual competition open to all Massey University students that aims to foster innovation and encourage collaboration and enterprise development. In the run-up to the Dragon’s Den-style final, students are offered pitch training, ideas generation and customer insight workshops. The final pitches take place on the Auckland campus, hosted by Massey University Student Enterprise (MUSE); this is the first time the competition has been won by a student based on the Wellington campus.

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