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Startup bus tour drives innovation message home

The budding entrepreneurs on Massey's first startup bus tour arrive at the Auckland campus at Albany.

Massey University’s first startup bus tour gave 27 budding entrepreneurs a behind-the-scenes look into some of the North Shore’s most innovative companies.

The tour, which celebrated Techweek, allowed participants to connect with chief executives and founders of successful scale-up businesses to gain valuable insights and advice.

The entrepreneurs were then hosted by ecentre, the university’s business incubator, and given the chance to pitch their ideas to an invited audience. The catch: they each only had 60-seconds to sell their idea to the room.

Ecentre business development manager Dorian Scott said it was the first time the ecentre had opened its Demo Day to anyone wanting to pitch to its community.

“We discovered some new entrepreneurs and will be looking to help them bring their ideas to global markets,” he said. “Any one of them could be the next high-growth technology company ­­– we are always keen to meet people who are willing to help grow innovation in the region.”

George Lei, winner of the Best Business Idea Award, gives his 60-second pitch.

Ready, set, pitch!

George Lei won the prize for Best Business Idea, receiving $500 seed funding from sponsor HGM Legal and a business support package from ecentre to the value of $750. His Bill in Box pitch was for a painless receipt management system for small business owners.

Mr Lei was very excited by his win and buzzing from the whole experience.

“It’s a hard challenge to take on but I’m really happy that I did do it. We met some great people and all shared our ideas, we even have a new trial user of our product from the bus tour.”

The winner for the Best Pitch Presentation, Johnny Farquhar, won $500 seed funding from Massey University for his HR recruitment tool idea Preview Me.

Mr Farquhar said the whole experience, including the startup bus tour was so valuable, he would definitely do it again.

“I’ve been doing the Sprint programme at ecentre for the past six months. This event let me engage with a lot of people and build some important relationships that will help with the next phase of my business as we start on testing and then go to market.”

Dr Jeff Stangl, executive director of education partnerships at Massey University, awarded the Best Pitch Presentation prize on the night. Dr Stangl said the event was a great way to connect entrepreneurs with the established business network and also showcase the wealth of innovative business in Auckland North.

“Massey University is leading the Grow North initiative to develop a smart innovation district in Auckland North. Our Albany campus is known as the innovation campus and fostering young talent and creating connections with the wider business community is important to help accelerate growth for the region.”

The startup bus tour visited successful scale-up companies including Unleashed Software, RedZone Robotics and ICT Solutions. Participants on the tour also got the chance to visit Smales Farm and ATEED North to hear more about the services and assistance available to budding entrepreneurs.


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