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Aspiring NZ entrepreneurs continue to raise the bar

12 May 2014

There is no shortage of aspiring entrepreneurs in New Zealand, as proved by the 21st Startup weekend held in Auckland over the weekend.

A total of 82 would-be entrepreneurs, including high school students, came together at the new GridAKL space at Wynard Quarter, raising the bar on what can be achieved in 54 hours.

27 ideas were pitched and after a weekend of interviewing customers, developing business models and building prototypes, the 12 teams presented to judges Candace Kinser, CEO of NZ Technology Industry Association, Nick Churchouse, Venture Manager at CreativeHQ, Rod Snodgrass, Head of Telecom Digital Ventures and Victoria Crone, Managing Director of Xero.

The run for first prize was tight but Trusty Tenants, an independent provider of tenant verification came over the line first.

“They had me at hello and demonstrated that it can be done,” Churchouse says.

Launching a business in 54 hours, at Startup weekend anyone is welcome to pitch their idea and receive feedback from their peers.

Teams organically form around the top ideas on Friday night and then it is a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing and market validation.

The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with the opportunity to win prizes to support their entrepreneurial journey.

In second place was, the ultimate source of food products for people with alternative food requirements, touched on something incredible relevant according to judge Rod Snodgrass.

“I was amazed by all the great stuff and thought that the standard was even higher than last time,” says Snodgrass, who also awarded Writers Reveal, an online platform that helps creative writers self-promote, the prize for the most disruptive business model and potential to go global.

Candace Kinser also acknowledged Couchstand, which provides sports fans the opportunity to become part of the crowd through a multi-experience platform, as a company that stood out by identifying an incredible niche space in an export market with a great business model and great design.

Victoria Crone, acknowledged that HazHat, an intelligent safety management solution making the workplace safer with smart hard hats, is solving a critical problem with an innovative solution.

“Startup weekends have continued to develop incredible momentum and support in New Zealand, with New Zealand having the most per capita events in the world,” says Alan Froggatt, National Director of Startup Weekend New Zealand.

The winning team won three months part time residence at GridAKL, $10,000 free advertising from TradeMe, Lowndes Jordan startup law pack, Free one-year “medium” Xero account, US$200 Amazon Web Services voucher, three months Gold subscription to Audible (including four audiobooks) from Microsoft, space at BizDojo Auckland, ecentre (Albany), The Bio Commerce Centre (Palmerston North), CreativeHQ (Wellington), and Upstart (Dunedin).

“The energy and enthusiasm for startup weekend in New Zealand, with high demand for tickets and sold out events, flows into the broader startup ecosystem,” says Rowan Yeoman, global Startup weekend facilitator and mentor.

“People that have participated in Startup Weekend are more capable and experienced, better networked and ultimately more likely to succeed.”

Startup Weekend, which has been held in 111 countries, is the world's largest entrepreneurial programme and has gained incredible momentum over the last few years. On a per capita basis New Zealand has had the most events in the world.