Story image

Auckland Uni celebrates 40 entrepreneurs under 40

15 Oct 18

The University of Auckland is celebrating young entrepreneur graduates, many of whom started businesses while they were still studying.

The University of Auckland’s annual 40 Under 40 list recognises some of the most outstanding graduates who are making huge impacts in their field.

One of those entrepreneurs in the business category this year is Facebook employee Bowen Pan.

While studying, Pan created a New Zealand social network called UniFriend, but that was quickly dwarfed by Facebook. Six years later, Pan found himself working for Facebook itself.

He now works in Silicon Valley as a Facebook product manager – a far cry from his arrival in New Zealand as a young boy who couldn’t speak any English.

At school he was eventually named Dux in his final year at Westlake Boys High School in sixth form, before going on to study Engineering & Property at the University of Auckland, and an MBA at Stanford University.

Now he is part of a team that incubates a number of successful products, including the global trade platform known as Facebook Marketplace. Pan also works with Facebook’s gaming and video products.

His original startup uniFriend was runner-up in the University’s 2006 Spark Entrepreneurship Challenge (now Velocity).

“Spark was probably the most influential thing that happened to me while I was at University; in fact it fundamentally altered the course of my career plans,” Pan says.

Another star on the University of Auckland’s 40 Under 40 list is mPort CEO and cofounder Dipra Ray.

Ray started a not-for-profit firm called SavY at university, which eventually provided the foundation for his later success.

Ray now runs the Sydney-based firm mPort, which is a body-scanning company that is helping to disrupt the way people buy clothing.

Its fully automated 3D body mapping pods are being deployed throughout Australia and the United States. To date, it has measured over 250,000 people and continues to grow rapidly.

“This innovation will make life easier for people, particularly when it comes to getting tailor-made clothing, but it also has many other applications from a health and wellbeing perspective,” says Ray.

SavY won the University’s Spark entrepreneurship challenge (now Velocity) in 2008, where students form teams to launch start-ups and compete for lucrative funding prizes. 

Ray moved to New Zealand from Kolkata when he was 11 years old.

Other notable entries on this year’s list include:

- LA-based singer Nadine Levitt, who completed a conjoint degree in music and law. Nadine founded Wurrly, a free app for vocalists that turns your phone into a handheld recording studio.

- Karl Loo, founder of ServisHero, a mobile marketplace for the service industry covering South East Asia. Karl graduated with a conjoint Bachelor of Commerce and Laws in 2006.

- Wared Seger, founder and CEO of Parrot Analytics, which recently announced a partnership with Guinness World Records to rank the world’s most popular TV shows. Wared received a Bachelor of Science in 2010 and while studying was heavily involved in Velocity as well as its sister organisation Chiasma, where he served as CEO and Chair in 2011 and 2012.