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Source: NewzEngine.com

Over the course of the past two nights, 15 of Innovate’s mentors, including four finalists from previous years, listened to 20 semi-finalists pitch their ideas, hoping to gain access into the rigorous Innovate programme.

In its ninth year, Innovate is a staple of the Manawatu entrepreneurial eco-system.  What started out as a “Dragon’s Den” competition in 2011, has turned into a process that not only builds business, but more importantly, builds people.

“We’ve had over 1,700 entries in nine years and Innovate has helped shape business and people during its time.  Each year we’re hopeful of finding those that are stuck or have a novel idea and need a bit of guidance to push forward, and each year we are elated at the quality that continues to come in,” says Nick Gain, General Manager of The Factory.

“This year was no different.  61 entries competed for five spots and the quality forced the mentors to select seven and if I’m honest, there were many more that could have made it.”

The programme for the finalists begins Thursday night where they will be guided through a structured process that not only will help them validate and build their business but also connect them into a mentor pool of talent that spans New Zealand and the globe.

“We’re humbled to have business leaders, thought provokers, Innovate alumni and others that understand the power of foundational entrepreneurship put their hand up each year to help.  It was incredible to see four of our Innovate Alumni in our mentor room this year, helping select the next round of entrepreneurs and then ask to mentor them using the knowledge they learned through their Innovate journey,” says Dave Craig, CEO of The Factory.

Chelsea Hirst, Innovate winner in 2016, was one of this year’s mentors tasked with selecting the finalists for the programme.  “I received amazing support from Innovate with starting my business and I’m excited to give back by supporting this year’s finalists on their own Innovate journeys!”

The Process

Over the next 8 weeks, the seven finalists will meet each week at The Factory in Palmerston North and dive into building their idea into a validated business.  Each finalist will be paired with mentors as well as have access to the full mentor pool The Factory has built over the past 12 years, which includes national and international presence.

Using lean methodologies, finalists will learn about intellectual property and protection, cash flow and budgeting, validation but most importantly, what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.  This all cumulates into a pitch night happening on the 26th of November in Palmerston North, traditionally a sold-out dinner, where each will have an opportunity to present their validated idea to local Manawatu business leaders, angel investors and others that support entrepreneurialism in the region.

Finalists

Mike Saywell and Dr. John Kirkland
Mike and Dr. John have discovered six levers that that will allow people to improve thinking and learning and to unpack content. They have designed a set of increasingly complex levers that learners may use for prying into content, called The Six Learning Levers.

Dieter Stalmann
Dieter is hoping to help those with stomas. A stoma is an opening on the abdomen that can be connected to either your digestive or urinary system to allow waste to be diverted out of your body, traditionally into a stoma bag. These bags are prone to leaking when they become full. The wearer of the stoma is not always aware that the bag is full causing sleepless nights, embarrassment and frustration. Dieter wants to build a device that can be attached to the bag that will alert the wearer that the bag has reached capacity.

Toni Grace and Iain Lees-Galloway
Toni and Iain are working on Here’s Good, a social enterprise that plans to independently measure the activities of participating businesses and give them a score that quickly tells consumers how much they are investing in social impact; and then develop that into a software platform delivered through an app.

Jeanette Rapson
Jeanette has created freeze-dried baby food powders containing only vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach, beetroot, kūmara, green bean, potato, pumpkin). The sachets are travel/storage friendly with a long shelf-life. With the simple addition of water (or breastmilk), the powders rehydrate to smooth baby purées. The freeze-dried method retains the nutrients and is cost-effective, enabling a competitive price but at a high profit margin.

Barbara Kelly
Barbara has built an online supported programme called Event Ready Bodies to help bridge the knowledge gap for sports event participants about long term physical development. The programme doesn’t replace the coach or personal trainer, rather supports the individual to structure their training activities so they are injury-free, functional and experience continued physical improvement (even as they age.)

Emma Buchannan
Farmers have been putting information into recording software for years, but no one has created a way to get value out of that data. Emma will use her qualifications as a farm environment planner and greenhouse gas advisor, and her experience in user based design and farmer training to create a modular farm plan system that mines that data to create low cost, high quality compliance plans.

Ian Meredith
Ian’s created an urban focused electric motorcycle for Gen X / Y / Z. His main focus is on design, trying to outdate the small, ugly and sometimes smoky bikes. The motorbike has a 2kw electric motor and is designed for urban/town/city use. The bike has been in development for almost 2 years, the 1st prototype is complete (which we saw) and looks a treat!

– Published by MIL OSI in partnership with NewzEngine.com

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