The first full-on NZ Business Market pop-up expo launched in Tauranga yesterday and its organiser hopes to extend the concept to Rotorua and Hamilton later in the year.
Local businessman Brett Yeatman came up with the idea and trialled it earlier in the year with the support of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, which has a special focus on the small business sector this year.
The original plan envisaged monthly one-day, midweek mini expos with morning or afternoon sessions to make it easy for small businesses that did not have the resources or time to sign up for larger trade show events to take part.
Wednesday's session at Club Mount Maunganui attracted around 45 exhibitors and some 100-plus attendees.
Mr Yeatman has needed to tweak the original concept. Instead of offering the choice of morning, afternoon or both sessions, he has found the greatest interest locally was for a morning-only event.
And instead of holding the Business Market every month in Tauranga, he is now aiming for quarterly markets in Tauranga, Rotorua and Hamilton.
Mr Yeatman said he had been liaising with the relevant chambers of commerce, which had all been supportive.
"Everyone's looking at Tauranga first. We are cutting our teeth on the concept and making quite a few adjustments as we go. This is something new and we have to put it out there and see how people respond."
Mr Yeatman ran marketing company Pro Link for 15 years and has worked on special event projects for more than two decades.
The sessions launch with a breakfast and close with a lunch, each featuring a panel of three speakers.
Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby, who launched the event, said it provided an opportunity for small businesses to collaborate and network: "It can be a challenge for existing and incoming businessmen to get to know Tauranga and all its idiosyncrasies.
"This is an opportunity for them to get to know the city and their markets better."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec, who spoke at the lunch, said the chamber supported the initiative.
"They've developed and refined the original concept. And they're now talking about spreading their wings around the region, which makes sense. Unless you try something new, you'll never know if it will work."
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh said he did not yet have all the details of how the Business Market would work but was interested in learning more.
"The chamber will support any idea that is behind growing businesses and attracting business to Rotorua. It's a great concept and we'd love to be involved with it."
NZ Business Market:
* Planned frequency: quarterly in Tauranga, Rotorua and Hamilton.
* Pricing: from $200-$300 for a morning session.