Funding agencies shouldn't underestimate the difference even a minor cash boost can make to the fortunes of small, high-growth companies, says technology whiz Ian Taylor.
Taylor, a former TV presenter turned founder of media and animation businesses, said he recently heard someone on a funding body complain that dishing out small amounts of cash was more trouble than it was worth.
"The thought that dealing with little companies that need between $30,000 and $50,000 is a bit difficult, a bit hard, is not worth the effort, is really, really scary and is something that I will fight all the way because it makes a helluva difference," Taylor said.
Taylor was the guest speaker at last night's University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge where natural health products maker Manuka Health, gourmet meat supplier Neat Meat and tyre recycler Pacific Rubber shared $1 million in funding and support from the university and wider business community.
Now in its fourth year, the Entrepreneurs' Challenge was created with $3 million of seed funding from expat businessman Charles Bidwill aimed at turbocharging high-growth businesses with export potential.
Speaking to the Business Herald before the awards celebration Taylor said he knew of a $50,000 cash injection into a Dunedin-based technology business that gave it the funds to chase and secure a million-dollar contract with an Australian corporate giant.
Last night's winners all had ambitions to crank up export business growth with the funding they received.
Manuka Health would finance clinical trials to back the health and medical claims of its unique plant and honey-based products in an effort to develop its worldwide markets.
Wholesale meat supplier Neat Meat would use the cash to boost plans for exports of quality meat cuts directly into international restaurant kitchens and take its range of high-end ready-meals to overseas consumers.
Pacific Rubber would put the money towards a milling machine capable of turning worn tyres into rubber granules for use in roads in Australia.
Taylor also has his focus overseas with his company's Virtual Eye product providing the television graphics for the America's Cup in San Francisco next year.
Taylor said he is pushing a proposal to promote an image of Ernest Rutherford, the first person to split the atom, Nobel laureate, father of nuclear physics and New Zealander, on the jetty at San Francisco.
Accompanying the billboard picture would be a quote attributed to Lord Rutherford: "We don't have the money so we have to think."
"That is what entrepreneurship is all about," Taylor said. "It's a different way of saying No 8 wire" and was epitomised by the Emirates Team New Zealand America's Cup yacht.