Surfing students on the crest of a business wave

By Peter de Graaf

An enterprising group of Far North high school students have been granted an international patent and have investors lining up to buy a stake in their new product.

The teenagers behind student company Dr Gripper have invented a quick method for applying wax to surfboards, which involves square patches of wax with a self-adhesive backing.

A layer of wax allows surfers' feet to grip their boards but it has to be regularly, and laboriously, removed and re-applied. Dr Gripper's product is designed to be easily stuck on and peeled off.

The five students at Kerikeri's Springbank School - Jamie Plowman, Titouan Lamouric, Cheyanne Donnelly, Mathew Carr and Chance August - continued their run of success when they took out the top prizes at the Young Enterprise Scheme Trade Fair at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri on Saturday. More than 25 student companies, from Bream Bay in the south to Kaitaia in the north, took part in the Top Energy-sponsored fair, their first chance to showcase their products in public.

The directors of Dr Gripper are keen surfers aged 14 to 16 who live as far apart as Kaikohe and Cable Bay.

Chief executive Chance August, 16, said the group came up with the idea after brainstorming about the problems they faced as surfers and possible solutions.

They had already held talks with adhesives manufacturer 3M, had been granted an international patent, and had offers of financial backing. Chance estimated the start-up cost would be $30,000-$60,000. The team was still refining the product and wanted to get the wax texture right before taking up any offers.

Other products on show included a combined beach towel/inflatable pillow, a device to stop earphones tangling, vegan hair dye, a hydrogen fuel cell, frozen yoghurt and dancing pants.

A four-strong judging panel rated each company on overall appearance, promotional material, selling techniques and financial control. Students have to set up a real company, create a real product or service, and make a real profit or loss.

- Northern Advocate

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