Outstanding people are able to drive a workable business plan to success, but a fantastic idea will not fly without the right people, says a seasoned technology investor.

Neville Jordan, founder and chairman of private equity investor Endeavour Capital, said the first thing he looked for in an investment was to understand the people behind the company.

"What's in their soul," said Jordan.

"I always take the time to get to know the people, understand their belief systems, their values.

"Can we trust these people with other people's money? When the going gets tough are they still going to be trustworthy or will they take shortcuts?"

Over the next couple of months Jordan joins the University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge investment committee in deciding who will benefit from up to $1 million in business funding.

Created with a $3 million donation from businessman Charles Bidwill, the Dragons' Den style competition offers business mentoring and capital to one or more companies.

The details of the funding will be negotiated with the winning companies but likely to be in the form of a capital note, repaid or converted to equity in three years' time.

Jordan will be on the lookout for business owners with courage, stamina and what he calls "native flair".

"In some cases it's like a work of art. It's hard to describe but when you see it - a good person - you know it."

Not only a skilled investor, Jordan has experienced life in a start-up - his technology company MAS Technology grew to become the only private New Zealand company to list on the Nasdaq.

"For a company turning over a million dollars or more this could be the real makings of their expansion plans," he said

"The money is to stay in the companies, it's not to be used just to pay off debt or anything like that. This is going to the very productive part of the company."

Entries to the Entrepreneurs Challenge close at 5pm tomorrow.