Young New Zealand businesspeople are shy about getting external advice that could boost business results, says a serial entrepreneur.

Greg Cross, chief executive of technology firm PowerbyProxi and chairman of the University of Auckland Entrepreneurs' Challenge, says, based on his observation, the first thing young US entrepreneurs do when starting a business is "raid" whatever contacts and networks they have to bring in a high-powered external adviser.

"That's a key part of the start-up phase and here, for whatever reason, we don't have enough of that culture."

Cross is set to match young entrepreneurs with a world class adviser through a new category being offered by the annual Entrepreneurs' Challenge.


The EC-35 fund gives a Kiwi entrepreneur, aged 35 and under, up to $100,000 to bring on board an adviser or director. It complements the existing $1 million Entrepreneurs' Challenge, which offers high-growth companies the funding to turbo-charge their business.

James Riddell, who with business partner Jedd Forbes were joint winners of the Entrepreneurs' Challenge in 2009, says the pair were "very green" when they started their water-monitoring technology business Outpost Central in their early 20s. The pair relied on family for advice in the early days but now have an external board in place.

Outpost Central is "going gangbusters in Australia", he says.

Entrepreneurs' Challenge
*Offers one or more companies a share of $1 million in funding.
*Money to be paid back in three years, creating an evergreen fund.
*Established with $3 million donation from businessman Charles Bidwill.

EC-35 Fund
Open to entrepreneurs 35 and under
Offers $100,000 towards an adviser for three years.
Entries to both competitions close today at 5pm