If we were to take up the Australian habit of claiming New Zealand wins as an "Australasian victory" then the World Entrepreneur of the Year award could be classified as a win for us.

Australia's Manny Stul, co-chief executive and chairman of toy company Moose Holdings, clinched the win last weekend.

Stul, with New Zealand entrepreneur of the year 2015 and founder and managing director of Progressive Meats Craig Hickson, were in Monaco last week to celebrate the world finals and, although not a winner himself, Hickson celebrated with Stul while enjoying some of the more glamorous aspects of Monaco's beautiful city.

Stul took over a small business called Moose in 2000 which at the time had just 10 employees. Fifteen years and increased sales of 7200 per cent later, the company is the sixth biggest toy brand in the United States - quite impressive for a non-US company.


Accepting the award, Stul gave a moving speech about his parents who were holocaust survivors, and his early life.

Stul's parents fled communist rule in Poland in 1949, living in a refugee camp in Germany where Stul was born. At seven months old, his family was given refuge in Australia where they lived for three years in another refugee camp before spending another three years sharing a house with three other families.

This is the second year in a row that a refugee has won the World title with Syrian emigrant Mohed Altrad, of Altrad Group, taking last years title with his multi-billion euro french construction group.

Early on, Stul dropped out of University and laboured on a construction site to raise enough money to start his own business - a gift company called Skansen, which floated some 20 years later for more than A$15m ($15.7m).

After taking over Moose, Stul set up the Moose Foundation which helps make children happy in the wider community through philanthropic initiatives.

Hickson won last year's New Zealand branch of the competition with his work in the meat processing industry labelled "world leading" by the judges, and although he didn't take out the world title, his time in Monaco was sure to have been inspirational.

A bit of bling

A who's who of Australasia's tech and information sector could be spotted in Auckland last week at the 10th annual CIO Summit at SkyCity Conference Centre. The event kicked off on Wednesday with around 550 attendees milling around the two floors of stands or listening to some of the keynote speakers and panels. Leaders from companies including Westpac, EziBuy, Dropbox, NZME, IDC and many others presented at the summit. Perhaps one of the highlights of the event was Thursday's keynote address from San Francisco Giants senior vice-president and CIO Bill Schlough. Aside from proving that he has what many would consider to be a dream job, Schlough discussed his work helping develop team strategies and programmes using technology to pinpoint everything from where the opposition were likely to hit the ball to where the team were best able to perform on the field. His work is clearly paying off with the team winning the 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Series Championships - and he has the bling to prove it. Hard not to notice was Schlough's 2014 World Series ring, solid gold and silver and with a serious number of diamonds. Although a statement in the sporting world, Schlough admitted the huge ring did make it difficult to type.

Awards night

Awards night at the CIO Summit was at The Langham on Wednesday night.

The three-course meal was accompanied by a selection of wine which guests made the most of, as per emcee Jeremy Corbett's request, joking that the organisers had informed him the bill was paid and to tell guests to make the most of the free alcohol. Corbett's evening plan as he put it, was to make them regret telling him this. Having emceed the event last year, Corbett was no stranger to the awards but he managed to whip out some new jokes and kept the room entertained for the evening, while also managing to keep the more rowdy tables in check - no mean feat with unlimited alcohol. Overall the evening was a success with guests kicking on into the earlier hours of the morning before heading to bed to hit day two of the Summit.

Demo Day

A gruelling four months of preparation and intense work paid off last week for the 10 digital start-ups that went through the Lightning Lab Auckland programme. Each team presented their company pitches at Icehouse's renowned Demo Day event on Thursday night to around 300 companies and investors, with several teams also having attended other presentations and investor evenings globally. The programme is designed to support budding entrepreneurial talent and help start-ups validate and launch their products into the market, and secure investment along the way.

Lightning Lab programme director Jeff Mann said this year's group had seen some solid market ideas gaining traction quickly in the market which he said was very encouraging.

"Working with the teams on their product market fit has been hugely satisfying, as the teams take their business idea to market and see uptake and confirmation that their idea is fit to succeed," Mann said.