Nick Mowbray of Zuru is in Monte Carlo this week competing for the title of World Entrepreneur of the Year and it's most certainly a very long way from where he started out over a decade ago, when he, his brother and their sister booked themselves a one-way ticket to China and set themselves up in the toy business.
"We had no knowledge, we didn't know what we were doing, we didn't speak the language, we were very quickly involved in multiple lawsuits that we couldn't settle, we had no money and we were literally living on a couple of dollars a day, so to be here just 15 years later is pretty incredible", Mowbray said from the balcony of the 5 Star Hermitage Hotel in Monaco.
The night before in the equally opulent surroundings of the Opera Garnier, inside Monte Carlo's famed Casino, he was inducted into the World Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.
But it's the overall title that Mowbray is after and he is very focused on giving it his best shot and according to Darren White, the EY New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year Award Director, he's got a pretty good shot at it.
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"I've been involved with the programme for a few years now and Nick is the most focused winner we've ever brought to Monaco. He wants this and I am not alone in thinking he could take it out", White said.
He is up against some very stiff opposition. Entrepreneurs from 47 countries are competing and their combined statistics are impressive. Combined revenues of over US$44 billion ($66b), average growth over the past 3 years of 84 per cent and employees in excess of 159,000.
Joining him on the Red Carpet is his girlfriend Jamie and his father, in whose Taranaki barn the Genesis of Zuru was formed, when, with his brother and sister, they constructed their first toy.
This is without doubt the biggest coming together of entrepreneurs on the planet but for all the handshakes and smiles, make no mistake this is a competition, and it's one that Mowbray wants to win as he told us before going into his judging session.
"I'm not coming here to make up the numbers, I'm definitely coming here to try and win. I think our journey and what we've done is very different to most and where we are going is also very different to most, so I'd like to think we have a good chance," Mowbray said.
We'll find out if he does on Sunday morning New Zealand time when the World Entrepreneur for 2019 is announced.