Northland's growing reputation for entrepreneurial thinking and innovation has been boosted further with the conclusion of a competition.
Launched by Northland Inc's business and events hub The Orchard in June, The Pick:2017 attracted 147 entries from Northlanders with a business idea or startup that they wanted to get off the ground or make more viable.
Entries were narrowed down to 22 finalists which received four months of intensive business incubation and acceleration support with Northland Inc's early stage adviser Derryn Mawson, and were nurtured through the early growth phase.
The winners were announced at a ceremony at The Orchard on December 1 following an intensive presentation and judging process.
"The calibre and number of entrants for The Pick showed that Northland's potential for innovation is enormous," said Orchard activator Kayla Tattley.
"This competition has opened many doors for people with great ideas to be properly mentored and supported so that they can successfully grow their ideas and become part of Northland's business and economic future."
The competition was made possible with sponsors ranging from local SMEs through to large service-based organisations with a national profile.
"Sponsorship at this level underpins the desire of established business to nurture New Zealand's entrepreneurial future," Ms Tattley said.
There were five Supreme winners and several other category winners.
The supreme winners each won $18,000 of services plus mentorship and guidance. This includes a desk at the Orchard, 12-month Chamber of Commerce membership and a business mentor for 12 months.
The minor winners each won a 12-month Chamber of Commerce membership and a business mentor for 12 months.
* Stay Native, a platform established by the Armstrong whānau of Whangaruru - Pam, Chala, Huia, Chanelle and Eliza - that allows tourists to browse and book indigenous experiences and engage with indigenous people in Northland. One of the founding principles of Stay Native is whanaungatanga, or connectivity. Stay Native's platform facilitates the booking of experiences which are authentic and meaningful, to build connections and relationships, and to share with tourists the beauty and the magic of Te Tai Tokerau.
* Hewlett Point Coarse Wool Concepts founders Sarah Hewlett and Chris Coffey, of Whangarei, have developed innovative, felted coarse wool products and interesting and unique items, predominantly from strong Romney wool which is 33-37 microns and traditionally used as carpet wool. The team wants to help change the global perception of coarse wool into one of a high value, decorative and functional architectural material.
* Akudos, a cloud based awards management system, set up by Richard Brookes and Wairere Iti of Waipu. Akudos is designed to streamline the awards process from initial setup, collection of nominations and supporting material, managing judges and the entire judging process through to the collation of the final results. Akudos received some early powerhouse market validation, being picked up at its launch by three paying minimum viable product clients across New Zealand, including the Vodafone NZ Music Awards.
* Toby and Libby Evans of Mangawhai established Clever Things after moving to Mangawhai 18 months ago and finding themselves living on tank water for the first time. To solve the uncertainty of managing water tank levels they developed a smart tank device with integrated software.
* Live to Print Paints was started by Matthew Lewis of Whangarei. Matthew Lewis' work in creative involves using a lot of acrylic consumables for printing and painting and through this exposure he quickly learned of the lack of sustainability and negative impact that these liquid fossil plastics are having on the natural environment. Mr Lewis developed a bio-based creative ink and paint as a replacement for acrylic – the product is safe for people, environmentally friendly and sustainable.
* The Top Innovation Award went to Aqua Mould Systems NZ – Shaun Gregory and partners. The huge variation in the shape of oysters proved to be the downfall for a large New Zealand company that spent $3 million trying to build a machine to open oysters. Kaeo resident Shaun Gregory believed a solution would be to grow a uniform oyster instead rather than trying to build a complex machine around the inconsistent shape. This idea led to his development of a system of growing oysters in a recess, altering the way Northland oysters are grown and presented.
* The Judges' Choice Award went to Haumanu Urban Farm – Jaime Harrison. This whānau run, vertical urban farm in Kerikeri specialises in producing local, high quality and fresh microgreens for restaurants and home cooks. Ms Harrison struggled to find affordable microgreens that also looked and tasted great. The avid gardener decided to grow her own microgreens, and soon realised that other people were also searching for local and healthy salad options that had mega flavour.
* Commitment Awards (two recipients):
A Graceful Undertaking – established by friends Jo Samuel, Jo Moselen and Jules Palmer — is an after death care and funeral service, offering a fresh, new approach to after death care and funeral arranging. The friends understand that when a death occurs, loved ones are dealing with intense emotions while needing to quickly begin to make the best decisions for their situation, often without really understanding all the options, costs and what is actually needed.
Native State – Sonja Potts came up with her business idea in the middle of the night - publishing a planner-meets-journal that provides a more holistic sense of day-to-day organisation. It would be a space for scheduling where women will get to know themselves through their own cycles and rhythms.
* The Youth Award went to Sprout – Eamon, Kelsie, Keziah and Garth from Westmount School Northland Campus, Kerikeri. Their Young Enterprise Scheme business, brings the world to the window sill through their gourmet gardens. The product consists of a stylish, reusable crate branded with Sprout's logo, three durable terracotta pots, a selection of three herbs customised to a cuisine and a custom-made magazine with recipes and care instructions.
Visit thepick.co.nz/winners/ for more information.