After 54 hours of collaboration, discussion and a dragons' den-style presentation, 30 people across six teams completed the first in-person startup weekend since Covid-19 hit.
Held at Queen Elizabeth Park in the Ramaroa Building, Kāpiti Startup Weekend saw a group of experienced business experts come together to mentor a diverse group of participants, helping them pitch an idea and turn it into a real business in just 54 hours.
The participants were led by Ross Allen and his team of mentors, along with Startup Weekend New Zealand founder Dan Khan who helped the teams validate, design prototypes and build business models that are ready to go in the three-day entrepreneur intensive.
The businesses included tools to support mental health, an IT supplier marketplace and a high-vis wetsuit brand.
The winning team was Kiwi Content, a marketplace for New Zealand photographers to sell royalty-free stock imagery to businesses and agencies.
The team was made up of Yvonne van Leeuwen, who led the team, Charles Hornblow, Matt Webb and Sylvie Eymin.
The idea is similar to platforms such as Pixabay, Unsplash and Pexels which hold royalty-free images for others to use in their branding, websites, digital marketing and event promotion.
The team recognised a gap in New Zealand for a stock library of images that have localised New Zealand content.
Many New Zealand enterprises use them because the other option is to pay for their own photography or to buy from one of the stock image libraries that do have New Zealand content.
Stumbling across a promo for the startup weekend, Yvonne van Leeuwen said, "As a person who has worked from home for such a long time, I really gained a lot from the team perspective, the encouragement, the critiquing and feedback.
"I saw how much can be achieved when there is more than one person doing all the work.
"I gained an enormous amount of courage over the weekend."
Kiwi Content won a marketing and public relations package from Leverage and Brave Bear Publicity to the value of $5000 to help take the idea to market.
The runners-up were EcoFab, made up of Chris Bower, Julia Scott, Nikhil Sethi, Nipoon Patel and Adam Emirali, who developed a social enterprise looking to repurpose fabric waste that currently goes to landfill.
Pitched by Julia, the idea is that the business will divert 93,000kg of waste fabric from Kāpiti landfills per year and repurpose it into a range of brand new eco-materials that will be used to manufacture clothing and household furnishings.
EcoFab's process will stop 337,000kg of CO2 being released into our atmosphere and means we can recycle fabrics over and over to create fabric for life.
EcoFab's Adam Emirali said, "The weekend was mentally challenging, but a huge amount of fun.
"I got to work with a team of like-minded people on a business idea I would never have thought of myself and I've now made loads of new friends and contacts in the Kāpiti area.
"Many of the mentors are business owners themselves and provided a huge range of experience.
"Each of them just wants to see people doing well and have offered to continue to help beyond the weekend, which is invaluable."
All the presentations were to a high standard and the judges' deliberations were extended as they worked to choose the winner.
An honourable mention was given to team Hāpai, who created a smart journal that uses artificial intelligence to alert users to repeated patterns in their journaling.
"Startup Weekend Kāpiti, now in its fifth year, has established itself as the keystone event responsible for building a growing and vibrant startup community in the district," Dan Khan said.
"To see the growth of the startup community in Kāpiti, from a few people meeting in a pub to being able to hold events like this, really does show the talent and inspirational ideas we have coming out of the creative coast."