An entrepreneur developing an app who admits he's not tech savvy...a global retail expert fending off a sheep while coming up with branding solutions for companies around the world...a Taupō entrepreneur whose business' income plummeted to zero during the level four lockdown.

Those were the three inspiring, challenging and innovative stories being told at last week's Tech Week event.

Hosted by Enterprise Great Lake Taupō, the event featured three 15 minute addresses.

Bodhi Vette, a founding director of Driver Guide Hire, a commercial contract driver supply company talked about his company's newest innovation, the Road Ninja app which was developed during lockdown and will launch towards the end of the year.

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Vette said one of the things he had learned was that you don't have to be ridiculously tech savvy to create and innovate in the tech space.

For him, changing the approach - where the drivers are rock stars and the company are their agents - was the key to Driver Guide Hire and he had been thinking for a long time about how the drivers could choose their own work depending on they found most satisfying or motivational.

"So we thought 'why not create an app where drivers can create a profile, choose an hourly rate, get jobs direct off the client, accept offers, use their logbooks and then once the job is completed invoice the client?' We take a set percentage off the hourly rate or whatever they choose," Vette explained.

Bodhi Vette of Driver Guide Hire talks about the company's new app, Road Ninja. Photo / Laurilee McMichael
Bodhi Vette of Driver Guide Hire talks about the company's new app, Road Ninja. Photo / Laurilee McMichael

"The reason this tech will be disruptive is because it allows users to choose their own worth."

His tips were: do your homework. Validate your concept. Find the best app builders you can. Tap into sources of funding. Search out successful leaders in the industry you are looking to create a solution for. Build a network of potential investors.

"When you knock on the door of opportunity, it's hard work that answers."

From his shed in Tūrangi, Bob Neville is providing creative retail solutions to the world.

Neville has worked internationally, most recently as global retail creative director and head of retail at New Balance but left last November for a change and found himself starting his business Direct To Consumer / Design Test Centre in the middle of a pandemic.

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He is normally based in Hong Kong and has spent the past 25 years working mainly in the Asia Pacific region but bought a home in Tūrangi years ago as a place to unwind and recharge, and that's where he found himself when Covid-19 hit.

At present he is providing a virtual creative service to brands from around the world from his Tūrangi home.

"The brands that are still around need to still move forward, they need the sort of services we provide," Neville explained. "So I'm in my shed fending off our domesticated sheep Lola and in my Ugg boots and camo outfit talking to the boss of Wolverine [Wolverine World Wide, an American footwear company] which has brands like Hush Puppies and Saucony.

"Ultimately what we do is physical spaces, it's brand experience, it's where people interact and have fun with brand."

Post-Covid, people had talked of a retail apocalypse but Neville said he felt that Covid had merely speeded up evolution of retail.

His message was not to be afraid of change.

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"Evolution and revolution will always be with us. You have to continuously reinvent yourself every single day. Question what you're doing and why you're doing it, don't wait for others."

Fritz Frohlke is a local entrepreneur and former manager of Enterprise Great Lake Taupō. But during Covid, income from his cloud-based tourist video business EyeFly completely dried up.

During lockdown, Frohlke connected with fellow entrepreneurs Phil Elliott and Bruce Bartley to look for other business opportunities and one of the ideas that came up was that post-Covid there was going to be a lot of debt around.

Fritz Frohlke joined forces with two other entrepreneurs during lockdown to come up with debt management system Drip. Photo / Laurilee McMichael
Fritz Frohlke joined forces with two other entrepreneurs during lockdown to come up with debt management system Drip. Photo / Laurilee McMichael

So the trio came up debt management system Drip which helps small to medium business collect outstanding debts while still maintaining a relationship with the client.

Their research showed that many business had uncollected debt that they didn't want to enforce collection on, for fear of upsetting their customer. It also showed that the cost of traditional debt collection was high, at 10 to 25 per cent.

While Drip is still in the early stages, first testing was promising, with eight of the 10 businesses that tested Drip reporting that the debt had been paid. Frohlke says later they hope to add extras such as credit reporting or pre-credit checks.

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Enterprise Great Lake Taupō general manager Kylie Hawker Green says the messages from the seminar were that being adaptable and agile, whether you were in Taupō or New York, or in a Covid or post-Covid world, were all important.