Having an "X-factor" will pique wine industry identity Erica Crawford's interest in company owners vying for a share of a million dollars in funding, but she will also be looking keenly to see all the financial ducks are in a row.

Crawford joins six other business and investment gurus on the University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge investment committee, tasked with picking a business to benefit from up to $1 million in funding.

The challenge, kicked off with $3 million of cash from businessman Charles Bidwill, is aimed at boosting the business success of growth companies through the provision of funding on favourable terms, mentoring and a raised profile.

Crawford will be on the lookout for a mix of street smarts and business savvy among the companies fronting up to the investment committee.

"Not only going on your gut feel, but there has to be some solid planning and financials in there because that's where I think we fall flat on our faces - financial planning," Crawford said.

"If [Kim Crawford] had had really good financial advice and a really good tax accountant when we started, we would have done a lot better."

Crawford is the marketing brains behind wine label Kim Crawford, started more than a decade ago with her husband Kim.

More than six years ago in a deal worth around $15 million, the Crawford's sold the brand to North American wine giant Vincor retaining the vineyard and infrastructure. Vincor subsequently on-sold its interest to Constellation Brands International in 2006.

Having finished working on global sales and marketing for Constellation earlier this year, both Erica and her husband are under a restraint of trade that curbs their ability to establish another wine brand for two years.

In the meantime she has gathered together some of the original "Kim Crawford" people and has focused her energies on investment vehicle Tentpole Holdings.

Crawford said if Kim Crawford Wines had had access to the funding on offer through the challenge, it would have really accelerated the business.