Unleashed Software has joined an elite group of fresh thinking, Kiwi-grown technology innovators carving a reputation at home and internationally.
It was capped Best of the Best Supreme Award Winner and Employer of the Year in the prestigious Westpac Business Award 2019 for its range of fit-for-the-times proprietary supply, production, inventory and sales software solutions.
The win was a decade-long journey for the Takapuna-based company, a start-up 10 years ago nurtured under the wing of Massey University's ecentre Business Incubator.
The company has grown rapidly, offering an expanding suite of cloud software solutions for thousands of customers in over 100 countries and New Zealand including Xero and Karma Cola.
"Unleashed Software has demonstrated that they are a class act and a true Kiwi innovation success story," said Westpac Regional Commercial Manager Jeff Driscoll, acknowledging the company's persistence in entering the awards. "They, and all our other winners, will collectively go a long way to help grow the Auckland and New Zealand economy."
Award partner, ATEED's General Manager Economic Development, Pam Ford, said all the winners had the essential qualities of "innovation, adaptability and resilience that are more crucial now than ever in this Covid world".
Originally focusing on inventory management, Unleashed Software helps companies make, manage and move products with a suite of smart cloud software tools apps and modules spanning production, sales, supplier management, fulfilment,B2B eCommerce and Business Intelligence.
"The last few months have proven our ability in building strong and resilient teams that continue to deliver great outcomes for our global customer base, no matter the circumstance," says Unleashed's CEO, Gareth Berry. "As we've grown our company, evolving our software, adding functions and features; it's been so satisfying to watch our customers grow and thrive with us,"
Mr Berry said while they were thrilled to be recognised with the top award, being named Employer of the Year was "the single most important award for us as it aligns with our values perfectly".
A strong supporter and repeat contender for an award, Mr Berry attended a Westpac Awards for the North West 10 years ago and "really got to see what it was all about, how big it was, what it meant to everyone there and learn about the process the entrants went through".
"After that, we started entering. We didn't get an award the first time, we didn't get an award the second time, but we finally started to pick up a few of the awards. So, to be recognised now as the best of the best has been a 10-year process. It has been pretty phenomenal," he said.
Holding a Mirror Up
Winning is not the be-all and end-all, say Westpac Auckland Business Awards contenders, but the experience, learnings and insights gained from simply taking part deliver ongoing benefits and motivation to navigate new territories.
"Embarking on an awards journey brings a sense of team purpose, active engagement and opportunity for valuable benchmarking," says Auckland Business Chamber Chief Executive, Michael Barnett.
"Entrants tell us the awards process is a chance to hold a mirror up to themselves and look in more detail about what they do well, what they can improve on, and where the next opportunities lie rather than just acting on a day to day basis.
"Others like the opportunity to sell and share their stories with greater insight and be part of a wonderful networking opportunity to showcase their business to potential investors, both on the Award evenings, and to a wider audience through media stories," he says.
The high profile awards are the biggest celebration of Auckland business, recognising innovation and creativity and are run annually by the Auckland Business Chamber in partnership with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED). The 2020 Awards programme drew a record 744 entries from across the region. Judging is currently underway, with finalists due to be announced in the first week of September.
The awards are free to enter and open to Auckland-based businesses of all sizes, big or small. There are nine categories ranging from Excellence in Innovation to Strategy and Planning, or Community Contribution and Customer Service Delivery. The contest runs across three regions covering North and West Auckland, Central Auckland, and South and East Auckland. The ultimate Best of the Best Award is chosen from the regional category winners.
The awards are judged independently by experts in their markets. Convener Chip Dawson is a seasoned CEO and investor in technology companies with global experience from Apple to Hitachi, to start-ups in Asia, Europe, UK and USA. He was part of the first Apple team to launch Apple Mackintosh and brings valuable insights to the judging panel.
Entering is straightforward and simply takes some carefully considered time and planning.
Entries open in early April each year and culminate with regional gala celebrations in October, November and December before the Best of the Best celebrations which are usually hosted in March.
Best Emerging Business Sponsored by Air New Zealand
Carena West and Bex West said: "We weren't expecting to win so we are quite elated. It's great for team morale to come to events like this and celebrate our success and for us to take stock of what we can do better – and see what everyone else is doing as well. It's really important. We will definitely enter again."
Excellence in Innovation Sponsored Nahuria Precast
Merlot Aero Ltd
Mark McCaughan said: "The process has been a great experience over the years. There are a couple of trophies on our cabinet wall! We use it as a way to critique our own messaging. Put your hand up get involved in the process, it makes you think about the core fundamentals - I would certainly encourage it."
Excellence in Customer Service Delivery Sponsored by Barfoot & Thompson
Smart Express Ltd
Susan Spelman and Tony Spelman said: "To win this award at best of the best is really emotional. We have been involved for five years. You really have to get involved, it strengths your company. The networking is also so important and that is where the Chamber is really good."
Excellence in Marketing Sponsored by Vodafone
Thomas Dietz said: "We found the process of putting detail into the application really good. It got us thinking, looking back at the things we have done and what we haven't done. It was an easy, simple process and allowed us to reflect on our own journey. We also really appreciated celebrating with the team."
People's Choice Award Sponsored by Huawei
Andrew Sharp says: "It is very important to celebrate our success. You really get to dive into your business and understand the different elements of what makes you successful and what you can do better. Most importantly you get to celebrate and that is what awards are all about."
Excellence in International Trade Sponsored by Ports of Auckland
Leon Kirkbeck and Michelle Walshe said: "A company really is nothing more than an amazing story. Entering an award like this forces you to stop and put your story down on paper, as you step out of the day-to-day. Coming out with the team is also amazing - getting dressed up, having a great meal, watching the celebrations – it's really inspiring."
Excellence in Strategy and Planning Sponsored by Villa Maria
Height Project Management
Warner Cowin says: "It's quite phenomenal – an affirmation of the investment in culture. We are a small, humble, Maori-owned company. Diversity drives great outcomes. We are so proud. Now we really want to leverage this outcome to help the community, it is all about creating jobs."
Employer of the Year Sponsored by Ministry of Social Development
Gareth Berry said: "It's truly spectacular, we couldn't be happier. It's about perseverance, tenacity, and focusing on the things that matter together. No one element has worked in isolation. This is the one we wanted to win. Culture and our people are what matter most."
Excellence in Community Contribution Sponsored by Westpac
home. (Home Construction Ltd)
Israel Cooper said: "The entry process allowed us to articulate our vision and our mission really well. The interviews with the judges were a great opportunity to self-reflect. We have loved the whole process. We were happy to just be here, but to win is just incredible."
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