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Inspiring business ideas win 2017 Audacious Challenge

Monday, 25 September 2017 12:21pm

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The 2017 Audacious Challenge winner Harvey Penfold (of Otago Polytechnic) with his entry PekaPeka - a movable, predator-proof bird-feeding platform designed to feed a range of native birds anywhere. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

Both the range and the quality of business ideas being developed by students entering this year’s Audacious Challenge was inspiring.

Eleven of the 12 2017 finalists were University of Otago students from right across the academic divisions, with business concepts covering everything from a zero-waste biotechnology system, a marine communication devices for water sport participants, an online clothing website that takes into account the user's height and body shape, to selling fresh air.

"Audacious is a superb opportunity to foster innovation and encourage business thinking across the whole student sector; the judges were very impressed with the entries and the students’ ability to see creative solutions to a big range of problems."

Audacious, co-funded by the University of Otago Business School, the Otago Polytechnic and the Dunedin City Council, is a programme and a business competition for University and Polytechnic students who are curious about starting a business now or in the future or are already working on a business idea. It provides an environment that encourages like-minds to meet, mingle, motivate and inspire each other, and is well supported by the local business community.

Students develop a business plan during the year, and pitch their business in a dragon’s den to judges. The winners were announced at a function last week.

Otago Business School Dean Professor Robin Gauld said the students put considerable effort into presenting their ideas well and developing them into business propositions over the year.

“Audacious is a superb opportunity to foster innovation and encourage business thinking across the whole student sector; the judges were very impressed with the entries and the students’ ability to see creative solutions to a big range of problems.”

The winning entry in this year’s Audacious Challenge was “PekaPeka”, earning second-year Otago Polytechnic design student Harvey Penfold a package of business support services including an investment from the Otago Community Trust into the business.

Second place getter was University of Otago design student Connor McNamara-Spackman with his Snug Cup business to help people manage their prosthetic limbs.

Third place went to MBA student Andrew Martin for his Dotted Line proposition to manage real estate contracts via an online portal.

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The 12 finalists in this year's Audacious Challenge. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

About the winning entries:

PekaPeka is a simple yet very effective movable, predator-proof bird-feeding platform designed to feed a range of native birds anywhere. The polypropylene board is attached to a waratah stake, giving birds safe access to both a leak-proof sugar water bottle and a hanging fat or fruit feeder. Winning the Audacious competition will allow PekaPeka to scale up production to meet the expected demand, with a portion of the sales going back to the Orokonui eco-sanctuary.

Second place getter Snug Cup has developed a better fitting cup for prosthetics, made from a thermoplastic to ensure fast and personalised fit no matter the size or shape of the stump, and allow the artificial limb to be reused as its wearer grows. Currently, limbs have to be replaced. Connor McNamara-Spackman is investigating a partnership between Snug Cup and Jaipur Foot to assist third world countries, which will ensure that no matter what age group or country they are in, the amputee community will have access to an affordable, better fitting prosthetic cup.

Third place winner Andrew Martin’s DottedLine is an online contracts portal to allow the seamless creation and sharing of real estate-based contracts. This allows agents and property managers to create, service, and close contracts on the fly by removing the old way of emailing, printing, signing, scanning, resigning and repeating.

Andrew Martin also won the best pitch at the Audacious dragons den.

Winner of the most passionate pitch was Mikade Barns Graham with her business Food Mate - a website to help budget weekly meal plans. The website provides recipes with the list of ingredients and up-to-date prices of these ingredients and the total price of the meal, and matches recipes with weekly specials from a supermarket. She also won a special award from sponsors Webb Farry.

Other pitch winners were Warkina Tujuba for the longest and most enthusiastically presented pitch, Nicolas Zadawzki for the the most knowledgeable candidate, and Alex Wiltshire, Arthur Ibbotson, Andrew Benington for the best Tom Cruise impersonations.