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Thursday 16 September 2021 1:22pm

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From left to right: Surya Utama, Elizabeth Lowe, Associate Professor Conor O'Kane, Ella Buchanan and Kirsten Anderson

The latest Master of Entrepreneurship (MEntr) class recently handed in their final project to complete their programme studies.

MEntr Course Director Associate Professor Conor O'Kane says he's thrilled with the highly innovative projects that the students have completed.

MEntr student Kirsten Anderson's final project “Inspirement” is a website platform subscription model, from which users can buy a range of services to enhance their retirement experience.

“I named the website Inspirement because instead of retiring it's all about inspiring yourself in the third age of your life.”

Kirsten thought the whole MEntr programme was “fantastic”. “Being a mature student, it definitely showed me that anyone can do anything at any stage of their life. I've always looked at doing something that helps to contribute to New Zealand's issues or concerns,” she says.

Former Tauranga resident Elizabeth Lowe's project was a Māori language learning boardgame, primarily aimed at school age children.

“Only 3.7 per cent of the population can speak Māori, so I came up with a product that can be used at home to learn te reo, with both parents and children taking part.

“I've loved the whole programme, this has been the perfect master's for me, it's so creative and you get a chance to put your ideas forward which I love.”

Ella Buchanan's project “Willow Road” developed sewing packages to help her target market of 18–35-year-olds to sew their own formal clothing.

Ella says she discovered that most of the sewing products available were designed for middle-aged and older women, and there was nothing for a younger generation of sewers.

Her research showed her that many young women wanted to sew, but had never had the chance to take it up.

“I did a science degree, but then I saw this programme and it fitted perfectly with me, I was so glad I didn't need to have a commerce degree. You have the choice of doing this programme over 15 months, or you could learn the same thing from many years working in a corporate office.”

Ella says she's keen to continue with her project once her studies are finished. In the interim she recently started a Business Development Manager role at the Otago Business School.

Former Bali resident Surya Utama says his project “Zalacca” aims to develop Salak coffee, which would be derived from a fruit grown from the Salak palm that is endemic in Southeast Asia.

Surya says given its very low caffeine content the beverage can be consumed at any time of day without impacting on sleep.

“Salak has 25 times lower caffeine content than a decaf cup of coffee, it also has a higher antioxidant rate than normal coffee so has strong health benefits.”

Surya thoroughly enjoyed the MEntr and would recommend it to other international students.

“I loved the way we brainstormed for solutions to problems on the course. They teach you how to make a valid assumption and apply it. Being an entrepreneur is much more than just selling a product.”

Since completing the course Surya has returned to Bali where he works to support small to medium businesses.

The MEntr is a 15-month programme where students from any background can learn the skills to start a new venture. The programme involves seven papers (Each of which include a one-week teaching block that is delivered between February and November) and a final new venture project completed from February to May the following year. Students can work full-time or fly in/fly out to attend teaching and complete assessments remotely.

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