The ICEHOUSE FASTPitch finals were held on the 12th November at the University of Auckland Business School
Before the competition got underway, Geoff Ross provided some perspective on NZ entrepreneurship. Since his vodka success, Geoff has formed an investment company in conjunction with the other 42 Below founders called the The Business Bakery (baking businesses into bigger businesses). So far the bakery has invested in 3 ventures; The Hyperfactory, Ecoya (A high value candle company) and a outdoor fabric company that uses fibre technology from AgResearch.
NZ is a great place to be an entrepreneur as it is prevalent through our culture. Early farming required fast thinking and resourcefulness. They faced many challenges with solutions based around the No.8 wire mentality. This early entrepreneurship was born out of fight or flight situation. The early farmers had no choice and as a result they poured everything in, leaving no option but to succeed. Geoff believes a similar opportunity is presented to us today with regard to our belittled OECD standings.
Unlike in these earlier periods, there are now a lot of inter/ national business successes that young start-ups can feed from providing faith, knowledge from experiences, drive and motivation. For example 42 Below story. The company sold for 138 million in just 4 years. What if there were 10 ’42 Belows’ sold off each year ? Consider the income for NZ then. However in order to get to this stage Geoff noted we as NZers need to work on our commitment to our ventures. This was summed up in the quote
‘your first angel investor is yourself’
Other pointers he offered included (taken from his experiences from his recent investor perspective):
- Procrastination – the perfect business plan does not exist. He would rather see a business than a business plan
- He vouched for ideas with scale that bypass the traditional means of growing a company through injecting additional human resources.And committed founders that are able to listen to everyone, but also know when to ignore
- NZers don’t tend to sell ourselves as good as well as we should. Pitches are important and cane lead to your businesses/ ideas being sold within the first sentence. E.g. The Apprentice – ‘ like survivor but in a boardroom with Donald Trump’
- 42 Below was sold for 7 x revenue when the company was actually losing money. It was only cash flow positive for one month. Our companies should be looking to rapidly build themselves as an asset rather than being concerned with a company dividend.
Onto the competition – 12 finalists with 60secs and 1 powerpoint slide each. From my angle (refer to my scorecard below) the winners were quite clear. They each presented a passionately smooth pitch (most importantly being under time) which clearly defined a great idea. From 75 entries and 3 weeks to prepare the ultimate pitch, I expected a higher quality to come through. It might have been the nerves but I felt many teams did not portray a burning desire to win. Those that did obviously won.
Previous press release (has finalists’ descriptions)
Infogrid – 6/10 – Overtime
RAVEBuild – 5/10 – Overtime
uLEARNnCare -6 /10 – Overtime
ClicktheClam – 7.5 /10 – Short and sweet [ Spark 40K Runner-up] – Best Presentation Skills
Wurka – 7/10
Puku – 7/10
Graham – 7/10 – quite a cool concept, good potential
Nikki – 8/10 – clear passion – People’s Choice and Best IP
Optimal Workshop – 8/10 – very smooth – Best Investment Opportunity
ePST – 7/10
BE Intent – 7/10
Pocket Vouchers – 8/10 – A concept that works [speaking from experience] – Overall Winner