Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship

Spark $100k Challenge Grand Prize Giving

Spark’s $100k Challenge Grand Prize Giving is on next week where one of the 12 finalists will walk away with $25,000 Seed Capital and 6 months incubation at The ICEHOUSE.

Always a great event to attend. Come and check out our next batch of entrepreneurs and their businesses launching out of the programme. We’ve even got Owen Glenn along as the keynote.

RSVP here.

Catchya there.

Spark $100k Challenge Grand Prize Giving


Graeme @ graemefielder.com

New Entrepreneurship Courses at Auckland Uni

In 2012 the University will launch its new lot of programmes in Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Commercialisation.

The includes:

  1. Graduate Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  2. Graduate Diploma in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  3. Post Graduate Certificate in Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship
  4. Masters in in Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship

Pamphlets on each of the courses can be found by clicking on the above links.

#1 and #2 are “targeted at those who have a non-business Bachelor’s Degree and want to develop an understanding of business fundamentals and knowledge of how value is created through creative thinking, science & technology, leading to the introduction of commercially successful innovations by small, large or new organisations”.

#3 and #4 are “for those who wish to develimagesop core knowledge and skills essential to moving research and innovation from the lab to the market place. You will learn how to test and validate customer needs and market demand, protect intellectual property, obtain funding, sell research related innovations and develop successful commercialisation projects”.

“These programmes are for people who are interested in working in start-ups, or with an established small, medium or large innovative organisation.”

To find out more about these new programmes come along to our Information Sessions on Tuesday, 11 October 12-1pm and Thursday, 13 October 12-1pm. Both of these sessions will be held in Decima Glenn, Room 310C, Level 3, Owen G Glenn Building, The University of Auckland Business School. Please register your interest here.


Graeme @ graemefielder.com

The Winners

Last month Spark announced the winners of its $100k Challenge, its flagship business planning competition.

After the 12 finalist teams completed the Launch Pad, a 8 week mentorship and workshop programme designed to help them develop their business, their business plans were submitted to the judges. This was followed up with a pitch to the judging panel in a Dragons Den-like scenario.

Then on 20th October, to a crowd of 300+, the winners were announced. Refer below to the public disclosure summaries of the winners. For a full list of the finalists please visit here. Media release here.

This year we saw a greater penetration into the postgraduate and staff community which meant that we also saw a greater degree of hi-tech businesses and university IP entering the challenges. As a scientific individual moving into the area of tech commercialisation and this being an area of performance which NZ has copped slack over, these developments were great to see. You have researchers using the terms ‘market validation’ and ‘business models’ when referring to their research, tech, widget. It may seem like a small step to some, but it’s a giant change in mindset of researchers.  More so we were able to achieve this while maintaining Spark’s mainstream student start-up business venture entries.

Each year the Spark Challenges get more competitive. Since entering the Spark system earlier in the year, each of the finalists had progressed a long way. By judging time, all of them were in full dialogue with their markets, some about to undergo product/ service trials and some were even starting to take orders.

Another success for Spark this year was that we are seeing businesses being launched which weren’t successful entries (in receiving a prize) in this year’s challenges. Not disheartened by this they pressed on to launch their business. An example is www.redit.co.nz.

Spark now has fostered the creation of 72 start-up ventures since 2003. This number was 50 at the beginning of 2010. Not only are we helping staff and students launch new ventures but we are also discovering alumni, who were inspired and educated by Spark, that have launched businesses following graduation.



PhotoPURE (left), Healthy Memory Company (right).


First Place – $20,000 seed capital + 6 months business incubation @ The ICEHOUSE


PhotoPURE is a novel and advanced inorganic composite material developed based on nanoscience and photocatalytic technology. It is able to quickly decompose contaminants in the environment through the use of light energy. Compared to other environment purification products, PhotoPURE is more efficient and provides a longer-lasting purifying effect due to its unique nanoarchitecture. The purification process is a green process that does not create any secondary contaminants or other harmful by- products, making PhotoPURE safe for both indoor and outdoor use.The PhotoPURE team intends to apply PhotoPURE in the areas of air and water purification. With its high efficiency, low energy consumption, long life time and almost no maintenance requirements, PhotoPURE will radically reduce purification costs while ensuring air and water qualities of the highest standards.

Second Place – $10,000 seed capital + 3 months business incubation @ The ICEHOUSE

Healthy Memory Company

Loss of memory and loss of independence are the Number One fears of seniors in both the UK and USA. As the Baby Boomer population (born 1946 to 1964) increases exponentially in New Zealand and globally, so sadly does the incidence of memory ailments and the inability to live alone. Research by Dr. Allison Lamont, PhD. has identified six key areas of memory function that are needed in older age for independent living. A range of science-based products, on-line and course-based, has been designed by the Healthy Memory Company to boost performance in each of these vital areas. Brain connections can re-grow with stimulation at any age and it is the mission of the directors of the company to help Boomers build brain resilience so that they can retain their youthful memory skills and protect themselves against future memory loss.

Third Equal – 3 months business incubation @ The ICEHOUSE

OneBeep http://www.onebeep.org/

Imagine a village way beyond broadband infrastructure or even phone lines. Such areas are the target of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) and the Intel Classmate PC programmes, designed to get low-cost computers into poor communities. These initiatives have deployed a combined 2.6 million laptops to remote communities around the globe. There are plans to deploy 30 million in the next 5 years. But these laptops are DISCONNECTED. OneBeep has developed an inexpensive and robust method to send educational content to these laptops. Using OneBeep’s software a file of educational data can be converted to audio, which is sent via radio waves. This can be received on any cheap AM/FM radio, which passes it on to the laptop. The file is then converted back to its original form once it has been received on the children’s laptops ready to be viewed. As every village has AM radios, you now have a low-cost way to beam out daily lessons, health material etc over long distances to thousands of children.

Third Equal – 3 months business incubation @ The ICEHOUSE

The G.I. Joes

Our venture entails commercialisation of a novel medical method and software package to record the electrical activity arising from the human stomach ("electrogastrography"). This system is being developed to investigate potential ‘gastric dysrhythmias’ – abnormal electrical behaviours in the stomach that may contribute to highly symptomatic diseases including indigestion and heartburn. These major diseases of Western society affect up to 30% of the population, and inflict a massive burden of suffering and healthcare costs.  These diseases currently sustain a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry.  To realise our venture, we have assembled a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and biomedical engineers who are experts in gastrointestinal (G.I.) experimental research, device development, software development, and commercialisation. Our roadmap is to build value in our product through continued IP growth, prototyping, engineering and clinical R&D, and risk elimination, before engaging our exit strategy and licensing our product to a major industry partner.


Graeme @ graemefielder.com

Spark Grand Prize Giving – 20 October

We are almost at the end of the annual Spark programme. Our finalists have completed their Launch Pad workshop programme and are about to submit their business plans and deliver their pitches to the judging panel.

The winner will be announced at the $100k Challenge Grand Prize Giving on Wednesday 20 October 5.45pm at Level 1 Foyer, Owen G Glenn Building, The University of Auckland Business School. Over $50,000 in prizes (seed capital, business incubation and in-kind services) will be awarded.

We also have David McKee- Wright, CEO of Sealegs International Ltd, as our guest speaker

RSVP @ www.spark.auckland.ac.nz

Don’t know who the finalists are ? Check out this list: http://www.spark.auckland.ac.nz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=208&Itemid=100030

See you there!


Graeme @ graemefielder.com

If you build it will they come? – REVIEW

if-you-build-it-200w I’ve just finished reading Rob Adam’s latest book ‘ If you build it will they come? – three steps to test and validate any market opportunity’. His previous book was titled ‘ A good hard kick in the ass – basic training for entrepreneurs’ – also a good read.

As the title states it outlines the process of market validation (MV). I have yet to come across a book that does this as good as Rob does. Despite knowing (and doing) a bit about MV (compared to most scientists 🙂 ) I have always wanted to know the nuts and bolts, I wanted someone who has gone through it multiple times ( experiencing both sides : canning and further developing ideas) and can lay it out in a systematic manner.

This book points out the obvious. And that’s exactly what a lot of budding entrepreneurs need as the process of market validation is something that is frequently done half arse. People just don’t do it/ properly despite the concepts being simple and common.

Rob outlines the reasons behind this:

– People believe the ‘don’t have time’ as the market opportunity is moving fast. Reality is that there isn’t probably a market opportunity worth running after.

– People have an output mentality. Fixated around doing other things for the business that aren’t really aligned to establishing your market assessment which is ultimately what matters at this point.

– The process of market validation pushes people outside their comfort zone – the fear of rejection and undertaking processes which are not as measurable, tangible  or are made up of smaller digestible steps as say.. product development.

– Its just not sexy as it requires hard work, perseverance and discipline.

The most value I gained from the book was in the ‘Aim’ section about knuckling down to talk to your market and a logical process to adhere to when doing this. From the various sources you can gain access to people/ information to how your questionnaire/s should be structured and evolved over the course of your validation.

Some key takeaways:

  • MV takes 60 days and 10 % of your development budget.
  • You should look to directly interview 100 people – at least 20 % should be face to face, the rest by phone.
  • Internet surveys are a good way to get a whole lot of data with associated demographics. This is good for helping you find your segment and the 100 people who you need to interview.
  • Target a market segment which is large, growing and in the early majority phase of its lifecycle. Dominate the segment with the biggest ‘pain’ then look to move to others. This also allows you to get a simple product out the door ASAP which has only the ESSENTIAL features for solving the specific market pain associated to that segment.
  • Broad market targeting = appeals to no one.
  • Market validation vs. market research = shaping an offering vs. confirming an offering. i.e. validation helps to decide what your product will look like and do.
  • MV will enable you to gain a level of insight into a market that no one else has.
  • Acquiring customers from a competing product costs 3 – 10 x more than getting customers new to the market.
  • Use experts/ influences/ analysts to bounce your hypotheses off
  • The ‘I want to keep my money’ customer mentality is a competitor and substitute to your offering.
  • 1st year marketing budget? = 1st year amount spent on product development

The Three Steps of Market Validation

Ready – quick assessment of the market opportunity using secondary market research [ market size, growth, life cycle phase, trends, competitor analysis, substitute analysis, economic analysis]

Aim – in depth exploration of your market segments – getting your hands dirty by collecting data via primary research tools/ methods –> talking to people! 1: Explore the pain 2: Test your offerings with different segments 3: Refine your final offering and segment.

Fire – Taking your insight and making sure it makes its way into your final product/service offering


Graeme @ graemefielder.com