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Virgin business challenge lands tech types

When Sir Richard Branson put out a challenge to New Zealand businesses last month, they responded in force. A total of 263, in fact, which have now been whittled down to 15 finalists.

When Sir Richard Branson put out a challenge to New Zealand businesses last month, they responded in force. A total of 263, in fact, which have now been whittled down to 15 finalists. 

The BNZ Presents: The Virgin Business Challenge finalists will now be asked to submit their business plans with the top 10 being selected to pitch to a panel of New Zealand’s leading entrepreneurs, vying for a prize including time with Sir Richard Branson; a $100,000 cash prize from BNZ; a BNZ business education scholarship; mentoring from top Virgin and BNZ executives; and access to Virgin meeting rooms worldwide.

Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia will also provide the winning business with a travel package which includes a choice of domestic and trans-Tasman destinations, as well as flights to the global business capitals of London, New York and Geneva.

The 15 stage-two finalists are: 

• Roger Boyd, 1Above
• Angus Allan, The Collective
• Mark Christensen, FaceMe Ltd
• Robert Bell, Brett Waterson and Ross Peat, Klickex Corporation Ltd
• Hamish McLachlan, Konnect Net Ltd
• Kaila Colbin and Melissa Clark-Reynolds, MiniMonos Ltd
• David Darling, Pacific Edge Ltd
• Chris de Boer, Pingar Holdings Ltd
• Greg Cross, PowerbyProxi Ltd
• Peter Beck, Rocket Lab
• Mike Carden, Sonar6
• Ian Williams, WilliamsWarn
• Richard Justice, Photonz
• Kyle Dransfield, Highway1 Specialty Roading
• Jeremy Miocevic, Piper Drinks Ltd.

Twenty percent of entries came from the internet and technology industries, with the traditional manufacturing, transport and food and beverage sectors also with a strong showing.

BNZ director Anthony Healy says the high calibre is an encouraging sign for New Zealand’s economic future.

“With two billion people connected to the internet globally and almost US$8 trillion exchanging hands through e-commerce, it is heartening to see our newest Kiwi businesses setting their sights on this opportunity.

“Stepping up to this challenge with such driving offshore aspirations is a true testament to the talent amongst New Zealand entrepreneurs."

The winner will be announced at an awards evening in Auckland on December 15.