Last week, seven daring entrepreneurs presented their final pitch to judges and an audience of 300 people at the Innovate Awards in Palmerston North. One entrepreneur that shone and took home the ‘Innovate 20’ award was Barbara Kelly and her ‘Event Ready Bodies’ initiative.
Now in its ninth year, the Innovative Awards bring people together to go through the journey of life as a start-up business. For the competition, the seven finalists have five minutes to convince the judges that their innovation is worthy of winning the $5000 cash prize, plus immediate entry to the Factory Accelerator programme ran through The Factory at Massey University.
The seven finalists this year were chosen from an initial group of 61 entries, that then became a group of 20 semi finalists. General manager at The Factory, Nick Gain, says the awards has never seen this level of interest before, as well as ideas that have the potential to become a global business.
“Creating a group of 7 finalists from the initial entries was challenging as many would have impressed the judges.”
One entry that judges said had huge potential both nationally and internationally was Barbara Kelly and her Event Ready Bodies business. Using optizone software, Event Ready Bodies develops individual training programmes for anyone to ensure their body is ready for the next event. Kelly demonstrated to the judges that her business has a clear customer base and global market potential, with subscriptions already sold across the country.
Kelly says she is thankful of Innovate as it provides a robust system that is also about providing partnerships and connections.
“We must prevail was the message from my team, especially during these challenging times. We are all grateful for and have benefitted greatly from the robust system that Innovate provides. And, we want to do Palmy proud.”
When it comes to being an entrepreneur, director of the Innovate programme and awards David Craig says tenacity, endurance and self belief are most important.
“We may think we have a great idea, but it is in how we execute the idea which is at the heart of the Innovate programme. We help people validate the idea so that they can build the skills and confidence to secure investment funding to make their business a reality.”
Across its nine years, Innovate has attracted 1700 entries and has helped multiple business start-ups. What began as a Dragons Den style programme has now become part of the fabric of the business community as Innovate Alumni are mentors and partners have supported the Innovate process since the beginning.
Barbara Kelly and the team won the top prize on the night and Emma Buchanan was recognised for her tenacity, confidence and abilities with the UCOL prize of $1,000. Jason Wargeant, founder of biolumic, was named the Manawatu Innovation Ambassador for 2020 and Dean Tilyard was recognised for his outstanding efforts in the business and investment community.