Four companies rewarded with slice of the Entrepreneurs' Challenge pie

The 2011 University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs’ Challenge has come to to a close – and the four winners hail from financial services, pet food manufacturing, tourism and photographic design.

Tim and Dan Alpe of JucyThe four companies, KlickEx Corporation, enlight photo, JUCY Group and K9 Natural, will share $1 million in funding, beating out nearly 100 entrants and two other finalists.

Set up with funding from British-based expat financier Charles Bidwill three years ago, the Entrepreneurs' Challenge has been boosted from $3 million to $5 million by further donations from Bidwill and an anonymous donor, challenge committee chairman Dr Brian Hannan said.

“Both donors believe that entrepreneurship in New Zealand is a truly worthwhile investment in the country’s future, and this extra money will enable us to expand our funding and assist as many promising Kiwi entrepreneurs as we can.”

Business School dean, Professor Greg Whittred, said entrants this year represented industries as diverse as IT development, tourism, food, literature, health and science.

“We are absolutely delighted that one of our winners tonight is from Christchurch – in fact, the company is the first winner from outside Auckland,” he said.

“In a time when Canterbury companies have experienced unbelievably difficult trading conditions that really have been unique in New Zealand’s economic history, it is wonderful to welcome K9 Natural to the 10 winners of this challenge over the past three years.”

Last year's victors were Biomatters Ltd, Piako Gourmet Yoghurt and Greentide (featured in the latest Idealog), while the 2009 champions were coffee roasters Allpress Espresso, smart water meter technology developers Outpost Central and hot water heating control technology company Senztek.

The 2011 winners:

JUCY Group - $500,000
Led by brothers Tim and Dan Alpe, Auckland-based Jucy is one of Australasia’s fastest-growing independent tourism brands. The brothers operate more than 1700 late-model vehicles throughout New Zealand, and 200 campers in Australia.

enlight photo - $200,000
An Auckland-based award-winning design company dedicated to the creation of practical inventive products for photographers, enlight has an international distribution pipeline, strong online strategies and international media relationships.

K9 Natural - $200,000
K9's product is described as raw cow and sheep in a bag; chief executive Geoff Bowers spent weeks in the wild studying the feeding habits of the grey wolf before developing his findings into commercial dog food.

KlickEx - $100,000
The Auckland-based financial services company brings banking systems in different countries together. In five years’ time, the company hopes to acquire a global banking licence, cover 40 different currencies, expand the business to new dimensions and take KlickEx public.

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