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Innes48 winners reveal the winning power of rugby

The winners of the Most Viable Business Prize at this year’s Innes48 business startup contest, run by Waikato’s Soda Inc, have an idea to tap one of our most successful exports – and it’s not milk powder or wine. It’s rugby players, in particular those who go offshore to play for second tier clubs.

And coming up with a winning idea wasn’t a bad effort considering they dreamed it up with only the last half of the competition to spare.

“We had three really good ideas,” says the captain of the winning team, Te Ranga Ngaku, Dara Dimitrov.

“We worked on one and we got lots of validation from the judges, but one of the mentors came along on the Saturday night and binned it.”

The team decided to pursue team member Dion Mataira Evett’s idea because of a shared interest in rugby, says Dimitrov.

“We’ve all got rugby connections. Dion has lots of friends who play and [team member] Tau [Marsden] is a rugby coach. I have four brothers who all play rugby and two are coaches.”

The team members are all business management students at Waikato University, where Dimitrov is completing a PhD and is a tutor.

Te Ranga Ngaku received $5000 cash and over $10,000 worth of prizes from Kapja, Joe’s Garage, NetValue, HMC Communication, Waikato Chamber of Commerce, Idealog, Institute of Directors and iHeart Radio.

The business idea with the lowest level of technology was Next Level, with a vodka and aloe water blend product, Ease.

The award for best team, recommended to judges by the 35 mentors, went to Invigorate for coachability and onboarding of mentor advice throughout the competition.

The team’s product was customisable kitset gardens, ready made and delivered to consumers.

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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