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The Race for Space: meet the judges

Smales Farm has launched the Race for Space, a competition for entrepreneurs, start-ups and early stage small businesses to win a year’s free office space at the brand new B:HIVE, New Zealand’s largest and smartest co-working building on Auckland’s beautiful North Shore. And this panel of business luminaries will be choosing the winner. 

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Anna Mowbray is the co-owner and COO of Zuru toys; now regarded as the 14th biggest toy company in the world. Zuru is known for its agility, innovation, industry disruption, leadership in automated toy manufacturing and family culture. Anna sits at the helm of Zuru and is the backbone of the organization overseeing all HR, operations, marketing, distribution, new product development, investments and financials.

Anna’s achievements include growing Zuru with her two siblings from its inception 12 years ago to a $450M+ business today, all while raising three kids under the age of 5 and living in Asia.

She leads a team of over 2,200 direct employees and over 10,000 indirect employees, and oversaw the transition to automated manufacturing of the world's top-selling toy in 2016 Bunch O Balloons. With many Toy of the Year accolades and numerous industry awards to its name, Zuru is a powerhouse in toys.

The company is now diversifying its portfolio and is manoeuvring into FMCG.

Originally from Sweden, Cecilia Robinson has been based in New Zealand for more than a decade. Cecilia is one of the Founders & Group Co-CEO of My Food Bag (alongside husband James). Alongside Cecilia and James, My Food Bag was founded by former Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung and MasterChef NZ winner Nadia Lim as well as her husband Carlos Bagrie in March 2013. Kevin Roberts (former Global CEO of Saatchi) joined the MFB team in 2015 to chair the board and as an investor. The founding team added Waterman Capital to its group in 2016 as the company prepares to IPO. 

Cecilia and MFB have been finalists or winners in several awards – most recently Cecilia won the Business and Enterprise category and was subsequently named the Supreme Woman of Influence in the Westpac/Fairfax Women of Influence awards. Cecilia was also named the NEXT Businesswoman of the Year 2014 and EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year. My Food Bag is also a finalist in the Westpac business awards.

Cecilia and James lead a team of 150 staff and about 850 contractors. Cecilia’s core focus is on the day-to-day running and operation of My Food Bag. Touted as a serial entrepreneur Cecilia has an extensive background in business management from founding and managing Au Pair Link alongside her husband James Robinson – Australasia’s largest Au Pair agency in April 2007. 

In December 2014 Cecilia and James announced they had sold Au Pair Link to the Evolve Education group. The Evolve Education Group made its debut on the NZX and ASX in December 2014. The IPO attracted strong demand from institutions from New Zealand and Australia.

Greg Smale has 46 years experience in residential, industrial and commercial property. Greg has a real passion for property, and is both practical and sometimes unconventional in his thinking on this subject.

Greg founded Newline construction Ltd, a successful construction and development company that completed many developments including housing, apartments, factories and office buildings in the 80’s and 90’s. Greg established Newline Bathroomware Ltd in 1987, producing bathroomware that was distributed nationally and internationally.

Over the last 23 years Greg has been a Director of Smales Farm and has been actively involved in its direction and development. Greg created the B:HIVE vision and was responsible for the project from conception right through to completion. The B:HIVE has been a culmination of four years work to create a new and unique commercial office offering to the New Zealand market.

Peri Drysdale founded Snowy Peak Ltd in 1981, designing and producing high quality innovative luxury fibre blend knitwear which she subsequently exported to Europe, North America and throughout Asia and Australasia. After pioneering the development of possum fibre and wool in 1992, knitwear brand Merinomink (fine merino and possum) was established and launched in 1996.   

As Peri travelled the world she became really concerned about the trajectory the planet and its people, was on, and its long term sustainability. In 1998 New Zealand lifestyle fashion brand Untouched World was established. In 2000 the Untouched World Foundation was set up, funded by profits from sales of Untouched World brand clothing, products and services. 

Under Peri’s leadership the company has won many awards in design, business excellence, exporting, retail, sustainability and ethical governance. 

Vaughan Rowsell is the founder of Vend, a New Zealand high-growth tech success story, with 20,000 customers worldwide and several high-profile investors, including Paypal Co-Founder Peter Thiel, Trade Me Founder Sam Morgan, and Co-Founder of Seek.com.au, Paul Bassat.

He is also the founder of the OMGTech! charitable initiative to help kids into careers with future technologies, and is Vice Chair of the NZ Hi-Tech Trust celebrating the successes of the NZ tech industry. He is passionate about developing the next generation of innovators. 

He was EY's Tech Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015 and is a regular TEDx speaker on the importance of challenging the status quo and trusting your inner weirdo.

Jake Millar is the 22-year-old co-founder of Unfiltered.

After graduating from Christchurch Boys' High School where he was Head Boy, Jake turned down a $40,000 law scholarship and decided to launch his own startup straight out of high school, after being inspired by Richard Branson's autobiography, Losing My Virginity.

He started his first company OOMPHER as an 18-year-old, before selling it to the NZ Government one year later. Jake then weighed up several options, before deciding to launch business learning platform Unfiltered with Yuuki Ogino in November 2015.

In March 2017, Unfiltered raised $1.2 million in seed capital in preparation for its launch in the U.S. market, from one of the most impressive groups ever to invest into a New Zealand startup, including: Rob Fyfe (CEO, Icebreaker), Kevin Roberts (Founder, Red Rose Consulting), Sara Tetro (Founder, 62 Models), Diane Foreman (CEO, Emerald Group), Tim Norton (Founder, 90 Seconds), the Huljich Family, amongst others. Unfiltered has raised $2.2 million in venture funding to date.

Rob Fyfe and Kevin Roberts both serve on Unfiltered's Board of Directors.

Now spending most of his time in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Jake is passionate about filming world-changing interviews with the most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders on the planet, to give everyone in the world the opportunity to learn directly from the very best, globally.

All while building a multi-million dollar startup, Jake has interviewed over 350 of the world's most successful people, including Sir Richard Branson, Jordan Belfort, Ian Wright (Co-Founder, Tesla), Miguel McKelvey (Co-Founder, WeWork) and Don Valentine (Founder, Sequoia Capital).

Elly Strang is the editor of Idealog, an award-winning business media brand that goes out to the tech, design and innovation communities within New Zealand.

After graduating with a AUT communications degree, Elly worked her way up the ranks of the Tangible Media business team, starting as a journalist at NZ Retail Magazine and helping relaunch a redesigned publication and a brand-new news site called The Register. She was promoted to deputy editor after helping establish the magazine and site as a fixture in retailers’ media consumption across the country.

In search of a new challenge, Elly moved across to Idealog in 2017 as deputy editor. She has since greatly expanded her knowledge of New Zealand’s design, tech and start-up sectors, and went on to win Best Journalist in Industry/Trade category at the 2017 Magazine Media Awards for her work across both publications, as well as being named a Rising Star finalist.

As of 2018, she has stepped up into the role of editor of Idealog and is helping steer the commercial and editorial success of the much-loved brand.  

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