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Idealog + The B:Hive's Race for Space: meet the winners

A few months back Idealog and Smales Farm launched a competition called The Race for Space, which asked entrepreneurs to submit an entry for a chance to win six desks for 12 months in the new B:Hive co-working space on the North Shore. And the competition reached its conclusion yesterday as the panel of judges sat through the pitches from the finalists and chose the winner. 

After the submission period, the judges chose five finalists: Feed My Furbaby, a smart pet food delivery company; Aider, an AI platform that offers small to medium businesses real-time answers via chat or voice; Healthcare Applications, whose software platform Emergency Q helps reduce patient load in emergency departments; Properly, a property site hoping to disrupt the real estate industry; and Co Kaha Studios, which is developing a hemp tampon. Four Kings One War, a strategy game inspired by chess that is set to launch a VR experience and freemium app soon, won the People’s Choice category and also made it through to the finals.  

All six businesses pitched their ideas – and aimed to show why they deserved the prize – in front of a panel of judges at the B:Hive. And what a panel it was: Smales Farm’s Greg Smale, Zuru’s Anna Mowbray, Unfiltered’s Jake Millar, Untouched World’s Peri Drysdale, Vend’s Vaughan Rowsell, Idealog’s Ben Fahy and My Food Bag’s Cecilia Robinson all asked questions and shared their wisdom. And after plenty of deliberation and numerous blueberry muffins, the judges chose Healthcare Applications as the overall winner. 

Healthcare Applications' Emergency Q is a software platform that reduces congestion in hospital Emergency Departments (EDs) by creating a digital connection between patients, EDs and community doctors. With a large number of patients going to the ED when they could be going elsewhere, the technology, which is available as an app on iOS and Android, provides patients with the data they need to make informed decisions about where to seek treatment, how long it will take to be seen and how much it will cost. 

And it's working. In 10 months, the ED pilot volumes at the North Shore hospital have reduced by 12%, saving patients 21,600 hours and significantly relieving pressure on ED staff and beds. Founder and CEO Morris Pita says a cost benefit analysis from the trial is looking very positive and this will make a subscription much more appealing to other DHBs around the country (Middlemore is next in line to trial the tech) and, eventually, the world.

Pita said the $28 Bunnings table the business started on had served it well but the opportunity to move its four employees into the B:Hive is a major step on its journey (this win follows another at the Hi-Tech Awards last week when it took out the technology for public good category). 

“Winning the B:HIVE Race for Space competition has really come to Emergency Q at the perfect time.  We had taken our vison about as far as we could off the back of a fold out camping table, which is what we had been using for meetings up until now.  This prize gives us access to a state of the art work-space, designed with innovators and new ideas in mind.  It also allows us to raise the profile of our brand and what we do for people and organisations who use our technology.  The start-up world is never easy, so these two things are huge for our team as we move into the next phase of our development as a business.”

In addition to the six desks and all of the associated benefits of being in the B:Hive, the business will also receive PR support from Lily & Louis and coverage in Idealog's upcoming technology issue.

In a previously unannounced award, Smales Farm staff also decided to award a runner up prize to Feed My Furbaby, a premium pet food company the judges thought had great potential for growth, but whose founders needed a bit of push to chuck in their day jobs and take the leap. 

Founders and partners Amy and Ben Rennell have been running the business from home, working around kids, full-time jobs and their own dog. One of Feed My Furbaby's major points of difference is that it uses an algorithm to provide a personalised feeding plan based on the size and activity level of the dog and it then delivers the food regularly in a cleverly designed, easy to carry box so you never run out. 

So far the response to what the pair are calling their minimum viable product has been very positive, with very low churn among existing customers and a design award for their box, which includes a clever cardboard scoop. 

"To be part of this competition and have such amazing entrepreneurs give us feedback on how to take Feed My Furbaby to the next level was incredible," the pair said. " The judges’ validation that we’ve got a good business model, with plenty of potential was highly motivating and we are already acting on their advice to take a leap and go big, now! Being based at B:HIVE will be an ideal platform for growth and we have no doubt that this experience will have a lasting impact on our business.”

For more information on the B:Hive, check out what’s on offer here

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