Home / Venture  / Down south, on the up: meet the three finalists of the Startup Dunedin Challenger Series

Down south, on the up: meet the three finalists of the Startup Dunedin Challenger Series

There were 71 applications in total, which were then shortlisted for the top 20. These 20 then pitched to a panel of judges in a dragon’s-den-style pitch night. And the three finalists were:

The Pet Bistro

Bex Hill

The Pet Bistro provides overnight delivery of real food for pets based on veterinarian knowledge and moves away from dry kibble and highly processed meats that can cause a significant amount of pet health issues. 

Founder Bex Hill has a background in teaching and tourism, but she told the ODT she was inspired to get into manufacturing after “seeing the difference a change in diet made to her dog. 

Despite only starting up in April, she already had a solid client base.


Jack Pivac

Elixir provides specialist healthcare professionals access to patient records using modern portable devices such as  iPads and iPhones, without being tied to their desk or laptop. This is done through cloud practice management systems rather than the current legacy system. Founder Jack Pivac told the ODT present systems were “15-to-20-years old” and his cloud-based system, which is already being used by Mercy Hospital, would allow specialists to work remotely.

Paper Not Foil

Kale Panoho (marketing manager), Amanda Buckingham (founder), Rhys Jeffery (manager/director).

Paper Not Foil is a sustainable alternative to using tin foil in the hair industry and the first of its kind in the market. While solving a significant waste issue they also cut costs for their clients. Its products are used in more than 100 salons across Australasia, including about six salons in Dunedin.

Founder Amanda Buckingham told the ODT that she “started working on the idea after becoming interested in introducing more eco-friendly practices to her hairdressing salon – which used about 1.5km of foil every month”. The paper is made from industrial waste and manufactured in Shanghai.

“It’s price-competitive and actually, if you reuse it, it becomes more cost-effective than foil,” she said.

The Challenger Series begins on August 6 and features mentoring from some of Dunedin’s top business leaders including Chris Hopkins, CEO, Scott Automation and Robotics; Zoe Hobson, managing director, Runaway; Kyle Murdoch, managing director, NHNZ; Jonny Mirkin, CEO, nomos one, and Nigel Bamford, CEO, Escea.

Each finalist will also receive $15,000 worth of support including $5,000 credit with Deloitte, $5,000 credit with Gallaway Cook Allan, $2500 to spend on flights and $2500 to spend on marketing.

Enterprise Dunedin Economic Development programme manager, Fraser Liggett said startups are playing a key role in boosting Dunedin by providing employment and increasing incomes.

“Enterprise Dunedin and Grow Dunedin Partners are pleased to be working with the startup community and supporting this initiative. We are sure Challenger will be a success and hope the winners of this competition will be among our leading companies in the future,” Liggett said.

One of the talented Idealog Team Content Producers made this post happen.

Review overview