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Kiwi high schoolers are the future of entrepreneurship with award-winning pitch

Five high schoolers from across New Zealand have won the second annual BizVenture Japan business challenge with their award-winning business pitch.

An initiative hosted by Education New Zealand, North Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence and Young Enterprise Trust, is a business pitch challenge for a Japanese franchise.

The 2022 edition of the BizVenture challenge focused on developing a new product for Cookie Time – a New Zealand brand with operations in Japan – to introduce to an already established food and beverage market in Japan, and to identify a new market through Cookie Time’s already existing product range.

Over 30 Kiwi and Japanese high schoolers partook in the “dragon’s den” business pitch challenge.

The winning team included Fred Sugden from Taradale High School, Tiana Manu-Griffin from Tokoroa High School, Archie MacDonald from Cashmere High School, Jackson Wright from Whangaparaoa College and Keira Hills-Wilson from New Plymouth Girls’ High School.

The five high schoolers devised two new Cookie Time snacks that served as a healthy alternative to energy drinks.

Read more: Have you got what it takes to be a young entrepreneur in NZ?

Called Enerugi Cookies and Sweet Enerugi Senbei (rice cakes), they are a combination of Japanese culture and energy with New Zealand’s iconic Cookie Time brand.

Both products are targeted at the middle-aged Japanese businesspeople looking for an energy boost, and high school students fuelling for study time.

“Energy drinks are a growing market in Japan as people seek out more energy to work and help support their families,” says Sugden.

“At the same time, we learned that parents do not give their children energy drinks as many believe it will make their children go ‘crazy’.”

The high schoolers offered a product familiar to the market they were targeting, but with healthy ingredients to create a “unique spin on traditional senbei (rice cakes)”.

“We are confident our line will be consumed by Japanese consumers.”

Manu-Griffin says that working on the business pitch for BizVenture was great to “understand the importance of culture and tradition in Japan”.

“It was amazing to see what we could accomplish using our different backgrounds and experiences as a sounding board for problem solving,” she says.

“I’m walking away from this experience with real-world skills and knowledge that I can take with me into university and the workplace. I now have a better understanding of how to approach business problems not only in New Zealand but around the world.”

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