Here we celebrate the region’s entrepreneurs and innovators who are leaving their mark on the world, while living the famous Taranaki lifestyle. 

Each episode features a prominent local entrepreneur, making waves both nationally and internationally with their trailblazing spirit and can-do attitude. They'll share their successes, ah-ha moments and celebrated wins, as well as their struggles and behind the scenes failures. Our guests also reflect on how being from Taranaki influences their work and the lives they lead.

Hosted by long time business advocate and honorary Taranaki local David Downs, this series illustrates the thriving business environment within Taranaki by telling the stories of everyday people who've been able to achieve remarkable things.

Taranaki is a region where the unique natural and entrepreneurship ecosystems collide to create a place where people can flourish and achieve their full potential. Nau mai haere mai, we welcome you to hear our enterprising stories like no other.

Listen below,  or available on SpotifyApple Podcasts, Castbox or wherever you get your podcasts.


PowerUp S2 E3 Erin Benton

Date posted: 16/3/2022

Even for a baker, getting up at midnight is extreme. But when you’ve got two tamariki and a dairy farm, baking Artisan Donuts have to fit in around them. This is just one of the many aspects that make Erin Benton’s story so awesome.

The founder of Knead, Erin’s doughnuts are unreal. There’s no other way to put it. She used to go to farmers markets and sell out in just over half an hour. She has lines out the door pretty much every day.

In this episode of the PowerUp podcast, Erin talks about the sacrifice it’s taken to become New Plymouth’s worst best kept secret. How she learned to bake, how she juggles her time, how she focuses on kaupapa important to her and keeping the balance so her cup can be full for her whānau and business.

PowerUp S2 E2 Steve Scott

Date posted: 9/3/2022

Imagine trying to design and build the famous Len Lye Centre’s stainless steel facade. It doesn’t bear thinking about…unless you’re Steve Scott. Steve and his team at Rivet are masters with sheet metal, illustrated most notably at New Plymouth’s iconic Len Lye Museum.

Steve’s actually an electrician, but don’t let that fool you. He’s taken Rivet to a place where they’re regarded as the team for the hard jobs that other people can’t do. He’s also a passionate supporter of training young people, and a bit of a larrikin to boot.

This is a great example of how to become an expert in your field. Steve brings to life stories of his iconic projects, including gin stills and art sculptures. He brings a grounded approach, throws in a good dash of humour and ends with a great yarn about how to make a local business really stand out.

PowerUp S2 E1 Glen Stephens

Date posted: 1/3/2022

Some people are just made different. Plenty of others would be happy with being director of a successful building company while raising two kids…but not Glen Stephens. He saw an opportunity to make an environmentally friendly sunscreen that protects against New Zealand’s harsh sun, and his side hustle is rapidly growing.

Glen is the founder of Sol + Sea, which started after seeing the devastating effects of coral bleaching in the Pacific. After a few years of investment, putting in the hard yards and refining his business strategy, Glen has developed a range of products and got them into stores all over NZ (and soon internationally).

This is a great yarn about how he did it, what makes him tick, and how something like this is possible from his base in Taranaki.

PowerUp S1 E8 James Annabell

Date posted: 11/5/2021

From being a professional rugby player to running a successful international honey company, James Annabell’s story is a highly unlikely one. Not to mention the fact the Egmont Honey CEO and founder is allergic to bee stings.

However, there can be no denying the success of this family-run company. It started with James giving his dad a beehive for Christmas one year, and it’s grown to having more than 4,000 hives and exporting more than 1,000 tonnes of honey each year to more than 20 countries around the world.

James talks candidly about the challenges of making honey in some of the most remote parts of New Zealand, and how Egmont Honey is influenced by the local Taranaki region. The world of honey is immensely fascinating, and James’ ability to bring it to life makes this a must-listen episode of The PowerUp Podcast.

PowerUp S1 E7 John Matthews

Date posted: 4/5/2021

In this episode of the PowerUp Podcast, prominent businessman John Matthews lifts the lid on his successes, challenges, and belief in taking risks - like shipping the largest oil tank to ever go on water from Taranaki to Fiji...without insurance.

John is a hugely influential figure in Taranaki’s cultural and art scene, as well as its business and infrastructure. A successful engineer and businessman, John’s expertise in roading and bitumen have seen him made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

A close friend of the late Len Lye, John is an adamant believer in the beauty of art. He was at the forefront of installing New Plymouth’s iconic wind wand - what was a highly divisive project at the time, as well as the city’s unique Len Lye gallery.

PowerUp S1 E6 Dave and Jo James

Date posted: 27/4/2021

The story of how Juno came to be one of New Zealand’s leading spirits companies is hard to believe. After successful corporate careers, Dave and Jo James returned to Taranaki with a dream to distill premium gin. They invested a whole lot of time and money to source everything they needed, before trying to figure out the small matter of how gin was made.

Dave and Jo’s journey to winning a New Zealand gold medal in just two years is a tribute to dedication and creativity. With a considerable amount of help from Taranaki business advocates, engineers, growers, and marketers, Juno Gin is now forging a path ahead for all New Zealand spirits. Dave and Jo’s ambitious dream is for kiwi spirits to be thought of internationally in the same way New Zealand wine is.

This is an awesome story about enthusiasm and a can-do attitude, showing just what’s possible when you strive for the very best.

PowerUp S1 E4 James Donald and Letitia Stevenson

Date posted: 13/4/2021

What happens when an oil and gas executive meets an anthropologist for the first time, and they decide to start a software company? It might sound like a bad joke, but for James Donald and Letitia Stevenson, it was the start of a hugely successful business developing chatbots for the tourism industry. Honestly, you have to hear this story to believe it.

James and Letitia are the founders of Yonder, a company that’s designing custom bots for leading tourism companies all over New Zealand. From a chance meeting at a business event to bravely going into business together, their determination and initiative has helped them make their far-off dream a reality.

This is another business tale about perseverance and determination. James and Letitia have been on a rapid learning curve that keeps getting steeper each time they tackle a new challenge (thanks a lot, COVID-19). They are adaptable and creative, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way are SUPER relevant for anyone in business.

PowerUp S1 E3 Michael and Rachel Perrett

Date posted: 7/4/2021

Investors Michael and Rachel Perrett are on an ambitious journey to change the way our children are educated. As the founders of The Green School in Taranaki, they are implementing a sustainable and holistic education system that worked wonders for their son in Bali.

Michael and Rachel invest in people and the planet before they think about profit. This approach has seen them develop more than 40 business interests, but they’re adamant none are as important as their work with The Green School.

In this episode of PowerUp, they talk about how they established a world-class facility with world-class educators in such a small pocket of the world. With the utmost dedication, Michael and Rachel discuss their vision for education and for Taranaki, shining a light on how they hope to produce fully rounded students that can thrive in the modern world.

PowerUp S1 E1 Dan Radcliffe

Date posted: 10/3/2021

Dan Radcliffe is a Taranaki born and bred businessman, investor and a member of the EY World Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. He founded International Volunteer HQ, one of the world’s leading volunteer travel companies, in 2006, after quitting his graduate finance job on just his third day.

Dan talks about how he was inspired to start IVHQ, how he ran an international business from his family farm in North Taranaki, the hardest part about being an entrepreneur and how he’s helped to steer his business through the challenges of COVID-19. He also touches on his new venture, a brewery that supports local charities, and even gives his top tip for catching goats.

Dan’s unlikely success story shows the power of a can-do attitude and good support, and his desire to give back to the community illustrates how much one person can do to help people all over the world. Even if it’s from a farm in the back of beyond.

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We’re proud to bring you the voices of our entrepreneurs, innovators, and creators, delivered with their own experiences, insights and humour in mind - the views, thoughts and opinions shared by our guests are uniquely theirs. They do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Venture Taranaki.