Five Taranaki Entrepreneurs in the running to win seed funding

Venture Taranaki’s PowerUp Ideas Competition moves into its final stage with five Taranaki enterprise ideas chosen to go through to the second phase of the Competition with one ultimately winning the grand prize of $10,000 to spend on developing their enterprise.

"In March we called for Taranaki people to submit their enterprise idea in a two-minute video pitch, and we were overwhelmed by the response. All the video-pitches were a very high calibre with many ideas having great potential. It was an extremely hard decision to pick just five," says Venture Taranaki Enterprise Adviser Shaan Davis.

"We are very excited to announce the top five ideas to move through to the second phase of the PowerUp Ideas Competition. These finalists are a great range of enterprises covering Agri-tech, a product made from recycling, technology focused on ocean tides and currents, a food product, and an innovative skincare," says Justine Gilliland, VT Chief Executive.

The top five finalists are: Glen Stephens, Sol + Sea; Karen Danenhauer, MamaGaia; Lauren Oehme and Leon Power, Nano Bubble; Remy Zynfogel, Calypso Science; and Jenni Matheson, Mrinali Kumar and team, Kinda Ice Cream.

Four of the five participants were part of the first stage of the ideas competition, the PowerUp Co.Starters programme, an eight-week workshop series that helped 50 participants build their business plans and learn about starting and growing an enterprise.

"To anyone that is thinking about doing the Powerup programme, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. The confidence, validation and resources it has given our business is invaluable. We hope that this process will enable us to launch successfully by gaining some great insights from other likeminded people," says Glen Stephens, Director, Sol + Sea Group.

From now until June, the top five finalists will receive tailored support to help them move forward with their idea. In conjunction with Soda Inc., VT’s support includes $3,000 seed funding, one-on-one mentorship, and two months of co-working space access.

Top five finalist Karen Danenhauer says she’s "over the moon to have been chosen as a finalist, and very grateful for the opportunity to power up my start-up MamaGaia. Having a mentor and access to expert advice will be invaluable in growing my business, and I look forward to making new connections with other local entrepreneurs."

"PowerUp is designed to enable and connect enterprises, ideas and individuals with a range of new and existing services and opportunities, to help them grow their capability and ultimately get their enterprise up and running - and growing" says Justine.

"Our ambition is to see Kinda Ice Cream in every supermarket across New Zealand and make tasty plant-based alternatives the norm. At this stage, the main challenges we face for getting our product into the market are commercialisation related, branding and getting investment ready. Our hope is the programme will support us through these challenges and achieving our goals," says Mrinali Kumar Co-Founder, Kinda Ice Cream.

The two-month programme will culminate with the PowerUp Ideas Competition Finals Night in June, where each of the five participants will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, with the winner taking home $10,000 to take their idea to the next level.

"We are looking forward to seeing each of the top five progress through this programme. The work they put in will be evident come finals nights when they pitch to a live audience," says Shaan.

"We encourage any other people within the community who have a business idea, who want to develop their entrepreneurial skills, or have an early-stage start-up to engage with us. Venture Taranaki is committed to supporting entrepreneurship and enterprises in Taranaki," adds Justine.