Venture Taranaki Announce Five Taranaki Entrepreneurs In The Running To Win $ 10,000 With PowerUp Kickstart

Regional development agency, Venture Taranaki announces today the five Taranaki entrepreneurs chosen to go through the next on-ramp of PowerUp Kickstart, a business capability building program and ideas competition, with one idea ultimately winning the grand prize of $ 10,000 to spend on developing their enterprise .

In February, 30 big thinkers from around Taranaki were selected to join an initial eight-week business planning program to shape their business idea or progress their startup.

“We then called for entrepreneurs, creators and innovators to submit a two-minute video pitch selling us their bright idea for the chance to be one of five finalists and pitching to win $ 10,000 cash. Our call was answered, with an overwhelming response of high caliber ideas with great potential. After much deliberation, we’re thrilled to announce the five finalists have been chosen, “explains Natacha Dunn, Venture Taranaki General Manager Enterprise.

“The top five ideas are a great range of enterprises covering agri-science, water safety, beverage, e-surfboard, and plant monitoring technology,” continues Natacha.

The top five finalists are: Pam and Frey Livingston, Tokaora Diagnostics; Paul Gledhill, water safety product; Isaac and Cathi Drought, Planta; Michael Parker, Hiko Surf; and Jayden Clark and Ashkan Azarkish, EzSoil.

Pam and Frey Livingston from Tokaora Diagnostics who have recently gone through PowerUp’s initial business planning workshops, say “we’re delighted to be chosen as finalists for Powerup Kickstart. Having already benefited from the 8-week program, we’re looking forward to further building on this through additional business development and mentoring. Our business plan starts with a year-long R&D project to prove our concept and develop a prototype. The science is well on track, and now through kickstart we’re hoping to develop the strategy to ensure our product is saleable and get it to market. “

New Plymouth Boys High School (NPBHS) students and 2021 Taranaki Young Enterprise regional finalists, Jayden and Ashkan founders of EzSoil, are “super excited to be a part of Powerup Kickstart and are looking forward to working through this journey. We hope to build new relationships with industry experts, build up our brand awareness while enjoying the experience. “

With Michael Parker from Hiko Surf being a technology teacher at NPBHS a ‘teacher vs student’ rivalry could emerge as finalists vie for the $ 10,000 top prize.

Michael is looking forward to the opportunity to get feedback about his product. “Through PowerUp Kickstart I can test the level of interest and explore the viability of commercial production. I hope to gain the skills, experience and networks to develop my e-board into a viable commercial venture.”

Paul Gledhill, another finalist, has used his background as a local surf lifesaver to develop an innovative water safety product and says, “we’re feeling blessed to have our idea selected as part of PowerUp. To have access to a mentor with real industry experience will be expediential in us starting this exciting business journey and setting us on the path to success. “

Last but not least, Isaac and Cathi Drought, founders of Planta say, “we’re excited to tap into such a wealth of knowledge and experience. We aim to draw upon the similar experiences that our mentors have had in developing their own corner of the food and beverage market, and we look forward to learning from their experiences. Through PowerUp we hope to build widespread market reach, while refining our financial plan to better understand how to achieve our growth goals. Needless to say, we are very grateful and appreciative to have been given this chance. “

From now until June, the five finalists will receive tailored support. In conjunction with Soda Inc., VT’s support includes $ 3,000 seed funding and one-on-one mentorship to help them move forward with their ideas.

The two-month program will culminate with the PowerUp Kickstart Finals Night on June 29, 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.

“PowerUp is designed to enable and connect enterprises, ideas and individuals to help them strengthen their capability and ultimately get their enterprise up and running – and growing, which is critical to the region’s long-term resilience. We look forward to seeing each of the top five progress over the next two months and who will take home the $ 10,000 prize come finals night when they pitch to a live audience, “says Natacha.


PowerUp is a Venture Taranaki initiative. It is a range of support, services and activity focused on fostering and nurturing entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Taranaki, to help create smart, connected communities and enterprises.

PowerUp is a carefully constructed program of events and activities, delivered in conjunction with partners, and designed to complement the services and support already on offer by the wider ecosystem.

A key objective of PowerUp is to highlight the range of support available for startups, entrepreneurs and enterprises across the entire ecosystem, helping to build visibility of the ecosystem itself. Connection and collaboration with the region’s institutions, businesses and communities is vital to successfully PowerUp the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Taranaki.

SODA INC. Soda Inc. is a business growth ecosystem that helps New Zealand talent and economic development grow through strategic connections, careful rigor, robust structures and proven processes. Through supporting entrepreneurs and startups and connecting them with some of New Zealand’s best business mentors, Soda Inc. is committed to growing and diversifying New Zealand’s economy.

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