The five finalists of Idea Summit - the Taranaki business start-up competition – have been announced, and span everything from mushrooms to soap-box racers.

“Idea Summit is a new competition to help anyone in Taranaki with a business idea turn it into an innovative business,” says Nick Field of Venture Taranaki.
“The winning idea will get mentoring and coaching to help get it off the ground, along with $10,000 cash as start-up capital.”
A total of 77 entries were received in the competition, with five making the short list for the finals.  Each will benefit from a package of mentoring and workshop support before having the opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of judges.  One winner will receive the $10,000 main prize. 
“The creative ideas shown across all the entries in Ideas Summit 2018 have been amazing, and even if they didn’t make the finals there are many that have the potential to do well,” Nick says.
The finalists, their projects and their mentors, in no particular order, are:
  • Matthew Williams, who is developing systems to intensively farm high-end mushrooms in controlled conditions. Matthew has conducted research internationally and is looking to incorporate agricultural by-products in the process. He will have the expertise of mentor Ingrid Vercammen, formerly the CEO of Van Dyck Fine Foods, to call on during the accelerator stage.
  • Letitia Stephenson wants to make it easier for tourism operators to increase the conversion of website visitors to bookings using AI tools. The aim is to allow websites to communicate in a targeted way depending on the visitor’s characteristics. Project HQ business coach Craig Oliver and Powerco Chief Information Officer Brigitte Colombo are available as mentors. 
  • Chester Young and his partner have set up White Peak Creamery, an innovative plant-based creamery that will offer a new brand of premium dairy-free ice creams, yoghurts and nut milk blends that suit consumers who are limited by allergies and dietary requirements. They have blended their first flavours and hope to find customers in the growing plant-based food sector. Mitchell Snowden, Finance Manager – Planning & Analysis of FirstGas will mentor White Peak Creamery. 
  • Water Warrior is a creation of Paul Oliver that is a monitoring device that will give farmers an early warning of actual or impending water infrastructure failure, using ‘Internet of Things’ networks to keep running costs low. Stephen Hill of Strategy Collective and Steve Lloyd, Head of Product and Technology Strategy at 2degrees are his mentors.
  • Industrial designer Glenn Catchpole has designs for products that foster practical, hands-on play and social experiences, and his first product is Kit-Netic, a flat-pack soapbox racer that can be built and customised by kids. Glenn has teamed up with Valerie Poort in this startup, and will receive mentoring from Donna Yeats, owner of The Marketing Consultancy, and Advantage Business coach Craig Hattle. 
For those that didn’t make the cut, Venture Taranaki offers free one-hour Business Start-Up clinics in New Plymouth, Stratford and Hawera.
“Taranaki is a great place to turn ideas into business, and while winning Idea Summit will help that happen a little faster than otherwise, there’s still plenty of support for people with good business ideas,” says Nick.
Follow the progress of the finalists over the next ten weeks as they move towards start-up on the Idea Summit Facebook page:
The overall winner will be announced at an event on 11 September 2018.
For more information:
Nick Field, Venture Taranaki, or 06 757 6055