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The power of five too strong for Dragon’s Den competition

3 December 2012

The power of five too strong for Dragon’s Den competition

It was a powerful line up of finalists at the Waikato Management School’s Dragon’s Den event on Saturday, as three teams presented their proposal for a new business venture in the power/electrical industry in front of a panel of guest judges.

The Dragon’s Den competition, held on Saturday, marks the final paper in the Waikato PGDip Management Studies. The competition enables students to put their skills and knowledge to the test by forming groups and coming up with a viable and profitable business venture and presenting their case in front of a panel of business leaders.

MBA lecturer, Associate Professor Jens Mueller, says this semester’s teams were all outstanding. “We had the usual high caliber of business cases put forward and it was exciting to see the originality and creativity the teams possessed.”
“By sheer coincidence, the three teams to make the finals shared a common theme, all presenting a business case for the power or electrical industry. It took the judges a long time to deliberate, which says a lot about the teams and the ideas presented.”

The judging panel, or dragons, for the final round were: Graeme Milne, Chair of Waikato DHB; Lisa Er, founder of Lisa’s Hummus; Bill Murphy, Executive Director of Enterprise Angles Tauranga; Adrienne von Tunzelmann of McKinlay Douglas Ltd; Mike Pohio, CEO of Tainui Group Holdings; and Scott Arrol, GM of Healthcare NZ.

All judges commended the teams on a job well done, especially considering they are all holding down full-time jobs and many have families. Bill Murphy says persistence and passion is key. “I do this for a living, so I understand how tough it can be standing up there as an entrepreneur. You will get knocked back, but you must keep going forward; New Zealand needs this.”

Adrienne von Tunzelmann said she watched a lot of Dragon’s Den on Youtube in preparation for judging, and says the teams did a lot better than the ones on TV. “You showed a real understanding of your niche markets, and understood that what is required to survive in business is good relationships.”

Winning team, Nova5 (Nova to the power of five) presented the first of their unique products for use in the power industry. The labour-saving device (which is currently under review for patent) would provide considerable savings to lines companies.

Debra Cameron of Nova5 says the idea existed before the competition began. “Two people in our team work in the power industry, so they had the technical knowledge already. Once the group came together we realised we had a good mix of different business skills set that really complemented each other.”

She says, much like in real business, the ability to get on with co-workers is essential to survival. “We all collaborated really well and just got on with it. I think this good working relationship gave us an edge and this shone through in our presentation.”

Debra says it is also thanks to supportive families and workplaces that the team was able to succeed. “The PGDip requires a lot of commitment, so we are especially grateful to our families for helping us through this very stressful and busy time.”
Runners-up Untapped Energy presented their idea for selling micro-hydro generators to the local government sector. The turbines, which are being designed and developed by AIE, use the gravitational flow of water from reservoirs to the treatment plants to generate power which can be sold back to the grid. Currently the flow is so powerful that councils use special valves to slow the water down before it reaches the plant.

Third place getters Trade Electrical Supplies planned on importing low-cost PVC conduit piping for the electrical industry and selling under a common New Zealand wholesale brand name.


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