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Business experts prepare to reveal Pick of Northland crop

Final submissions are in for Northland Inc’s accelerator competition, The Pick:19, and budding entrepreneurs can do no more than wait as the judges start their deliberations.

The five winners will be announced at The Orchard, Northland Inc’s Business and Events Hub, on Friday, 31 May.

A total of 87 people registered for the free programme with its 12 once-weekly workshops, which has been run in association with The Orchard, Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and the New Zealand Regional Business Partner Network and Ecentre. Each competitor submitted seven pieces of background work in order to qualify.

Jesse Henderson, Early Stage Business Advisor at Northland Inc, described the depth of talent on display as outstanding. “As ever, we’ve been hugely impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit and the range of skills of Northlanders,” she said.

“It underlines why this region is widely recognised for its innovation and the quality of its business ideas; we’re already very excited about The Pick 2020.”

The judging will be managed through the online awards management platform, Akudos – past winners of The Pick:17 Business Ideas competition and The Pick:18 Investment Ready competition – to ensure that the process is kept “as streamlined and simple as possible”.

The judges will concentrate on six key areas: the strength of the business model (does the strategy make sense – do the figures stack up?); the strength and validity of the idea; the positive impact on Northland (its community, environment and economy); use of Northland’s natural resources; the global potential (is there capacity for the business to scale?); and its innovation.

For this year’s competitors, the presence and participation of Akudos will prove a true source of inspiration. Founded by Richard Brookes and Wairere Iti in 2016, Akudos has gone from strength to strength since winning The Pick; the company focuses particularly on the overseas markets and now has staff in Canada and the Middle East.

“One of the main values of winning The Pick has been the relationship it has allowed us to develop with Northland Inc,” explained Brookes. “It has definitely enabled us to go down the path we’re now on, in terms of reaching a bigger market.

“It’s also a great story for us, as past winners of the Pick, that we’re supplying the software for the judging process this year.”

Each of the five winners will receive a Northland Chamber of Commerce membership and business mentor, through the Business Mentor Association, which is sponsored in turn by the Northland Chamber of Commerce; dinner, bed and breakfast for two at The Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell, co-sponsored by The Duke of Marlborough Hotel and Northland Inc; and a media release and business profile, including photographs.

“The real prize is undoubtedly the chance to participate in The Pick and the value of the package it offers,” added Jesse Henderson.

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