Entrepreneurs’ Challenge 2011 winners announced along with $2m funding boost

26 October 2011

Four companies have shared $1m in funding by winning the 2011 University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs’ Challenge – an Auckland-based financial services company, a Christchurch-based pet food manufacturer, a tourism operator with vehicles throughout Australasia, and an Auckland photographic design company.

Challenge Investment Committee chairman Dr Brian Hannan has tonight announced the winners of the 2011 Challenge – set up with funding from British-based expat financier Charles Bidwill three years ago and facilitated by the Business School – at an awards function in the Owen G Glenn building in Auckland.

KlickEx Corporation, enlight photo, JUCY Group and K9 Natural will share $1m of funding on offer for the year. The quartet, who beat nearly 100 entrants and two other finalists, personify the spirit of the Challenge, which has been bolstered from $3m to $5m by further donations from Mr Bidwill and an anonymous donor, Dr Hannan says.

“Charles Bidwill is thoroughly impressed with the programme and the links being forged by the Business School with entrepreneurs and the early international success of our six previous winners,” he says.

“So much so that, along with an anonymous donor, they have increased our fund to $5m - an increase of $2m to help New Zealand’s most enterprising businesses.

“Both donors believe that entrepreneurship in New Zealand is a truly worthwhile investment in the country’s future, and this extra money will enable us to expand our funding and assist as many promising Kiwi entrepreneurs as we can.”

Business School Dean Professor Greg Whittred says entrants this year have represented industries as diverse as IT development, tourism, food, literature, health and science.

“We are absolutely delighted that one of our winners tonight is from Christchurch – in fact, the company is the first winner from outside Auckland,” he says.

The winners are:

JUCY Group - $500,000 in funding
One of Australasia’s leading and fastest growing independent tourism brands, the Auckland-based company takes Richard Branson’s Virgin brand as its inspiration, and is led by brothers Tim and Dan Alpe, who hope their company name will become a similarly recognised household moniker in Australasia. The brothers operate more than 1700 late-model vehicles throughout New Zealand, and 200 campers in Australia.

enlight photo - $200,000 in funding
An Auckland-based award-winning design company dedicated to the creation of practical inventive products for photographers, enlight has a proven international distribution pipeline, strong online strategies, international media relationships and a solid platform that its exciting new product ioshutter will build upon.

K9 Natural - $200,000 in funding
Chief executive Geoff Bowers spent weeks in the wild studying the feeding habits of the grey wolf before developing his findings into commercial dog food. Described as raw cow and sheep in a bag, pets just can't get enough of his product and the Christchurch-based company believes it produces the world’s best pet food primarily replicated from that available in the natural environment for our most loyal companions.

KlickEx - $100,000 in funding
This Auckland-based financial services company brings banking systems in different countries together and has seen rapid growth. The company seeks to be the "operator of choice" for customers around the world and is book-building huge numbers of "emerging alternative" financial services clients. In five years’ time, the company hopes to acquire a global banking licence, cover 40 different currencies, expand the business to new dimensions and take KlickEx public.