Budding student entrepreneurs prepare for AUT’s “Dragon’s Den”

21 Nov, 2017
x challenge
The X Challenge finals are this Thursday.

X-Challenge, a new university-wide competition that gives every AUT student an opportunity to develop an idea for a business, cause or project will culminate with a Dragons Den style pitch night on Thursday 23 November.

The 12 finalists, all current AUT students are gearing up to present their idea to a panel of judges including AUT Alumnus Vaughan Rowsell (Founder and Director at Vend & OMG Tech!), Dale Clareburt (Co-Founder and CEO at Weirdly Ltd), Josh Comrie (CEO and Co-Founder at Ambit, Director at Flying Kiwi Angels), Mike Hutcheson (Serial Entrepreneur) and Lisa King (Founder at Eat My Lunch).

With a total prize pool of $40,000 in cash to be won, the pressure will be on to impress the judges at the Dragons Den-style pitch night on Thursday 23 November at The Quay Project.
The winners of each category (Product, Digital, Service, Social Enterprise) will each win $5,000, the overall runner up will receive $5,000 and the overall winner will get the top prize of $15,000 to develop their entrepreneurial idea.

Alongside the cash prizes, desks in a co-working space, expert IP advice, mentorship and business support will also be offered.

Open to all current AUT Students, this is the second and final stream of the X-Challenge competition. The first stage; the Idea invited students to submit a business idea, while this second stage; the Accelerator, includes submission of a more detailed business plan including a customer profile and potentially a prototype.

Praveer Srivastava, Entrepreneurship Programme Manager says: “As ‘the university for the changing world’, innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise are at the heart of AUT. X Challenge gives every student the opportunity to discover and grow their entrepreneurial spirit.

At the finals we’ll really see our students unleash their entrepreneurial potential presenting ideas that could be in the market in the not too distant future. And what this competition is really about is creating students who will be job makers instead job takers.”

The X-Challenge 2017 finalists:

Product category

Proteanz - Tyler Lewis and Jonathan Leftley, School of Sport and Recreation
A New Zealand produced redefinition of a sports drink

Better Butter - Nina Lopes
‘People are good. Our food system is not. Better Butter is a healthier, more sustainable and ethical alternative to conventional dairy butter.’

Illu-mate - Colin Anderson, Co:lab Creative Technologies
Illu-mate addresses emotional disconnect in environmental awareness by novel use of colour theory and sensor arrays, illuminating plants based on their health needs. Projecting health information onto the plant as colour and light creates a complete visual feedback loop, making the data and the plant one and the same.

Service category

Yoga Psychotherapy - Catia Batalha and Pedro Silva, School of Health Sciences
To address the grave issue of mental health in Aotearoa New Zealand, we propose a new holistic approach, combining Western sciences/psychologies with Eastern traditions/philosophies. This potentiates multi-dimensional recovery (e.g. physical, emotional, mental, social, ecological and spiritual).

Unbounded Environmental Consultancy - Rachel Cooper and Jamie Engelbrecht, Te Ara Poutama
Unbounded Environmental Consultancy makes positive change across the globe. We collaborate with Kiwi farmers to meet the strict environmental regulations while the profits help Nepalese farmers adapt to climate change.

Parcel Box - Mark Price and Kiran Sahota, AUT Business School
Parcelbox offers commercially-independent electronic parcel lockers to improve the efficiency and experience of parcel deliveries for consumers.

Digital category

Outdoor Planner - Nairi Nasrallah and Mikey Stewart, School of Art and Design
The Outdoor Planner is a simple and interactive application that enables you to easily plan your outdoor trip while ensuring you take all safety precautions defined under the Outdoor Code. Outdoor planner prompts users to follow all the necessary steps to safely plan a trip such as checking the weather, route difficulty and telling someone where you are going.

Mobile Finger Reader - Jarek Beksa, Digital Games PHD
Mobile Finger Reader changes the way or reading documents by blind and visually impaired. It's easy to use and runs on any touchscreen device. It provides spatial information about the document, which is only available on braille prints or expensive dedicated braille tablets.

Chat Grow - Michelle Extross and Amritpal Kaur, School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences
ChatGrow designs unique chatbots with the aid of artificial intelligence to help small scale restaurants grow. It personalizes and automates customer service to another level, and expands a restaurant’s reach to a greater scale through a messaging platform.

Social Enterprise category

Beta Energy - Holly Sutich and Bradley Hagan, AUT Business School
BETA Energy has developed a healthier alternative energy drink, using a revolutionary, fair trade, organic ingredient to provide sustainable energy, with double the antioxidants of green tea, as well as many other health benefits. We aim to revolutionize the way New Zealanders consume energy drinks and the way they think about their health, while working towards the environmental mission of clean energy leading to clean waterways in New Zealand.

Twenty Eight - Dayna Jackson, Aston Wainhouse, Mohini Manu and Shevonee Muthiah, School of Art and Design
“Twenty Eight offers women the opportunity to buy comfort items as part of a monthly subscription. Proceeds go towards supplying feminine sanitary items to underprivileged women in New Zealand.”

Little Big Construction - Michael Lough and Daniel Lough, AUT Business School
Tiny home construction, business that provides cheaper homes.

For further information visit X-Challenge on the AUT website.

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