In front of a live audience and four fearsome “dragons” 12 finalists had just five minutes each to pitch their idea and be in the running to take home a share of a $40,000 cash prize pool, together with an additional $15,000 of services from competition sponsors Lowndes Jordan and Xero.
This year’s “dragons”: Chenoa Farnsworth, a venture accelerator, angel investment group manager, venture fund partner and start-up advisor; James Robinson, co-founder of My Food Bag; Kirsten Taylor, founder and Managing Director of SleepDrops International; and leading medical innovator Dr Lance O’Sullivan, were impressed by the pitch for Clever Little Monthly.
Bonded over the same shock discovery that most tampons are full of nasty chemicals, Shara and Mia decided to find a better way to produce tampons which are safer for the health of women. Clever Little Monthly tampons are made from hemp and are 100% organic, natural and sustainable. Produced in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way, they are naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and deodorising.
The female hygiene sector is estimated to be worth USD$39billion by 2026, with room for new players who meet the market need for better and more sustainable products. Ethical consumer purchasing is rising as more women begin to choose organic products over standard alternatives.
With Mia and Shara due to graduate from AUT this month, the pair now have more time to progress Clever Little Monthly. They recently returned from a trip to Europe where they visited potential contract manufacturers for their product and they hope to launch Clever Little Monthly towards the end of 2019.
“We want to become a global feminine hygiene brand that women can trust. Initially we will start here in New Zealand and then expand overseas. Winning X Challenge definitely helps us move further forward towards launching Clever Little Monthly. The prize money will go towards further research and development,” Mia said.
And her advice for any students thinking of taking part in X Challenge next year?
“Just do it. The time to experiment and try new things is when you’re at university. You have numerous resources available and time. We’ve also met a lot of people along the way who are helping us with Clever Little Monthly and that’s happened just by putting ourselves out there,” Mia added.
AUT’s X Challenge was born in 2017 – a new University-wide competition that gives every current student an opportunity to develop an idea for a business, cause or project and participate in a fun entrepreneurial experience.
The competition has an overall total prize pool of more than $60,000 of cash and prizes and culminated in a Dragon’s Den-style pitch for 12 finalists in front of a live audience and four experienced judges.
Martin Bell, Director of Entrepreneurship & Innovation said that the 2018 X Challenge was a resounding success, with more than 200 entries received from nearly 250 students across the competition.
“The sheer number of entries is a fantastic result and showcases the innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise that's at the heart of AUT. Our finalists worked exceptionally hard over the last 8 weeks of ‘The Accelerator’ programme - attending workshops and clinics, getting advice from mentors and finessing their business plans and pitches. Mia and Shara are deserving winners and I’m excited to see what happens next for them,” Martin said.
For more information visit the X Challenge pages on the AUT website.
In July of this year, AUT launched stage 1 of the 2018 X Challenge. Known as ‘The Idea’, this first stage of the competition asked students to submit a one-page idea through an online form to win one of 40 prizes of $250. In August, Stage 2 ‘The Accelerator’ was launched. For ‘The Accelerator’, students had to submit a more detailed business plan and participate in a number of workshops to help further develop and fine-tune their entries. From these Stage 2 entries, 12 Finalists were selected to take part in the grand finale in November.
Some traditional tampons are only made up from synthetic fibres. Whilst they give the appearance of cotton, they can contain dangerous toxins which can be harmful to human health. Tampons containing rayon have also been found to have a higher risk to users of Toxic Shock Syndrome, which could be caused by the high-absorbency level of the fibre. Even some labelled as organic cotton can still contain nasties, such as pesticides. Along with the ethical impact of cotton production, Mia and Shara knew there must be a better alternative.
They wanted to create a product that is safer for women, a product that was sustainable, eco-friendly, more effective and natural. They share the belief that all woman should know the truth about what they are putting in their bodies and have easy access to an alternative that is better for you.