Second-year computer science and business student and Vice-Chancellor's Significant Student Scholarship recipient Olaf Wrieden is heading to Melbourne in July as one of 30 top student entrepreneurs chosen from around the world to attend the Asia-Pacific Student Entrepreneurship Society (ASES) Summit.
Olaf is not new to the world of entrepreneurship and has been actively involved in innovative start-ups through the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES), a programme offered to high school students.
In 2016, Olaf was the co-founder and CEO of Chopped NZ, an award-winning YES company, that turned oak, rosewood and dark walnut timber wastage into hand crafted chopping boards.
The Chopped NZ team won the Dragon’s Den first prize in the regional finals, the YES South Auckland Company of the Year Award, and Olaf was awarded the YES Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the South Auckland region.
Olaf is now a business mentor for students in the YES programme and says he has learnt to manage his time well balancing these responsibilities with his studies. “If you’re busy, make sure it’s with something you either enjoy or are able to learn from. Sometimes the best way to find time is to stray from what's become ‘routine’ and try out something different,” he said.
Olaf says he was thrilled when found out he was chosen to go to the conference. “Attending this summit means collaborating with an international group of young leaders who share similar values and aspirations. I love to connect with international entrepreneurs as it opens my eyes to new levels of innovation and problem-solving,” he explained.
He says he is hoping the conference will result in future business ventures. “I am interested in visiting and speaking to the participating companies and start-ups, remaining confident that somebody is interested in collaborating with me on new business ideas that I plan to actualise in the future,” he added.
When it comes to his studies, Olaf says his degree combines his passions, and that AUT has grown his knowledge in the areas of IT and business. “I feel that my conjoint degree is great at teaching from both perspectives, as having business knowledge is vital in the digital world and the digital world is key to future business. Growing my own company and becoming a global leader in the technology sector is the ultimate dream,” he said.
Aside from his YES work, Olaf has recently wrapped up a Mac app that enables schools and organisations to conduct smarter bring-your-own-device set ups, saving time and automating the process.
The ASES Summit is on the 8-14 of July 2018 in Melbourne.