Calling all entrepreneurs: Now’s the time to shine

An exciting new programme will give Whanganui's best innovators a chance to get their great ideas on the market.

Whanganui’s next big idea is about to get $10,000 worth of momentum to get off the ground with support from the Innovate programme.

Economic development agency Whanganui & Partners is facilitating the Dragons’ Den-style programme to support local entrepreneurs and has announced Innovate Whanganui’s winner will receive $10k start-up capital towards making their vision a reality.

Whanganui & Partners Strategic Lead of Business Tim Easton says Innovate will offer much more than financial support for one winner.

“We’re starting the programme with pre-workshops where contenders will learn about Innovate, what makes a good business idea and how to pitch their idea to potential investors.”

After these pre-workshops, Easton says Innovate entries will open and 20 key mentors will rank the applicants based on an assessment matrix. The Top 20 candidates will then be invited to attend the next round workshop where they’ll prepare for their in-person pitches

These sessions will result in a Top 5 being chosen, each of whom will get access to a 10-week incubator programme. They will have tailored support and access to mentors to help them develop their business idea and get $3000 in seed funding tagged to specific milestones determined by their mentors.

“The Top 5 will also get three months’ co-working space to ensure they’re in an environment that supports entrepreneurship,” Easton says. The first two weeks of the incubator programme will have concurrent programmes for entrants who didn’t get through the first round.

“We know that we have a wealth of good ideas out there,” Easton says, “and we want to make sure we encourage entrepreneurs to keep working on their big ideas. Set-backs are part of the entrepreneurial process and they shouldn’t mean the end of the road.”

After this period of preparation and refinement, the Top 5 will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas at the Innovate Awards night, hosted by Whanganui & Partners in September.

“An Innovate Whanganui 2021 winner will be chosen, who’ll receive $10,000 in start-up cash to support their idea,” Easton says. “The cash prize will be hugely helpful and what they learn along the way is invaluable.”

Whanganui & Partners is delivering Innovate Whanganui in partnership with The Factory Palmerston North.

Whanganui & Partners Chief Executive Hannah Middleton saw what it was like for entrepreneurs to go through the Innovate process, then pitch their ideas to seasoned judges and an audience of hundreds, when she attended The Factory’s Innovate event last year.

“We have seen first-hand how The Factory brings Innovate to life by providing mentors, tools and resources to founders with great ideas and helps them scale with tried-and-true processes. We know entrepreneurs in Whanganui have amazing ideas and we’re helping them grow by bringing Innovate here,” says Hannah.

The energy, focus and pressure mounts as the programme progresses and the candidates build their skills, Middleton says. “I can’t wait to see what Whanganui entrepreneurs present us with and I look forward to seeing them progress through this programme and beyond.”

Dave Craig, Chief Executive at The Factory, says he is thrilled with the partnership and the opportunities it presents.

“The Factory has world class processes, years of experience and a playbook that will translate theory into positive action to benefit the entrepreneurs in local communities,” Craig says.

“We are pleased to share our knowledge to enable local eco-systems to execute Innovate in a way that makes sense to them. We provide the tools, then Whanganui & Partners will deliver Innovate in their own way.”

People interested in attending the workshops can register at Important Innovate dates: Pre-workshops will run on Wednesday, April 21. There will be two workshops, the first from 2.00-3.30pm and the second 5.30-7.00pm. Pitch sessions will take place over the week beginning June 14.

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