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Hawkes Bay start-up success stories

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Kate de Lautour

Have you got what it takes to create the next Trade Me? If the answer is “yes”, then you really should be at Start-up Weekend at EIT, June 28th-30th.

The weekend event is all about fostering an entrepreneurial culture in our region and converting technological wizardry into viable businesses.

 Digital entrepreneur Hal Josephson says in the past we’ve seen a “fear of failing” culture in New Zealand – an atmosphere that is almost non-existent in well-known entrepreneurial capitals, like Silicon Valley, for example.

 “The whole concept of “failing” in the States isn’t discussed much – entrepreneurs talk more about “pivoting” rather than “failing”. So if a business concept doesn’t work, then you pivot and try something else and in the end, that’s how numerous successful companies have been born.”

 Fortunately, Hawke’s Bay has some great examples of entrepreneurs, who haven’t been scared to give their business ideas a crack.

Justsold.co.nz is the brainchild of talented locals Sam Murdoch and Rick Toner, together with Will Rossiter, a programmer from Wellington. The idea came about from an observation by Murdoch when researching property sales information. He found that much of the data came at an unnecessary cost and should be available free of charge.

The initial concept has since grown and developed and after much deliberation, research and hurdles, the ultimate result is justsold.co.nz. The website offers real estate agents a unique and easy way to be found more quickly on first page Google searches. And for the real estate consumer, it’s a way of selecting an agent, based on their track record - profile, sales results and personality.

 As with many start-ups, funding was, and still is, the biggest issue facing growth, according to company director Rick Toner.

“Seed funding was provided at a local level which has allowed us to focus on further development of the platform, but we are really keen to talk to anyone, interested in helping us to look at funding options and working with us on the next stage of the project.”

 The company has had mentoring and investment from local company Chouxmaani Investments Ltd and, without that early and ongoing assistance, Toner says keeping the dream alive would have been much more difficult.

 We have had support from local agents too at Harcourts, The Professionals, Bayleys, Tremains and Wise Real Estate, which we are very grateful for.”

 Toner says investors would be the magic ingredient to growth.

 “We would ideally like to be talking to Hawke’s Bay-based investors about our plans for global growth.”

 The website is performing, particularly as a tool for real estate agents.

 “On average agents using JustSold are being found up to five times on first page Google search results.”

 Bayleys Havelock North agent Anne Wilson is using the site and says it gives agents a chance to share their activity, in a neutral environment.

 “It’s quick to use and advertises each property and agent in an equal format.

And it’s built well, as it gets me high up the list when a search is done.”


  • Do you want to get together with the best tech brains in Hawke’s Bay?


Join us at EIT on the 28th to the 30th June for Hawke’s Bay’s inaugural Startup Weekend. We’re bringing together web and software designers and developers and anyone else wanting a real world entrepreneurial experience.  Everyone is welcome.  Coaches and mentors are sourced from the top businesses and gurus in NZ’s startup community.

Experience the best networking, team building, knowledge gathering, supreme mentoring and all out fun weekend, since Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook!

Get out of your rut!  Register now for early bird rates – only $75 for the entire weekend, all meals included. Students only $49.

Watch the startup video http://vimeo.com/32424882 to learn more.


Longwhitecloud – Hawkes Bay’s new skincare company

By Kate de Lautour

Havelock North entrepreneur Debra Thompson from Longwhitecloud Botanicals is realizing one of her dreams – to manufacture luxury and natural beauty products into a niche market.

“I’m a real believer in having your own business, and turning ideas into businesses,” Thompson says.

The Longwhitecloud Botanical’s range features an intense face moisturiser – made from New Zealand oils, including organic kiwifruit seed oil, kawakawa extract and seaweed extract – with no chemicals, artificial ingredients or sulphates.

The kelp component is sourced from Central Hawke’s Bay beaches, Porangahau and Pourere, and the elderflower is also grown in Central Hawke’s Bay. The kiwifruit seeds are predominately from Te Puke orchards with a small portion procured locally.

The business has been at least four years in the making, with the design of the product a lengthy process to get the perfect silky formulation, ideal for all skin types, but particularly suitable for dry or sensitive skin.

A perfumer from France’s renowned Grasse region has been engaged to produce the delicate scent but apart from this, the product is entirely formulated in New Zealand.

With a background in sales and marketing in Sydney and the Gold Coast, Thompson has made use of her designer’s eye, creating the brief for the crisp, clean packaging herself.

The product has sparked interest from around the world, particularly in Australia and California, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau.

By chance, Thomson recently dropped a sample into a high end store in Sydney’s Double Bay.

“I was pretty excited to get a call from the manager saying she had tried the moisturiser when she was skiing and was really keen to stock the product for her clients – she absolutely loved it.”

Locally the product is stocked in Elaine’s on Tennyson, in Napier, where it’s finding a following with those looking for a, locally made, anti-aging face cream and with cruise ship passengers, wanting a pure New Zealand luxury product to take home.

Thompson says the demand for luxury products from New Zealand is on the rise.

She’s now part of a “luxury network” of companies, which will allow easier introduction into luxury lodges and spa’s.

The beauty market is competitive and it’s “a busy space”, but Thompson says manufacturing into a niche market is working for her.

“We’re making use of partnership marketing and linking up with other luxury brands – that’s the direction we are taking at this point.”