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A starter of support in NZ

One of the keys to success for budding entrepreneurs is to find a genuine problem. And then create a solution.

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Chris Bacon using his product with an athlete. Source: Komodo Monitr

That’s what three University students did with New Zealand start-up Komodo Monitr, a software product which provides a platform for athlete monitoring.

“Thirty to 40 per cent of injuries sustained in sports are preventable” Chris Bacon, Komodo Monitr’s CEO and founder says. “These injuries cost billions of dollars as well as costing athletes potential success.”

"Learning you can trust yourself… is a massive asset” 

“The support-staff for athletes collect vast amounts of data but they rely on archaic formats to store and analyse it,” Bacon says. “Our unique processes allow us to automatically extract highly valuable insights from athlete health and performance data.”

Komodo Monitr is one of the ventures developed with help from entré, a not-for-profit University of Canterbury (UC) incubator group aimed at students in the Canterbury region.

“We are an all-student-run institution,” entré  2019 Chief Operations Officer Chelsea Aitken says. “This year we have been focussed on a theme of ‘innovation starts here’. This saw us attracting students from a very beginner level of entrepreneurship to those who have existing ventures.”

Entré runs competitions, networking events and workshops where students can learn about innovation and entrepreneurship.

“For me, it’s about developing confidence in your skills and abilities” says Tori McNoe, Chief Operations Officer at entré - and Bachelor of Criminal Justice and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology  student in her other life.

“Often in entré you can find yourself outside of your comfort zone holding an event for 300 people or a competition with hundreds of people involved,” she says. “Learning you can trust yourself to do that is a massive asset that I will definitely utilise in future endeavours of my life.”

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Source: Komodo Monitr

Tapping in

Entré offers the students a chance to tap into the support offered by Christchurch’s start-up ecosystem.

Bacon – currently pursuing a doctorate in Sport Science at UC - says entré helped Komodo Monitr refine its business strategy from “an initial idea into a fully functioning company”.

“We now have a clear vision and point of entry to the market,” he says.

Komodo Monitr was named the winner of the Supreme Prize at entré’s 85K Start-Up Challenge in 2018. Entrants in the challenge develop a business idea for a product or a service (for profit or for charity under the guidance and mentoring of entré’s sponsors including UC, ANZ, PwC and Cavell Leitch).

To win such an amazing award after months of hard work is a great milestone for our team,” Bacon says. “It’s an indication we are beginning to head in the right direction and a massive confidence boost.” 

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Source: Komodo Monitr

“Success should always be enjoyed in the moment. However we recognise our journey is just beginning.”

Firsthand

Lucy Crichton was prompted to enter the entré competition after seeing the benefits firsthand last year when she was entré Events Manager.

Crichton is part of Elderfriends, a social enterprise created to address the problem of chronic loneliness within New Zealand’s elderly population. It provides a platform to connect students with the elderly, allowing them to form relationships based on common interests.

“Our service intends to be as user friendly as possible,” she says, “as we are aware that while students are keen to volunteer, they often don’t actually get around to it as it’s ‘just too much admin’.”

Elderfriends was the People’s Choice award winner in the 85K Challenge.

“As clichéd as it sounds I have to say that through $85K I have come to realise that with a bit of hard work, anything is possible – especially here in New Zealand,” Crichton says. “There is so much support for ambitious, eager individuals who are contemplating start-ups. Making it a reality is not as hard as people think.”

Entré is now in its 14th year. Board chair Keiran Horne says the students who participate have no shortage of ideas – but often lack the tools to execute.

“It is truly inspiring to see so much raw talent and enthusiasm harnessed in such a positive way,” she says. “It’s encouraging to think these are tomorrow’s leaders.”

Skills

All involved agree entré is not just for students planning for full-time careers as entrepreneurs. Elderfriends’ Molly Bell is studying both Law and Commerce.

“The skills I have learnt will definitely help me going forward,” she says. “I have a new insight into how businesses are both started and run. And it has definitely opened my eyes to the different career paths that are available.”

Bell’s colleague Lucy Crichton agrees: “The competition has taught me a lot of skills as well as lessons that will be most beneficial in any workplace”.

“In particular lessons involving team work, time management and public speaking,” she says. “As I’m studying law it has also helped steer me towards Intellectual property law as a possible area to specialise in.”

“This was not something I had really considered before 85K but seeing what it involves and how interesting it can be has definitely impacted my plans after graduating.”

Edze Bierema, who will be  entré CEO in 2019  says the group is for anyone interested in innovation - whatever their eventual career path.

“Adaptability, communications skills and creativeness are key characteristics employers look for and entré offers the perfect opportunity for that,” she says.

Tony Field is a bluenotes contributor

 

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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