Imagine entering a business contest with over 260 other companies and scooping the top prize of $100,000. Your company would have to be very driven and innovative to beat such tough competition. Well, that’s exactly what happened to New Zealand Video Conferencing Technology Company, FaceMe, who won the Virgin Business Challenge. The company sells a video conferencing system that is compatible with any device and allows anyone, anywhere to video conference with quality calls. If the money wasn’t a sufficient incentive to take part, then the offer oftime with Sir Richard Branson, a BNZ business education scholarship, mentoring from BNZ and Virgin executives and flights around the world courtesy of Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand would probably be enough to make all the effort worthwhile.
The aim of the award was to search for New Zealand’s innovative and forward-thinking small company. The winning company needed to demonstrate “passion and drive, creativity and innovation, and the desire and potential to go global.” More than 260 New Zealand businesses entered the competition; 20 per cent of these coming from the internet and technology industry. The manufacturing, transport, and food and beverage industries also had a strong presence. The top 10 finalists had to pitch ‘Dragons’ Den’ style to an illustrious panel consisting of Anthony Healy, Director BNZ Partners, Keith Roberts, Head of strategy and corporate development Virgin, Bill Buckley, President BSL Enterprises, Sarah Kennedy, CEO RD1, and Derek Handley, Founder of the Hyperfactory.
Challenge judge, Anthony Healy said that FaceMe had demonstrated all these essential qualities and stood out from the rest of the entrants: “FaceMe has what it takes to go global. It’s safe to say the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in New Zealand, with so many kiwi companies ready to take the next big step.”
Now the prize money would surely be welcomed by any business, but the offer of one-to-one mentoring with Sir Richard Branson must surely be almost priceless. He’s the perfect example of a self-made businesses man whose been there and done it surely: an entrepreneur of the highest order, who started a business from nothing and built it into a global brand. Not only that but he’s probably going to own the RBS Bank as well soon. Imagine being able to pick his brains and learn at the hands of one of the world’s leading businessmen. Now obviously not all businesses can be quite so lucky. Mentoring schemes can’t promise access to the likes of Richard Branson and Lord Sugar, but what they can do is open up new avenues and offer opportunities to companies and budding entrepreneurs.
A businesscan offer the kind of expert advice and guidance you need. They can be a sort of business guru, and act as a sounding board. Most mentors will have had entrepreneurial experience, and will have probably faced the same sorts of challenges that all new businesses are likely to face. They’ll be able to tell you what it’s like to work in the business day-to-day, and share tips and advice about business strategies that have worked for them or gone badly wrong. They’ll also be able to provide constructive advice and encouragement when tough decisions need to be made. They can even give you a bit of a reality check and a kick in the pants where situations demand a bit of brutal honesty. Most importantly of all they can open up a broad network of business contacts, that will repay tenfold over the life of the business. A can play a crucial role in driving a new business towards success.