Wednesday, 31 January 2018 11:05

Get ready, Pitchers!

Written by VCTeam
PoweringONPitch's judging panel, from left, Debra Hall, Erin Wansborough and Tenby Powell. PoweringONPitch's judging panel, from left, Debra Hall, Erin Wansborough and Tenby Powell. Photos: Supplied

Have you got a great product or service for small businesses? Is it scalable?

Do you just need a bit of help and support to make it spread across New Zealand?

Want the opportunity to get input from three of New Zealand’s best business brains?

If so, you should apply to take part in PoweringONPitch, on March 7 at the Bay of Plenty/ Waikato Business Expo at ASB Baypark, Tauranga.

The PoweringONPitch is for digital service providers focused on serving small to medium enterprises (SME) in New Zealand who want to do a live pitch, on-stage, and capture the interest and input from three top experts in small business and business growth.

If you are committed to moving the needle in terms of efficiency, automation, new markets, new products, or ease of use of new technologies, if you support small business owners and want to help them thrive and grow, our judges want to hear from you!

Only six will be selected to pitch and will have the opportunity to benefit from the insights and guidance of experts with deep knowledge of the SME market, innovation and commercialisation. Alongside, be in to win $2500 worth of domestic air travel and have the opportunity to apply for the LIFT Incubation programme, delivered by Venture Centre in the Bay of Plenty and Soda Inc in the Waikato.

We have an incredible line-up of judges – you want these guys on your team! Their combined knowledge, network and experience is immeasurable. For everyone involved in this brand new event it would be a life, and business changing benefit to work with them. So who are they?

First up is Debra Hall, an independent director, mentor and adviser. She’s the Simon Cowell of business pitch feedback - brutally honest, but if you win her over, you’ll have a fan for life. She’s definitely someone you want in your corner!

An engineer by training, marketer by profession, and entrepreneur with a successful exit from her own business, Deb is now an active angel investor, mentor and independent director. Her directorships mainly focus on the young company space. In 2017, Debra received the AANZ Arch Angel Award for services to the start-up community.

Joining Deb on the judging panel is Erin Wansborough, CEO of SODA Inc.

Erin has a passion for entrepreneurship and brings a depth of business experience and knowledge of commercialisation. Most recently Erin has been working as Vice President, Business Development at Adherium, a New Zealand digital health business solving the problem of patients not using medications correctly.

She is a Trustee of NZ HighTech Business Awards and so sees the best of the best, and her experience in business innovation includes having worked for Callaghan Innovation and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. She completed both the Entrepreneurship Development Program and the Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Sloan School of Management, holds a Masters of Science and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration.

The final judge on the panel is Tenby Powell of Hunter Powell Investment Partners.

Tenby has held senior management positions in Fletcher Challenge and Skellerup Group, prior to forming Hunter Powell Investment Partners Ltd (HPIP) in 1999. Tenby is the Chairman of Envoy 360 FZ LLC, (a New Zealand owned maritime security and risk management company); Chairman of Waikato Link Ltd (the commercialization and technology transfer company of the University of Waikato), Director of Antarctica New Zealand (a crown entity responsible for developing, managing and executing New Zealand Government activities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean), Director & Trustee for the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (Westpac Rescue Helicopter).

No stranger to startups, in 2009, Tenby and Sharon Hunter co-chaired the NZ Entrepreneurial Summit, designed to generate ideas to jump-step the economy during the GFC and has led high growth leveraged businesses since 1997. He has extensive M&A, company cultural development, marketing, communications and brand experience coupled with close working relationships with senior executives in the Banking and Finance Industry.

Suffice to say, that’s a lot of expertise sitting right in front of you when you step up to pitch. The feedback could change your future, as well as that of New Zealand’s small business owners.

If you want to make the most of these insanely talented experts, click here for more information and to apply. Applications close February 18.

- Venture Centre works to connect people on enterprising journeys - with each other and the mindset, skillset, toolsets, networks and resources they need - to build an ecosystem that delivers real-world, learn-by-doing events, activities, projects and experiences, and more... This would not be possible without the support of Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District councils.

If you would like to add your support or get involved with this work to help build entrepreneurially capable, digitally and commercially empowered communities who contribute and benefit from the resulting prosperity and wellbeing, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Last modified on Thursday, 01 February 2018 18:32


PoweringON is a Business Owner focused initiative delivered by Venture Centre with the support of PriorityOne and Tauranga City Council. This programme contributes to Venture Centre commitment to be part of growing a prosperous region where everyone can access, participate in and benefit from digital technologies and entrepreneurship.


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