Recently I had the pleasure of attending the finals of the AUT X-Challenge Awards. The AUT X-Challenge is a competition run by AUT that encourages students from all departments to develop an idea for a business, project or cause. Thursday 23 November was the culmination of many weeks of hard work and the 12 finalists had to pitch their idea in a dragon’s den style session to a panel of judges.
I was blown away by the calibre of the projects and the diversity of ideas. The cross discipline departments produced amazing solutions from outdoor planning apps to holistic yoga therapy programs to even colour coded plant emotional readers! It really was 21st century business at its finest!
Finding Solutions for pain points
The diversity emerging in the next generation of business leaders was very encouraging with women represented in all projects. They were significantly represented in the digital category. Two of the three finalists were female groups with great app solutions. One, an Outdoor Planner app, received a BizDojo hot desk, KPMG financial advice, a legal package, a year Xero subscription and also $20,000 of seed funding as runner up on the night.
Outdoor Planner is an app that easily allows you to plan an outdoor trip whilst ensuring that you take all safety precautions defined under the Outdoor Code. Bringing together weather, maps, health and safety it was a remarkable solution that solves a major pain point for outdoor adventurers and adventure tourism companies, particularly considering the changeable weather conditions in New Zealand.
The Power of Small Business
At Xero we are champions of entrepreneurship and small business as we believe they have the power to transform our world. Small businesses are incredibly important to our economy and critical in moving the needle forward in terms of innovation. A recent study from Statistics New Zealand has revealed that almost 20 percent of all small business owners in New Zealand are planning to retire in the next 10 to 12 years so it is invigorating to see a younger generation empowered to start a business and entering the marketplace.
Due to the impressive scope and innovation of all of the X-Challenge ideas Xero has decided to sponsor all 12 finalists from the 250 applicants by providing them all with Xero subscriptions for the 2018 calendar year as they embark on their entrepreneurial journey.
As a New Zealand startup ourselves we recognise the value in backing emerging entrepreneurs and we are excited to support the next generation both through sponsorship and the release of our Lifelong Learning Platform. The Xero Lifelong Learning Platform is an online learning platform built for students and the upskilling and re-skilling of the workforce, which will be delivered by educational institutions. The platform will allow students to grow their financial literacy to help them re-skill and upskill. AUT’s business school will be introducing Xero into their accounting and business courses from 2018.
We wish all the finalists every success in their endeavours and we have no doubts that we will be seeing great things from them soon!