Foundation team of young entrepreneurs comes up trumps

Asia New Zealand Foundation teams at Young Enterprise Trust’s Entrepreneurs in Action are quickly developing a reputation; for winning (or placing second).
The Foundation team posing for a group photo in front of Asia New Zealand Foundation signage

The team was made up of high school students from around the country

Following up on placing second in one of the two challenges for the past two year's events and winning both challenges in 2018 (and earning themselves a trip to Brazil), at this year's Entrepreneurs in Action the Foundation team took out first place for one challenge and second for the other. For their first place win, each member went home with a $3000 scholarship from Massey University.

Entrepreneurs in Action brings budding entrepreneurs from around the country together in Wellington to compete in two business challenges over a weekend.

The teams are paired with businesses and organisations and are comprised of six secondary school students, who meet for the first time on day one of the event.

members of the Foundation team sitting at a table in the Foundation's office in Wellington

The team was based out of the Foundation office in Wellington

On day one, the teams were set a challenge to develop a sustainable business idea that supports New Zealanders to reconnect with nature, while "enabling a climate resilient, low emission and circular future".

The students had eight hours to firstly get to know each other and then develop the business idea before presenting it to the judges.

They impressed the judges with their idea:  EcoCamp - a marketplace for people to find a place to stay, camping gear to hire and an experience to learn and reconnect with the environment and local culture. The concept won them first place and the $3000 scholarship.

Hannah Duder standing up in an auditorium of people with her arms raised as she celebrates her team's win

Hannah celebrating the win

The second challenge had the team testing their idea on the founder of a gaming studio in the U.S and gamers from around the world, including E-Blacks gamer Janice Tieu.

The free-to-play, online game they came up with could be described as a last-person-standing game of tag. The judges were impressed by the research put into developing the idea and the business and marketing plans that the students developed.

Leadership Network members Hannah Duder, Celeste Peh and Anna Zam mentored the Foundation’s team, assisted by the Foundation's Linh Le.

Hannah Duder says the team’s ability to work together, come up with an idea and present it really impressed her.

“It is amazing what can be achieved in such a short amount of time. Writing a business plan, creating a pitch deck and presenting within eight hours was stressful but so exciting.”

It was a sentiment shared by fellow network member Celeste Peh, who also mentored last year's Foundation team.

“It's amazing to see such a high caliber of students that are also so willing to learn, not only from the mentors but from each other,” she says.

“In just one weekend, the team managed to not only win some top prizes but form solid camaraderie with each other.”

Hannah Duder, Linh Le and Celeste Peh checking their phones

Hannah Duder (far left): “It is amazing what can be achieved in such a short amount of time." (with the Foundation's Linh Le and network member Celeste Peh) 

In the spirit of ako (two-way student-mentor learning), Leadership Network member Anna Zam says she got out as much as she put into the experience, which she describes as ‘inspiring’.

It was also a great way to get to know a couple of other network members and do some mahi to support the Leadership Network, she says.

"Being able to give back to the network through "paying it forward" was something that enticed me to join as a mentor for EIA 2022. 

“I'm really glad to have met fellow leadership network members Hannah and Celeste as well and believe we modelled working successfully together towards a singular goal for the students."

Shout outs from the students to their mentors:

  • Tom Little, Taradale High School, Napier: "I really liked the way we came together as a team. Thanks for the support from our awesome mentors. Let's all stay connected!"
  • Maria Kisona Lapana, Aotea College, Wellington: "Thank you to our mentors; we wouldn't have achieved so high in both challenges without your guidance and input!"
  • Georgia Anderson, Rolleston College, Christchurch: "Thanks everyone for such an epic weekend. It was such a great opportunity, and I loved working with you all."
  • Kylie Gale, Taieri College, Dunedin: "It's been such an awesome experience and I know I'll be taking a lot away from it."
  • Eric Erani, Pakuranga College, Auckland: "A common saying in the business world is, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. This couldn’t be more true. Our fantastic host company Asia New Zealand Foundation provided us with a team of awesome mentors and resources to help us succeed. Read an Eric wrote for his school website
  • Tina Hille-Taylor, Fraser High School, Hamilton: " I hope you know we are all incredibly grateful for all the support you guys showed us. We will never forget you and I hope we all keep working hard and keep in touch."
  • Eddie Hogan (alumni mentor).