Central North Island students compete for $1000 in prizes at Rotorua Dragons’ Den

Western Heights High School’s Kemu, took 1st place with their innovative Māori Board game

Twenty teams from across the Central North Island have brought their innovative ideas and business pitches to the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) Dragons’ Den at Toi Oho Mai’s Mokoia Campus.

Over eighty-five students from six Central North Island high schools gathered to pitch their innovative business ideas to five Dragons and competed for $1000 in seed funding.

The Dragons’ Den is the second event for YES teams as they put their best business foot forward and pitched their products to 5 industry experts.

The National Head of the Young Enterprise Scheme, Dr Colin Kennedy, was delighted to be able to attend the pitches.

“We have almost 4,000 YES students participating nationally and the teams today were certainly up there with the best of them. I loved the innovation, confidence and cultural celebration in these companies. There were definitely some of the next generation of New Zealand entrepreneurs in that room.”

Each team had 5 minutes to pitch with 2 minutes of Q&A from the Dragons. Teams were judged on finance, marketing, innovation, operations and overall presentation. First, second and third place winners received $500, $300 and $200 respectively.

Winners Announced

Western Heights High School, took out first and second place while John Paul College took third place.

eNZidea took 2nd place with their Kiwi As Kards

YES Central North Island Regional Coordinator, Nikolasa Biasiny-Tule was excited to see the team’s business ideas evolve to the production stage, with many providing prototypes. “It’s a huge step, to take an idea to move towards production, being able to pitch that idea is a fundamental skill and the quality of the pitches has been amazing!”

CG Design, CEO and founder, Chris Parnell, one of the sponsors of the Dragons’ Den explains “we love working with local schools. We now develop mobile apps for schools that connect to our web platform. The platform provides instant notifications, blogs, calendars, forms, eNewsletters, eCommerce and live maps all managed from the school’s website. We’ve just launched this app for Saint Mary’s Catholic Primary School Rotorua. Seeing how amazing these teams are makes me wish I had enrolled in YES when I was younger!”

The Dragons’ Den judges this year were Ana Morrison, Independent Director, Steve Pinder, Area Commercial Manager, Westpac, Rick Keegan from Enterprise Great Lake Taupo, Regan Fraser, Community Manager for Digital Basecamp and Matt Dawson, National Manager of TechCafe.

John Paul College teams, Adams Up, The Bathbomb Factory, The Elements and Wood.it – The Bathbomb Factory took 3rd place.

School participating this year are John Paul College, Western Heights High School, Rotorua Boys High, Tauhara College, Taupo-nui-a-Tia and Tokoroa College.

Past YES alumni include the founder of Give a Little, Nathalie Whitaker, co-founder of Te Whare Hukahuka and Head of Māori Development at The Icehouse, Shay Wright and Kiwibank co-founder and CE, Peter Brock.

For more information on YES, please contact:

This event has been possible with the kind and generous support of Westpac, CG Design, Toi Oho Mai, Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, Rotorua Lakes Council and Digital Basecamp.


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