Magic Beans co-founders Sarah Grant (l) and Anneliese Hough

Seven Hawke’s Bay entrepreneurs are vying for access to Innovate Hawke’s Bay’s accelerator programme that will turbocharge their business. 

To secure their finalist spot, the entrepreneurs had to pitch their business idea to 25 Innovate Hawke’s Bay mentors, in late September.  

Innovate’s proven playbook, a staple in the Manawatu business scene, has come to Hawke’s Bay for the first time, explains David Craig, CEO of The Factory (and owner of the Innovate programme). 

“Our main goal is to provide a structured, localised approach using a system and theories that have been heavily validated over the past 10 years in the Manawatu. Innovate has helped establish a pathway for entrepreneurs to work through their business models, connect into their local and our national mentor scene and opens the door to investment, something every founder understands is crucial to their game.

“Our understanding of regional New Zealand is second-to-none so when Luke Irving from Fingermark knocked on our door to see if Innovate could support founders and entrepreneurs in Hawke’s Bay, we were excited.” 

Irving was invited to judge at Innovate Manawatu last year, and says he was blown away by the quality of the finalists and the programme. 

“When I spoke with other local Hawke’s Bay companies about the programme, their support as well as Fingermark’s has helped get Innovate Hawke’s Bay off the ground,” says Irving.

In a recent LinkedIn post Irving noted: “We need more support and ideas like Innovate to empower and foster the next generation of entrepreneurs in the provinces. The best thing about it is we are bringing together a tight network of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors within the central region like never before.

“This brings collaboration visibility and a greater support network which will ensure future success for all involved. Regions need to work together not in silos,” he concluded.

Innovate Hawke’s Bay is run through The Factory by Havelock North local, Hal Josephson. 

Finalists are:

  • Gina Ulrich – nutritious baby food 
  • Sarah Grant & Anneliese Hough – Magic Beans food sharing
  • Oliver McCarthy – rural internet delivery
  • James Crow – CashCab business lending 
  • Tim Groves – Rusty Deer steel fabrication
  • Krissie Cichon – wax applicator brush 
  • Sarah Glatz – mobile art teaching studio 

Josephson says: “Our plan was to help five finalists accelerate their business this year, but the talent was so tight that the mentors selected seven. Our Innovate team has their hands full in prepping these people and ideas for our final pitch night on 24 November.”

The ‘Top 7’ will be guided through a structured process that not only helps them validate and build their business but also connects them into a mentor pool of talent that spans New Zealand and the globe. 

This all cumulates into the pitch night, where each finalist has the opportunity to present their validated idea to local Hawke’s Bay business leaders, angel investors and others that support entrepreneurship in the region.

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