EY reveals Entrepreneur of the Year finalists

The first 17 will be whittled down to five eventually.

The first round ballot of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists has been released, with some familiar names for NBR readers.

Awards director Jon Hooper describes this year’s 17 finalists as “inspiring entrepreneurs” from all walks of life and from a diverse range of industries. “Their hard work and unwavering self-belief have contributed to a significant growth engine in our economy and their achievements deserve to be celebrated.”

Chen Palmer managing partner Mai Chen says being named a finalist is recognition for her law firm’s pioneering and innovative ideas. Her company was one of New Zealand’s first boutique law firms and Australasia’s first public law specialist firm.

In 2017, the firm continues its public and employment law specialities but has also diversified its practice into law, policy and business issues concerning super-diversity – such as the creation of NZ Asian Leaders, Superdiverse Women and the Superdiversity Centre for Law, Policy and Business.

“Our expansion into Auckland has meant an increasing number of super-diverse clients with regulatory, government, litigation and employment issues. Following on from my creation of a website which took fiduciary services online until I sold it to Perpetual Guardian, I will continue to be a legal entrepreneur.

“We may be in our 23rd year but we are not doing what we have always done and we are innovating and adapting. The age of technological transformation brings opportunities to service clients differently and I am grasping those opportunities full-throttle.”

“The ‘profit’ from my entrepreneurial activity is not just what I take home in my pay packet, but what I have contributed to New Zealand Inc,” she says.

Fellow finalist Jamie Beaton, director of Crimson Consulting, says his fledgeling company is focused on continuing to scale what he calls “the world's most powerful personalised learning platform” for its growing number of students.

“Our vision is to empower any student, anywhere in the world to have the tools and resources to find the best possible career and university options for them. Our mission is to help them get there. All in all, I'm very excited by our progress towards this and the success of our students.

“Recognition from the judging panel about our progress, speed and impact is a fantastic encouragement and we are working hard to make other Kiwis proud!” he says.

2017 has also been full of success for RedShield co-founder Andy Prow after his company secured a $6 million Series A funding at the end of 2016.

“[It] allowed us to massively upskill and upscale both the team and the capacity of the system as well as build new defensive capabilities for our customers. We set ourselves fairly lofty growth goals to triple revenue over the year. We've hit our first quarters' targets but, of course, have a long way to go yet.”

He says the company has 16 major deals “in the pipeline” in the US and UK among some of the world’s largest organisations, although he is strategically silent on exactly which those are.

“Although it's early days we're encouraged that these global organisations have been scouring the earth for effective things to use in their arsenal against the growing threat of cyber-attack and RedShield is genuinely seen as a unique and innovative approach to what is fast becoming one of their biggest problems.”

He says the nomination for EY’s award is “huge” because the award is “globally recognised, and carries huge weight.”

“Being a Kiwi company starting out on the global growth path, we need every leg-up and bonus credit we can.

“We're confident that once we're engaged with our customers we're excellent at showing value and winning deals and will go toe-to-toe with the world's largest competition but it's often getting to the table at all with global customers that is the challenge,” he says.

Red Bull Powder managing director Peter Shapiro says his company has increased by more than 30% in revenue this year and a greater share of the explosives market. 

“We have expanded and enhanced our manufacturing capability over the last year to enable us to make export quality commercial explosives at higher volumes. This is an important development in the evolution of our business and it is an exciting time for us.

“This award nomination cements our reputation as a forward-thinking, credible operation, so it means a lot for everyone in our team. It may be my entrepreneurship that is recognised here but it is the whole team and a new generation of leaders who will be inspired to keep innovating,” he says.

The complete list of finalists are:

• Jamie Beaton, Crimson Education
• Jamie Bennett and Patrick Broadbent, Snap Rentals
• Mai Chen, Chen Palmer
• Peter Cross, Dairyworks
• Thomas Dietz, WOOP
• Peter Harris, CBL Corporation
• Mark Hurley, Little Giant
• Will Lomax, Onguard Group
• Daniel Painter, Navigate Travel
• Hamish Pinkham, Rhythm and Vines Festival
• Andy Prow, RedShield Security
• Ihaka Rongonui, Turbo Staff
• Peter Shapiro, RedBull Powder Company
• Carey Smith, Ray White New Zealand
• Stewart Taylor, Tomoana Warehousing
• Peter Wei, Latitude Technologies

They will face the judging panel next month when five category winners will be chosen. These five will then compete for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year title and will represent New Zealand at EY’s World Entrepreneur Of The Year event in Monaco in June 2018.

Anne Norman CNZM, of retail business Pascoes Group, is the chairwoman of this year’s group of judges.

The judging panel is:

• Anne Norman CNZM, James Pascoe Group
• Tim Alpe, Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010, founder of Jucy Group
• Carmel Fisher, Entrepreneur Of The Year services category winner 2016
• Dan Radcliffe. Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014, founder of International Volunteer HQ

Red Bull Powder managing director Peter Shapiro says his company has increased by more than 30% in revenue this year and a greater share of the explosives market. 

“We have expanded and enhanced our manufacturing capability over the last year to enable us to make export quality commercial explosives at higher volumes. This is an important development in the evolution of our business and it is an exciting time for us.

“This award nomination cements our reputation as a forward-thinking, credible operation, so it means a lot for everyone in our team. It may be my entrepreneurship that is recognised here but it is the whole team and a new generation of leaders who will be inspired to keep innovating,” he says.

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