Online real estate tool wins NBR Audacious Entrepreneurs award

A first-time landlord and Otago Computer Sciences graduate’s innovative online real estate system has won her top prize at the NBR Audacious Student Entrepreneurs Challenge.

The challenge, run in partnership with the Dunedin City Council, the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic, requires budding entrepreneurs to take their audacious ideas and put them into concrete business plans.

They also have to make 55-second “elevator pitches” to tout their products to the judging panel as if they’d just met them in the elevator.

This year a record 29 business plans were entered and ten finalists were chosen.

Heidi McQuillan won the award for “Home in”, a real estate search function she developed after being surprised at how few options there were for advertising her property online.

She was even more surprised at how limited the search criteria were for prospective tenants.

“It seems that they’ve just taken real estate classifieds from print and just published them on the web,” she said.

Her win earned her a prize packet worth $20,000, which she said she would put towards patenting the system and developing a prototype.

She said it was the culmination of months of hard work and she gave thanks to the people in the real estate industry who’d helped her along the way.

The runner up prize went to Geoff Howes and Henry Genefaas for their “light lures”, which are fishing lures that can glow for up to 12 hours after being exposed to only 30 seconds of sunlight thanks to being coated with a special material.

They first developed the technology two years ago while they were in sixth form at Rotorua Boys High.

Kane Edwards won the prize for best use of technology for a virtual pool table that allows players to compete against each other from across the world.

Speaking at the awards, NBR Publisher Barry Colman stressed to the contestants the importance of making a good first impression when pitching an idea to someone.

He said that 7% of the impression comes from what you say, 38% from how you say it and 55% from your body language.

What you wear is also important for helping convince people, which is why “you never see a badly-dressed conman”.

Winners –

NBR Winner of the NBR Audacious Student Entrepreneurs Challenge- Heidi McQuillan

Dunedin City Council Economic Development Unit Runner Up- Geoff Howes and Henry Genefaas

Enabling Award for Best Use of Technology- Kane Edwards

Otago Financial Management AMP Award for Best Small Business Plan- Liz Conway and Tom Mephan

Otago Polytechnic Award for Best Use of Design- Michael Koh

University of Otago School of Business Award for Entrepreneurship- Heidi McQuillan

Dunedin Print Award for most Socially Responsible Business- Lisa Richardson

For full in-depth coverage read the NBR print edition this Friday September 25

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