She was the only one of four finalists to produce a tangible product, rather than a concept for a web-based business or mobile phone app.
Ms Halton received a $5000 scholarship from Massey University and a place on the ecentre’s Sprint programme, valued at $15,000. She also took out the People’s Choice Award, which was awarded for the first time this year.
After the Dragon’s Den-style pitches from each finalist, the judges – ecentre chief executive Steve Corbett, Massey mechatronics professor Olaf Diegel, and Candace Kinser, chief executive of NZIT and a member of the College of Business advisory board – all agreed Ms Halton had designed an appealing product based on solid research.
“You’re a credit to the Massey Design School in terms of the thinking you put into that product, identifying the problem, and coming up with some solutions,” judge Steve Corbett told her. “Getting so much feedback from other students on the design was ideal and quite impressive.”
Mr Corbett told the audience that entrepreneurs had to be truly special to stand out from the competition and achieve international success. “The best thing about being at university and going into these types of business competitions is that it’s a free hit. No one dies, but you learn so much by going through the process.”
Ms Halton said her research showed there was demand for her mini hole punch from students, lawyers, real estate agents, and accountants. She hoped to one day launch a design business focused on products that were portable and easy to use, with a design for a laptop desk already at the concept stage.
“Exisiting office products are generally designed for office workers who sit at their desk all day and seldom move from that environment. Portability is definitely not taken into consideration in the design,” she explained. “There is a vast gap in the market for office products that are more accessible and portable for people who need them on the go. The popularity of iPads and laptops is proof of this.”
She said her next step would be to secure the New Zealand and international patents for her hole punch, and then do some market validation through the ecentre’s Sprint programme. She will also need to raise $12,000 to make the injection moulds needed to produce the hole punch.
Ms Halton said that while she was surprised to be named the winner of this year’s GO Innovate!, she thought the simplicity of her product was its main attraction.
“What makes this idea appealing is that it is so simple – it’s just a hole punch that fits inside a ring binder,” she said . “It’s just so simple that you have to wonder why something like this doesn’t already exist in the market.”
Now in its third year, GO Innovate! is run by the Business Student Group and is open to any Massey Albany student with an innovative idea that has real business potential. The competition aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, while helping students to build cross-college relationships and connections with the local business community.
“Our main goal is to bridge gaps and create leaders,” says Maia Martin, the Business Student Group’s project manager for the event. “We really want the competition to generate cross-discipline collaboration and get students out into the business world. It’s a way of getting real-life experience, and seeing where your degree can lead to.”
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