Entrepreneur Of The Year New Zealand

Is the secret to winning to never stop believing?

Congratulations to Mohammed Hikmet,

2019 EY Entrepreneur of the Year New Zealand.

Learn more about Mohammed

Here’s to the unstoppables transforming our world.

The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program recognises and celebrates the spirit and contribution of exceptional entrepreneurs. These are the individuals who see things beyond the horizon and help shape the future. By challenging orthodox methods and creating new markets for goods and services, entrepreneurs positively disrupt the way we do business and help enhance our quality of life.

Launched here in 1998 the programme has grown in profile each year and is now recognised as a leading business award in New Zealand, consistent with its global status. 

In 2019 there will be five award categories, with winners determined by an independent judging panel of experienced entrepreneurs. Category winners go on to compete at a national level, with the overall winner announced at our Awards banquet in October. The New Zealand Entrepreneur Of The Year goes on to represent New Zealand at the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ awards in Monte Carlo.

EY encourages women to apply for the Entrepreneur Of The Year awards. The program empowers women entrepreneurs to think bigger, gain access to capital, enhance their business profile, network, learn from their peers and find seasoned advisors. 

Meet the 2019 Category Winners

Find out who has been named the top entrepreneur in New Zealand in their respective categories.

 Learn more

Meet the NZ Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Judges

Bill Day, Founder and Chairman, Seaworks
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year New Zealand 2000

Bill started out as a scuba diving instructor, then began taking underwater commercial jobs. Before long Bill had so much work he bought a dive support vessel and in 1983 launched his shipping company Seaworks. Bill has found a niche market and developed a highly successful maritime service business. He is an innovative and entrepreneurial businessman as well as adventurer.

Seaworks has grown exponentially since it was founded. Work has ranged from acting as a marine consultant for Stephen Spielberg movies to providing support vessels on oil exploration projects. Seaworks landed a multi-million dollar cable-laying contract in Hong Kong for Telstra Saturn. In October 2000, Bill Day won the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award. He won the award because of the success of his company, but what tipped it for the judges is his passion and bubbling enthusiasm for the task of being in business.

Ranjna Patel, Founder and Director, East Tamaki Healthcare and Nirvana Health Group
EY Master Entrepreneur of the Year New Zealand 2016

Ranjna set up the East Tamaki Healthcare Business with her husband Kanti in 1977. She has extensive involvement in charitable and community groups for which she received a QSM in 2009 and ONZM in 2017. Ranjna has also been a JP and Marriage celebrant since 1996. Nirvana Healthcare now has 40 clinics and serves nearly 200,000 registered patients.

Ranjna has won a number of awards, including IBA Businesswoman of the Year 2011, the EEO Walk the Talk Award, the 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Master Award and was Deloittes Visionary Leader 2016. She was also inducted into the Co of Women NZ Hall of Fame and, most recently, in 2017 Ranjna was the winner of the NEXT Woman of the Year - Business and Innovation Category.

Born in Port Augusta South Australia, Anthony graduated as a qualified Mechanical Engineer at the South Australian Institute of Technology (now UniSA), and completed his MBA at the University of Adelaide.  In 2013, Anthony graduated from the three year Owners Presidents Management (OPM) program at Harvard Business School. 

Vaughan Fergusson, Founder and Chief Product Officer, Vend
EY Technology Entrepreneur of the Year New Zealand 2014

Vaughan is the founder of Vend, a New Zealand high-growth tech success story, and founder of OMGTech! a charitable initiative to help kids into careers with future technology. He is a sought after speaker on numerous topics from startups, culture, education and innovation. As Vice-chair of the NZ Hi-Tech Trust Vaughan is involved in the celebration of the NZ hi-tech industry through awards and education.

Every year Vaughan does an impossible challenge, something to take him out of his comfort zone, like running 1,000km, learning to sing to get a paid gig in front of 100 people or cycling around the world in 80 days. Vaughan is a self-described weirdo and has spoken many times on the importance of challenging the status quo, thinking differently and trusting your inner weirdo.

Cecilia Robinson, Co-Founder, My Food Bag
EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year New Zealand 2013

Those who know Cecilia call her 'superwoman'. As founder and creator of not one (but two) of New Zealand's most successful startups My Food Bag and Au Pair Link - Cecilia is one of NZ's most successful young female entrepreneurs.

A serial entrepreneur with sass, Cecilia has won more awards than you can shake a stick at (Supreme Winner 2017 Women of Influence Awards, Next Magazine Businesswoman of the Year 2014, EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013, HER Businesswoman of the Year 2012 to name a few). Devoted mum to Thomas and Leila, Cecilia is passionate about helping women in business and solving the everyday problems of working mums and dads.

Sam Hazledine, Founder and Managing Director, MedRecruit
EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year New Zealand 2012

Sam is the founder and Managing Director of Australasia’s largest medical recruitment company, MedRecruit. He has also founded the wealth management company for doctors MedCapital, and the wellbeing organisation MedWorld, and he co-founded the holistic talent management company, WeAreTenzing.

As a doctor, Sam has created multiple organisations, MedRecruit, MedCapital, and MedWorld, a to assist doctors to live exceptional lives, because he knows that when they are fulfilled they are better doctors.

Sam is passionate about lifting people’s sights so they can see what’s possible, and sharing the lessons he has learned to get anyone into that sweet spot, where success becomes inevitable.

Meet the NZ Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Finalists

Richard Corney and Matt Graylee, Raw Material

A daily cup of coffee. It’s a feature of many people’s lives, but how many people stop and think about the people who bring you that elixir of life? Richard Corney and Matt Graylee have made it their mission to even the playing field for coffee producers.

“Coffee is the second largest traded commodity on Earth, with 25 million people relying on it for their primary source of income. Yet most producers, who are mainly in developing countries, have no control over the price their coffee is sold for,” says Richard. “Raw Material exists to maximise the impact coffee can have in the lives of producers.”

The business operates in competition with a host of multinational companies who trade coffee futures, profiting massively from market speculation.

“By investing directly at the source, we offer stable and predictable prices to farmers, providing them with an incentive to produce high quality coffee,” says Matt. And when quality increases, so can the price that Raw Material pays to its farmers in Colombia, Rwanda, Burundi and Timor Lesté. Raw Material producers receive 250% more than the average annual income of producers selling through the traditional commodity market.

Using a disintermediation model, Raw Material has removed the ‘middle-men’ between producers and end users, giving the best price to growers and the most efficient price to roasters. As well as its NZ operations, the business operates an import office in London, and has distribution agreements in the UAE, Russia, Australia, China and the USA.

The duo believe they have created a sustainable business model: “The coffee industry needs to see change if it is to survive the coming decade. At Raw Material, we are addressing the realities of climate change and unpredictable markets, helping to provide a sustainable future for coffee growers.” 

Yihuai Gao, Alpha Healthcare

Alpha Healthcare started from Professor Yihuai Gao’s conviction that there had to be a better way of extracting the useful medicinal ingredients out of Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM).

“TCM has existed for thousands of years with medicines from plants, flowers, roots, fungi and marine life. But many concoctions are made from mixtures of ingredients with processes that are time consuming, inconvenient and risky, especially if overheated or overcooked,” says Yihuai. “I was determined to find a better way to extract the medicinal bio-actives from ingredients, so people could achieve the health benefits.”

In 1992, Yihuai accepted an invitation from New Zealand Landcare Research to come to New Zealand and carry out research on local fungi. With only a thousand New Zealand dollars, and leaving behind a secure job and family, it wasn’t an easy undertaking. “But I knew I was driven to change old practices and old thinking.”

Yihuai eventually succeeded in patenting a low temperature, low pressure extraction technology that extracts the medicinal bio-actives from fungi without changing their structures, setting up Alpha Healthcare in 1997 with a series of fungi-based health products.

“I had to work to overcome the low levels of knowledge that the New Zealand market had about TCM,” says Yihuai, who continued his research, working closely with leading New Zealand research institutes.

In the years since, Alpha has grown from a small retail shop to a multi-national business with 600 employees across New Zealand and ASEAN. The business continues to invest, with more than $1 million in R&D projects in New Zealand over the last three years, including a particular focus on ginseng, which at a sale price of more than $1,000 a kilo represents a lucrative business proposition for local growers.

Today, Alpha is a proudly Kiwi business with an established footing in China and global expansion plans.

Mohammed Hikmet, HMI Technologies

Mohammed Hikmet is one of those people with determination at his core, seeing through restrictions and challenging situations to find the opportunities that lie beyond. Born in Iraq, Mohammed ran a computer shop with his brother, Ahmed. But, when the Gulf War started, he knew it was time to leave to seek a better future for his family, creating a business in Jordan before ultimately relocating to New Zealand.

“Coming from a war-torn country, I’m now a proud Kiwi, with a diverse and inclusive company that reflects what I see in New Zealand,” says Mohammed.

In 1996, Mohammed moved to New Zealand with his family, completing an electronic engineering diploma at AIT while delivering pizzas at night. By 1998, he’d started a computer repair business, with Ahmed joining him in 1999. The business evolved to manufacture electronic road signs in 2002, establishing ties with Chinese factories. Mohammed eventually spent four years in China founding his own factory to ensure quality in the supply chain.

In 2015, Mohammed realised that the likely emergence of autonomous vehicles would eventually reduce the need for road signs and visual communication with drivers. “If we wanted to stay relevant, I decided we needed to build our knowledge of autonomous vehicles,” says Mohammed.

This led to him forming a consortium, in January 2017, with Christchurch Airport, Christchurch City Council, Canterbury University, Ministry of Transport and NZTA to bring the first autonomous vehicle to Australasia.

After invitations to partner with vehicle manufacturers to create cooperative applications were rejected, Mohammed chose to create his own opportunity. He established an AI team with the goal to build his own autonomous vehicle in New Zealand. After nine months of development, HMI Technologies achieved the first commercial delivery of a New Zealand autonomous vehicle in 2019.

Shaun Holt, HoneyLab

Serial entrepreneur, Shaun Holt, has used his pharmaceutical and medical degrees to create four health-related businesses – two of which have been sold and continue to thrive – including his current business, HoneyLab.

“All my businesses were started based on observations that there was a better way to do things,” says Shaun. Having successfully built and sold two businesses, Shaun has applied the learnings from these ventures to HoneyLab, which he now believes has the potential to become a billion-dollar company.

“With my unique background in pharmacy, medicine, academia, pharmaceuticals and business, I believe that I can spot huge opportunities. For me, the key to execution and business success is to have a superb team in place to commercialise these ideas. This is what we have developed at HoneyLab.”

HoneyLab adds value to natural resources by protecting the IP and undertaking clinical trials to prove effectiveness and safety. For example, marketed well, manuka honey can sell for $50-100 a jar. In contrast, HoneyLab’s cold sore product, Honevo, sells honey for around $2,000/kg as proven medicine. As a result, Honevo has been independently valued at US$250 million.

HoneyLab has a clear vision of developing natural products to the standard of pharmaceuticals. “We are extremely ambitious: our aim is to be a globally successful pharmaceutical company,” says Holt.

With a fraction of the budget, HoneyLab is out-innovating big pharmaceutical companies, streamlining development and accelerating speed to market. Shaun has reinvented how clinical trials are run by training up pharmacists to be medical researchers. This allows trials to be completed in a shorter timeframe and for less than 10% of the standard cost.

HoneyLab’s next product, kanuka oil, is in clinical trials and the business has five more products ready for trial when funds become available.

Ajay Kumar, Global

For 20 years, Ajay Kumar has helped thousands of New Zealanders to save millions of dollars in mortgage interest and insurance costs, get financially established and build real equity and wealth years earlier than they may have done otherwise – if at all.

“I wanted people to know more about the financial instruments that were available to them and have more choices in their lives as a result of this knowledge,” says Ajay.

This drive to help customers understand mortgage types and insurance products, and how they could manage them to their advantage, led Ajay to establish Global in 1999. Through a digital platform, Global’s Interest Saver Plan helps customers to know more about their mortgage and insurance products, and how the choices they make have long-term impacts.

“Customers have been able to save millions in interest payments and gone on to successfully buy their family’s first home. They’ve even built property portfolios to provide for wider family networks and future generations,” says Ajay.

It’s not just saving money for customers that’s important to Ajay. Sustainable financial growth for Global has been vital too. “We’ve not had to raise debt since our inception, even when making investments of more than $800,000 in technology, branch development and regulatory licensing preparation over the last two years.” Ajay attributes this to consistent financial growth performance and high profitability through expense management.

From humble garage-based beginnings, Global now employs 40 people across Airport Oaks, Henderson and Manukau, and is poised for geodemographic expansion over the coming three years. The business has established commercial relationships with a full market suite of lenders and insurers on the best terms with access to products usually reserved for large aggregators or dealer groups. This allows Global to provide more choices and product solutions for customers, earn more revenue on the best terms and reduce business concentration risks.

Ezel Kokcu, Passphere

Aged only 26, Ezel Kokcu already has three successful tech ventures to her name. Her success is remarkable, not only for her age but also for her gender. Female-led tech start-ups are rare.

Ezel’s family emigrated to New Zealand from Turkey when she was four years old. “I learnt the value of hard work from watching my parents overcome obstacles to achieve success,” says Ezel.

Over the course of her three tech ventures, Ezel has directly raised more than $10 million plus a further $1 million in grants. As an 18-year-old co-founder of her mobile app, STQRY, she built the company, which is valued at $60 million, to more than 60 people operating in five international markets. Her second venture, Non-Stop Tix, achieved quick success and was sold to a local promoter soon after its creation.

Ezel has used her experiences from both of these ventures to guide her latest project, Passphere, which is revolutionising the ticketing sector. Passphere’s innovations include using facial recognition, offering data-profiling for event organisers, providing advanced security to protect user data and ticket transactions, and harnessing blockchain technology to prevent malicious scalping and ticket fraud. “I’ve learnt that one of the greatest challenges is creating trust,” she says.

Ezel has repeatedly proven her ability to deliver on a product vision, see it through to development and create significant economic success. With Passphere, her record continues. A merger with iTICKET in March 2019 saw the company reach a total valuation of $8 million.

Ezel is the ‘Entrepreneuer in Residence’ at Te Papa’s Innovation Hub and was recently featured in Forbes. “My long-term vision is for a world that regards New Zealand as a valuable contributor to the technology landscape.” With her track record of start-up success, she’s well on her way to achieving this goal.

Grant Taylor, Rascal + Friends

Sometimes it’s the twists and turns of life that lead you to where you need to be. That’s certainly the case with Grant Taylor, founder of challenger nappy brand Rascal + Friends. From being a goat farmer in regional New Zealand, to running a landscaping team in Melbourne, through to starting a mobile storage business at the tail end of the global financial crisis, diverse experiences have moulded Grant’s experience of motivating staff and being a leader.

“My biggest lesson was to take the emotion out of a business model and hit the biggest part of the market with a point of difference,” says Grant.

With Rascal + Friends, from day one Grant had a vision that the nappy category could be different. He saw a gap in the market to supply a product that was marketed towards parents – the purchasers – rather than babies. Instead of the cartoon-driven imagery of competitors, Rascal + Friends opted for a kiss pattern on an on-trend, unisex mint green background colour.

Given Rascal + Friends’ target audience – millennial parents – Grant also successfully tapped into their love of social media to drive marketing. He also extended this ethos to recruitment, with the majority of employees within the target demographic. “It’s worked very well for us,” says Grant. “You need to realise when someone you employ has a better idea than you and is more in touch with what you are trying to achieve.”

Using an exclusive retail distribution strategy through Foodstuffs in New Zealand, Rascal + Friends has grown to be the number two nappy in the country despite being in less than half the number of outlets as their main competitor. The business has now expanded to Australia, Canada, UK, Ireland, Singapore, Thailand and Mongolia – with more countries to come.

Bron Thomson, Springload

For almost two decades, Bron Thomson has guided Springload through the ebbs and flows of growing a digital agency. With a focus on attracting values-driven talent to drive results for purpose-driven clients, Springload stands apart from its competition.

A strong ethical compass has played a key role in Springload’s success. “Change for good needs to come from everyone. Even starting from the smallest seeds, collaboration, innovation, positivity and purposeful action can build a momentum for tangible beneficial global impact,” says Bron. “We’re playing our part by using our digital superpowers to help create a brighter future that we all want to be a part of.”

Bron’s guiding ethos is that everyone who touches Springload is better off as a result: the team, clients and end users. This inclusive vision attracts both great talent and impact-driven clients, with the team growing rapidly – most recently through a merger with Touchtech in 2018. Since the merger, Springload has doubled in size to 75 staff. At the same time, turnover has grown by 40%, with a further 15-20% growth projected for this year.

Springload’s values are reflected throughout the organisation. The business offsets carbon emissions, sources sustainably, recycles, and supports diversity and inclusion. B Corp assessment is currently underway, with Springload poised to join only a handful of New Zealand organisations to receive certification.

With a mission to “make things that matter, better”, Bron possesses strong ideals while remaining firmly grounded in reality. She has the acumen to take on challenges, yet also pivot when risks outweigh benefits; for example, halting an expansion to Auckland and instead sharpening Springload’s ability to service clients nationwide and beyond from Wellington.

Future value creation will come via a newly formed innovation lab, Springlab, which will explore how emerging technologies can be applied in innovative ways to help organisations navigate, adapt and thrive in an increasingly complex world.

Chloe Van Dyke, Chia Sisters

Chloe Van Dyke started out creating nutritional drinks for her sporty family. Today, her company, Chia Sisters, leads the natural and functional beverage market in New Zealand. Chia Sisters’ portfolio of innovative, nutritious and sustainable beverages are distributed throughout New Zealand and the world, from New Zealand’s first solar-powered juicery.

“It’s important to me that my business supports the local community and is a voice for sustainability,” says Chloe. “Nutrition is also essential. All of our drinks are natural, without added sugar, and have a high level of measurable nutrition.”

Chia Sisters’ growth has not been without its challenges. As a health-driven product, targeting the hospital space made sense. In fact, the National Healthy Food and Beverage Policy specifically states that government organisations should procure local and healthy drinks, and not associate with brands that have an unhealthy image. Yet, contracts are in place with global players inhibiting local manufacturers like Chia Sisters from being available in hospitals.

To overcome these challenges, Chloe has established her own distribution network. While this approach is harder than using an established distributor, it means Chia Sisters owns all of its relationships and can quickly flow new products to market.

Chloe has created a business with the foundations in place for rapid growth. Revenue is expected to at least double over the next 12 months, including expanded distribution in Australia and Singapore, as well as throughout New Zealand.

Sustainability is at the forefront of every decision for Chloe. “We run on solar power, use electric cars and bikes, and package in recycled glass,” she says. The next step in Chia Sisters’ sustainability journey will be carbon offsetting. “I want to demonstrate the positive impact a business can have.”

Brianne West, Ethique

Brianne West’s business, Ethique, was born seven years ago out of a desire to challenge an entire industry sector to implement change. As the world’s first (and still only) full-range beauty brand to be zero-waste, Ethique’s solid bar formulas have prevented more than 3.4 million plastic bottles from being made and disposed in landfills worldwide.

“I started Ethique because the beauty and cosmetics industry needed a shake-up. We have to stop transferring responsibility for saving our environment onto consumers. Businesses need to lead the way and become responsible for the entire lifecycle of their products,” says Brianne.

Brianne has always been ambitious for Ethique. When asked about her goals after just a couple of years in business she replied: “global domination”. From her home kitchen, she set out to create a billion-dollar business and is on track to achieve this by 2024.

But while financial growth is important, it’s never been the driving purpose for Ethique. It’s essential to Brianne that the business is sustainable in every sense of the word, with no compromises on environmental sustainability or animal welfare. As a result, all Ethique products are vegan, animal cruelty-free and palm oil-free. In addition, the business is carbon neutral, a living wage employer, sources Fairtrade where possible and is New Zealand’s highest scoring B Corp.

Financial sustainability has been addressed too. Thanks to angel investors and two crowdfunding campaigns, the business is cash positive and carries no debt, with manufacturing capacity secured for five years of forecast growth. This growth is largely spearheaded by international retail distribution agreements, with stockists predicted to grow from 900 at the start of FY19 to nearly 6,000 by FY20.  

Brianne remains Ethique’s formulator extraordinaire, determining each new recipe for a product range that includes hair care, body wash, baby products, face creams and pet shampoo. With effectiveness top of mind, Ethique makes it easy for its customers to #giveupthebottle.

Stuart Wilson, Modica Group

Entrepreneurship runs deep through Stuart Wilson’s core. From his first job as a graduate at Victoria University Research Limited, where he created New Zealand’s first commercial ISP, NetLink, Stuart saw that entrepreneurship was his way forward. He went on to build one of New Zealand’s first web development firms, Clearview Communications, selling this business during the dot com boom, and going on to form Sonic Mobile, which evolved into Modica Group in 2002.

Stuart describes Modica’s mission as enabling “secure two-way communication with every person and every mobile device on the planet.”

Over the past 15 years under Stuart’s leadership, Modica has gone from early losses to now being a multi-million dollar company, with clients and staff across the globe. It evolved, first from a creative agency, then to a web hosting company and now to a mobile messaging service.

Over the past two years, Stuart has grown the Modica team from 15 to 50, with projections to grow to more than 100 employees within the next two. “I realised that I can’t be the bottleneck for Modica’s growth goals,” says Stuart, leading him to restructure the business, hire new talent and empower the team to make decisions.

Modica is now a $1.5 million per month recurring revenue business – on target to achieve $20 million in annual revenue in FY20. Its team has expanded to Auckland, Welllington, Taupo, Christchurch, Dunedin and Blenheim in New Zealand, with international offices in Sydney, Asia, Latin America, UK and Canada.

Modica prides itself on paying a living wage to employees in all locations and providing the same benefits to employees regardless of location. “The US employees couldn’t get their head around getting four weeks of annual leave!” says Stuart. As Modica scales, it intends to continue to grow local wealth while bringing profits back to New Zealand.

Gavin Yang, Trademonster

It’s no secret that the Chinese market has a near insatiable appetite for quality products from New Zealand. But accessing that market has often been full of pitfalls for brands that aren’t used to doing business in China. In 2014, Gavin Yang established Trademonster as “the gateway to China” – a business that helps New Zealand companies connect with China, streamlining logistics and marketing in a cost-effective platform.

“New Zealand’s environment provides us with a unique competitive advantage in the global market,” says Gavin. “But tapping into the lucrative China market can be difficult without the right support in place.”

With its professional cross-border trade and supply chain services, Trademonster helps New Zealand companies to capitalise on demand for their high quality and safety-conscious products. The business has achieved rapid growth in the cross-border eCommerce sector. Now representing more than 150 New Zealand brands in the China market, Trademonster has achieved nearly 200% annual revenue growth since 2016 and is aiming to reach NZ$100 million in revenue by 2020.

In addition to its own growth, Trademonster’s strategic partnerships are helping to create local employment opportunities. Trademonster has sent more than two million international parcels through New Zealand Post and continues to collaborate closely with the government-owned organisation. Trademonster also works with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, as well as being a key partner for New Zealand Hui Maori Collective and New Zealand Food Basket Project to help open flagship stores in China.

Thanks to Trademonster’s advanced logistics systems, including custom-designed operational software, local brands can ship from Auckland to an end user in China in an average of just four days, setting a high standard for global parcel delivery. “By providing a complete trade and eCommerce service for New Zealand brands, we’re an important pathway for local businesses to enter the global market,” says Gavin.

Harry Zeng, New Zealand Healthcare Ltd

Harry Zeng is a natural optimist who always chooses to frame challenges as opportunities. As his business, New Zealand Healthcare, has forged its way through difficult times, this drive to find the upside has been key to Harry’s success.

“I believe the most effective way of maximising value for the business is by trying to create win-win situations for all stakeholders,” says Harry.

This includes New Zealand Healthcare’s people. Zeng has a focus on creating an open and trusting atmosphere where people are empowered to realise their own potential and achieve great outcomes for customers. As a result, New Zealand Healthcare has a very low staff turnover.

“Nearly all the staff from our earliest years are still actively involved in the business,” says Harry. “Even through difficult times, clear communication with staff meant they felt respected and helped to actively contribute to our turnaround plan.”

New Zealand Healthcare’s mission is “to connect the world” with a strong focus on supply chain services. To achieve this goal, Harry developed an in-house ERP and e-commerce platform to increase efficiency and enhance the customer service experience. This has allowed New Zealand Healthcare to develop from a small retailer, to a decent sized wholesaler, to an exclusive distributor for many top New Zealand and Australian brands.

For two consecutive years, the business has tripled its sales, expanding rapidly in Australia and China as consumers have moved from traditional retail to online shopping. The company now has 100 employees in Auckland, and a further 20 in Australia and 50 in China.

For the year ending March 2019, New Zealand Healthcare and its subsidiaries achieved sales exceeding NZ$100 million. The business is now poised to expand its supply chain model to Australia and Japan.

  • Find out about our 2018 winners

    In 2018, our national winners were:

    Nick Mowbray, Zuru
    2018 New Zealand EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™
    2018 Young Entrepreneur category winner

    Elizabeth Barbalich, Antipodes
    2018 Products category winner

    Grant and Merryn Straker, Straker Translations
    2018 Master category winner

    Aaron McDonald, Centrality Investments, 
    2018 Technology and Emerging Industries category winner

    Chin Aeywickrama, Netlogix
    2018 Services category winner

    The Burdon Family, Meadow Mushrooms
    2018 Family Business Award of Excellence

    Peri Drysdale MBE
    2018 Exceptional Services to Entrepreneurship Award - presented by AS

Murray Holdaway, Vista Group

Where others see challenges, Murray Holdaway sees opportunities. His business, Vista Group, has grown to be the leading supplier of cinema and film industry software worldwide with a market capitalisation exceeding NZ$1 billion as of June 2019.

“One of the key elements of my success is being pragmatic and commercial enough to evaluate which opportunities to attack and what to leave for another day,” says Murray.

Right from the start, Murray set his sights on gaining global market share. A combination of a quality product together with self-belief, ignoring the status quo and rejecting boundaries made this vision a reality. Vista Group now has more than 40% market share of the enterprise cinema market (circuits running more than 20 screens). The company operates in multiple markets, including India, Brazil, Germany, USA, UK, New Zealand and Australia.

A key factor in Vista’s success has been Murray’s extreme customer focus. As result, more than 90 customers have been with Vista for more than a decade – extraordinary in an industry where enterprise software is usually replaced every five years.

Of course, as with any business seeking to change the way things are done, there have been projects that weren’t as successful as hoped. “But the people involved in those projects are never criticised or marginalised,” says Murray. “We’ve created an environment where people are not afraid to come forward with new ideas.”

Murray also actively gives back to the community, founding the Vista Foundation in 2015 to assist young and emerging New Zealand film makers. He volunteers with several community groups and together with his wife, Helen Geary, established the Awhero Nui Trust with an eight-figure founding donation to focus on education and poverty reduction. He is also an active angel investor, currently investing in two start-ups.

  • Key Dates 2019

    Monday 2 September Finalist Workshop and Degustation Dinner
    Tuesday 3 September Finalist Judging Day
    Wednesday 16 October    Category Winners judging day
    Thursday 17 October EOY awards evening

Meet The Past Years Winners

  • Find Out More About Our 2019 Winners

  • Find Out More About Our 2018 Winners

    In 2018 our national winners were:

    Nick Mowbray, Zuru
    2018 EY Entrepreneur of the Year New Zealand
    2018 Young Entrepreneur category winner

    Elizabeth Barbalich, Antipodes
    2018 Products category winner

    Grant and Merryn Straker, Straker Translations
    2018 Master category winner

    Aaron McDonald, Centrality Investments
    2018 Technology and emerging industries category winner 

    Chin Abeywickrama, Netlogix
    2018 Services category winner

    Peri Drysdale MBE
    2018 Exceptional Services to Entrepreneurship Award, presented by ASB 

    The Burdon Family, Meadown Mushrooms
    2018 Family Business Award of Excellence winner

We are delighted that the following organisations are sponsoring the program:
Principal sponsor
ey-logo

This is ASB’s seventh year as the principal sponsor of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards. We’re honoured to be actively involved with these awards which showcase business leaders who have created and sustained some of the most innovative and progressive businesses in New Zealand. Entrepreneurs deserve recognition for being brave and pursing a dream, and we’re proud to support them on their road to progress through this programme.

Nigel Annett , Acting EGM Business Banking

Travel sponsor
ey-logo

Air New Zealand is proud to support the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards for 2018. The airline facilitates more than 17 million customer journeys to, from and within New Zealand each year, connecting Kiwis with the world. It’s therefore fitting that we support these awards which recognise some of New Zealand’s brightest stars in their respective fields.

Wine sponsor
ey-logo

New Zealand is a great producer of innovative entrepreneurs and we owe a debt of gratitude to EY for running the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards programme. It is a one-of-a kind programme that recognises and fosters the talents of this talented group of people. As a proudly NZ family owned company Villa Maria is a strong supporter of the programme and its continued successes.

Sir George Fistonich, Founder & Managing Director, Villa Maria Winery, Winner 2005 Entrepreneur Of The Year

Media sponsor
ey-logo

It’s a great pleasure to be a sponsor and editorial partner for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards. They are the World Cup finals of business awards and provide a wonderful opportunity for the brightest stars of New Zealand business to tell their stories and inspire the next generation.

Fran O'Sullivan, NZME Editorial Director - Business

World Entrepreneur Of The Year, Monte Carlo

EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ event program

This year’s event features a range of unique experiences staged at iconic venues around Monaco, including strategic CEO-only meetings and invitation-only receptions. Keynote speakers and sessions will address the future of industry sectors and the unique challenges of family businesses.

30 Jul 2019 EY Global

How do mold-breakers fuel the engine of growth?

Four lessons we can all learn from winning entrepreneurs.

3 Jun 2019 EY Global