6 Sep 2019
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Entrepreneur Of The Year New Zealand™

By Darren White

EY Oceania Private Services, Tax Partner

Cultivates long-term growth for people and their businesses. Provides innovative tax advice. Family at the heart of it all.

6 Sep 2019

Meet our New Zealand category winners for 2019, a stellar group of unstoppables on the path to transforming our world. 

  • Young: Brianne West

    Brianne West


    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. 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. 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. 

  • Master: Murray Holdaway

    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. 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. 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. 

  • Product: Grant Taylor

    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. From day one, Grant had a vision for Rascal + Friends 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. 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.

  • Technology and Emerging Industries: Mohammed Hikmet

    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. 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. 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.

  • Services: Gavin Yang

    Gavin Yang


    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. 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.

We are delighted that the following organisations are sponsoring the program:
Principal sponsor
Travel sponsor
Wine sponsor

EY Contacts


Darren White
Program Director
Tel: +27 489 9102
Rebecca Seymour-East
Program Manager
Tel: +27 687 8977


The New Zealand Entrepreneur Of The Year™ awards program, launched in 2001, is conducted in five regions culminating in the national awards. The program honours entrepreneurs whose ingenuity and perseverance have created and sustained successful, growing business ventures.  Entrepreneur Of The Year’s primary objective is to identify, acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding contribution entrepreneurs make to the Australian business community and economy.