$11,000 prize pool for Pitch Night

More than $11,000 of support services have been donated by local businesses to use as prizes for the 2016 EMA BoP Pitch Night in October.

Pitch Night gives Bay of Plenty organisations a platform to practice their pitch and receive constructive feedback without the high pressure situation. It is also an opportunity for people to learn from and network with other entrepreneurs.

Pitches can be anything from an idea, to a start-up or even an established business with big plans for growth.

Prizes include customised web design, business training, coaching, legal and HR advice.

Chris Parnell from CG Design, a Rotorua based web design agency, said as soon as he heard about Pitch Night he was keen to get involved.

“Starting up a business or organisation based on an idea is one of the most exciting yet terrifying things you can do.”

“Even talking in front of a group of people can take tremendous courage. We want to encourage and support those who decide to face their fears and live their dream, by offering a half decent prize,” he said.

He is stoked to be donating a custom SetSeed website.

“We will build the winner a gorgeous SetSeed website and provide the first year’s hosting to boot, a total package worth more than $3,000.”

“SetSeed is not just another website management tool, it’s an entire platform that has all the features you need built-in.”

“It has an online shop, blog, email newsletters, live-chat, calendars, galleries, even a booking system. It’s all there in a beautiful and responsive interface,” said Mr Parnell.

CG Design co-owns SetSeed and is growing the platform worldwide as a white label tool for resellers.

“Recently we’ve developed a design mode for agencies to easily create custom websites without the need for code. So, we’re a start-up too that keeps on innovating,” he said.

Other prizes include Firestation coaching and training programmes, HR advice from EMA BoP, legal advice from Mark Copeland Lawyers, financial advice from BDO Rotorua, graphic design from Red Spot and an online marketing course from Dubzz.

Darren McGarvie, co-founder and Chairman of the event organiser Rotorua X, said he was blown away by the level of support from local businesses.

“It is simply incredible the number of businesses that want to get involved and provided prizes. This is our third year running the event and support increases year on year.”

“It shows us that businesses see the value in this event and also are keen to support others in their entrepreneurial journey,” he said.

Applications to pitch are still open. Organisations must apply to pitch and only ten organisations will be able to pitch on the night.

“We still have a few spots open for pitches. We urge anyone who is interested in pitching to get in quick,” Mr McGarvie said.

Successful applicants will have five minutes to impress the panel of business experts, as well as the audience.

“The business community are encouraged to come along and watch the pitches and judges. Audience attendance is free, but spaces are limited so we urge people to RSVP early to avoid disappointment,” Mr McGarvie said.

The judges include 2014 winner and founder of Tarawera Ultra-Marathon Paul Charteris, Soda Inc CEO Dr Claire McGowan, Reuben Woods founder of award winning Woods Design Agency, Angel Investor Alan Dick, and head judge Mayor Steve Chadwick.

The 2016 EMA BoP Pitch night is on Wednesday 19 October form 5.30pm at Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytech.

To apply to pitch or RSVP to be in the audience go to www.rotoruax.nz or email connect@rotoruaX.nz.

About Rotorua X
• Rotorua X is a charitable trust with the purpose to inspire, educate and connect Rotorua businesses and social enterprises. Our mission is to improve the leadership and collaboration of the business community driving sustained economic growth and well-being of the Rotorua District.
• Governed by a board of eight trustees of local business people that are passionate about Rotorua, revitalising our CBD and helping businesses and social enterprises launch and grow.
• To find out more about Rotorua X go to www.rotoruax.nz



  • Website / Setseed website by CG Design
  • Firestation Incubate Programme
  • 90 mins Business Coaching & 90 mins Marketing advice/ Firestation
  • 90 mins Legal advice / Copeland Law Voucher
  • 90 mins Accounting advice / BDO Rotorua Voucher
  • 90 mins R advice / EMA BoP Voucher
  • 8 hours – Boardroom hire / Firestation Boardroom Voucher
  • 2 hours – Graphic Design / Redspot Voucher




  • Firestation Incubate Programme
  • Dubzz Digital Marketing Training Course ($150)
  • 8 hours – Boardroom hire / Firestation Boardroom Voucher

People’s Choice

  • 3 x Firestation Mastery modules
  • 4 hours – Boardroom hire / Firestation Boardroom Voucher

About the judges:

Dr Claire McGowan – CEO, Soda Inc
Claire is actively involved in technology commercialisation and investment. She also has several governance roles and a range of projects and roles in the Maori economy. She is passionate about providing opportunities in industry and network development, education and investment, for entrepreneurs.

From Te Arawa/Ngati Pikiao, she enjoys taking a more active role in projects that contribute to the future creation of wealth for Maori and New Zealand as a whole.

Reuben Woods – Woods Design Agency
Rueben is founder of Woods Design Agency. In ten years he grew his idea into a multi-award winning design agency with 12 staff.

Paul Charteris – Tarawera Ultramarathon & 2014 Rotorua X Pitch Night Winner
Paul is founder and owner of the company behind the world’s premiere long-distance runs the Tarawera Ultramarathon and the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50k as well as the new event this year Waitoma Trail Run. The Tarawera Ultramarathon is supported by the New Zealand Major Events Investment Fund and injected $1.08 million into the local economy last year and showcased the region on 40 television stations across about 85 countries.

Head Judge – Mayor Steve Chadwick
From 1996 to 1999 Steve was a councillor on Rotorua District Council, chairing the Social Services Committee.

Head Judge – Mayor Steve Chadwick
From 1996 to 1999 Steve was a councillor on Rotorua District Council, chairing the Social Services Committee.

In 1999 she ran a successful campaign for Labour and became the Member of Parliament for Rotorua. Steve’s career in Central Government spanned twelve years, including three years as a List MP. During this time, she held the portfolios of Associate Minister of Health, Minister of Conservation and Minister of Women’s Affairs. Her proudest achievements include sponsoring the Smoke free Environments Act and securing funding ($72 million) for the clean-up of Rotorua lakes.

From 2012 to 2013, Steve worked as a business consultant for health, conservation and democratic governance. Many of her projects were under the auspices of the United Nations, in New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific.

In 2013, Steve was again asked to represent her community and successfully stood for mayor of Rotorua. She now spearheads a committed council and community working collaboratively to see the Rotorua District grow and flourish. ‘Tatou tatou – we together’, is their vision.

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