High school students win EPIC Pitch at business pitch night

A team of high school students took on Rotorua start-ups and established enterprises to win the EPIC Pitch award at the Rotorua X 2016 EMA BoP Pitch Night, taking away $7,000 of business support services.

In front of an audience of more than 100 business owners and professionals, Western Heights High School students Melanie Curry, Maddie Guy and Joe Hutchinson won Pitch Night with their business ETP developed in the Young Enterprise Scheme.

ETP caters to the growing international student market in New Zealand by selling welcome packs of New Zealand products to make international students feel at home.

The high school team was asked to pitch as Regional Winners of the Young Enterprise Scheme.  ETP CEO Melanie Curry said they just wanted to practice their pitch before the National competition in December.

“We felt very privileged to be among the up and coming businesses in Rotorua. It was an insight into what the future holds for Rotorua businesses. We all really enjoyed the presentations and meeting people who can help grow our business.”

“Winning means that we can set up our business properly and run a real life venture. We are thrilled with the prizes and to have all this support for the development of our business.”

“The experience also prepares us for nationals in December, as we have more practice and are more confident.  We also learnt that we need to memorise our lines and it is important to be confident and be yourself. The different slideshows from the other pitches gave us ideas for ours too,” Ms Curry said.

Kevin Addinall Head of Business Management at Western Heights High School said the win has changed the team’s thinking and outlook and encourages them to plan for the longer term.

“Working with ETP as part of Young Enterprise Scheme is a matter of applying a little bit of coaching to a huge amount of talent.  These guys know what they want and are determined to get there.  I look forward to witnessing their future successes.”

The Judges were very impressed with ETP and said that they presented a very clear business plan with a pitch that ticked all the boxes.

The judges include 2014 pitch 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.

Alan Solomon with One Chance Youth Project was runner-up.

The One Chance Youth Project provides a leadership, team building and event planning program where youth can undertake adventure based learning, practical hands-on work experiences, gain NCEA credits and grow self-confidence.

Alan Solomon said he was a little surprised to be runner-up because of the high calibre of pitches.

“Pitching to a large audience was really exciting and good practice. Although it was a professional night, I enjoyed the relaxed and casual atmosphere,” he said.

Crowd favourite winning the People’s Choice Award was Potaua Biasiny-Tule and Matt Browning with BaseCamp Rotorua, a facility to bring together all the digital innovators in Rotorua to make Rotorua the digital capital of Aotearoa.

More information

  • Rotorua X is a charitable trust with the purpose to connect, educate and inspire Rotorua businesses and social enterprises.
  • The EMA Pitch Night was developed to help foster an entrepreneurial community in Rotorua to support businesses to launch and grow
  • The evening was only possible through the principal sponsor Employers and Manufacturing Association Bay of Plenty and all the organisation that donated goods and services for prizes
  • 10 organisations pitched on the night:
    • BaseCamp Rotorua – Potaua Biasiny-Tule & Matt Browning
    • The Nanny Consultant – Alana Portsmouth
    • YouthHub Rotorua – Bobby Howard & Laneshia Wycliff
    • Rocking Horse Therapy – Claire Cornwall
    • Boost Fundraising & Events – Alia Ryan
    • Emergency Travel Pack (ETP) – Melanie Curry, Maddie Guy & Joe Hutchinson
    • Rochfort Paddles – Shane O’Driscoll
    • KiwiBikes – Jeff Anderson
    • One Chance Youth Project – Alan Solomon
    • Firestation’s Innovation House – Rachael McGarvie (excluded from Judging)

Prizes were

Best EPIC Pitch:

  • $2,000 Firestation Incubate Programme
  • $900 Firestation – Business Coaching (90 mns), Marketing (90 mns)
  • $450 Copeland Law Voucher (90 mns)
  • $375 BDO Rotorua Voucher (90 mns)
  • $375 EMA BoP Voucher (90 mns)
  • $300 Firestation Boardroom Voucher (8 hours)
  • $180 Red Spot Graphic Design Voucher (2 hrs)


  • $2,000 Firestation Incubate Programme
  • $180 dubzz Digital Marketing Half Day Course
  • $300 Firestation Boardroom Voucher (8 Hours)

People’s Choice Award:

  • $200 Firestation Boardroom Voucher (4 Hours)
  • $207 2016 Firestation Mastery x 3

To find out more about Rotorua X email connect@rotoruaX.nz or go to rotoruax.nz


Photos: Photography Acknowledgement – Mead Norton Photography

For further media information please contact Rachael McGarvie, Firestation, on 021 271 1517 or rach@thefirestation.nz.

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