“Don’t think of pitching.  Think of offering.  The offer is better than a pitch.” Sonia Simone

In front of a live audience, businesses and social organisations have eight minutes to pitch to a panel of community and business leaders.

Our 2018 Pitch Night is on Wednesday 31 October.



Pitch Night is about sharing an amazing idea for a start-up (business or non-profit enterprise) or established business that has big plans to achieve serious growth.

Why is the ability to pitch well so important? As any successful business or community leader knows, it’s critical to be able to motivate and inspire people – whether that be employees, clients or investors. This means being able to present a compelling vision of the future and engage your audience’s emotions. You are pitching every day!

Each team will have just eight minutes to woo our business experts and five minutes Q&A to show off your brilliant idea or organisation.


Organisations must apply to pitch and only SIX organisations will be accepted to pitch on the night. The first six organisations that are approved and pay the entry fee will fill the spots.

Entry costs are:

  • Incubate Participants/Graduates  – $49 + GST
  • Standard Registration  – $99 + GST


There is no set format or rules for pitching. The objective is to practice and improve your pitch in a relaxed and fun environment. Your only limit is your imagination.

Pitches are scored over six criteria:

  • EPIC Factor
  • Solution / Unique Selling Proposition
  • Business Model
  • Marketability / Market Validation
  • Strength and relevance of team expertise
  • Overall clarity and next steps.


We want to make sure all pitches on the night are well prepared and make it difficult for the Judges to choose the winners of the $10,000 prize pool of business support services.

Times and dates of Pitch Clinics to be confirmed.


There is $10,000 of business support services to be shared between the Winner, Runner-up and People’s Choice.

Prizes include a range of business support services including business training, coworking, business coaching, marketing advice and more.


Audience attendance is free (koha appreciated on the night) and we encourage the business community to come along and help pick the crowd favourite. Spaces are limited, RSVP early to avoid disappointment.


“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well enough.” Albert Einstein

The 2018 Pitch Night is on Wednesday 31st October from 5.30pm.

Places to pitch are limited so apply early and complete the application form below to secure your spot.

If your application is accepted the cost to pitch is:

  • Incubate Participants/Graduates  – $49 + GST
  • Standard Registration  – $99 + GST

An invoice will be emailed when your application is accepted.  Full payment must be received to confirm your place on Pitch Night. All participants must attend a Rotorua X Pitch Clinic.

See Terms & Conditions here

2018 Pitch Night Terms & Conditions

Here are the terms and conditions (“Terms”) for the Rotorua X 2018 Pitch Night (“Event”).

They’re here to protect you as an applicant, other applicants and the organisers behind the event. By submitting an Entry, you agree to be bound by these Terms.

  1. Applications to pitch must be received via the Rotorua X website no later than 5:00pm on Friday 12 October 2018.
  2. The Event is limited to up six (6) fully paid acceptable pitches.
  3. The Promoters of this Event are Rotorua X Charitable Trust.
  4. Acceptance of the pitch applications is the sole decision of the Promoters. The Promoters decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  5. Acceptance of applications will be provided by email by the Promoters and an invoice will be provided for the Pitch Fee. The pitch fee must be paid in full within seven (7) days, otherwise, pitch acceptance is withdrawn.
  6. Rotorua X has partnered with Firestation to provide workshops for all Pitch Night participants. Accepted applicants must attend one Firestation Pitch Clinic to be eligible to pitch at the Event.
  7. No refunds of the Pitch fee will be granted under any circumstances.
  8. By considering Entries from Applicants to the Event, neither the Promoters nor any of their related companies are implying endorsement of any Applicant, Applicant’s business, or Applicant’s products or services.
  9. Each Applicant agrees to allow its name, company name, entry, photo, image and logo to be used and for its participation in the Event to be recorded without payment, if required by the Promoters, for use by the Promoters for advertising and publicity purposes from time to time including, but not limited to, in relation to the Event and any future Events.
  10. All expenses of an Applicant’s participation in the Event, unless specifically stated in these Terms, are the sole responsibility of the Applicant.
  11. The Promoters reserve the right to cancel, amend or withdraw the Event or these Terms at any time and will endeavour to give advance notice of any such change or withdrawal.
  12. Under no circumstances will the Promoters, or their related companies, be liable for any losses, damages, costs, or expenses arising from or in any way connected with the Event (including any discontinuance of the Event, or in accepting any part of the prize package) or relating to the Applicant’s business, product or services, except for liability to the extent that cannot be excluded by law. Nothing in these Terms excludes or restricts any Promoters responsibility for death or personal injury caused by that Promoter’s negligence.
  13. Applicants agree to make further information available in accordance with the Promoters’ requests and reasonable due diligence requirements.

The 2018 Pitch Night is on Wednesday 31st October from 5.30pm.

RSVP to secure you place in the audience and come listen to the entrepreneurs in our region.

To pay for your 2018 Pitch Night registration you have the following payment options:

  • Pay invoice with online banking
  • Use the online payment form below (processing fee applies)

Payment Form

Enter the payment details and submit

Payment for: Pitch Night Registration Fee


Quantity (you MUST click on this box and enter 1)

Options (please make sure you select the right payment amount above for your registration type).

A 3.5% processing fee will be added before payment

Enter your details below

Total: $

Spambot blocker question

9 - 5 =

  I agree to the Terms and Conditions

Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...

FB photo size

Check out all the photos here

Disabled Diving NZ’s Hielke Oppers inspired the 100 plus crowd and the judges to win both Best Social Enterprise Pitch and the People’s Choice Award at Rotorua X’s Start-up Pitch night.  Julia Charity’s Look After Me won Best Commercial Pitch.  Both took a share of the $8,000 prize pool of business support services, mentoring and training.

Mr Oppers impressive pitch tugged at the heart strings of the audience with a mission to empower people with disabilities through scuba diving and with a vision to have Disabled Diving NZ instructors in every diving centre in New Zealand by 2020.

His passionate pitch centred on the importance of helping both mentally and physically disabled people focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities.  He took the audience through the benefits and his five year plan to achieve his vision.

This was the second Start-up Pitch night, with the inaugural Pitch night in 2014 won by Paul Charteris’s NZ Trail Runs, owner of the highly successful Tarawera Ultramarathon.  The Pitch Night was developed to provide an opportunity for local commercial and not-for-profit organisations to practice their pitch and receive constructive feedback.

Mr Oppers took part in the event as he thought it would gain exposure for Disabled Diving NZ and also to gauge what the public’s response would be to the organisation’s purpose and goals. He also saw it as an opportunity to receive feedback from established business leaders and learn where he can improve.

“It was encouraging to see people’s positive response from Pitch Night. This makes me even more determined to grow Disabled Diving NZ into a successful nationwide programme,” he said.

“Having an opportunity to listen to the other participant’s pitches and share what we do is great. It helps people to be innovative, take a risk and receive feedback from the judges and audience. Walking away with the awards, obviously was the cherry on the cake.”

“I encourage people to like Disabled Diving NZ on Facebook and help spread the word about our organisation so we can help more people.”

Julia Charity from NZ’s home stay network Look After Me was the judge’s Commerical Pitch winner.  Driving her decision to pitch was the launch of a new tourism product and seeking $100,000 investment funds to leverage off the Tourism Growth Partnership programme.

“I was stunned and humbled to win. It has re-energised me to keep striving to deliver value to New Zealand.”

“The prize package is considerable and the mentoring will really push new boundaries for my business. I also came away with the names of some enthusiastic new investors, so it was worth entering, just for that,” she said.

“The best things about Pitch Night were seeing the pride in my investors and hosts faces when I won and the opportunity to stand in front of judges of such credibility and calibre. They represented investors from Tauranga, Taupo, Waikato and Auckland.  I could never have achieved that without this competition,” Ms Charity said.


Best Commercial Pitch:

  • $2,000 RX Incubate Programme
  • $675 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)
  • $200 Woods Design Brand Audit

Best Social Enterprise Pitch:

  • $2,000 RX Incubate Programme
  • $295 biz ‘Starting A New Business Package’
  • $180 dubzz Digital Marketing Half Day Course
  • $150 Red Spot Graphic Design Voucher (90 mns)
  • $300 Firestation Boardroom Voucher (8 Hours)
  • $40 Unfair Fight by Sam Hazledine

People’s Choice Award:

  • Priceless beany.biz ‘Mentoring Session’ (60 mns)
  • $210 River Rats Vouchers
  • $200 Firestation Boardroom Voucher (4 Hours)
  • $180 2016 Mastery x 4 – People’s Choice
  • $100 Flight Centre Travel Voucher
  • $40 Design to Grow: How Coca-Cola Learned to Combine Scale and Agility

Our MC

Darren McGarvie – Co-founder and Chief Coach, FirestationRotorua X Chair Darren McGarvie
Rotorua X’s Chairman and founder of the Firestation, the Bay of Plenty’s only business growth centre is the MC for the evening.

Darren’s passion for entrepreneurship, business education and successful business leadership is the driving force behind Rotorua X.

Our Judges

10395226Dr 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.

Sue de Bievre – CEO, beany.biz sue
Sue is a qualified Chartered Accountant in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Not only has she worked in well-regarded professional accountancy practices over many years, but she has also owned small businesses of her own. Sue is passionate about helping New Zealand businesses and loves working within the entrepreneurial community.

Shaun Edlin – Head of Company Pipeline, Snowball Effectshaun edlin
Shaun completed an MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Canterbury and went on to study IP law at Victoria University.

He has spent most of his professional life working on the commercialisation of technology, first at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand, and subsequently at renowned biofuels company, LanzaTech. Shaun is passionate about innovation andtechnology, especially in the biomedicine, biotech, ICT and green tech sectors.

Bill Murphy – Executive Director, Enterprise Angelbill murphy
Originally from the US, Bill is a qualified Accountant CPA (USA), CA (NZ) with 30 years commercial business experience gained in roles as a business owner, General Manager, Chief Financial Officer, accountant, business advisor and investor in businesses in the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Bill founded Enterprise Angels in 2008 and has grown four chapters of angel investors (Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo and Hamilton) which has resulted in $11.9 million being invested in 37 deals and has over 150 investor members.

Head Judge – Mayor Steve Chadwicksteve
From 1996 to 1999 Steve was a councillor on Rotorua District Council.  In 1999 she became the Member of Parliament for Rotorua.

Steve’s career in Central Government spanned twelve years. 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.

Tarawera Ultramarathon’s Paul Charteris won inaugural start-up pitch night

In front of an audience of around 100, NZ Trail Run’s business pitch took out scary aliens, arm wrestlers and mag cleaners to win over $2,500 of business prizes.

Paul took part in the event as he thought it was a wonderful opportunity to be in front of the Rotorua business community.

“Rotorua X events have a lot of energy and vibrancy.  I took part in the pitch night to be a part of this and also to help spread the word about my events and what I am trying to achieve.”

Paul was surprised he won and thinks his passion won over the judges.  But there is no break for the winner.  Paul’s focus for the next few months is to attract the best runners in the world to participate in the event, engage international media and to attract sponsors for the event.

“I want to work with Rotorua businesses to help them reach their target markets with my events,” he said.

Julia Charity from NZ’s home stay network Look after Me was the judge’s runner-up and also won the People’s Choice award.

“Rotorua really needs events like this.  It helps create and support an entrepreneurial community,” she said.

“Through determination and grit I have created something from nothing.  Winning the People’s Choice provides awhi for me along my entrepreneurial journey.”

Head Judge Mayor Steve Chadwick said she was inspired and amazed by all the businesses and new ideas pitched on the night.

“Not just the winners of tonight, but all of the pitches have a place in our town.  What a great city we would have if all the ideas came to fruition,” she said.

The other judges were Josh Daniell from Snowball Effect expert in raising investment for companies through crowd funding, Rotorua’s own angel investor Ryan Holmes, Local MP Todd McClay, and Labour candidate Tamiti Coffee.

Rotorua X Charitable Trust chairman Darren McGarvie said he was blown away by interest in the event.

“There is such an appetite in Rotorua for events like this.  In planning the event we didn’t expect to have so many businesses interested in pitching and to have standing room only in the audience,” he said.

“Rotorua X will definitely hold another event like this next year, with a few tweaks and improvements,” Mr McGarvie said.


11 organisations pitched on the night:

  • Caller Ads – Sean Davis
  • NZ Trail Runs – Paul Charteris
  • Stor-E-Cards – Heather Vail
  • Ice for Life New Zealand – Dammon Paul
  • Rotorua Tech Shop – Steve Nicholson
  • The Rotorua Express – Brent Park
  • Look After Me – Julia Charity
  • Level 13 – Jeff Flitton
  • Armchair armwrestlers in Rotorua unite – Chris Poipoi
  • Brugar Mag Cleaner – Samuel Harrison
  • OneChance Youth Project – Alan Solomon



  • Mediaworks Voucher for $1,000 radio advertising
  • Mentoring session with Shane Bradley, founder of GrabOne
  • Free connection with Now Rotorua Ultrafast internet
  • A week in Rotorua’s co-working space Flair Space
  • Marketing health check with Flair Marketing
  • 90 mins employment advice with EMA
  • 90 mins legal advice with Copeland Law
  • 90 mins accounting advice with BDO
  • 90 mins business coaching with McGarvie Business Coaching
  • 90 mins IT advice with Supra IT
  • Two Rotorua X Mastery sessions

Runner up:

  • 90 mins IT advice with Supra IT
  • 3 days in Rotorua’s co-working space Flair Space
  • Rotorua X Mastery session
  • Business book

People’s Choice

  • 90mins  of digital marketing advice from dubzz Digital Marketing
  • 90 mins IT advice with Supra IT
  • 3 days in Rotorua’s co-working space Flair Space
  • Rotorua X Mastery session
  • Business book