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Footing it in the Dragon’s Den
Published: 23 Mar 2012
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Waikato University MBA students will put themselves in the spotlight on Monday when they present their business ideas in a real Dragon’s Den situation.


The 40 students are from Corporate and Executive Education at Waikato Management School (WMS) or the Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development –WMS joint programme at Hopuhopu, and they’ve been working in groups of four or five during the past six weeks to either identify a new business opportunity or to expand an existing product or idea.


Lecturer Associate Professor Jens Mueller says the students who are one year into their two-year course are all experienced managers in their working lives but many haven’t had the opportunity to develop a business plan or pitch new ideas to their boards.


“They’re applying everything they’ve learned on their course so far and have 25 minutes maximum to present their idea and answer questions from the judging panel.


“Essentially they’re asking for money,” says Dr Mueller. “So they have to show that they understand all aspects of finance and financing - presenting figures and financial analysis; they need to show an understanding of risk and how to measure it. Then there are all the components for developing a business idea, including strategic decision making, staff and stakeholder relationships, sales and marketing and competition. And of course, they’re working in groups and that can be a challenge in itself.”


The two chief judges for Monday’s Dragon’s Den are Pharmac chair Stuart McLaughlin and Eddie Jackson, general manager at St John Midlands and the judging panel includes bankers, several CEOs, accountants and Fonterra managers.