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Waikato MBA Students Face Dragon’s Den
Published: 30 Mar 2012
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Winners from left to right: Ahmed Basha, Myan Naidoo, Austen Clarke, Ritu Tarak, Deepak Joseph

Waikato MBA students put themselves and their business prowess in the spotlight this week, taking part in the first University of Waikato Management School Dragon’s Den competition.

Like in the television programme, the 40 students from the University’s Centre for Corporate and Executive Education and the Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development at Hopuhopu, put their business ideas to the test in front of a panel of big-business leaders.

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 not many have 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.”

As part of the Dragon’s Den brief, contestants had to developing an idea and prepare a business plan including strategic decision-making, managing staff and stakeholder relationships, sales and marketing, and financials. They also had to show an understanding of risk and how to measure it.

Austen Clarke was part of winning group Vext Ltd from the afternoon round and said the Dragon’s Den competition was a great way to test the theory students had learnt in a real-world situation.

Vext Ltd is a voice messaging app that allows instant messages to be left on any mobile device, without the recipient having to download the software.

“For the Dragon’s Den presentation we had to write a 12,000 word report detailing almost every aspect of our business plan - there is no way we would have been about to put together the plan without what we’ve learnt doing the MBA and without help from the lecturers,” said Clarke.

Puna Ora Ltd won the morning session.

Waikato Management School Dean Frank Scrimgeour congratulated the students on the huge effort they had put in.

“It’s a great pleasure to see a lot of people who have done some hard work. The Dragon’s Den is not just a one off; it’s going to be the start of something new at the Waikato Management School.”

Judge Jeanette Bulteel-Adams, Chief Operating Officer from Waikato DHB, and a Waikato graduate, commended all the students saying she knew it was difficult to balance work and study.