Distillery toasts prize win
Dongara’s Illegal Tender Rum Co. has taken first place for its boutique rum offering at the Australia Post Regional Pitchfest on Friday in Bunbury.
Codie Palmer’s and Hayley Wells’ rum company outshone the four other WA finalists and they were awarded $5000 and the opportunity to represent WA in August at a national gala event in NSW.
Mr Palmer said the two were not expecting to win considering the competition they were up against but said he held his nerves together well for their business pitch.
“Winning the Australia Post Regional Pitchfest final is amazing and so valuable for a start-up like ours,” Mr Palmer said.
“To be completely honest, when we were backstage we weren’t feeling all that confident because the calibre of the other contestants was quite daunting, we never thought we were going to win.”
Illegal Tender Rum Co. was started in August 2015 and has since had a string of successes. The partners’ first product sold out within two days and they won a bronze medal at a competition in San Francisco and the local achiever award at this year’s Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry Business Excellence Awards.
“Coming from where we were a year ago, not knowing if this was even going to be remotely successful, to the success we’ve had so far, it’s an incredible whirlwind we’re on at the moment,” Mr Palmer said. The Regional Pitchfest event is a national program of business growth opportunities and experiences for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Mr Palmer said he and Ms Wells will attend the national gala event in NSW next month, where the winner will be awarded $7500, a trip to Silicon Valley in the US and an Australia Post eCommerce business growth pack.
“It’s going to be a completely different opportunity to what we’re used to — it’s an amazing opportunity even to be able to attend, it’s an honour,” he said. On the judging panel was Australia Post’s chief innovation officer Greg Sutherland, who said the calibre of this year’s entries was exceptional.
“Codie’s pitch was confident, creative and a fantastic reflection of what people from regional areas can accomplish when given the opportunity,” he said.
“I think we’ve attracted some outstanding examples of regional innovation, and I can’t wait to see all of our winners pitch their ideas at the national final in August.”