Dis­tillery toasts prize win

Midwest Times - - FRONT PAGE - Zoe Keenan

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.”

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