Good ideas turn into suc­cess­ful busi­nesses

Waikato News - - NEWS - Peter Tif­fany

SODA works with founders from all in­dus­try sec­tors as it says good ideas and op­por­tu­ni­ties can be found any­where.

Two no­table ex­am­ples are a mas­ti­tis di­ag­nos­tic tool for dairy farm­ers and new tech­nol­ogy trans­form­ing the way bee­keep­ers mon­i­tor and man­age hives.

Auck­land com­pany Farm Medix de­vel­oped Check-Up through SODA, se­cured a li­cens­ing agree­ment and now sells the fast-turn­around mas­ti­tis di­ag­nos­tic tool un­der li­cence.

The tool iden­ti­fies the pathogen in­volved in a case of bac­te­rial ud­der in­fec­tion and helps the farmer de­ter­mine if cases of mas­ti­tis are treat­able, con­ta­gious or in­cur­able.

An­other Auck­land com­pany My Api­ary, work­ing with SODA, has trans­formed the still very man­ual and labour-in­ten­sive tech­niques used in the man­age­ment of bees.

“My Api­ary came to us and we helped with the for­ma­tion of ideas, with struc­ture and busi­ness growth, ad­vice, mar­ket val­i­da­tion and re­search, says SODA op­er­a­tions man­ager Rachel Adams.

The way bee­keep­ers gather in­for­ma­tion and as­sess the colony health had al­ways been labour­in­ten­sive and caused huge in­ef­fi­cien­cies for the in­dus­try.

Now it has a full api­ary man­age­ment sys­tem, has built a sales struc­ture and its hard­ware and soft­ware are much in de­mand in the busi­ness.

“My Api­ary has now come back to SODA for the sec­ond pro­gramme, and is tak­ing the next step with fur­ther sup­port,” Ms Adams said.

“SODA is about solv­ing prob­lems, find­ing so­lu­tions to real prob­lems,” says Ms Adams.

“We help the founders and the rest fol­lows. We talk to 300 founders in a year and of these 20 are backed — it is a ro­bust process,” she says.

For those of­fered a place in the pro­gramme SODA looks for the best peo­ple who know what to do.

“We make con­nec­tions and shoul­der tap the right peo­ple and say ‘we would like to pay you to work with these peo­ple’. We don’t have an in­vest­ment fund, be­cause then the money be­comes the cus­tomer. We take on the founders as the cus­tomers.”

SODA looks at the founder and the busi­ness 50-50, and seeks busi­nesses that are in­ter­est­ing and unique.

“New busi­nesses put tax dol­lars into a stronger econ­omy,” says Ms Adams. “We have a suc­cess shar­ing model. We take a 5 per cent eq­uity and use profit to fund fu­ture en­trepreneurs.”

SODA also runs a co-work­ing space with more than 30 com­mer­cial client com­pa­nies hous­ing more than 80 peo­ple in Win­tec House in the cen­tre of Hamil­ton.

Founders in the Waikato can ac­cess these ser­vices while in an in­cu­ba­tion pro­gramme.

My Api­ary co-founders Dar­ren Bain­bridge and Carl Vink, and mar­ket­ing in­tern Steph Fankhauser with the four Fiel­d­ays in­no­va­tion awards the com­pany won this year.

Farm Medix en­trepreneurs Natasha Maguire and Leon Spurrell.

Pho­tos / Sup­plied

SODA op­er­a­tions man­ager Rachel Adams.

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