Q&A's with past winners

Entré Start-Up Challenge

Elizabeth Riach

Helpful Information

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Where are you from?

Originally Temuka, located in Christchurch now.

What was your field of study?

Design – Visual Communication 2008
Innovation and Entrepreneurship 2012
Arts Therapy 2018.

What year of did you graduate?

2011, 2013

What do you do for fun?

What I do for work. Plus run. I like running. I Read a lot. Hanging out with my 1yo and 3yo boys. Study and training to be an Arts Therapist. Establishing my social and community based venture called “The Be Loved Project”, supporting families and children with Autsim. Also painting A LOT.

Describe your university self/experience

Testing, challenging, a little ridiculous but worth a whole lot.

I learnt a lot about myself and my professional industry. I made a lot of networks, some invaluable. It taught me to never give up and that consistency is the key to achieving your dreams.

have loved every minute at UC and all the opportunities especially in the entrepreneurial sector! In second year I got involved with entré and UCE and it has been so invaluable!

Did you always want to start your own business?

Yes and no. I hadn’t really thought about much leaving uni, it was something I always thought was out of reach in a way, only because I never saw myself as a “business owner”. It wasn’t until redundancy and lack of suitable positions that reality hit me. So I kind of went out to make my own “job”. I had to make a living some how but struggled with industry not truly meeting my passions or talents. 9–5 also didn’t meet my lifestyle hopes and dreams and often left me feeling empty and drained. Corporate work was not flexible, it was demanding and offered little compromise for my own health and well-being,family, friends and upskilling. Entrepreneurship, to me, meant I would no longer have to decide between becoming a mother and having a successful career or compromise what I valued, especially my health and well-being.

What made you apply for the 85K challenge?

My tutor did. Ha! I lacked a lot of self-belief in the beginning so his push and vote of confidence in me and my idea. That was an extremely powerful motivator to me. Thank you Jeremy!

How did you find the 85k experience?

One of The hardest most rewarding things I have ever done! It took a huge amount of work above and beyond what I was doing well battling some pretty tough health troubles  – full time study and full time employment and part time entrepreneur. It gave me access to an abundance of entrepreneurial resources and networks and experts. All of the things I needed to aim high and think big.  never doubt your idea or your worth. It was all about doing. That’s how you make your ideas happen, you do! And the 85k challenge gave me the step up I needed to up my game in an environment that was nurturing and welcoming yet thought provoking and challenging.

Tell us about your 85K business idea

My 85k business idea was custom hand painted heels, named My Killa Heels.
Primarily targeted at NZ brides wanting to add a personalised touch to their big day; and giving fashionistas an opportunity to express their individual identity as oppose to becoming one of the masses. I wanted to bite back on mass-production and add value to a persons wardrobe, to encourage a connection and care to their belongings and how they show themselves off to the outside world.

What category/s did you win?

I was the Grand Winner of the 85k Challenge in 2014.

What learning did you value the most in 85K?

To back myself, no matter what. And ultimately, to hold on for the wild ride. Take the good with bad and the bad with good, and the key to momentum was to keep bouncing back and continue exploring and experimenting. Trying and failing, finding what worked well and what did not for me. My idea was only the seed and its growth cake through execution. I learnt to not be afraid of thinking outside the box and practical skills of how to develop and plan a business and strategies, pitch ideas, network, and gain confidence.

How did the experience help you in life after 85k?

In a strange way, it has given me the nod to pursue most endearing ventures and dreams by giving me the practical skills and knowledge of how to make them happen. It help be realise how lucky our generation is to be able to have such offerings and how we can learn and build a better community together and ultimately a better world. I remain extremely humbled and grateful for been given such an opportunity.

What advice would you give for people looking to apply for 85K challenge?

If you’re in doubt, if you think your idea is silly or not “whatever” enough, or you don’t have enough time or you don’t see yourself as an entrepreneur, tell them voices to pipe down and JUST DO IT – thanks Nike. I can not highly recommend this experience enough! I also think as you amazing talented young ones come through your studies and entrepreneurial ventures that you are mindful of what you are creating, of its place in the community and the world. That you find your own internal compass as this will keep you motivated, that you are not solely motivated by financial gain. Find your why. I would also encourage this path to young women who may feel tied between careers and motherhood, this can be such a fantastic road to walk down to give you such a fantastic base to balance the two. And to all, this is an invaluable experience that gives you access to a network of industry professionals who want to help you and see you not only succeed but flourish in everything you wish to peruse. GET INTO IT.