You can’t beat a good business mentor


When Company-X senior developer Rob Scovell’s team won the Innes48 Hours Business Startup Competition he acknowledged the competition’s mentors.

Competing as the team Abnormals, Rob, his 14-year-old son Rowan, and medical technologist Emma Liu, took home a $10,000 cash prize after winning the Wintec Most Viable Business Award.

“I’d give the competition a 10 out of 10, thanks to the quality of the mentoring,” Rob said. “It wouldn’t be possible to win without the help of the mentors throughout the course of the competition.”

Rob was recognising that no matter how good an idea you have, innovators with a technical mind are not necessarily good business people with the knowhow to bring an idea to market. In fact this is nearly always the case.

The competition kicked off on Friday, April 28, at 5pm, with the Abnormals not coming up with an idea until Saturday morning.

A brainstorm led to the idea of problem solving for medical professionals who spend a couple of hours each day writing comprehensive medical notes.

“We asked how we could turn this from a two-hour process daily into a more streamlined process,” Rob said. “The solution was to create a stereoscopic image, using two cameras, of the patient’s treatment site. Once the image has been processed by the application you are left with the treatment site as a point on a map of the body and the photographic image is discarded.”

This innovative idea is that the maps could replace hundreds of words each day.

The winning team benefitted from about three hours of advice from many of the Inness48 mentors over the weekend, including myself. I enjoyed staying late to help the competitors off on the right foot.

“I’d say that winning it is actually proof that you have learned from the mentors,” Rob said.

There is as much focus on the business plan, and how you would bring the idea to market, as on the innovation of the idea itself.

“There’s nothing like this around. We talked with a clinic manager during, and after, the Innes48 event they wanted to discuss the next steps with us. There are much bigger problems to solve and they want us to look at the priorities.”

Nothing beats a good business mentor.

No matter how good you are at what you do, or how tight your business plan is, you can never hear enough from an experienced and trusted adviser.

That’s how my software specialist business, Company-X, ended up a finalist in last year’s Westpac Waikato Business Awards.

Company-X, bursting at the seams with technical knowhow, was a finalist in the Strategy and Planning category of the awards because we engage and listen to our business mentors.

Business leaders, especially those with a technical mind, don’t have to go it alone.


About Author

David Hallett

David Hallett is a director of Hamilton software specialist Company-X, design house E9 and chief nerd at Waikato Need A Nerd.