Ronald Ragan met Alexandra Diethelm and Jennifer Stingraeber on Friday. By Sunday, they had exited their first start-up weekend in Marlborough, impressing Judge Stephanie Pensman, in the process.
The pressure cooker competition – a cross between The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den – revealed Marlborough’s entrepreneurial talent – as he turns 80.
Ronald Raggen scored himself on his first start-up weekend in Marlborough last weekend looking to try something “completely different”.
Paired with fellow competitors Alexandra Diethelm and Jennifer Stingraeber, Raggan worked together on a business idea called “Dog Alone” – a one-stop shop for travelers wanting to find dog-friendly places in New Zealand.
Raggen described the 54-hour competition, from the meeting on Friday to the judges on Sunday, as a “challenge.” But that’s what attracted the IT business owner in the first place.
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“It was taking me out of myself, looking at the world, working out a completely different experience with completely strangers, and under a lot of pressure.
“So that was the calling for me, and it’s one of those things, you’re not too old to do that.”
“Dog Alone” took home the top prize on Sunday, an added bonus after Raggen celebrated his 80th birthday Saturday night with the remaining 35 contenders.
“The cool thing about this whole thing is that it created a community.
“We were not working in competition with each other even though we are different people working on different concepts.
“There was a sense of community, among the whole group.”
Eight teams assembled on Friday night. In the end, the second place went to a viticulture app to help them organize their workloads. Third place went to Blackjack for Teens.
“My concern was whether I would have the physical and mental stamina to work under these conditions, because it was full, and I mean literally non-stop,” Ragne said.
“[But] It was so exhilarating that I could have kept working longer. Having said that, by [the end]I was so exhausted.
“In terms of achievement, it was fantastic. The whole process was amazing. It opened up things inside of me that I wasn’t even aware of, like being able to see challenges and opportunities and turn them into something real,” Raghen said.
Tourism therapist Alexandra Diethelm, 37, came down from Auckland for this event, loved working with her team.
“We had some heated discussions, but it was very productive and valuable.
“We all got along really well, listened to each other’s suggestions, as well as mentors, and took the best part of each suggestion to create Dog Along.
“While we didn’t agree with my original idea, I feel like we created something over 54 hours that could have a real future as a viable business.”
Tracy Green, Marlborough’s Startup Weekend project manager, said she was impressed by the “massive transformation” that business ideas have undergone from Friday to Sunday.
Green believes 50% of them can continue as actual businesses.
But we have to let the dust settle, some may still be talking about it.
“Hopefully we will see some transform, but the reality of these events is [is]Less than 1% are converting to business.”
The Startup Weekend concept started in the US 15 years ago. The Marlborough event is organized by the Marlborough Business Trust and Marlborough County Council. Another Startup Weekend, in Marlborough, was in the pipeline for July of next year.