Waikato business incubator SODA Inc runs programmes for entrepreneurs to help build scalable businesses. SODA’s latest event, the ASB Ambition Showcase, was held last night, where ambitious entrepreneurs shared their stories of building a fast growing business through SODA’s incubation process with New Zealand business leaders. We chatted to two incubator clients about their SODA Inc experiences and the challenges they’ve overcome to launch their businesses.
Plate Me Nutrition provides delicious nutritional pre-made meals that have a shelf life of 18 months for athletes. Patney has developed an anti-snore device that is effective at controlling snoring in a non-invasive manner, and early test results have been encouraging.
Wendy McGregor, Plate Me Nutrition.
Tell us a bit about Plate Me and what inspired you to start this new business venture.
The product idea was sparked when Nick couldn’t find the right pre-made meals to fit his nutrition requirements while training for a cycling event a few years ago. A few years later the company we both worked for was going through yet another huge restructure and I had decided to take redundancy. Hence Plate Me was born.
You’ve been working on Plate Me for a while before launching – what have you learnt about starting a new business from scratch?
We have learnt that it is always going to cost you more than you think and take you more time than you think. We have also learnt that there are some amazing genuine people out there that will always help and support you, and we have learnt that there are also lots of people who just want to take what they can get and are not help much at all.
The Waikato region is becoming an incubator for start-ups. Tell us about your SODA experience and how they helped you on your Plate Me journey.
SODA has helped us more than we ever imagined, not only with expert advisors and contacts but just the support of Claire (SODA CEO Dr Claire McGowan) and her amazing team has been invaluable. Just being able to talk through little things with Claire, Rachel or Anna has been the most amazing part of SODA. Being a very small start-up business can be a bit lonely but their support has made this whole journey exciting and rewarding! I would recommend, and certainly do recommend SODA to everyone I meet these days!
You’ve come from a different industry and background from the Plate Me business. What made you decide to venture into this new territory, and in hindsight do you think it mattered that you didn't have experience in this field before starting?
We both have a background in manufacturing so manufacturing food wasn’t too daunting. We are aware that we are not experts in every area of our business so we simply made sure that we found and surrounded ourselves with the right people, such as finding the perfect nutritionist to design the recipes.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome so far?
Nick and I have so many ideas and can’t wait to do more and more with the business. The challenge for us is learning to walk before we run. Slow down, plan and work smarter is what we are trying hard to do even though our minds are working overtime!
Where does your ambition come from? What drives you?
Nick and I are both very driven people and always have been. Nick has been very successful in areas of his life such as pilot’s license’s, MBAs, working full time outside our business and working as many hours as he can within our business.
I have been driven to succeed since becoming a very young mother way back in 1992, putting myself through university as a teenage mum and taking every opportunity that came my way. Hard work always pays off and this business is no different, it is hard work but so worth it!
Lastly, what’s your top tip for other Kiwi business entrepreneurs?
Get a business mentor or a business growth advisor that you trust and admire. Interview them and choose one that you know would help you. We chose Chris Johnson after walking out of our meeting saying ‘we want to be just like him!’. Having Chris part of our team has been the most rewarding and intelligent decision we ever made.