Ronald Reagan met with Alexandra Dieselm and Jennifer Stangrabber on Friday. By Sunday, they had canceled Marlborough’s first startup weekend, impressing Judge Stephanie Bensman in the process.
A ‘pressure cooker’ competition – a cross between an apprentice and a dragon’s lair – unearthed entrepreneurial talent in Marlborough – he’s 80 years old.
Ronald Ragen signed up for Marlborough’s first startup weekend last weekend hoping to try something “completely different”.
Ragen teamed up with fellow competitors Alexandra Diethelm and Jennifer Steingraeber, who together developed a business idea called “Dog Together” – a one-stop shop for travelers looking for dog-friendly places in New Zealand.
Ragen described the 54-hour competition as a “challenge,” pitching the judges from Friday’s meeting to Sunday. But this is what attracts IT business owners in the first place.
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“It took me out of myself, looking at the world, working with completely different strangers, and under a lot of pressure.
“So that’s what appealed to me, and that’s one of those things, you’re never too old to do that.”
“Dog Together” took first prize on Sunday, an added bonus after Ragen celebrated his 80th birthday with 35 other contestants on Saturday night.
“The wonderful thing about this whole thing is that it generates community.
“Even though we are different people working on different concepts, we are not competing with each other.
“There is a sense of community throughout the group.”
On Friday night, eight teams came together. Finally, in second place is an app designed for winegrowers to help them organize their workload. Third place is the teen card game.
“My concern is whether I have enough physical and mental stamina to work in these conditions, because it’s all out, and I mean nonstop,” Ragan said.
“[But] It was so exhilarating that I could have continued walking for much longer.Having said that, by [the end]I was completely exhausted.
“In terms of achievement, it was fantastic. The whole process was an eye-opener. It opened up something inside me that I didn’t know existed, like the ability to see challenges and opportunities and turn them into something real,” Ragen said.
Travel expert Alexandra Diethelm, 37, traveled from Auckland for the event and enjoyed working with her team.
“We did have some heated discussions, but they were very productive and valuable.
“We got along really well, taking advice from each other and from our mentors and taking the best part of each one to create Dog Together.
“Even though we didn’t follow my original idea, I feel like we created something within 54 hours that could have a real future as a viable business.”
Startup Weekend Marlborough project manager Tracey Green said she was impressed by the “huge shift” in business ideas from Friday to Sunday.
Green believes 50% of that can continue as an actual business.
“But we have to let the dust settle and some of them may still be talking about it.
“We wish we did see some converts, but the reality of these events [is], less than 1% became businesses. “
The concept of Startup Weekend started 15 years ago in the United States. The Marlborough event is organised by the Business Trust Marlborough and Marlborough District Council. Another Startup Weekend in Marlborough is scheduled for next July.