Conference Hop with a Difference

Conference Hop with a Difference

Vinsight’s Simon Lampen is just back from one of those enviable business trips where you really question how much work was actually done.  His whistle-stop, ten-day tour of the US included a visit to UC Davis in California, home to the world-renowned Viticulture and Enology faculty, and many millions of bicycles.   

The 5,300-acre campus is in the city of Davis, a vibrant college town of about 68,000 located in Yolo County. The state capital is 20 minutes away, and world-class destinations such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Lake Tahoe and the Napa Valley are within a two-hour drive. Davis was once voted “America’s Best Cycling City” – a nod to the most sensible mode of transport around town, given the plethora of vineyards and wineries within easy reach.

While there, Simon presented at an accounting seminar for wineries where sustainability, innovation and high tech ways of working were common themes alongside a shared love of wine.

Next stop: Portland, and the craft beer capital of the US.  Also known as Beervana, Portland boasts 60 brewing establishments around town, including a dedicated gluten-free brewery, Ground Breaker.


Simon timed his visit to Portland around the Craft Beverage Expo, an annual trade exposition and conference for the entire artisan beverage industry – spanning wine, beer, spirits, mead and cider.  The organisers acknowledge that being successful in this burgeoning industry is about much more than just production — producers have got to know how to get their product into consumers’ hands as efficiently as possible.  In the spirit of work, Simon did the rounds of the myriad of cider craftsmen, sake producers, brewers, wineries and mead makers, sharing in their wisdom and sampling a fair bit along the way.

And why did he go again?  Vinsight has had huge success in Australia and Simon was keen to look at breaking into the US market — building a network, referral marketing, exploring regulatory and distribution issues, that sort of thing.  Oh, and a bit of beer and wine research.  Life sure is tough.

Students put through their paces at Level One TGS Ignition Day

Students put through their paces at Level One TGS Ignition Day

Slip-on sprig savers for football boots, a fashion app, a heated wetsuit, disposable toothpaste capsules and a study box were just some of the business ideas generated by students at the TGS Ignition Day hosted by Level One on the Devonport Wharf last weekend.

More than 30 Takapuna Grammar School Business Studies students from across a range of years took part in the second annual Ignition Day which saw groups of five matched with a local business entrepreneur.  The students initially generated three ideas per group which were then whittled down to one and they then presented their ideas to the team of judges which included Rudi Bublitz, Simon Lampen, Duncan Ledwith and Sinead Watson.

Former TGS students Louis Gordon-Latty of Glory League, Shaun Quincey of Genoapay and Jack Downs, the local representative on Auckland Council’s Youth Advisory Board, were all on hand to give advice and help provide inspiration.

Organiser Matt Yallop told the students as they went off to develop their pitches, “it’s all down to how you deliver it.  There are no rules”.

Emma Johnson, Head of Business Studies at TGS, said, “The students gained a huge amount from the day.  Not only did they have the privilege of being paired with a local entrepreneur for several hours, but they also learned how to develop an idea, validate it and then pitch it to a team of judges.  The experience the students gained was invaluable but we were also very impressed with the quality and creativity of ideas generated.”

Team Awards went to:

Most Compelling Play:  Aquatech team for their heated wetsuit, mentored by Tim Gelston.

Best Overall Pitch:  Soul Savers team for their Slip-on Sprig Savers for football boots, mentored by Anna Yallop

Most Improved Team:  Ninja Strike Force 7 team for their Fashion search app, mentored by Craig Norris

Photo names – left to right

Most Compelling Play:  Aquatech mentored by Tim Gelston.

Knight Hou (Spark), Amanda Hunter, Nate Coyne, Zoe Raines, Matt O’Reilly, Tim Gelston

Best Overall Pitch:  Soul Savers mentored by Anna Yallop

Hunter Rush, Milly Pearson, Shannon Blackhall, Anna Yallop, Abby Harris

Most Improved Team:  Ninja Strike Force 7 mentored by Craig Norris

Nelly Farmiloe, Maddy Barton Reid, Ruiliang Nie, Craig Norris, Joshua Downs​