Zino 2018 New Kiwis Challenge

Winner is revealed in the Final’s Gala New Kiwis Challenge 2018

New Kiwis Challenge 2018 – Best migrant-founded startup is revealed

New Kiwis Challenge 2018 – The winner is revealed

The Final’s Gala of the New Kiwis Challenge (NKC) start-up competition was held at the Unleash Space at Auckland University Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, gathering together more than 150 guests – venture investors, angels, mentors, advisers, entrepreneurs and media.

The New Kiwis Challenge is an annual start-up competition for Kiwi companies with migrant founders, encouraging migrant entrepreneurship in New Zealand. This year the competition started in June and consisted of 3 stages, with migrant entrants from 16 different countries (including; United States, Germany, China and others) all were aiming for victory, and to get funded. The top 3 start-up teams presented in front of Final’s judges, including Craig Hudson, Managing Director of Xero, John O’Hara, Chairman of Angel Association NZ, Dr Lisbeth Jacobs, Director Internationl at Uniservices, Molly Yang, Investment Manager from NZVIF, Duco van Breemen, GM of HaymarketHQ in Sydney and Marcel van den Assum, angel investor, director and 2015 Arch Angel.

All start-ups received extensive support and mentorship from a veritable ‘who’s who’ of New Zealand experts in marketing, business development, investment and product design, many of whom attended the Finals to support their teams.

Link to photogallery from Finals Gala Event

“We are building an ecosystem, a network to support for new Kiwis who are setting out on a journey of entrepreneurship – to thrive and think truly global, going beyond the obvious ‘next market’ to explore the world of opportunity in Asia and beyond. We believe New Zealand is the perfect country for top international talent to flourish; while some countries are closing borders, New Zealand is becoming a mecca for entrepreneurship.  Beyond the New Kiwis Challenge, Zino is all about supporting both local and international talent, creating new value for the country through growth in Chinese speaking markets.” – Debra Hall, Chairman of Zino Innovation Hub.

This year winner is Wukong Education (https://www.wukongsch.com/ )– an online platform for Chinese language tutoring for kids of immigrant parents who want their children to learn their ‘home’ language, connecting students with best Chinese teachers in China. WuKong has developed effective interactive 1v4 online class and copyright curriculum, which provide the better learning experience with a more competitive price. “Besides the local students in New Zealand, our service has already attracted students from Australia, England, and Egypt. Our goal is to provide Chinese fundamental education solution to more than 100,000 students within 3 years’ time.” – Nicky Shang, CEO and founder of WuKong Education.

The other two finalists were Avice and GeoAR Games.

Avice (https://www.avicewearables.com/ ) has developed a wearable tech to monitor muscle health using a novel, patent-pending sensor technology proven to detect muscle performance failure, in real time.

Avice has a very diverse team from New Zealand, Thailand, USA, Europe and Chile. The weight training market has low adherence rate, more than 65% of gym members cancel their membership within three months and this number increases to 87% with another three months. “The inspiration for Avice comes from the idea that if the fitness market knows, in real-time, their training effort level and their maximum effort level, this piece of information will allow people to maximise their training session – every rep, every set, and every session and sustains fitness motivation to the users” – says Parn Jones, founder and CTO of Avice

GeoAR Games (https://www.geoargames.com/home ) is getting kids off the couch and physically active in parks, schools and shopping malls through educational augmented reality gaming.

“GEO A.R. Games has traditionally developed virtual playgrounds for outdoors, until we realised that there is a large untapped opportunity with shopping malls. Malls in China, in fact all over the world are losing foot traffic to e-commerce. We offer a compelling alternative to malls that often overcapitalise with elaborate entertainment attractions to bring shoppers back” – says Melanie Langlotz, CEO of GeoAR Games, – So our long term goal is to get 1 million Chinese kids off the couch and learning English, running around in 1,600 Chinese malls that we are targeting.”


All 3 teams are now preparing to take up their sponsored places on the Zino China Trip in late October, which culminates in a pitching event co-hosted by Uniservices Entrepreneurship Institute in Hangzhou.

Top 3 finalists Prizes:

  • Sponsorship to join the Zino 2018 China Trip in late October, visiting the entrepreneurial eco-system in Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou, for one founder each.
  • Alibaba Cloud Credits plus free access to Alibaba Architect workshop on platform design, and introductions to Alibaba Ecosystem partners in China & SE Asia.
  • Strategy session with one of Xero’s business leaders
  • Pitch presentation coaching for Finals Gala, pitching to an audience of ~150 investors and supporters, where the winner will be announced.

Winner Prizes:

  • One additional place on the 2018 China trip, for a co-founder.
  • Opportunity to pitch for investment from Zino Ventures Ltd, and its network of early stage investors.
  • Additional cloud credits and architect workshops from Alibaba, plus an invitation to visit the Alibaba Campus and/or Alibaba Cloud Conference in Hangzhou .
  • A seat at the Uniservices institute in Hangzhou for up to a month, and the support of Uniservices team to explore the market, including introductions to local government, companies & Chinese investors, with introductions to Uniservices’ Beijing-based incubator partner ICI, offering similar opportunities.

“As the first Chinese venture capital firm in New Zealand, Zino has and will continue to invest in NZ startups, enabling them to succeed in the global market. For start-ups with relevance to Chinese markets in particular, Zino will invest not only financial resources, but will also bring true know-how of the Chinese market so that startups can take advantage of the huge opportunities present there.” – said George Gong, Chairman of Zino Ventures, and a Board Member of Callaghan Innovation.

“As an entrepreneur and migrant myself, we choose to come to New Zealand, we choose to do Zino and other things, not because it’s easy, but because it’s right; because we believe that work together we can “go to the moon” and create new value for New Zealand and the globe.” – he concluded.

About Zino

Zino is an organisation focused on creating new value for New Zealand, by supporting businesses to achieve their growth potential in Chinese speaking markets, with capital, networks and advice. We do this in two ways:

  • Zino Ventures raises angel and growth capital for investment in promising Kiwi companies;
  • Zino Innovation Hub is building a network of services and support for Kiwi businessesseeking help to take their business global.Zino is led by a group of Chinese migrants living in New Zealand, who are passionate about growing great companies here in New Zealand.

The Top Ten Challengers

page4image1464706064 Wearable tech to monitor muscle health, providing real time feedback during weight training exercise.
page4image1464721296 Virtual reality tool measuring employees’ attitudes and behaviours to workplace hazards, reshaping their behaviours as it tests
page4image1460351136 Integrated e-commerce platform, with offline / instore capabilities as well, including PoS machines.
 page4image1408657584 page4image1409186912 Getting kids off the couch and physically active through aug mented reality games – educational AR gaming.

GoGo Express

Logistics / delivery service – biggest online delivery platform in Auckland’s Chinese market.


Highly branded, small batch, single source manuka honey, “honey sold like malt whisky”.


Gamification of rehabilitation / physiotherapy exercises to increase compliance and track progress through recovery.

page4image1465527568 Global B2B trading platform, connecting traders together to trade with each other more efficiently.

Online Chinese language tutoring for kids of immigrant parents who want their children to learn their ‘home’ language.


Personalised international travel planning through online app and network of fellow travellers.

New Kiwis Challenge by the numbers…

42    companies entered the New Kiwis Challenge

16    countries represented in the founder teams

Argentina, Cambodia, Chile, China, Germany, Holland, India, Iraq, Korea, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Thailand, UK, Uruguay, USA

10    companies selected for the next round

Wide sector range including VR/AR, consumer products, edu-tech, trading/e- commerce, wearables, sports-tech, tourism & travel

28    mentor volunteers, many of them successful Kiwi migrants themselves

Special Mentions


Social impact potential: bridging barriers to resource community projects
Cultural impact potential: preserving the language & knowledge of indigenous people through digital content

Most ambitious pitch: Stormspace – women engineers conquering Space


Debra Hall, Chairman Zino Innovation Hub         d.hall@zino.co.nz

David Wang, CEO Zino Ventures                        d.wang@zino.co.nz

Nelson Wang, COO Zino Ventures                      n.wang@zino.co.nz

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Thank you to our prize package sponsors