Judges and mentors

“Stage 2 of the X Challenge wouldn’t be possible without all the awesome judges and mentors mentioned below. A big thank you to everyone involved. You expertise and advice has been invaluable for all the teams involved.”  - X Challenge Team

Final Pitch Night Judges:

X Challenge Judge

Vaughan Rowsell
AUT Alumnus Vaughan is the founder of Vend, a New Zealand high-growth tech success story, with 20,000 customers worldwide and several high-profile investors, including Paypal Co-Founder Peter Thiel, Trade Me Founder Sam Morgan, and Co-Founder of Seek.com.au, Paul Bassat.

He is also the founder of the OMGTech! charitable initiative to help kids into careers with future technologies, and is Vice Chair of the NZ Hi-Tech Trust celebrating the successes of the NZ tech industry. He is passionate about developing the next generation of innovators.

He was EY's Tech Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015 and is a regular TEDx speaker on the importance of challenging the status quo and trusting your inner weirdo.

X Challenge Judge

Lisa King
Recognised as a women of influence, Lisa is the CEO of New Zealand’s fastest growing social enterprise, Eat My Lunch. Amidst a very successful marketing career selling Kiwis ‘more fat and sugar’ Lisa and her partner Ian became more conscious of the issues around child poverty and obesity in New Zealand and wanted to put their commercial skills to the test. From what started as a small-scale pilot, Eat My Lunch has had phenomenal growth. It’s a remarkable success story of an enterprise that combines both business and philanthropy, based on a simple idea: buy a lunch and the price you pay covers the cost of a free lunch to go to a hungry school kid. The operation is now running in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington, and with the support of nearly 3,000 volunteers Lisa and the growing team have helped to provide about 340,000 lunches for kids in need.

X Challenge Judge

Josh Comrie
Josh is an entrepreneur, investor and company advisor. He spends his daytime as CEO of Ambit - a Conversational AI platform business, undergoing rapid growth in its first year. Having a background dabbling in equities and derivatives trading, he made a lucky start 15 years ago, to go on to invest in 19 early stage businesses. These all operate today, and he's seen several exits from his portfolio. Earlier in his career, after an unsuccessful stint as an accountant, he ventured into the human capital space in the UK. He founded 3 successful brands in NZ, and continues to sit on the board of 2.

X Challenge Judge

Dale Clareburt
Dale is a Co-Founder and CEO of Weirdly, a customisable quiz platform that is all about putting organisational culture fit at the beginning of the recruitment process. She has been in the recruitment industry for over 20 years, where she has managed boutique and national recruitment businesses. She believes that the recruitment process is fundamentally broken. The world is crying out for more innovative and diverse recruitment processes and better employee/employer relationships.  Her and the Weirdly team are on a mission to get this sorted, having a whole lot of fun along the way.

Stage 2 - Mentors

X Challenge Judge

Angela Farrelly
Angela is passionate about people. An award-winning Chartered Marketer helping companies embrace innovation and take it to the world, Angela founded Disruptive Unicorns in 2013 to help start ups to grow with sales & marketing and large companies to embrace innovation through OD, talent, culture and design thinking. Angela has worked with Air New Zealand & IAG focused on driving growth, change, innovation and acquisition in B2B, B2C, E2E. She’s a presenter, MC and speaker for conferences around the world.

X Challenge Judge

Dan Meiklejohn
Dan joined Coalface Consulting to head up the partnership with "The Advantage Group International". Dan is a proven leader with over 20 years experience in Sales and General Management roles within FMCG and Express Freight. Through his experience, he has created environments that consistently deliver against the overriding business objectives. Dan has held senior roles in DB Breweries, SCA Hygiene Australasia, Mainland Products, Post Haste and NZ Couriers. Dan is driven by a curiosity about what makes people think, work, and spend. He incorporates this curiosity into his approach to business to facilitate the creation of successful strategies for his clients.

X Challenge Judge

Lizzie Gray
Lizzie is an award-winning Social Entrepreneur and Business Development Specialist, with 22-years experience growing multi-million dollar businesses across NZ, UK and Europe. Lizzie believes that the future of business is about solving problems, changing lives and making money, and she is committed to working with Business Leaders who feel the same.

Currently Lizzie is creating Betterment Global; to unite entrepreneurial people and accelerate the growth of a new, world economy that's positive for our planet.

X Challenge Judge

Emily Harris
Emily is a project manager and facilitator for the CO.STARTERS for Causes social enterprise start-up programme at EcoMatters Environment Trust. Her own start-up experience includes includes a failed social enterprise and many learnings about what not to do. Emily most enjoys supporting people to reduce their environmental impact and helping others to test and develop new ideas.

X Challenge Judge

Ezel Kokcu
While studying Computer Science at Victoria University Ezel was involved in a start-up doing social and digital marketing that sparked a passion in starting and growing businesses. Shortly after, starting the discovery and exploration app that disrupted the Museum and Cultural market, STQRY (now known as Area360). Area360 were able to raise $5.5M in funds and are now developing and selling in over 4 countries to over 500 organizations worldwide. The team in New Zealand has grown to 35 and 7 in the United States. Ezel then decided to move full time in her next venture as Co-Founder of Wellington-based Ticketing startup, Non-Stop Tix. After 18 months of operation, the company was sold to a New Zealand-based private investor. Continuing her journey, Ezel has now Co-Founded the event and analytics platform, Passphere that successfully secured investment October 2016 and will see a product launched late 2017 with a core team of 5. Passphere's initial launch will be in New Zealand with quick movements overseas soon after.

X Challenge Judge

Mark Thomas
Mark’s background is in engineering, computer graphics and business. This is combined with  extensive experience as a technology entrepreneur.  He has founded and run businesses involved in CAD/CAM, AEC, visual design, entertainment and communication since the mid-eighties. Mark was founder and CTO of Right Hemisphere designing the 3D visualization technology delivered to a breadth of entertainment  engineering and plant and process companies including, Schlumberger, Disney, Weta, Electronic Arts, Nike, Boeing, Chrysler and many others. Right Hemisphere was acquired by SAP in 2011 and Mark is now CEO for Nextspace - a company originally founded as a JV between Right Hemisphere and the New Zealand Government.

X Challenge Judge

Matt Stenton
Matt is the activator and lead inspiration for the Young Enterprise Trust’s activities in the Auckland region, working alongside ATEED. With experience working with some of the most successful business people in New Zealand, international travel industry and consumer experience, Matt is a mentor and champion for hundreds of young innovators right across Auckland and New Zealand – connecting, driving, and supporting their ideas and aspirations in enterprise, business and the start-up world.

X Challenge Judge

Oliver McDermott
Oliver lives and breathes innovation and design and is passionate about creating successful products, designed in NZ and sold to the world. In 2006 Oliver co-founded Blender Design - an Auckland based product design company along with 2 friends. Since then they've built and led a passionate young team of product design experts and helped build successful products and businesses from great ideas. They have worked and will continue to work in a range of industries: consumer electronics, architectural hardware, marine & outdoors, consumer products, office furniture, animal health, clean-tech, electric vehicles, and more ...

X Challenge Judge

Tiare Ferguson
Tia is an innovation practitioner and strategic advisor and was a founding team member at two of the San Francisco Bay Area's top tech incubators. More recently, she was responsible for developing Cisco's multiparty co-innovation function, a capability that has been credited for unlocking multi-billion dollar market opportunities and key cross-industry partnerships in the supply chain and healthcare sectors. She has consulted for a range of organizations, including the United States Air Force, the City of San Francisco’s Office of Innovation, Eco Asset Management Partners, and Blackhorn Ventures.

Tia holds a BA in Public Policy from Duke University and an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School. She is an avid runner, mindfulness practitioner, and music enthusiast, and is passionate about using entrepreneurship as a means of cultivating personal and planetary resilience.

X Challenge Judge

Yun Jae Lee
Yun Jae is a Research Advisor at Auckland University of Technology. In her role, Yun Jae engages with industry partners, government funding agencies and academics to facilitate research proposal development and negotiate research agreements. Before her time at AUT, Yun Jae worked in the Innovation team at Comvita, a New Zealand based functional food company. As their Commercial Manager, Yun Jae worked on a portfolio of research and development projects in the functional food space where applying science for commercial opportunities was crucial. Previously she also worked closely with start-ups. Yun Jae has a Bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Masters of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship.

X Challenge Judge

Teresa Munro
After completing her Master of Architecture (Prof)(Hons) in 2013 at the University of Auckland, Teresa began work at CAAHT Studio Architects as an Architectural Graduate.  Under the guidance of directors Chris Holmes and Anna Tong she has worked on a wide range of projects from domestic to commercial, renovations to new builds, as well as several architectural competitions.  She is currently working towards registration and has a special interest in cost-effective housing built from sustainably sourced materials and designed for simplicity.

X Challenge Judge

Shane Ohlin
Shane Ohlin, an AUT alumnus, joined Paymark as its Chief Information Officer in May 2016. He has more than 30 years’ experience in technology and management roles in New Zealand and Australia, has been accountable for some of the largest technology projects undertaken in New Zealand and is the founder of www.driverlessplanet.com.

At Paymark Shane is accountable for both the agile digital development team and the mainframe-class core financial switching systems that handle 75% of the country’s retail payments. The team also oversees the wider technology strategy, enterprise architecture and security of the technical systems. Before joining Paymark, Shane spent six years as a management consultant and 15 years at Spark. As the CIO for Spark’s retail division, Shane managed the $350M Spark NZ transformation multiyear programme of works.

Stage 2 - Semi Finalists Judges

DIGITAL CATEGORY

X Challenge Judge

Ulrich Frerk
Ulrich Frerk is an entrepreneur who seeks to not only create world-leading IoT technology but seeks to change the world and the way people interact with it. Ulrich started as a young engineer at Datacom. He left to found his own company, UM Ltd in 2010 and Co-Founded Enable IT. Ulrich’s vision was to make all devices connectable so they can be controlled from a single screen. That vision became Adroit, a business devoted to making products smart. Adroit was selected for as an ALPHA Candidate at the Web Summit in 2015 and is a category finalist in the 2017 AUT Excellence in Business Support Awards. In his latest venture, Ulrich has created an exciting technology development shared space, The Tech Bunker, soon to be opened at 48 Greys Avenue, Auckland, in November 2017.

X Challenge Judge

Robert Bruce
Robert Bruce is a serial entrepreneur and adventure lover. In his 20’s (after graduating AUT with a BBUS, Advertising) Robert founded a Deloitte Fast50 company called Sublime which was later acquired by the largest communications company in Australasia. More recently Robert was named a Kiwibank New Zealander of the year (local hero) for his work inspiring people to ‘get outdoors and active’ through his social enterprise Got To Get Out, which was a finalist in the 2017 New Zealand social media awards (social good category). Robert is also the Director of Special Initiatives at AUT where since 2015 he has helped launch a range of projects such as Match Ready Workshops to help make students more career-ready and employable.

X Challenge Judge

Lauren Peate
Lauren leads Ally Skills NZ (www.AllySkills.nz), which teaches simple, everyday ways that people can use their influence and resources to support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In previous roles, she has consulted for Fortune 500 companies as a management consultant with Bain & Co in San Francisco, worked as interim COO of an eCommerce startup in Jordan, led Candidate Attraction for the Edmund Hillary Fellowship, and directed programmes with NGOs in the US, Nicaragua, and Morocco to prevent gender-based violence. Lauren graduated from Stanford University with a degree in economics.

SERVICE CATEGORY

X Challenge Judge

Brough Johnson
Brough is the co-founder and CEO of Narrative Muse, a web app that matches audiences with women-led books and movies that are just-for-them perfect. It’s the Tinder for book and movie cravings. Brough has thirteen years of experience as a film and TV editor and has edited productions including Power Rangers, Last Paradise, Go Girls, Step Dave, and Westside.

X Challenge Judge

Sarah Trotman
Sarah is the Director for Business Relations and Executive Education for AUT University Business School. Sarah is a results focussed, experienced business leader with a background of stakeholder engagement and senior leadership. As an entrepreneur Sarah owned a Deloitte Fast50 business - the fastest growing business owned by a woman in New Zealand.

Sarah an experienced CEO, Director and Trustee whose leadership has been recognised by the Sir Peter Blake Trust and Westpac's Women of influence programme. Sarah became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in January 2017 for services to Business and the Community.

X Challenge Judge

Shane Ohlin
Shane Ohlin, an AUT alumnus, joined Paymark as its Chief Information Officer in May 2016. He has more than 30 years’ experience in technology and management roles in New Zealand and Australia, has been accountable for some of the largest technology projects undertaken in New Zealand and is the founder of www.driverlessplanet.com.

At Paymark Shane is accountable for both the agile digital development team and the mainframe-class core financial switching systems that handle 75% of the country’s retail payments. The team also oversees the wider technology strategy, enterprise architecture and security of the technical systems. Before joining Paymark, Shane spent six years as a management consultant and 15 years at Spark. As the CIO for Spark’s retail division, Shane managed the $350M Spark NZ transformation multiyear programme of works.

PRODUCT CATEGORY

X Challenge Judge

Oliver McDermott
Oliver lives and breathes innovation and design. He is an Industrial designer and technology entrepreneur: a strong leader who is passionate about creating successful products, designed in New Zealand and sold to the world.

Oliver is co-founder of Blender Design - an Auckland based, award winning product design and development company. Over the last 10 years he has built and led a passionate team of product design experts and together they have developed many successful new products and ventures.

Oliver’s design led approach to business and practical experience of the hardware product development process help him to develop products that deliver commercial outcomes. Oliver has worked and will continue to work across a range of industry sectors, particularly in consumer electronics and the internet of things.

X Challenge Judge

Lyle Reilly
Lyle Reilly is a senior lecturer within the School of Art and Design at AUT. He is the leader of the Creative Entrepreneurship minor which aims to build business confidence for students entering the creative sector.

X Challenge Judge

Adriana Christie
From a young age AUT Alumni Adriana Christie, co-owner of Pallet Kingdom, knew she wanted to get into social enterprise. At the age of 13, having grown up surrounded by poverty, she had the very mature realisation that if you don’t have a business and you don’t generate revenue then you can’t help people. Now, with Pallet Kingdom, Christie is turning that idea into a reality.

SOCIAL CATEGORY

X Challenge Judge

Lizzie Gray
Lizzie is an award-winning Social Entrepreneur, self-made Business Owner, and serial blue-sky Thinker. As a Business Development Specialist with a love of large creative projects, she had the privilege of creating three multi-million dollar businesses for global media companies across NZ, UK, and Europe before founding my her marketing company which she grew into a $25M+pa enterprise within 2-years.

Seeking greater fulfillment, she launched UK’s first certified social enterprise - winning Global Social Enterprise Of The Year 2006, before embarking on a 5-year round-the-world sabbatical to develop charitable projects and study human potential. The cumulation of her journey is Betterment Global; a social start-up with an audacious goal - to unite entrepreneurs with epic ideas and collectively create a new, global economy that positively impacts the world.

X Challenge Judge

Pete Russell
Pete Russell founded Ooooby (Out of our own backyard) in 2010 from Waiheke because he believes that changing the way we produce and distribute food is fundamental to solving the world’s most pressing social and ecological problems. Ooooby’s mission is to put local small-scale sustainable farming back at the heart of the food system we all depend on. Pete is a passionate and driven entrepreneur with more than 12 years experience running food enterprises across manufacture, wholesale, distribution and retail.

X Challenge Judge

Brittany Teei
Brittany Teei is a former professional tennis player, social entrepreneur, founder of KidsCoin tech-company, and she’s only 27 years young. KidsCoin is a web-based tool to teach middle-schoolers how to earn, manage and spend through imaginary play money.

X Challenge Judge

Convenor of judges- Mike Hutcheson
Mike has spent most of his life working what people want and why. He co-founded leading advertising agencies; Colenso BBDO and Hutcheson Knowles Marinkovich, and culminated his advertising career in Auckland as Managing Director of Saatchi and Saatchi. He was also a director of a family building company and in the early 80’s set up Replica Homes, with franchises throughout New Zealand. In 2003 he launched The Lighthouse Ideas Company and in 2008 he helped undertake a management buyout of Image Centre; multi-channel communications group. He set up Scarborough Fair, a Fair Trade organic coffee and tea marketing company, planted Lonely Cow vineyard on Waiheke, and has interests in a wine distribution company operating through Nashville, Tennessee.

Mike has written four books, and has been a regular television guest and commentator. He was named Business Columnist of the Year in the 2012 Magazine Publisher’s Awards, he is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and has a Master of Philosophy degree. He has recently been appointed an Adjunct Professor at Auckland University of Technology.

Last updated: 19-Dec-2017 1.47pm

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.