Bright spark claims $10,000 prize
What started as a bet between two mates has netted a Palmerston North app developer $10,000.
Peter Vullings and his V-Electric custom electric scooter were judged the supreme winner at the Innovate Manawatu awards last night.
His business is based around the concept of custom scooters finished with wood and fine upholstery.
Mr Vullings is also the man behind Pixelthis, a company which makes applications for mobile devices.
He said he was making an electric scooter at the same time someone in the office across from him was making an electric skateboard.
‘‘First it was who could get theirs finished the fastest, then we thought why not have a bit more competition – who can get the fastest.’’
Then offers started coming in from friends. ‘‘They were saying ‘if you make me one I’ll buy it’, so that’s where I thought there was a business.’’
Mr Vullings said he was always inventing things, but the hardest part of the process was finding the right partners to help him.
‘‘I can’t do it on my own, so I needed people to develop prototypes and find a market to then sell it.
‘‘My business is in games and apps, so I need people to help me take [the scooters] to the market.’’
The $10,000 would go a long way to getting the project off the ground, he said.
‘‘There’s a limited market in New Zealand, so I have to look to export straight away.’’
Mr Vullings said he was planning to apply for research and development grants.
The innovator’s prize went to John Howarth for his custom-built motorcycle foot controls. Massey University student Charles Allen won the youth award for his tourism-themed T-shirt business.
The competition, run by the Bio Commerce Centre, took place over 12 weeks, whittling 350 ideas down to 10 finalists and the three category winners.
Judging convener Simon Barnett said the finalists were all of a high standard. ‘‘Deciding on one winner presented us with a real challenge.’’