Take action on ideas - innovator

23:00, Feb 27 2014
INNOVATOR: Lash lady creator and owner Juanita Shields.

One of the standout performers in last year's Innovate competition is urging those with an idea they believe in to take the plunge when entries open tomorrow.

That is what Linton inventor Juanita Shields did in 2013 with her tool that halves the time it takes to apply eyelash extensions.

After finishing third in Innovate, a kind of local version of Dragon's Den run by the Bio Commerce Centre, Mrs Shields has investors' money to play with and is within months of launching the tool.

The photographer, eyelash artist and mother of four said she had been flat out since the competition, which had proved to be the perfect stepping stone.

"I saw this huge window of opportunity in the field I was working in and Innovate helped me develop it.

"Investors don't just put money into your pocket, they have to know exactly what it is that you will be doing with everything before you can get that backing and that was what was the biggest bonus for me."


Mrs Shields meets with the BCC once a week and sets targets that keep her motivated to get the lashes out there.

"It's pressure but diamonds are made under pressure." She's set herself a goal to take the tool international.

The key to doing well in Innovate was to know the idea you were taking in was a good one, Mrs Shields said.

Marketing manager Dave Craig said Innovate was now a year-round programme but the competition was the "cherry on top".

The prize for winning is $10,000, with those making it through to the top 10 entered into the BCC's market validation programme.

Those who enter will receive two GoPro cameras and an iPad mini.

Mr Craig said there was a lot to be excited about in this year's competition, including the inclusion of Tararua District, the opening of a separate category to existing businesses with a product or project in mind and the return of all five judges from last year 's competition.

"[This] is a major coup for us to have them back as they understand the importance of what Innovate is achieving here in this part of the country."

Manawatu Standard