Product passion is key to win

PETER WATSON
Last updated 13:00 05/09/2013
chia
PASSIONATE: Chloe Van Dyke of Nelson drinks company has been named Supreme Winner in business plan competition.

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A new health drink business owned by Nelson father and daughter Ben and Chloe Van Dyke has won the the country's premier business plan competition.

Their company Chia Ltd, which produces nutritionally rich bottled drinks containing the chia seed, was yesterday named as supreme winner of Business.govt.nz's 2013 ANZ Flying Start Business Plan competition.

As part of the win the company receives a prize package worth $58,800, including $30,000 of growth funding and access to top business training and advice.

Ms Van Dyke was stunned by their success, saying she never expected to do so well against some top entrepreneurs around the country.

"It's fantastic - we are just over the moon," she said after celebrating the win in Wellington with friends and her dad.

She attributed the win to their passion for a product which was a natural "superfood", with the chia seed used by a South American tribe famous for their long-distance running.

She had also received support from Nelson business mentors.

The win would provide the fledgling business, which began producing its drinks in December, with a big boost.

"We'll be using the cash to improve production efficiencies and boost our networks across the country."

She entered the competition last year, reaching the regional finals, and decided to have another go now the product was on the market.

The drink, which is blended with flavours including blueberry, blackcurrant and passionfruit, had been selling strongly in outlets in Nelson, Wellington and Auckland and beyond, and they were struggling to keep up with demand, which was tracking well ahead of expectations.

They had been targeting cafes, gyms, yoga studios, organic shops and some supermarkets. "A lot of it is by word of mouth.

"It's nice to have people embrace it because it's a very different product."

Ms Van Dyke said a comprehensive business plan has been vital for planning future growth.

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