You will get an understanding of the realities of starting your own business, meet other students interested in starting up, network with fellow entrepreneurs and business people, attend workshops, get advice, and hear about other support and opportunities for budding entrepreneurs in Dunedin, New Zealand and internationally.

You will develop fantastic new skills, meet new people, it looks great on your CV and you’ll be in to win money and prizes to get your business off the ground. Last year, competitors shared in a jackpot of $40,000 in cash, services and other prizes to help them start-up – what have you got to lose?

How does it work?
Those entering the Audacious competition are required to submit a business idea, a detailed business plan and pitch their idea to the Dragon’s Den. Check out the Programme page for further details. Throughout the competition, students attend a range of start-up workshops and have access to a Business Coach for one-on-one advice.

Who is it for?
Audacious is for students of all disciplines at the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic – not just business students.

No matter what you study, if you are creative, energetic and keen to expand your horizons – Audacious could be perfect for you. If you are worried you lack business skills, or any other skills, we will do our very best to help you find team-mates with the skills you need.

Individual entrants must be current University of Otago or Otago Polytechnic students. If you are entering as a team, at least one member of your team must be a current student and that person must be your nominated main contact when submitting your ideas.

But you don’t even have to enter the competition, if you are thinking of starting up, you’re welcome to join the community – attend Audacious events, hang out in the Audacious space, speak to our Business Coach or simply ask for help!

To organise the wide range of ideas submitted every year, and to compare apples with apples, Audacious is split into five categories. In your Round One submission you will be required to nominate the category in which you think your idea fits, but they become more important in Round Two. As you can see, any idea can be a winner!


Don’t play safe, think long term. Bold ideas that are relatively untested and may have a long development phase, but could find worldwide success.


Get out there and make it happen. Ideas that are relatively straight forward, low risk and easy to bring to market.


Look after people and planet. Ideas that benefit society – for social entrepreneurs, not-for-profits, sustainable ventures and the like.


Think outside the box. Ideas that are innovative in the design or marketing that is leading edge and provides a competitive advantage.


Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi; engari, he toa takitini; our achievements are a collective endeavour, not a solitary effort. For Maori students and those with a Maori-focused business idea.

Read the Audacious Challenge rules 2014. Competitors must agree to these rules in the submission process. Entries can be submitted via the Challenge section of this website. Any questions regarding these rules should be directed to [email protected].

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Audacious > Blog

Posted by kari.petroschmidt


Louis Brown

t was already going to be a tight squeeze to meet Louis at our planned rendezvous time of 3 P.M, and when he texted me around noon asking to move it to 2 P.M I cringed, but agreed. There is something honest and delicate in his nature that one simply can’t refuse.  I was ten minutes late.  It was a rainy Wednesday afternoon and we met, at Louis’ suggestion, in the Good Earth Café by the University. 

Nothing in his boyish demeanour or casual appearance intimates that Louis Brown, 28, is the founder and CEO of independent community development agency, Social Innovation.  Alongside the University of Christchurch’s student army, Social Innovation helped organize and mobilize over 26,000 volunteers over six weeks in Christchurch’s February 22, 2011 earthquake.  Several thousands of the people that most of NZ watched volunteering their time and energy on TV every night over that tragic period were brought together, unified and organized, by Louis Brown’s Social Innovation. 

I asked Louis what exactly his vision for Social Innovation was. “When there is a clear social need, our goal is to define it, to articulate it to a group of people and provide them with the tools to take strategic action to effect real change.  We’re all about delivering fantastic grass-roots community initiatives on the smell of an oily rag.”

 These are phrases you will find frequently throughout Social Innovation’s website and ones that could be misinterpreted as vague and non-committal if it weren’t for the fact that Social Innovation does exactly what they say they do, to the point that Vodafone granted them $80,000 to continue their work after the earthquake. “It was a validation for the work and effort we had put in beforehand, to have someone else come along and say ‘we believe in what you’re doing.’  Someone who could provide us the opportunity to implement our ideas on a bigger scale and who could have resources ‘unlocked’. And that’s what we’re here to do, to unlock social resources that can provide real solutions to real social need.”

Volunteers for Christchurch mobilised by the Christchurch Student Army and Social Innovation 

Before starting Social Innovation Louis was the Social Director of the University P.E department, his job was “organizing piss ups for Scarfies, basically. “  At the age of twenty, however, Louis’s father passed away, a loss that had a defining effect on his life.  “It was as if I suddenly had 20/20 vision, like an epiphany that we are only here for the blink of an eye and every moment that we are alive matters, so we should do something with that time, something valuable.”

Following a UN Conference in Sydney, the burning drive to do something more worthwhile with his life grew. “They showed us a graph that was basically showing the current state of the world and where it was heading.  It opened my eyes to the negative impact of things, things even as small and as local as the Dunedin drinking culture, which I had personally been fostering and encouraging.  My idea was basically to find a way that we could use ourselves to make the world a better place.  And to make the world a better place is a limitless agenda, and to dedicate your life to it…”  Louis laughs wisely at the ceiling and unfolds his hands. “To dedicate your life to it, well, you are never short of goals.”

Other than the monumental efforts Social Innovation organized for the earthquake they are also heavily involved with NZ coastal beautification and conservation, organizing ‘A Day at the Beach’ cleanups all around the country, as well as holding the leadership development forum Youth Vision 2050, and partnering with agencies like UNESCO and CERA on youth consultation.

 Petrina Chai, Youth Vision 2050 organiser Amanda Keefe, Joshua Kurene, former Mayor of San Francisco Art Agnos and Youth Vision 2050 organiser Louis Brown.

I ask Louis what’s next for Social Innovation and he responds quickly and without hesitation. “New Zealand had the lowest voter turnout in history last year, the lowest ever.  There is a serious participation problem in the community, I want to promote the idea of mainstream citizenship, you know, promoting ways for everyday people to get involved with their country on a national level, to be pro-active as a nation.”

Louis’ days are a full load of caring for his daughter, writing, client work, administration duties and formulating a new research project to present to his board.  His goal is not an easy one, a sustainable not-for-profit social enterprise that allows him to put food on his table and spend the time he needs to steer his ever-growing business.  He is determined, however, and passionate about his causes, but also articulate and business minded; and he’s succeeding, at least for now.  Louis vision for his business and his prediction for the new breed of businesses in the future is a daring one, but one that  young entrepreneurs should take notice of. “I’m a philosopher.  I love ideas. Ideas fascinate me.  The next hundred years of innovation will not be business as we know it, the new ideas that will flourish will be ideas that service social problems.  There is only so much ‘stuff’ that people can buy.”

I asked Louis what advice he would give to young people starting out with a new business venture of their own. “Ask for help.  Set up meetings, go to the council, go see lecturers, go knock on doors, go to three people who know three times as much as you do and then ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to start this?’ And if the answer is yes, than let nothing hold you back.”


To find out more about Social Innovation visit

Andrew Oliver is a Dunedin based writer.