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


I know. You don’t want to hear the word ‘sustainability’ ever again.  But bear with me. Let’s start with an ostensibly basic question, what does the word actually mean? And, by implication, how are we to conceive of the environment? It has, of course, been a topic of much conversation in recent years. Think the scare tactics of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, The Age of Stupid and even Earth. Though these films may relate the positive aspects or opportunities inherent in our current environmental crisis, more often than not these are an add-on. They come at the end of the production, as if the producers didn’t know the simple psychological fact that it’s what you begin with that really sticks with the viewer. And this kind of pessimistic beginning only serves to exacerbate the individual’s sense of disempowerment. But even aside from this tactical blunder, the films fail in varying degrees to relate the possibility and opportunity inherent in our modern-day environmental ‘catastrophes’. The problem is we’re still conceptualizing sustainability as involving hardship and sacrifice when it could in fact lead to a greater increase in our quality of life.

The most basic definition of sustainability is that we use our resources in such a way that they’ll be able to continue to provide for future generations. But the term has, however,  become overused and co-opted to the extent that it is now essentially meaningless. When a company like BP (read: Gulf of Mexico oil spill) is able to call themselves ‘sustainable’ you know the show is over.



In this way, writers such as Gary Horvitz are calling for a new, more “authentic” word to describe our current relationship with the environment and that word is ‘thriving’. Horvitz writes, “There is something missing from the conventional use of the term sustainable that does not quite articulate the full flavour of what we imagine is the coming world. The world we truly want is something more like sustainability on steroids; not merely providing basic necessities or doing so without degrading the life support system, but a world in which all people are living at an enhanced level of quality that can only emerge when we live in a generous environment of open possibility.”

“How do live as fully connected beings?” 

‘Thriving’, as opposed to ‘sustainability’, is about a more holistic approach to our environment, as spiritual as it is social and political; “a biological, energetic and social vitality, a structure/process that is perpetually and self-consciously adaptable enough to address emerging needs, is alive! It is dynamic. In fact, the more deeply we dive into the philosophical core of the word, the more we realize that a critical principle determining our human aliveness, individually and collectively, is whether we can overcome the myth of separation that lies at the heart of our current economic structure. How do live as fully connected beings? And what kind of an economy grows out of living the true nature of our connection to each other and the earth?”

So this is about future generations. But it’s also about how we can we construct our societies so as to minimise our impact on the environment and maximise the extent to which we connect with both nature and one another, in the present. David Attenborough considers that our apathy in regards to the environment is due to the disconnection with nature that most of us, even in a place like New Zealand, seem to have. And with our wide open spaces, small population and large coastline, we’re the lucky ones, compared to industrial cities like Shenzhen, China.

But even in New Zealand most of us spend most of our time in some kind of man-made construction; at work, University, at the gym – we’re almost always either in a man-made construction or travelling in one, on our way to another. Yet nature is actually so important, not just in terms of the resources it provides but in terms of how a connection with it has such a vitalizing effect on the human spirit,  increasing our quality of living, and even our productivity.

“What an extraordinary achievement for a civilization: to have developed the one diet that reliably makes its people sick!” 

Jared Pickard is a case in point. A young farmer who decided to return to the land at age 26 after spending three years on the New York stock exchange, he “needed out.” He writes, “I was interested in much more than a career change. My mind, my body, my immune system, my belief system, my soul, my skin, and my fingertips – every piece of me began aching to evacuate the city immediately.” Pickard writes about a bevy of “young farmers, sprouting up across the nation,” people who long to feel the soil beneath their fingers and to be in the open air. But it’s more than just a connection with nature. It’s about our collective health and well-being as a society. The system at present of artificial food, artificially grown, is hurting us. Obesity didn’t even really used to exist, except in a few minor, aberrant cases. Now obesity rates in the US are looking to be around the FIFTY PERCENT mark by 2025. 3:

I think Michael Pollan puts it best, “What an extraordinary achievement for a civilization: to have developed the one diet that reliably makes its people sick!”


This conceptualization of nature means treating it as something you’re involved in. Our traditional approach, probably due to religion’s emphasis on ‘humanity’ above all, is to conceive of nature as a resource to use and exploit. We’re on top of the hierarchy here. Not so. People talk about ‘saving the planet’, but the planet is going to be here and nature, in at least some form, will continue to exist, long after we’re gone.

So this is really about being selfish. What’s best for us, the human race, and our individual and collective survival and quality of life, both in the future and right now. What’s best for our health, sense of connectivity, quality of living, future generations and yes, even our economies. Connecting with and accounting for nature needn’t be a sacrifice. In fact there is opportunity inherent in everything and ‘thriving’ recognises that fact. 

We’re going to be telling the stories of some ‘thrivers’ – people for whom accounting for the environment is not a sacrifice but a psychological, visceral and even economic necessity. And there are so many other examples, from individuals within Audacious to Cuba, hedonistic sustainability and the City 2.0. We’ll be talking about the role of business, planned obsolescence, the social memes we need to bust as soon as possible and SO MUCH MORE. It’s happening, right now.