Business and Innovation Courage and initiative Creativity Science and Technology

Building entrepreneurial skills audaciously

Startup Dunedin Audacious entrepreneurs last semester, when they could still physically gather together. Photo: Arthur Hon

Investigating turning old shoes into quality leather belts and wallets is just one of the steps students are taking to help make the world a better place. 

Developing an online resource to support teachers is another.

Startup Dunedin runs the free Audacious programme to build entrepreneurial skills and confidence so Otago Polytechnic and University of Otago students can turn their enterprising ideas into reality.

The programme has run in various forms for 10 years and well-known businesses to emerge include PledgeMe, and Globelet, which supplies ongoing reusable systems for stadiums and events around New Zealand and Australia.

Startup Dunedin General Manager, Rachel Butler, is impressed by the students’ passion to instigate change. More than 50 per cent of Audacious projects are focused on sustainability or mental well-being.

One aspiring entrepreneur studying for his Masters in Materials Science was vexed by the many old shoes being thrown out, so he’s researching how to make them into high-end leather belts and wallets.

Meanwhile, two Norwegian exchange students are developing an online resource so teachers can share ideas and lesson plans with those beyond their immediate circles. At present, this resource is available in Norway and there are plans to launch it in New Zealand.

Audacious participants Carl August Tronrud (top) and Bård Bergkvist, from Norway, on exchange in Dunedin. Photo: Arthur Hon

During Covid-19

Rachel is also heartened by the students’ willingness to continue with Audacious during this Covid-19 virus season.

The students usually meet together over pizza each Wednesday to learn and develop ideas. However, the new intake hadn’t met before the Alert Level 4 restrictions forced the programme online.

One third of this group remains in Dunedin and the other two-thirds have returned home to be isolated with their families. These students are still trying to study while isolated and in a vastly different situation from normal.

I’m incredibly impressed that they’re still continuing with what they believe in,” Rachel says.


They are meeting in large and small groups online by Zoom and are also using online chats to foster community and to brainstorm with each other.

While everyone is handling the uncertainties of the Covid-19 situation differently, some are finding the routine and focus the programme provides is helpful.

Audacious numbers have more than doubled from 40 last semester to 100 this semester and no more have dropped out than usual. However, there is one biting difference.

“They don’t get any pizza at all this semester!”

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For further information:

About the Audacious programme


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