High Country Salmon, James Henry win 2degrees Digital Accelerator competition

Wellington-based flooring specialist James Henry and Twizel aquaculture operator High Country Salmon are the winners of the inaugural 2degrees Digital Accelerator competition.

Their prizes include $50,000 each from 2degrees to invest in an optimised digital and technology package. This combines with an in-depth business assessment and bespoke recommendation from Christchurch-based technology consultancy Smudge and a 12-month Chamber of Commerce membership.

Small to medium enterprises are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, says 2degrees Chief Business Officer Andrew Fairgray, and every one of them can benefit from optimised technology. “At 2degrees we believe in fighting for fair for Kiwi businesses, the power of collaboration, and the benefits of digital technology in boosting productivity. That’s what we designed Digital Accelerator around, and now we’re thrilled to have these two great Kiwi businesses stepping up to see the theory translate directly into practice for their operations.”

High Country Salmon Sales & Marketing manager Tracey Gunn says disappointment with an IT system spurred its Digital Accelerator entry. “It was supposed to do amazing things but was underperforming. We wanted something streamlining our processes, so the Smudge assessment sounded ideal. And, of course, $50k towards digital and technology improvements would make it financially viable.”

James Henry owner Chris Northmore says the company had an idea requiring tech support and development. “Entering made sense as it was a potential bonus that the idea might be funded for us,” he smiles. “The prize will help develop our new online sales platform, something we would have done anyway, but the funding means it can be done better, sooner, and with less learn-from-experience mistakes.”

Digital Accelerator, explains Fairgray, emerged from 2degrees’ Shaping Business Study which clearly demonstrated that the businesses doing well in an increasingly challenging environment, are the ones harnessing technology to their advantage. “When 76% of thriving businesses say digital technology improves their productivity, it confirms something most of us innately appreciate: connectivity, devices and applications help get things done faster, conveniently, and better.”

He adds that 2degrees encourages collaboration and ‘in person’ relationship building, including participation in local Chamber of Commerce events. “We believe that local businesses working together achieve more. That’s why we’ve included Chamber membership in the prize package – and we encourage everyone to join their local Chamber and participate. It means discovering more about the problems and solutions others are experiencing which often means not having to reinvent the wheel yourself.”

Smudge co-founder and MD Reuben Bijl says ‘a real range of businesses’ across the country entered. “Among the common challenges being experienced is that organisations are spoiled for choice. Working out the best mix and the right fit of Software as a Service tools isn’t easy – people are asking themselves, ‘are we doing this right?’” He says this presents an opportunity for targeted guidance and insight so Kiwi businesses can get to value without expensive missteps.

With the winners selected jointly by Smudge and 2degrees, Bijl says both James Henry and High Country Salmon have technology projects underway which could benefit from targeted support. “Initially, we’ll go in with an advisor mindset, helping each think about technology roadmaps and resource use. For both, there is a range of services extending to marketing and brand expertise alongside possible technology development.”

Finally, both Northmore and Gunn are grateful for the competition and the investment of 2degrees and Smudge. Says Gunn: “We’d like to thank 2degrees for doing so much for Kiwi businesses, especially in identifying the struggle with inferior digital systems and giving all of us a chance to improve. Big thanks also to Reuben at Smudge – we are really looking forward to his upcoming visit and assessment.” While Northmore adds, “We’re excited about where this is heading.”

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