Challenger Logo_vFINAL-01.jpg


Expressions of Interest Open for 2019 - Click HEre

2018 Programme Information


Start-up Dunedin’s Challenger Series is the first of its’ kind in NZ. A collaboration between business, Government and Creative HQ to identify, nurture and propel Dunedin’s most promising start-ups.


All entrants will receive value from this four stage series:

  1. Enter – Complete our robust ‘first drop’ application

  2. Pitch - 20 applicants will make it through to build their case and then pitch to a panel of Dunedin and beyond’s most proven and successful entrepreneurs and business minds.

  3. Learn – up to THREE Challengers will WIN $15k in services and spend four months working with experts, mentors and investors to get them ready for the end game – investment.

  4. Grow – Investment ready Challengers will receive 12 months of advisory panel services from Deloitte, Gallaway Cook Allan and Start-up Dunedin – valued at over $50k p.a


We’ve lined up a seriously awesome group of mentors passionate about seeing Dunedin ‘take off’, each successful Challenger will be paired up with the most appropriate mentor based on industry and need.


It’s not a competition without loot:

  • $5,000 credit with Deloitte

  • $5,000 credit with Gallaway Cook Allan

  • $2,500 credit with Air New Zealand

  • $2,500 marketing budget*

*marketing expenses could include advertising, website development, collateral, branding, design, consultancy



Applications Have closed for 2018

Expressions of Interest for 2019 are Open



Sponsors branding-01.png

Frequently Asked Questions

I can't submit my form. What should I do? 

  1. Write your answers in another document so you can copy + paste your answers if the form fails again.

  2. Try submitting the form through a different browser e.g Google Chrome.

  3. If the form still fails, email with:
    - Your answer document
    - The browsers you have tried
    - Your operating system
    - Screenshots of the error message

We can manually input your entry. 

Once I fill out the first-drop form have I applied?

The initial first-drop form is the first part of the application process. We will then select 15-20 candidates to pitch to our panel who will select the three successful applicants.

How will I find out if I have been selected?

We will get in touch with you via email after each stage of the application process.

When will I find out if I’ve made it through?

We will select 15-20 candidates to pitch to our panel who will select the three successful applicants in late July.

When will I need to be available for the Challenger Series? 

You will need to be available from now through to the end of November 2018. We will release key dates after entries close. 

Where do I work from?

Your team will receive free workspace at the Distiller throughout the series. You are also free to work remotely, providing you are within Otago and can travel for key dates and meetings.

How many startups get through?

The Challenger Series will accept 3 startups.

What if we have already covered some of the series prior to entering?

No worries. This will allow you to move through the series faster and spend your time on the areas which need the most attention. 

How long does the series run for?

The Challenger Series runs for four months, followed by 12 months of advisory for investment ready Challengers. 

Do I need to give up equity?

No, you will not give up any equity in your startup for participating in the Challenger Series.

Do we need to write a business plan?

Not for us. We make decisions based on our application form and the pitches we hear. We love demos, but we don't request business plans.

Will you sign an NDA?

We don't have any formalised procedures around privacy. Your application will only be used for the purpose of selecting startups and providing targeted support. Your information will never be shared publicly. 

Our group has two ideas. Can we submit two applications?

We don't recommend it. Pick your favorite idea and apply with one.

Can a single person apply for The Challenger?

Yes, we accept solo founders. However, one-person startups are tough and you're more likely to succeed with a co-founder or larger team.

I have a great idea for a startup, but I don't have technical skills. Will you still accept me?

It's important for the founding team to have the skills to build their product themselves, rather than outsourcing it to someone else. For most businesses, that usually means you need a technical co-founder.

We've already been working on our startup for a while. Is The Challenger Series appropriate for us?

Yes, absolutely.

What if we're doing something expensive?

We'll still help you, but instead of trying to build something launchable in four months, the goal becomes to build an impressive proof of concept to take to later stage investors to raise more capital.

Do we need to incorporate before applying?