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Photo by Michelle Smith

Agribusiness students experience the ‘Crocodile Pit'

St Paul's Collegiate School —

Year 13 agribusiness students are put to the test when they are required to design a new agribusiness product or service, develop a prototype and present their innovation to a panel of judges in the hope they will receive the 'crocodiles' support to continue its development.

Earlier in the year, the two Year 13 Agribusiness classes split into thirteen different companies and fronted up to a panel of five businessmen and one woman, to present an innovative agricultural idea that they had come up with.

For those of you that have seen the ‘Dragon’s Den’ or ‘Shark Tank’, this is the St Paul’s equivalent of these television programmes and is fondly known as the ‘Crocodile Pit’!

It is a very daunting task for these young men and women, as in four minutes, they have to convince six very successful local business people, several of them self-made millionaires, that their idea is not only new in the market, but there will be a demand for it.

The panel of ‘Crocodiles’ then get to “snap” questions at them for a further four minutes, trying to “bite” holes in their idea and making sure they have done their market research and know how much their idea will cost to make.

All thirteen groups did really well, and put up some very convincing arguments under very difficult and nerve-wracking conditions.

We are extremely proud of all of the groups. ‘The Crocodiles’ too were very impressed with the calibre of the presentations and all of them commented that they were the best they’d seen in four years of doing this with St Paul’s. But as in real life, not everyone is a winner and only four groups were singled out as finalists.

Two of the four groups went on to display their idea in the Young Innovators competition at the Fieldays. You may remember that last year’s winners of the ‘Crocodile Pit’ went on to win the Fieldays competition and this year, the same thing happened again! The other two groups also attended the Fieldays as well and appeared on the St Paul’s marketing stand to tell people about their idea, to network and perhaps to even look for potential investors?

Let’s meet the four winners of the 2018 Crocodile Pit and hear about their ideas:

4th place company who won $100 cash in The Crocodile Pit:

Company: Vele (pronounced Veal)

Team Members:

Isabella Heskett, Hannah Bethel, Jordan Grace, Priya Singh and Tayla White

Our Philosophy:

“Our company, Vele, has a philosophy that in future, New Zealand’s agricultural success will become dependent on how sustainable we become in the production of silage paper. In the media, we see our dairy sector constantly get thrown with negative publicity that adds to the forever downward spiralling reputation it has gained over the years. Part of this bad reputation is due to the large amount of waste and pollution that is emitted from the disposal of silage paper. Statistics show a disappointing 5,874 tonnes of silage wrap being burnt annually in the Waikato region alone. With this in mind, we wanted to make a product that helps combat this urgent issue. Thus, leading to the formulation of ‘BioWrap’”.

The product – “BioWrap”

“BioWrap is an efficient and eco-friendly, alternative to silage wrap. It completes the job to the standard of a normal silage wrap, being tear-proof, water and puncture resistant and having enough stretch-ability to wrap silage. But, our silage wrap has the added bonus that it is incredibly eco-friendly by being completely biodegradable! This is achieved through the addition of an additive called ‘D2W’, a molecule added in the manufacturing process. The chemistry is quite complex, but put quite simply, the D2Ws additive breaks down the long, strong, carbon to carbon bonds, into smaller hydrocarbon bond chains, which in turn can be broken down by specific bacteria into carbon dioxide and water. Fortunately, the breakdown doesn’t happen immediately, and has the ability to last up to 20 months.”

3rd place company who won $200 cash in The Crocodile Pit:

Company: Mark-It

Team Members:

Sam Reeves, Will Porritt, Daniel Johnson and Bennet Groube

“The Mark-It is a simple idea to mark out the fencing post really simply and quickly. When making a fence, once all your posts are set in the ground, the Mark-It comes into action. It is a metal strip that you hammer against each post and it will indent specific holes where the wires are to go. It is made of metal and robust, so will withstand rough handling and a harsh environment. It has adjustable spike settings on the Mark-It for different wire settings, i.e. if the farmer requires a six-strand or a nine-strand fence. The Mark-It works from the top of the post, enabling the wires to be even, accurate and stock proof. The Mark-It is designed to save time and money for the farmer. It is also lightweight, so will not be physically tough on the body of the user. Overall, this design has allowed the user to do the job of marking out posts simply, and quickly, causing no aches or strains on the body.”

2nd place company who won $300 cash in The Crocodile Pit:

Company: Grass Fed NZ

Team Members:

Sophie Egan, Christa Brandt, Anahia Noble, Mackenzie Coffin and Briana Cardon

“Grass Fed NZ is a specialised auditing service that monitors the traceability of what our farmers are feeding their stock. We endeavour to ensure that stock are at least 75% grass fed all over New Zealand. We would do this by a standard dietary animal requirement declaration that will cover exactly what is acceptable feed and confirm traceability of what these farmers are putting into their cows. This will then benefit the agricultural industry as we will promote our grass fed percentage on the global stage, which will naturally promote our exporting products, such as dairy, which we will then later expand to the meat industry.”

1st place company who won $400 cash in The Crocodile Pit and were overall winners of the National Fieldays Innovations Competition in 2018

Company: Gudgeon Guards

Team Members:

Edward Sclater, Thomas Nicholson, Spencer Clayton-Greene and Jarrod Mealings

“The problem that we are solving is that the gudgeon on a gate is not always level with the ground and the gate could be either on a lean or dragging along the surface, making it hard to open. Their solution and product is a small sleeve like device that slips over the top of the two gate hooks or gudgeons. Thirty-seconds later, the gate is lifted and swinging free. They also act as a preventative, as it stops the gate from slumping. Other variations and features of the product include:

  • A widened washer that allows the gate to sit level on the gudgeon guard.
  • A variation in size to cater for smaller gates as well as the common farm gate.

The key selling point is that the sleeve comes with a bolt which acts as a set screw to secure the gudgeon guard onto worn gudgeons, which helps to reduce slippage. Simple, but very effective!”