An online marketplace that allows people to lend and borrow directly from each other, sidestepping the banks, won top prize in the University of Auckland Business School's Spark Challenge last night.
The site, Nexx, won $20,000 in seed funding and a nine-month tenancy in the Icehouse business incubator.
The Spark Entrepreneurship Challenge provides University staff and students with resources to commercialise their business ideas. More than $60,000 in cash and prizes was handed out at a prizegiving in Auckland.
Eighty entries were submitted to the Challenge this year — a record number. The top 12 qualifiers received mentoring and training to develop their idea before a winner was selected.
Nexx applies social networking concepts to finance. Borrowers list their financial projects online at the Nexx website. Lenders, in turn, pledge funds and interest rates via an auction.
The founders of Nexx, Ben Milsom, Glenn Riddell, James Wallace and Mark Catley, are all University of Auckland students.
Runner-up Nerian received $10,000 last night. Nerian is a venture out of the School of Biological Sciences which isolates the healthy antioxidants in red wine and puts them in a range of other products.