A water-soluble, environmentally friendly fruit sticker that will reduce waste and encourage consumers to wash their fruit has made its creators award winners.
For the past eight months, Woodford House students; Sarah Wixon, Maggie Peacock, Zoe Rookes and Rylie Bensemann have been hard at work in the science lab perfecting their product: Bayuble.
Despite all their hard work, they were "surprised" their company Bayuble Woodford House was named Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) Company of the Year fior Hawke's Bay.
Their idea stemmed from conversations around plastic bags and the recent move from supermarkets to ban them. "Our first idea was to have an alternative plastic plastic bag, but we looked to Hawke's Bay and thought how can we personalise it to where we are from," chief executive Sarah Wixon said.
The "pesky little stickers" might seem useless at first glance but are important, containing a price lookup number (PLU) so the fruit is easily identified by checkout staff.
Peacock said "no one had been offering solutions".
They hope their plastic-free, biodegradable sticker idea will revolutionise how fruit is labelled. And while the make-up of their sticker material is a trade secret, it uses a byproduct of apples.
Wixon said it required an "intensive amount" of testing, and a number of prototypes never made it.
Although the students are in their final year of high school, they are all studying degrees which have business elements and plan to continue with their fledgling company.
"Since we are still in the research and development stage, we hope to continue our testing and look forward in to the future of Bayuble to see what we can do, how we can make our products better and expand our product range. This is not the end."
"We all have a passion for business, so it will always be a part of our lives no matter what we do."
The team's mentor is Dean Prebble, a former New Zealand trade commissioner in Taiwan, who recently set up the Hawke's Bay Angels investment group. They say Prebble's input and feedback has been priceless and he has provided them with valuable contacts as they have researched their project.
"We've built up a lot of connections in the industry through our research, which has included discovering there have been alternatives to fruit stickers, including a fruit tattoo (done through lasering). We looked into that and discovered that lasering the fruit can leave it blemished, which detracts from its visual appeal.
"In many markets, they want the 'perfect apple' and our stickers would allow the fruit to remain in top condition, whereas the current stickers can leave a bit of a sticky residue that can detract from the look of the fruit."
Woodford's head of business studies and director of innovation, Toni Dunstan, incorporated the YES programme into its newly introduced level three business studies course.
"What I love about this course is the experiential learning and the interdisciplinary nature."
YES Hawke's Bay regional co-ordinator Karla Lee said 65 teams from 15 schools in the region came up with an idea of a product or service, did market research and then took it to market.
The students completed three YES challenges which determined the top six teams in the region.
The top six Hawke's Bay teams were Empressa Central (Central Hawke's Bay College), MyTapp (Woodford House), Poncho Me (Iona College), Project Rangatahi (EIT Business Enterprise Unit), Lightning Lock (Hastings Christian School) and Bayuble.
"The awards evening highlights the brilliant work of our youth in Hawke's Bay and what the future holds. It takes courage and hard work to achieve the results these teams have accomplished and I couldn't be more proud of these amazing young entrepreneurs."
Bayuble now has the opportunity to pitch at the Pan Pac Hawke's Bay Business Awards on November 16 to fine tune their delivery before heading to Wellington to represent Hawke's Bay on December 6 where they will compete against 20 other New Zealand regions.
Two Hawke's Bay teams also won national excellence awards: "George" by St John's College and Hawke's Bay Prison's "Letz Lead".
Hawke's Bay YES award winners:
Farmers Market Award: Bayuble Woodford House
Sales & Marketing Award: YES Tamatea Tamatea High School
Business Resilience Award: Letz Lead Hawke's Bay Prison
Innovation & Social Impact: Project Rangatahi EIT Business Enterprise Unit
Entrepreneur of the Year: Rahiri Edwards-Hammond EIT Business Enterprise Unit
YES Company of the Year and Hawke's Bay Regional Champion: Bayuble Woodford House