The Peoples Choice - Soda Startup Bootcamp

We love a challenge! When we first saw the opportunity to send in a video to SODA, we were a little blasé about it.  Mum searched how to make a cool video, we came up with our story and some funky images and really just hoped for the best. When we received an email to say we were in, we began to feel a little more excited, but it really wasn't until the opening night when we walked into the large event center that it hit us. We had a good idea, but so did all the other teams. And we only had one weekend to make the most of all the mentors and see if we could make my dream into a reality. 

I whispered to mum, "I think Api and I are the only kids here". When she went to get me a drink, she came back and giggled that I might have to stick to the water's as the adults had not really catered for me. My nerves grew as we stood up to mihi to everyone when the teams were announced, but looking back now, that was the easiest part of the entire weekend.

I had so many highs and lows in the next 48 hours. We met some fantastic teams, many of them super encouraging. I made mum and I lots of hot chocolates, even worked out how to fill our reusable cups right to the top with 2 pushes of the button. The mentors were so cool, I had never met so many really rich, business people in my life. They used big words, like 'validation' and 'deliverable's', I even caught myself using flash words when I spoke with them. It would have been cool to speak te reo Māori with them, but we still managed to convey the kaupapa (reason) behind my dream.

Mum and I had discussed our strategy from the start, she would work hard to make sure the deliverables were good enough to get us a chance to pitch, and regardless of whether we were chosen or not, I was the one to work on getting the pitch 'perfect'. By the time Sunday came along, I had psyched myself up to do the pitch, but as I walked out of the first practice session with the mentors I felt the pressure. And then again in the afternoon to a panel of  13 mentors. Nothing like being thrown in the deep end. Mum had drafted a rough script and set me the task of making it mine, whilst she continued slogging away with the paperwork.

When the official timer for the camp went off and we were allowed an hour of free time before the closing ceremony I was completely robotic, rehearsing over and over again. Then we were back were it all began, this time seated waiting to hear who the 3 finalists for each category would be. When 'Pōtiki Poi' was called out, I let out a wee squeal and then went into panic mode. We were last in the order of presenters too, so Mum and I watched the others before us, whilst my nerves pumped me up ready for the stage.

Long story, short, we didn't win our category, which I must say hit me hard, but I really did love it, all of it! We did win the hearts of the crowd though and the Peoples Choice Award. Check out these links to read opinions from others,  &

Would I do it again? Yeah probably, maybe next year I will take my kura whānau.


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