“A lot of our friends are like, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free - all this sort of stuff, we just went - vegan,” says Holloway.
“We wanted to create something that included everyone,” says Bremner.
Tilks was one of six teams pitching products to judges at the YES Tauranga/Western Bay of Plenty finals on October 23rd at the Tauranga Art Gallery.
Coconut’s health benefits appealed to the duo. They sourced ingredients, packaging and promotional materials domestically and sent the product to Massey University for analysis. Tilks launched at Tauranga’s Seriously Good Food Show earlier this year. A 200-gram jar of spread sells for $7.99, and the team has sold 172 units, for sales of $1326.
Bremner and Holloway say they couldn’t have made the business work without mentor Karen Smillie. “She’s been amazing, says Louise. “She helped us through this whole process.”
Smillie is impressed with the team’s confidence, passion, and commitment. “They’ve had to work after-hours, they’ve had to work weekends, and also they’ve let me be involved. They took my advice where it was offered. They listened, which I thought was a good trait in a 16-year-old.”
Tilks was one of five Otumoetai College teams that made regional finals. Aquinas College also fielded a finalist.
Otumoetai Head of Business Department Nyssa Poffley is in her twelfth year of coaching YES students. The nationwide programme is open to Year 12 and 13 students who set up and run a real business during the school year. Poffley says she enjoys seeing participants grow as they negotiate with suppliers, talk with customers and manage team members. “They’re dealing with teamwork, credits, money, on top of friendships...I just think it’s the real hands-on experience that they need and that’s why I love it so much. They’ll always remember what they’ve done at Young Enterprise.”
The Tilks team faced a setback in August when three of five members dropped out. Bremner and Holloway, both in Year 12, say they’ve experienced pitfalls of going into business with friends, but they’re happy with their win - and their product. “So many people would email us, ‘When can we get this again?’ sort of thing. It’s just seeing all the happy customers,” says Bremner.
Beyond winning first place in regionals, Tilks also took runner-up in the Innovation Award category. Parent Glen Holloway pulls a jar of coconut caramel spread from his bag while talking with Venture Centre. “Have you seen the product?” he asks. “They’re very diligent and we’re very proud.”
The regional winner will advance to the national Young Enterprise Scheme competition in Wellington in December, where teams have a shot at a $20,000 prize pot.