Brite NZ chief executive Madison Sykes has dyslexia, which was the catalyst for their award-winning idea.
“I would get very frustrated with the coloured plastic sheet which acted as an overlay [for textbooks]. I could not write on the sheet below (which is one of my greatest struggles when it comes to my dyslexia) and I had to constantly re-adjust it. The solution came when I was introduced to LED lighting by my dad - an electrician,” she says.
“The iBrite uses colour-changing LED technology to cast a colored light onto your workspace The colour relaxes the brain, which allows those with Irlen syndrome (commonly associated with dyslexia) to read and write with ease. When the user is finished using the iBrite it can be recharged via USB and it is portable so can be packed away in a school bag. This year our team has taken this idea to the next step. We have now created a product which is effective and efficient.”
The YES finals, held at Toi Ohomai’s Windermere campus, are just the latest in a long string of achievements for this hard-working group of teens from Tauranga Girls’ College.
You see, the initial team was formed in 2015 when CJ Dobbs, Gabriella Eaton and Madison Sykes entered Mashup, a learn-by-doing event for young Bay of Plenty entrepreneurs, organised by Venture Centre. This year Ashley Cundy joined their Mashup team when they entered for the second time and, in May, Abbey Herbison joined, too.
This crew has been working for months, through multiple Venture Centre organised experiences, to test and refine their idea. “We started off by entering our first Mashup with no clue as to what our product/service should be for this competitive hands-on prototyping weekend, so I pitched my idea for the iBrite,” Madison says.
“Over the next 46 hours, we worked to develop the roots of it. We were so excited when we were announced supreme winner. From there we were pumped and decided to enter the Young Enterprise Scheme.”
They then won the regional Young Enterprise Scheme dragon’s den, and subsequently buoyed by their success, entered their product as a contender for the Young Innovator Awards (YIA), where they took out the top senior prize and look forward to receiving their reward – product development support they need from one of the YIA sponsors. Most recently they launched their business to the public in August at Basestation.
Madison says Venture Centre has been an important part of their entire journey. “The team at Venture Centre are an inspiration! Being able to work alongside them has been an amazing opportunity. They are all extremely knowledgeable and genuinely want to see you succeed. They are able to point you in the right direction when you are lost, push you forward when you are stuck and celebrate your successes,” she says.
“Venture Centre has allowed us to build a network with people from not only the Bay of Plenty but around the world. I have also learned many key skills which I can apply not only to my business but personal life. They have inspired me and shown me a world of opportunities is open to me.”
The Brite NZ team will head to Wellington later this year for the national finals. Several of them will head off to university next year while others consider pursuing their startup opportunity.
Here at Venture Centre, we can’t wait to see what they come up with next and know these young women will take their entrepreneurial skills and spirit into whatever they do in future.
- Venture Centre works to connect people on enterprising journeys - with each other and the mindset, skillset, toolsets, networks and resources they need - to build an ecosystem that delivers real-world, learn-by-doing events, activities, projects and experiences, and more. This would not be possible without the support of Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District Councils.
If you would like to add your support or get involved with this work to help build entrepreneurially capable, digitally and commercially empowered communities who contribute and benefit from the resulting prosperity and wellbeing, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.