Glen Stephens and his startup, Sol+Sea, have taken out the top spot in the 2021 PowerUp Ideas Competition Finals Night, against some very strong competition, winning $10,000 to help take his idea to the next level.

Sol+Sea is an environmentally conscious lifestyle brand, focussed on natural performance skincare for adventurers and ocean enthusiasts. Their mission is to create natural, safe, performance skincare that works in the elements, and helps restore those elements.

"My aim is to take natural skincare to new depths. With our products we’re making a conscious effort to protect, repair and restore the health of our oceans and surrounds, with reef and marine safe ingredients, eco-friendly packaging and production, and environmental initiatives," says Glen.

A journey of learning and success

Glen has been working on his idea for over three years. It’s currently being trialled by focus groups and his brand ambassadors, New Zealand pro surfers, Paige Hareb and Ricardo Christie with great responses.

"I’m absolutely stoked about winning the competition. The PowerUp Ideas Competition has been a real journey and enabled us to refine and validate key aspects of the business and have laser-focus on our purpose and keeping us on our trajectory," says Glen.

Glen was also involved in the first stage of the PowerUp Ideas Competition with the Co.Starters series throughout February to March this year, along with 49 other budding Taranaki entrepreneurs attending eight capability building workshops.

"The whole process has been amazing. The start-up world can feel lonely so the mentorship and expert advice we had access to through PowerUp has been invaluable. We also doubled our timeframe to research, develop, validate, and execute the core fundamentals of the business and through PowerUp we got extra help to achieve our deliverables and goals prior to launching. We now have a solid foundation to launch a successful and long-lasting Taranaki-based business, thanks to PowerUp."

Tailored support for business ideas

From April to June the programme was narrowed down to five finalists who received tailored support to help them move forward with their idea. Supported by Soda Inc., Venture Taranaki’s support of the finalists included $3,000 seed funding, one-on-one mentorship, and two months of co-working space access. Glen was mentored by Soda mentor Rob Achten.

Like the other finalists, Glen has invested a lot of time in his business idea over the last two months and the PowerUp Ideas Competition is just the start for Sol+Sea.

"In the future, as a purpose driven business, I look forward to Sol+Sea contributing to ocean conservation and awareness through our partnerships, being a household brand name in New Zealand by protecting people’s skin when they are out having fun, and to help improve the plastics industry for the betterment of the environment," says Glen.

The Finals Night, held in front of a live audience, saw five finalists pitch their ideas to a judging panel. The judges commended the strength of the ideas pitched and noted their decision was a difficult one.

Glen from Sol+Sea wasn’t the only winner on the night. Lauren Oehme and Leon Power from Nanobubble Agritech took out the WITT People’s Choice Award winning $2,000 to use towards their idea. The WITT People’s Choice Award was decided by the live audience voting on the night.

A winner among many

The other four PowerUp Ideas Competition finalists were:

- Karen Danenhauer, MamaGaia - a product made from recycled products

- Lauren Oehme and Leon Power, Nanobubble Agritech - agricultural technology

- Remy Zynfogel, Calypso Science - technology focused on ocean tides and currents

- Jenni Matheson, Mrinali Kumar and team, Kinda Ice Cream - plant-based food product