Arch grant business winner advises Christchurch

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01 Jun 2012

Anton’s food labelling business FoodEssentials was amongst 15 companies selected for the grant, which requires companies to relocate to St. Louis and work towards attracting additional capital, including up to $100,000 of Arch Grants follow-on funding.

“Be open and transparent so that you can verify your ideas quickly,” Anton advised. “Too many businesses are secretive about their products and ideas not wanting to give away their Intellectual Property, only to find that when they launch, the idea was based on one or more flawed assumptions.”

Anton launched FoodEssentials (initially EatingSafe 2006) while living in Hong Kong, where he was raised, with his brother Dagan, who lives in Brisbane.

“FoodEssentials came to be shortly after my father was required to change his diet. He spent a lot of time in the supermarket trying to find the products that suited his specific needs, but eventually gave up due to the impossibility of having to compare all the information product by product.

“He felt there must have been a better solution and started searching online. After comprehensive research, with little to show for it, he shared his frustration with both Dagan (my younger brother) and me. It was then that we decided to do something about it.”

FoodEssentials' LabelINSIGHT provides retailers, manufacturers and government with sophisticated online tools for the deep analysis of food label data.

Anton brought his friend Dheeraj Patri on board to grow the business in the USA. “Dheeraj and I have been friends since we were five years old in Hong Kong. We launched our first business as children, selling fighting spiders to fellow students at school – we eventually had to liquidate this business due to receiving detention,” he said.

Other advice for Christchurch’s graduates and industry included attracting support and thinking globally.

“You need support to launch any business. Seek out relevant professionals and meet as many experts as you can. You can never get enough advice. Start-up incubators are a great place to start – whether you win or not, they are always a great way to test out your pitch and pitching skills.

“Practice a lean and agile philosophy in every aspect of your business, not just development. You don’t truly understand the lean and agile philosophy unless you’re applying it to all aspects of your business including strategy, business development, product development and sales & marketing.

“Lastly, don’t limit yourself to your local market. We are in a global economy and sometimes it can be better to launch your new or existing product in a market on the other side of the world. In this day and age this is easier than it’s ever been.”

Anton spent time in New Zealand while studying a postgraduate diploma in education at CPIT, which he felt prepared him for his career challenges. “The educators were world class and challenging. In addition to learning about education, we also studied more generally about learning and management philosophies – skills that have served me well even in my non-educational related pursuits.”

Anton was looking forward to moving to St Louis where he planned to build his professional networks and eventually develop FoodEssentials to be represented on all continents.