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After Cyclone Gabrielle made Gisborne-based Pauariki Honey rethink their business’s future, a mentorship with Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) helped open exciting export growth opportunities.


Following the hammering that the North Island’s East Coast endured in early 2023, Pauariki Honey owners Cate and Mike King suddenly found themselves having to rethink their business’s direction.

While Mike focused on bee health recovery and staff support, Cate searched for new, innovative ways to progress the business. Exporting had long been on their radar.

They had successfully exported to Asia for six years. but finding new networks and contacts in New Zealand for offshore sales was challenging.

Cate had always believed mentoring was “an expensive luxury”, but after hearing BMNZ’s CEO Sarah Trotman on Radio New Zealand promoting a free mentorship for a year, she was convinced it was the right thing to do.

Cate requested a mentor with export and strategy skills in the food sector, and Patrick Brookman proved to be, in her words, “the perfect match”.

Patrick had extensive overseas experience, having lived and/or worked in Australia, SE Asia, Japan and the US. His career has predominantly focused on food/nutrition markets and he was happy to share his food sector knowledge and contacts.

“He automatically identified the need for us to diversify by exporting honey overseas and he had ideas on how and where we could focus our energy,” recalls Cate.

In October they accepted his invitation to attend a retail innovation council meeting in the US; to pitch their honey to seven supermarket vice presidents. They were the first Kiwi company ever to be invited. It was an opportunity too good to miss.

First they had to create a brand exclusively targeted at the North American market.

Cate and her small team embarked on some intense market research. Brand story, website and marketing was undertaken on a tiny budget and King Bees Honey
was born.

“We spent four days in New York doing market research, visiting supermarkets, talking to consumers and giving away honey samples,” says Cate. “By the time we made it to Jekyll Island in Georgia, and met up with Patrick, we were ready to do our pitch.”

The experience was both humbling and amazing. The Americans loved the product, the King Bees story, and were ready with work with Pauariki Honey.

Today Cate and Mike are set to return to the US to meet up with head buyers and discuss King Bees going forward. They hope their story will encourage other business owners to reach out to BMNZ to find that perfect mentor.

“Not only have we found a new international market to sell our honey in, but we have also gained a new friend,” says Cate.

“We are so grateful to be matched with Patrick and so thankful to BMNZ for offering this free mentorship.”

Finding the perfect match

 

Patrick Brookman believes the importance of the ‘right match’ is critical to any mentoring experience. “It’s the number one determinant of future success. Establishing a rapport, credibility and trust are at the heart of the whole process,” he says.

New Zealand has some excellent, experienced people who can assist startups and/or businesses seeking to expand their horizons.

“With the rapidly changing world, increased ‘noise’ and the pandemic’s hangover it’s vital that business owners seek support from the ‘right’ mentor for
their situation and do due diligence on their background before engaging on a project.”

Mentors provide empathy, experience and expertise. In conjunction with BMNZ, ONE NZ, EMA and BDO, a new support project for Northland’s businesses is
currently underway, to assist them through the impact of the Mangamuka and Brynderwyn road closures.


If you are facing a challenging road ahead, register for a free mentor. Alternatively, normal price is $295 plus GST. To learn more or to register for a
mentor click here.

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