TWO technology champions have won category awards at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
David Charlesworth, founder and managing director of sole OKI distributor Comworth Systems, has won the technology, communication and biotechnology category, while Orcon Internet’s managing director Seeby Woodhouse won the young entrepreneur category.
Charlesworth and Woodhouse were among five category winners from a range of industries who are now in the running for the title of Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2004, which will be announced on October 20.
The winners were selected for their exceptional combination of qualities that embody the spirit of entrepreneurship, according to awards director Carol Campbell.
“These individuals have identified opportunities, taken risks and overcome challenges to build and grow their business ventures. Each one demonstrates creativity, courage, innovation, integrity, leadership and passion, as well as the tenacity and focus it takes to build a successful business,” she says.
Charlesworth is pleased to be recognised for being at the forefront of technology.
“It is both pleasant and satisfying, especially as it is a highly competitive sector with a number of good businesses,” he says, adding the company has always focused on being the first to introduce new technologies into the market at the appropriate time.
Charlesworth began Comworth Systems in Mairangi Bay in 1983 with very little capital, a single IBM PC and an informal agreement with OKI Japan to sell its fax machines in New Zealand, with the promise of a full distribution agreement if he was successful. The fledgling company secured the rights to OKI’s printer business and mobile phone ranges in 1984.
Comworth Systems is now part of the Comworth Group, which also includes Avaya distributor Agile and Comtel.
In 1995 Woodhouse started Orcon Internet from home, using an old computer and three dial-in connections and grew the company to a wholesale ISP, servicing around a third of the ISPs in New Zealand, as well as providing retail services to around 30,000 residential and business customers. It is the country’s fourth largest ISP and is the second largest provider of JetStream ADSL connections in the country. In August it also won three awards at the Westpac Enterprise North Shore Business Excellence Awards, including the Supreme Business Excellence Award.
The New Zealand winner will compete for Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year title in Monte Carlo in May 2005.
In its seventh year in New Zealand, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year programme runs in 35 countries and was launched over 17 years ago to recognise entrepreneurial spirit around the globe.
Other finalists in the technology, communication and biotechnology category included PayGlobal’s Donald Hastie and Karim Hussona of Compass Communications.