Insights from Young Enterprise CEOs

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Max Irving and Maia Trevelyan

Each year, 4000 Kiwi students around the country form teams to participate in the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES). This year in the Western Bay of Plenty, over 160 students created and ran 28 new companies, completing a series of challenges including validation, promotion, sales and pitching.

At the YES Regional Finals in October, we celebrated the year in style with five teams pitching with a total of 14 teams receiving awards. You can read more about the evening here

We chatted with two of this year’s CEOs, Max Irving and Maia Trevelyan, about their YES experience including the highs, lows and their learnings.

Max and his team’s business, Zealous Candles, created unique and customisable candles with 25% of the profit being donated to the Breast Cancer Foundation. 

Maia and her team's business was this year’s Regional Winners, Kiwi Kick, a healthy and convenient kiwifruit gel. Their product was made from the kiwifruit that can’t be sold (saving them from landfill) meaning consumers experienced the immunity boosting benefits of kiwifruit no matter the season. 

A year of highlights for both Max and Maia, we asked which of these moments stuck out.

Max: A highlight of the year was working with my close friends in a business and operating at a high level. Being able to talk to external companies and experience some unfamiliar moments with your peers was an incredible and unforgettable experience. 

Maia: One highlight of my YES year was the Seriously Good Food Show. It was such a success and was really good to launch our product after many many hours of R&D, phone calls, meetings and hard work. 

Part of the YES learning experience is overcoming the many challenges and building up a higher problem solving capacity. Here is how Max and Maia overcame some of their challenges. 

Max: One challenge I overcame throughout the YES year was having to deal with members in the group who were not contributing the required workload or effort. This meant I had to remove some friends from the group which was not an easy task, but was vital for the progression of the company. 

Maia: One challenge I overcame during the YES year was delegation. At first, I really struggled with this as I’m a perfectionist. However, I realised quickly that many hands make light work, and team members were mostly willing to help out. 

Walking away from the year having learnt some lessons they can apply to their day-to-day lives, Max and Maia shared their top takeaway.

Max: I learnt a lot about good leadership skills and how to delegate tasks appropriately and have trust in others. Have also learnt a lot about communication with others, especially external companies and how to best negotiate with them. 

Maia: One thing I learnt through YES is that connections and positive relationships are essential to keeping the ship running steady. By making connections with fellow team members, I felt the business flourished more. People are more likely to help and want to get involved if they have your respect. 

Both in their final years of high school, the YES programme helped Max and Maia gain some clarity about their future plans.

Max: It's helped me establish a vision for what I want to be - an entrepreneur. 

Maia: Running a YES business has reinforced what I want to study at university - Management and Entrepreneurship. I love the challenge of getting things done in a short span of time, and finding ways to solve supposedly impossible situations. 

Having gained so much from their YES experience, we asked if they had any advice for someone doing YES next year.

Max: Get involved! YES offers a lot of experiences and necessary learning moments that will help you in the future and also create memories you won't forget.

Maia: My advice for someone doing YES next year is to take what people say with a grain of salt. You don’t have to listen to the advice of everyone. Personal opinions can be helpful, but don’t let someone take away your confidence and drive to succeed. Make sure to check in on team members because they are the backbone of your company and you need to be able to rely on them. 

It’s awesome seeing the impact of the Young Enterprise Scheme on those who participate and our Venture Centre team looks forward to bringing back the programme for next year’s batch of businesses! 


Want to know more about mentoring and YES? Get in touch here. Have a business idea of your own that you want to pursue? Book a time with one of our Venture Navigators here.

You can also sign up to Venture Centre’s news for many more events to choose from.


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