Imagine an event where 100+ business owners from the 50 fastest growing companies in your country could get together and network for a day, attend interactive, focused discussion groups with other business owners who have all “been there done that” before, eat and drink heartily (and healthily) before enjoying an awards ceremony where the Top 50 fastest growing companies are announced from 50-1! It seems like an impossible dream for a couple of extroverted, entrepreneurial business owners like us but it really did happen – last week in fact, and it was AWESOME! thank you to Deloitte.

The Deloitte Fast 50 has been going for 12 years now and in 2013 the format changed from regionally focused events to the one described above. The result for us was a stimulating and inspiring experience. I honestly hope Deloitte continue to support the New Zealand business community though presenting this fabulous networking opportunity again and again.

Our day was split into streams so we got to select sessions from an impressive agenda, listen to subject matter experts passionately talk about their domain and ask lots and lots of questions. Some of the highlights for me included a session with Paul Grey from World Wide Access talking about branding and marketing in the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods space) where he flawed the audience with Amazon figures – their growth and stronghold in the American consumer space and their move into groceries via Amazon Fresh which is predicted to completely disrupt existing store based shopping all over again. Another highlight was Al Monro from Broadfield advisory sharing his experience when growing and selling Next Windows, the challenges they overcame and processes required – really engaging and interactive speaker if you ever have a chance to listen to Al.

Networking was the real highlight of the day. The event started with a speed dating exercise – after the whole room of 300 people had completed a rendition of “what does the fox say” to break the ice – where we spent 1 minute with 1 person to introduce ourselves and our companies, then moved on, which was a great way to meet a dozen or so people in the room who became familiar faces throughout the day. There were plenty of opportunities to chat over food and drink, during the vineyard tour of Villa Maria or over dinner. Shane and I were lucky enough to be sitting with the #1 Fastest Growing Company in New Zealand Earthwise for dinner and the awards ceremony which was absolutely awesome, great guys, fantastic products (I love their new packaging) with a great story. They purchased Earthwise out of receivership and have grown to this in 3 years. Very impressed indeed.

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My advice – if you are a startup, a growing company, have aspirations to grow, enter the Deloitte Fast 50 in your country. The experience of going through the process, attending the regional event and networking there then the jubilation of making the top 50 is worth the effort and is a rewarding one. We came 22nd! with 330.02% growth. Looking forward to next year, and the next, and the next……..and hope to see you there NZ (and Australian) companies. Vic