Tongan Artist succeeds at Pitch@Palace

Tongan Artist and entrepreneur Uili Lousi pitched his business idea in London before the Duke of York and a group of top investors.

Uili Lousi at PitchPalace in London.

Pitch@Palace is an initiative started by the Duke of York in 2014 to support entrepreneurs turn their dreams to reality by connecting innovative start-ups globally with potential investors and supporters including angels, mentors and key business contacts.

Mr Lousi beat hundreds of applications from the Commonwealth to be one of 40 entrepreneurs to ‘pitch’ innovative business ideas at St James Palace with the Duke of York during the Commonwealth Summit from 16-20 April 2018.

To prepare for the pitch all participants went through an intensive one-day Boot Camp hosted by Facebook. The preliminary sessions included coaching and mentoring from professionals like KPMG, The Hult Business School and of course, Facebook. They were contending for one of 12, 3-minute pitch opportunities versus the standard 30 second spiel to be made at St James Palace before the Duke of York and an influential audience of the “the world’s entrepreneurship, technology, media and investment.’

For Mr Lousi, “It was a real eye opener – competitive to say the least. It was great to be there in London, there was a lot of energy especially with CHOGM and the lead up to the Queen’s Birthday.”

The highlight for him was meeting the Duke of York in person and chatting to him about Tonga. As well as the Duchess of York Lady Sarah who has fond memories of the Tongan monarchy, said Mr Lousi.

Mr Lousi was seeking investment to provide climate change reality experiences for tourists and locals with the fusion of art, climate change and eco-tourism. Investment would go toward six solar powered amphibian caravans to be operated as premium eco-tourism accommodation in Vava’u, from July to September during whale-watching season.  The amphibian caravans would be converted and used as a platform for art installations to promote climate change awareness throughout the Kingdom of Tonga during the off-season. The unique Uili Lousi Studio experience would be an addition to the tourism product portfolio for Tonga.  Demonstrating the need for locals to hone their talents and crafts into a product that showcases not only their art and culture but their warm hospitality.

“Everyone wants to come to Tonga and visit, this was a great opportunity to promote Tonga as a destination as well,” Mr Lousi said.

“Climate change is a serious issue that the Pacific is facing – after the Pitch@Palace – I was able to support a Tongan delegation that was there for CHOGM and spread the word and wave the flag for Tonga,” he added.

Mr Lousi made some great connections and would not have been able to meet and pitch to those that he did to, had he not been chosen to participate in the event said Ms Joanna Bourke of CocoNew – The Agency.

Mr Lousi acknowledges there is a lot of follow up to come.

“Let’s just say, the work has just begun.”

Before leaving Tonga for London, Mr Louisi had said, “It’s unbelievable that our Island, our country and our home will be on the international stage.  I’m honoured to be chosen and to represent Tonga and share with them my vision for art, culture and climate-change, in front of the Duke of York and distinguished guests during the Commonwealth Summit and the Pitch at the Palace.  Its Tonga’s time to take centre-stage! Ofa ‘atu.”

Last year Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand worked closely with Tongan officials to run the Path to Market workshops in Nuku’alofa and also worked with Nishi Trading in Auckland to promote a Healthy Eating campaign. Mr Lousi and Debra Allan were the other Tongan entrepreneurs accompanying the group to Auckland to launch the campaign.

For more information please contact: Joe Fuavao, PTI NZ Trade Development Manager on joe.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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