Aotearoa’s newest crop of female founders have spent the pandemic innovating, problem solving and putting their heart and soul into creating startups that challenge the status quo.

Finalists in the 2022 Soda RISE UP competition include a diverse group of female entrepreneurs who have developed biodegradable coffins made from cardboard, ready-to-pour zero alcohol cocktails, eco-friendly toothpaste, artisan baking mixes, sustainable cleaning products and an app that encourages healthy spending and saving habits.

Soda’s 2022 RISE UP finalists are: Outside the Box Caskets founder Becs Bartells, Finery Cocktails founder Jane Allan, Solid founder Laura Nixon, Secret Kiwi Kitchen founders Lauren Lulu Taylor and Clare Gallagher, Fundpay founder Renee Bignell and veto. founder Charlotte Greer.

“Soda created RISE UP to encourage and support ambitious female founders and, judging by the number and calibre of entries we received, I’m confident that female entrepreneurship in Aotearoa is moving in the right direction. For a long time, Aotearoa’s entrepreneurship ecosystem has been male dominated but there are many of us working hard to challenge the bias and balance that gender inequity,” says Soda CEO, Erin Wansbrough.

“I love the fact that most of our finalists’ businesses were born out of lockdown. It demonstrates that creativity and innovation can emerge from our most tough times. We’re excited to help grow the capability of these aspirational female founders and I can’t wait to see what these businesses achieve.”

The six finalists will attend a series of founder-focused workshops before pitching their business to a public audience and panel of high-profile judges at Wintec House in Hamilton on 17 August 2022 to try to win $10,000 to help propel their business to the next level.

The Rise Up Pitch Night is a free event but tickets are limited so please register for tickets at It will be an inspiring night hearing from the six finalists and judging panel which includes experienced entrepreneurs Anna Mowbray, Kelvin Soh, Mike Jenkins, Maree Glading and Kaye-Maree Dunn. The audience will have an opportunity for to vote for their favourite business which will be awarded the People’s Choice winner, sponsored by Amazon Web Services.

RISE UP is supported by gold sponsors Craigs Investment Partners and Callaghan Innovation and silver sponsor Vine Co-working.

RISE UP 2022 finalists

Becs Bartells

Outside the Box Caskets

Based in Northcote Point, Outside the Box Caskets designs and manufactures 100 per cent biodegradable cardboard caskets, made in New Zealand from sustainable and recyclable materials. With no plastic, no metal and no other nasties, our caskets are a kinder, ecological solution to traditional timber and MDF caskets. These eco caskets have won gold in two Australasian design awards for their sustainable innovation.

Jane Allan

Finery Cocktails

Takapuna based Finery Cocktails offers a range of unique ready-to-pour cocktails, including alcohol free options. The business has been built on brand ethics of promoting moderation and healthy relationships with alcohol whilst exploring better for you No Alcohol alternatives. In July 2020 they launched a first to market ready to drink zero per cent adult beverage option to New Zealand supermarkets. Finery now exports to Australia, Singapore and Rarotonga with the UAE currently in the pipeline.

Laura Nixon


Based in Titahi Bay, Porirua, Solid is a sustainable toothpaste company whose mission is to stop the 16 million toothpaste tubes that go to landfill in Aotearoa every year. Solid tooth tablets, pastes and powders are vegan, cruelty free and have no palm oil. Everything is packed in glass bottles and jars that can be reused and returned. Solid was a finalist in last year’s Sustainable Business Awards ‘Going Circular’ awards and is certified Carbon Positive by Ekos.

Lauren Lulu Taylor and Clare Gallagher

Secret Kiwi Kitchen

Devonport based Secret Kiwi Kitchen is an artisan food business launched in August 2020 during Auckland’s second lockdown by two local mums, Lulu Taylor and Clare Gallagher. Wanting to make baking accessible and easy for everyone, they created a range of easy-to-make one bowl mixes that feature premium New Zealand ingredients and all-natural ingredients. Their products are now available in 200 supermarkets throughout New Zealand.

Renee Bignell


Based in Nelson, Fundpay is a budgeting and payment platform that can be downloaded as an easy-to-use app on your phone. Smart, discreet and debt-free, Fundpay is New Zealand’s first digital wallet for discretionary spend! It allows users to save money, spend money and create good spending habits.

Charlotte Greer


Based in Tauranga, veto. offers zero waste, multipurpose cleaning products to make sustainable living as accessible, practical and economic as possible. Products include washing powder, washing bars and cleaning products. All products are 100 per cent grey water safe, septic safe, compostable and handmade, formulated, designed and distributed by the founder.

Soda is a business growth ecosystem that provides support, programmes and connections for Kiwi founders and businesses to grow and succeed. Soda is based in Hamilton, but its services are available online and nationwide. Since its inception in 2009, Soda has helped more than 900 businesses from across Aotearoa flourish.

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