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Though there are inherent speed advantages in being small, being under-resourced is a large challenge says Piako Gourmet Yoghurt general manager, Shaun Jacka.

‘It’s always good to have more money available. Things will always cost double what you think it will to set up,’ says the head of an Auckland-based team that begun making the company’s premium yoghurt based on a Queensland recipe two years ago.

The Auckland University School of Business Entrepreneurs’ Challenge finalist says he’s learned a number of lessons in the company’s short history.

‘Your relationship with your bank manager is key,’ he says. Jacka was never that comfortable working with his original bank manager, having acquired him and the bank through his family’s history with it.

Being in debt to the bank, ‘day to day the relationship was dysfunctional,’ he says. ‘Only now that we’ve got a bit of a positive balance sheet can we look at another bank taking us on.’

A decision to expand into Britain, producing the yoghurt in a recently purchased factory, has also meant that Piako’s missed a few opportunities back in New Zealand.

The decision to create and make a frozen yoghurt ‘spent ages in development.’ Piako took five months to perfect the recipe, which is even more labour intensive than making its thick, creamy indulgent original.

‘We’ve now got it spot on, perfect,’ Jacka says. ‘It’s enhanced our reputation, and is value-added for our loyal customers.’

This initially has been through delicatessens, with a slowly growing supermarket market.
‘It keeps the delis onboard, and the frozen yoghurt is a point of difference,’ he says. ‘It also helps keep them from answering our competitors’ phone calls.’