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Digital accelerator ZeroPoint Ventures announces first cohort participants

26 Sep 2017

Digital accelerator ZeroPoint Ventures has announced the participants of its first cohort.

The successful participants will be:

1.    Invetyx founded by Yaniv Yousef

2.    Brandspace founded by Manu Vallyon

3.    Nightwriter founded by Ryan McCarvill

4.    Workpath founded by Tim Roberts

5.    Ultra founded by Michael McFadden

“We were extremely pleased with the number of applications as more than 80 founders from across New Zealand applied for the first-round cohort,” says Dan Khan, ZeroPoint Ventures CEO.

“The many and varied locations of these people really validated our assumption that New Zealanders do want to build ventures where they live and work, to create strong regional economies and remain in their local support networks.”

Khan adds that they focused heavily on choosing ventures for revenue and business sustainability rather than just investability.

“This made the selection criteria quite different as we are not looking for moonshots.”

ZeroPoint Ventures works with solo founders as well as founding teams as, in the early days, every great idea is usually led by a single visionary leader, Khan explains.

ZeroPoint’s approach reinforces this as the goal of the incubation cohort allows people to find out if their idea is worth building; to validate that a future sustainable business opportunity exists. This avoids wasting time and energy on ideas that don’t work.

It also recognises that people establish startups in their spare time which shows commitment, and desire to work past the 9 to 5 status quo.

Not everyone is cut out to start and run their own business, so the incubation period culls those who are all talk but no action.

The incubation phase of the ZeroPoint Ventures programme takes four months, allowing the founder to work on their venture part-time alongside their day job.

ZeroPoint’s research shows that lack of financial security is a key detractor for those in the regions seeking to join an incubator in the main centres, so it doesn’t want people having to give up their income source and to leave their families and communities for 12-16 weeks.

Ryan McCarvill, Nightwriter founder and Cohort 1 member says he realised that the culture of startups is a broken one.

“Society isn't built on top of a few large enterprises but on thousands of small and medium-sized businesses - especially in New Zealand.

“The go big or go home philosophy that is pervasive in our industry has led to a huge amount of waste and opportunities lost. It's clear now that selling less equity and bootstrapping a sustainable business is the way forward, especially in a capital constrained market like New Zealand, and that's why ZeroPoint is such a breath of fresh air.”

ZeroPoint will be working with smaller teams - five founders in each cohort - to allow scaling of ideas and progress at different paces. 

The accelerator will have multiple small intakes through a 12-month period allowing focus and attention on the specific needs of founders in each cohort.

As they progress through our programme at different stages, future intakes will benefit from those who have gone before. 

Building a virtual community able to share key learnings and experiences is an important part of the ZeroPoint Ventures approach, Khan explains. Teams that applied from the regions who did not make it into the first cohort will be offered one-on-one coaching on a paid basis.

Hēmi Rolleston, Callaghan Innovation spokesman, says expanding the founder incubator network to regional areas recognised that the tech sector’s best ideas didn’t come only from the main centres, which have had access to incubator services for some time. “ZeroPoint Ventures is one of six founder incubators we have invested in recently so that regionally-based innovators have the same opportunities to develop their ideas into export-focussed businesses.

“It’s clear from the number of applications that we are tapping into strong demand for programmes with no geographical boundaries, which allow founders to stay connected to their local support network.  We look forward to seeing the companies working with ZeroPoint Ventures move to the next level, contributing to New Zealand’s increasingly vibrant innovation ecosystem,” Rolleston says. 

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