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Lightning Lab backs Kiwi start-ups thinking big

The Lightning Lab has announced the digital startups that will take part in the Lightning Lab 2016 Auckland Programme and the Wellington XX Programme - New Zealand’s first ever female founder focused business accelerator.

Both programmes will see a total of 17 startups receive $20,000 seed funding, intense mentorship, and the opportunity to work on the business 24/7 through the four month long Lightning Lab Programme starting this March.

Lightning Lab Auckland ran its first official programme last year, helping nine companies to raise approximately NZ$2.6 million. Following the inaugural Auckland accelerator, improvements have been made to deliver more value to the selected startups, according to he company.

The most noticeable change has been the addition of an extra month to the programme. This will see companies receive even more support as they navigate through the fundraising process, the Lightning Lab says.

Jeff Mann, Lightning Lab Auckland programme director, says the calibre of applications this year made the selection process a difficult one.

“We were really pleased with the quality and class of all the applicants. We had a huge response from the startup community which I personally think is testament to the success and reception of our 2015 programme," he says.

National Foundation Partner Spark, have provided each of the ten startups with a WiFi and data package in addition to 11 mentors who will support the various teams through the challenges and successes of the programme.

Richard Sandford, Spark head of business marketing, says, “Access to the latest and fastest technology is crucial for New Zealand businesses, that’s why we’re getting right behind Lightning Lab and providing teams with access to fast mobile data so they can tap into everything they need, wherever they are. Whether they’re Skyping a mentor from a cafe, or gathering research and sending it straight to the cloud, teams will have the technology they need to keep them connected.”

Starting on March 7th, the teams will begin their 17 week Lightning Lab journey based in the Uptown innovation precinct in Eden Terrace where they will work with up to 100 mentors to build and launch their company. The ten teams will receive $20,000 seed investment but the programme will culminate with Demo Day where each team pitches to a room of 200+ angel investors for further funding.

“Startups burn cash fast because they grow fast. This extra support means they can focus their energy on customer acquisition and market validation knowing that they have a trusted and scalable technology platform behind them regardless of their technology choices,” says Nigel Parker, Microsoft New Zealand, director of developer experience.

Lightning Lab XX is a four month mentorship-driven business acceleration programme based in Wellington and focused on fast-tracking up to 10 women-led companies. 

The purpose of the programme is to discover, accelerate and invest in exceptional women and the companies they run. The accelerator will provide the right environment for female founders to thrive through the challenge of starting a company while being supported by a diverse lineup of world-class role models, coaches and mentors, the Lightning Lab says.

Lightning Lab XX makes a seed investment of NZ$20,000 into each company that is accepted into the programme, in return for a small equity stake. In addition, each team gets perks valued at over NZ$800,000.

The Lightning Lab believes there is a significant need for a programme such as this in New Zealand.

"There are far fewer women in startups than we would expect. We believe diverse teams create stronger companies and we want to help bring more gender balance into our ecosystem.

"Data from various studies and reports also suggests that diverse teams perform better and generate higher returns. Therefore, our next programme in Wellington focuses on startups that have at least one female co-founder.

"The accelerator will provide the right environment for founders to thrive through the challenge of starting a company while being supported by a diverse lineup of world-class role models, coaches and mentors," says Laura Rietel, Lightning Lab XX programme director.

 The 10 finalists on the Lightning Lab Auckland Programme are as follows:

  • Reyedr: Head-up GPS display for motorcyclists for safer and smarter riding –  
  • Wireless Guard: Security hardware technology which detects if doors and windows are left locked or unlocked, open or closed and syncs to your phone -
  • Foodcourt Online: A multi-platform ordering system for individuals to order from multiple restaurants in one delivery –
  • Sonnar Interactive: An interactive audio book allowing writers to easily publish their multi journey entertainment stories -
  • WayWiser: A new application tool for outdoor recreation enthusiasts to discover the great outdoors without the assistance of a commercial tour guide
  • Phoenix Audio: Audio software designed to identify and smooth fluctuations in your hearing to ensure a deeper musical experience -
  • SeekStock: Web application developed for individuals in retail to assist in streamlining managerial activities such as product holds, transfers and requests –
  • Dexibit: Software and hardware that is visitor analytics for the arts; informs culture centre customers which art/exhibitions a visitor has observed – 
  • Slick Software: Cloud hosted community chat tool for websites –
  • A.I engine to auto build and deploy native apps (web, mob, TV) and API (+CMS) –

The 7 finalists on the Lightning Lab Wellington XX Programme (female founder focused) are as follows:

  • Ama Balm: An after sun balm for adventurers.  Featured by adventure stores and smothered on the faces of surfers, skiers, runners and yogis throughout NZ and Australia -
  • Geo AR Games: Geospatial augmented reality gaming company that creates motion games that kids can play outside –
  • Little Yellow Bird: Ethically manufactured customisable corporate uniform company. Clothing is sourced and manufactured in India, the factories there offer equal employment opportunities for disadvantaged women and profits are reinvested into community development projects by linking corporates with projects they care about -
  • Music Ecademy: Online music school that teaches music theory and aural skills through a variety of interactive lessons, quizzes, and games. The curriculum is relevant for music schools and teachers in Australia, NZ and UK –
  • NoticeMATCH: Records over 98% of all deaths in NZ daily. It holds the largest record of published death notices in Australasia, and provides world-class death data matching software and identification services for any business type or size - including those in the legal, insurance and banking industries -
  • PatternSnap: Digital library of products for Interior Designers, providing a beautiful tool for searching samples and creating schemes -
  • Sipreme: Science based powdered food that delivers nutrients the body needs for optimum health. Company will be exploring ways to expand outside of convenience food product to other segments (disaster relief, refugee crisis, elderly etc.). Shelf life is 2 years -