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NZ Startups Rocketing Forward

05 Jul 2012

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that New Zealand startups are shooting forward faster than a liquid-propelled X-15 into space. In fact, space is exactly where you’re going if you purchase a ticket from Kiwi entrepreneur Reuben Metcalfe. Less than a year ago Metcalfe conceived of an idea to sell tickets to win a trip to space on a commercial flight out of the US. Soon into the venture it became apparent that a straight raffle carried too many rules and regulations - so purchasers receive a groovy space poster for the price of a dollar – and they go into a draw to win a ticket to space. The prize is big and the odds are good and this is reflected in the rapid and global growth of the company that now has 500 customers in 22 countries. Their website is if you’re keen to take your chances.

Another New Zealand startup that is clipping along at warp speed with no sign of slowing is TranscribeMe. The Auckland Startup Weekend winners of last September have gone from inception to full end-to-end product development in well under a year. After nine months of free labour the team is now 10+ full-time paid staff, based in offices in Auckland, San Francisco and Singapore. The company uses unique, hybrid tech/crowd sourcing to create fast and accurate voice to text solutions. TranscribeMe have developed new technology that makes this possible in completely innovative ways by marrying biological sciences with IT. The company is celebrating the release of their iPhone app to market by the end of the month with the Android App soon to follow. TranscribeMe are on target to deliver 98%+ real-time transcription by the end of this year.

While TranscribeMe convert voice to text, another NZ startup, SlideSpeech, converts text to voice. Founder John Graves hopes to use this technology to transform the way we share information and to bring educational libraries to people and areas that lack resources or expertise. He is a contender in the whyopenedmatters competition and the SlideSpeech Android App was recently released to the market with additional platforms soon to follow.

For those eager to enter the fray of the adrenalin fueled startup world, Startup Weekend Wellington is on July 27 to 29, with additional regional weekends in New Plymouth and Tauranga planned for later in the year.For the uninitiated, Startup weekend is a 54-hour idea development extravaganza. Attendees pitch ideas on the Friday evening and of these, around 10 are chosen to go forward. Teams rally around their chosen ideas and after an intense weekend of market validation, product development and business planning, they present the finished product to a panel of judges on Sunday night. All sorts of people attend the weekends with an equally diverse range of ideas. Those pitching can look for the specific talent they need, like developers and marketers, from the attendees whose pitches don’t go forward. The prizes are great and the support and resources every participant receives going forward is even better!

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