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Vodafone xone rallies Class of 2018 for launch

28 Jun 2018

Vodafone has announced its upcoming Vodafone xone class of 2018, as it gets set to take nine of New Zealand’s best tech-based startups global.

Head of xone and innovation Lauren Merritt says that in xone’s third year of operation, they’re thrilled to work with both established and first-time founders.

“They are working in a diverse range of industries with products spanning wearable health tech and AI-powered chatbots to beer and music,” Merritt adds.

“Many of the companies are using AI and their own natural language processing technologies to drive impressive customer experience solutions and unique ways of enabling people to connect and enjoy life.”

One of this year’s class of 2018 is Melodics, which is described as software that makes practising music fun.

“Melodics is a product that we know people will love. Turns out, 90% of people who try to learn an instrument fail and Melodics want to decrease that percentage by putting a music master on your desktop and keep you engaged through gamification,” Merritt comments.

Another class member is Urigo, a wearable health tech that tracks bladder flow.

“For a health tech company like Urigo, xone can support them to test and build their device alongside our technology and networks teams to give them a competitive advantage in a crowded wearables space,” Merritt adds.

This year’s class of 2018 will be run from Vodafone xone’s Christchurch Innovation Lab for the six-month programme. The businesses will travel from as far as Wanaka and Auckland, and many places in between.

The nine companies will receive a package worth more than $150,000. It includes seed funding and access world class technology and mentoring.

Vodafone consumer director Matt Williams adds that xone is one of the most successful startup programmes in New Zealand.

“For us, this is all about empowering the next generation of technology businesses in New Zealand, and the numbers show we’re achieving that.  Our 2016 and 2017 start-up companies have achieved amazing things, including roughly $17 million in new investment, over 70 FTE jobs created, around $13 million in revenue and six partnerships and trials with Vodafone,” he says.

“There are some fantastic stories of individual success for our xone companies, including IoTStream, who entered xone in 2016 pre-revenue and now have a pipeline of 10’s of millions. Vodafone works closely with IoTStream as we deliver IoT solutions for our customers.”

The full list of Vodafone xone class of 2018 follows:

Ambit: An enterprise grade chatbot creation platform underpinned by AI and natural language processing designed to deliver 24/7 personalised customer service 

Aware Group: Little Bot, an AI based smart data service that extracts the context, sentiment and other relevant information to produce a better customer experience

kin2kin: A family app focused on kids 3 to 13, their parents and grandparents that connects generations 

Melodics: A game-like app that uses machine learning to help people learn to play musical instruments 

Romer: Curated and crowd-sourced local experience delivery platform that matches unique experiences to users 

Sandfly Security: Agentless and automated forensic investigation and intrusion platform for Linux 

Surveybot: Online platform that enables any business to create Chatbot surveys for any audience 

Trickle: Bar tap management tracking system using IoT to understand beer pouring and reduce wastage 

Urigo: Wearable health technology tracking bladder flow using a sensor solution that communicates to a smart phone 

Photo credit: Richard Parsonson.

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