Startup Accelerators - An important piece of the ecosystem puzzle

  • Written by Snowball Effect
  • Published on

It appears as though everything is starting to come together in the New Zealand startup ecosystem. At one end of the scale we've had several exits recently with M-Com, Zeacom and most recently Greenbutton. Add to that, the success of Xero, Vend and PowerbyProxi, all establishing themselves as sustainable, high-growth technology companies. Angel investment continues to grow, with both the number of companies being funded and the aggregate amount invested each year at record highs. At the other end of the scale we have a robust set of initiatives helping to educate, inspire and support the next generation of entrepreneurs including the Young Enterprise Scheme, startup weekends and incubators. One critical piece of the puzzle that's been added recently is an accelerator which tends to be a focal point for the tech-startup community.

For those not familiar with accelerators, they are a new type of initiative that assists entrepreneurs to launch digital businesses. It's like a science lab, where ten talented startups with opportunities in the digital space are mixed with world-class mentors, seed funding and an expansive network to produce scalable, feasible and fundable companies. The programme culminates in an epic event called Demo Day, where each team pitches to a roomful of investors to raise further funding. Accelerators represent an internationally proven method for the creation of successful technology companies. Well-known companies such as Airbnb, Dropbox and SendGrid all got their starts in accelerators.

As you may know, New Zealand is fortunate to have its own world class accelerator. Originally based in Wellington, Lightning Lab ran its first programme in 2013. Fast forward two years and Lightning Lab has run two successful programmes, helping 9 teams to raise over $4.4m in seed funding and along the way, engaging a large base of entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, sponsors and supporters.

Lightning Lab exists to help empower and support startups to scale 10x quicker. The good news is that Lightning Lab itself has scaled and will be running a programme in Auckland in 2015. Ultimately the aim is to make is as easy as possible for startups to access the programme. Speaking of which, applications are open now and you can apply here.

For entrepreneurs, the intensive programme presents an unparalleled opportunity to gain access to experienced entrepreneurs and executives that will help them shape and mould their startup into an investible company. With $18k pre-seed funding, teams can buy themselves "runway" while they work full time in the Lightning Lab space and leverage the expansive network to develop their company. Lightning Lab provides the funding, networks and expertise to help grow the next wave of New Zealand technology companies.

Lightning Lab Auckland is set to run in 2015, from March to June. We are now on a search to find ten startups for the programme. If you are a digital startup make sure you get in touch. It doesn't matter if you simply have an idea or if you already have a product in market generating revenue - apply NOW!

By applying, you will hear about specific events and we will engage with you for the 4 month lead-up to the programme. Plus the earlier we hear from you the better, click here to find out why.