MEET JEFFREY: LIGHTNING LAB TOURISM PROGRAMME DIRECTOR

Kia Ora! I’m Jeffrey, and I’ve recently joined Lightning Lab Tourism as Programme Director. Before starting the accelerator rollercoaster, I want to take some time out to tell you a bit more about myself.

My startup journey began eight years ago in Taipei (Taiwan) when I took an MBA paper taught by a professor who is well-versed in the entrepreneurship and venture capital scenes in the United States. I remember vividly how my mind was blown away by the ways the multitude of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors turning virtually nothing into something monumental. Barely a few classes into the semester and I could no longer see myself retiring as a legal practitioner.

I wasn’t sure what venture I wanted to embark on yet, so I decided to work on building a strong startup community instead. Being in close proximity with founders and investors, helped me shape my own startup plan. On hindsight, that was also the period I first found my call to help startups.

JeffreyMy first startup was about an online quasi-legal service. That experiment didn’t succeed, but it taught me some valuable lessons. Most importantly, it taught me that building a startup is a rigorous scientific process. My second startup was about an enterprise SaaS product. Headquartered in Seoul, I was put in charge of growing the Taiwan user base. Working with an international team, humbled me and made me appreciate the challenges of building a global business. Every day and every week, our undertakings were engineered towards one objective – conversion optimization. One truth emerged from it: if you are not number-driven, you will struggle when scaling your business.

This global experience turned out to be really useful in my next role, working on a government-funded ‘go global’ startup initiative, Taiwan Startup Stadium. The ability to go beyond startup events and concretely help founders was an opportunity I could not refuse. During my time there, I helped 130 plus startups from multiple verticals and matched them with 400 plus investors as well as countless startup hubs worldwide. We took founders to tech conferences and exposed promising startups to a global audience. I found myself thriving in this role, but at the same time, I started to wonder how could I create even more impact. I started to feel the need for a more “hands-on” role, rather than stopping at writing introduction emails to business contacts.

My third startup experience working for a travel tech startup somehow brought me closer to my next destination, New Zealand. Before coming back, I knew I wanted to get involved in a startup accelerator, one way or the other, but never thought I could do that right here in Christchurch, the city I previously called home for 10 years and therefore dear and near to my heart.

But here I am now, ready to kick off the first-ever Lightning Lab Tourism, as Programme Director. I’m thrilled at the chance to deep-dive and create a direct impact to the growth of startups.

Why am I excited?

  • Creative HQ and its flagship Lightning Lab programmes are top notch in New Zealand when it comes to the accelerator space and the corporate innovation space.
  • The tourism industry is one of the largest industries in the world, and it recently became New Zealand’s number 1 export (a whopping NZ$39 billion industry), with no sign of slowing down.
  • Last but not least, the accelerator serves as a great catalyst in speeding up the recovery of Christchurch’s post-2011-earthquake business scene. Say yes to it is clearly a no-brainer.

We recently closed the application to our Programme and took in 67 quality applications, half of which came from abroad. Earlier this month, with the help of a panel of 7 industry experts and investors, we picked 7 startups for our first ever cohort. The selected teams will be formally announced in May once the due diligence is done and paperwork signed.

So stay tuned for more news from us!

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