As we prepare for the next Lightning Lab programme in Auckland in early 2015, we should look back on the success of the 2014 Wellington programme, talk about what we learned from it, and see what the teams have been up to since Demo Day.
The 2014 class of ten teams and 35 entrepreneurs was selected from a wide range of applications from all over New Zealand and places as far flung as Ukraine, Vietnam and New York. Seventeen finalists were chosen for final interviews in which the ten teams were selected. This class received the support of more than 50 mentors during the programme, who tirelessly worked to coach, teach and develop them into the promising young ventures we saw pitch on stage during Demo Day.
Demo Day attracted more than 100 NZ-based and international investors, as well as various media channels, mentors, alumni, and supporters from the entrepreneurial community. Here is a highlight reel from Demo Day 2014.
Five of the ten teams have received seed investment commitments since Demo Day totalling $2.2 million. These teams are CoachSeek, CommonLedger, Cloud Cannon, Glassjar and Twingl. Of the teams that did not receive funding, four decided to move on to other pursuits and one is continuing to bootstrap as a team.
Glassjar and Cloud Cannon are both currently in San Francisco, where they hope to gain further support, investment and partners as well as officially enter the US market in the coming months. Glassjar recently toured the US with Dan Kahn and a group of founders from other Global Accelerator Network programs from around the world. Lightning Lab is happy to be part of the Global Accelerator Network so we can offer opportunities like this to the teams. Twingl and Mish Guru are in Wellington working with the folks at Creative HQ and Biz Dojo. Coachseek is in Auckland working out of the Movers & Shakers space at the Britomart.
After the programme, we held several feedback sessions with the founding investors and programme mentors on what worked/didn’t work and how the programme could be further improved. We are continuously looking for ways to increase the quantity and quality of applicants to the programme. We will be doing more workshops and outreach activities before the next programme to help entrepreneurs improve their game, find other founders and evaluate Lightning Lab as a growth and funding mechanism for them. Open communication and reflection between teams and mentors in the programme was seen as crucially important, and we will build in more activities in the future programmes to allow for this. We will also be looking to do more mentor networking sessions between programmes to further build and connect what has become the most valuable startup mentor network in New Zealand. Overall, mentors felt the programme was stronger and more focused this year and are interested in more ways to stay involved with teams and the programme at large.
So now it’s time to implement the vision of Lightning Lab as a truly national accelerator programme for NZ. With The Icehouse as our delivery partner for the Auckland programme in early-2015 and the Canterbury Development Corporation as our delivery partner for the Christchurch programme in late-2015, we are excited to take Lightning Lab to the next level. Get ready!