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Unlocking Lightning Lab: New Zealand’s Finest Business Acceleration Programme

Applications are now open for Lightning Lab Tourism and Lightning Lab Govtech. Here are some key tips to getting the most out of our innovative, fast-paced programmes.

If you are considering applying to one of the Lightning Lab accelerator programmes, it’s important take some time for introspection. Reflect on past successes and mistakes, determine the causes behind the results. Consider who you are presently and the values of your company. Plan ahead for the future and set goals for where you want to be in one, five, or ten,  years. These practices will help you determine whether you and your company would be the right fit to maximize your company’s production, profit, influence, whatever it may be, through Creative HQ’s Lightning Lab programmes.

Here we’ve collected info from our founder alumni and curated the most common tips and suggestions from teams who have been through the world-famous Lightning Lab.  We asked them a simple question:


“If you could talk to your past self, what advice would you give yourself coming into the accelerator?”

Here’s what they said:

Take advantage of the opportunity

The accelerator will provide countless opportunities for you to expand your company, both tangible and intangible. The fruits of these opportunities will be richer and more abundant if you stay open-minded and go out and grab the opportunities that come by.


Set, understand, and focus on Goals

Setting goals provides clarity. Be clear that getting into the programme is not the final step of your journey, but rather the first step of many on your entrepreneurial journey to success.

Once you set your goals, ensure that  everyone in your team and those supporting you are aligned in helping your team achieve them. Measure progress, and make sure everyone involved is held accountable. Your main goal as a startup founder is to build something that people love, and then get a lot of them to use it. A common goal throughout all companies is that you must find funding to survive until you reach product-market fit.


Understand who values your product and who pays for it

Figure out ASAP the problem that is being felt and who has the budget to solve it. Keep in mind they’re often not the same people.

Constantly test your product with the people who will be paying the bill and spread that out among multiple people. Understand the procurement timeline of government and corporates – they often take a very long time to pay, which can be the death of a startup. In government, payment often happens in the 3rd and 4th quarter. Don’t miss the boat!


Stay Focused

A key to success in the accelerator is to stay focused on your goal at all times. The accelerator can get you to grow 10x from where you start, so hit the ground running, and start from the most advanced stage possible.

It’s also important that you’re focused on the most productive tasks. The customer is the most important person to listen to. They’re the ones who will keep the company running. Before you reach product-market fit,  building the product and talking to customers are the real work – most other things just look like work.


Mindful Mentorship

Mentors can be an invaluable resource, but be mindful of who you select to be your mentors. Some will not be as helpful as others. Find the people who offer insights you haven’t thought of in your first conversation and make it a point to talk to them once a week. Quality over quantity.

Additionally, trust yourself. Although mentors are helpful, it is ultimately up to you to make the tough decisions. At the end of the day, it’s your business, not your mentor’s.

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Network, network, network

One of the most valuable things you can gain from the accelerator is a meaningful network. Take every chance to meet people and follow up with everyone you meet, whether it’s through face-to-face conversation, email, or LinkedIn. The people you meet through the accelerator may be unexpectedly useful to you months or even years later.

Build a “cloud of interest” – the buzz you build around what you’re doing will lead to new customers and new investors.

Ask for robust feedback as often as you can. It’s the brutally honest feedback that builds you up.

It’s also important to give more than you receive. Giving thoughtful feedback helps you as much as it helps the recipient. Here in New Zealand, everyone knows everybody so be polite, and be proactive about offering help. You’ll find a huge return on this simple act.


Tell a killer story

Know your story inside-out. Master the elevator pitch. Even if it’s a brilliant idea, if you convey it badly it’ll appear to be a bad idea. Context is important, so practice telling your story to anyone who will listen.

Build a driven team, manage it well

Surround yourself with the right people driven towards the same purpose and understand that your team will likely change with the needs of your business. Have a written plan of how conflicts and fundamental challenges will be addressed.


Use Demo Day correctly

While Demo Day can be super helpful, view it as another opportunity rather than the end of the road. Know what your real progress is by looking at your financial requirements and be keenly aware of your current business stage.  Don’t even think about raising money on Demo Day if you can’t show product-market fit.

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Health is Wealth

Your personal and mental health come first. If you are not healthy your business won’t be either. The startup process can be brutal. Understand that things won’t be perfect and be kind to yourself.


Learning is a process

Learning is spontaneous and constant process in the accelerator. Things may not be clear right away but you’ll have to move forward with tough decisions.

In addition to the success of your company, another goal of the accelerator is for our alumni to leave as better entrepreneurs. Ready to take their company to the next level or start a new one with a better understanding of the process.

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Be all in

To have success in this industry you have to be all in, fully committed to your plan. You’ll reap what you sow. It’s impossible to succeed unless you truly want it.


What are you waiting for?

For a company in the right setting and stage of development, the Lightning Lab Accelerator is an invaluable tool that will set the stage for future success. If you believe your business can be unleashed through this innovative, mentor-intensive programme, apply now!


The application process is competitive but once you’re in, the future is yours to define.



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