Written by Finn Lawrence – Programme Manager Lightning Lab XX
Lightning Lab is what’s known in the Startup world as an “Accelerator” – we take promising teams with great ideas and put them through a fast-paced 3-month programme of mentorship and business development. The goal of the programme is getting every team ready for the final event, Demo Day – where we fill a room with over 200 of New Zealand’s top Angel and Venture Capital investors who want to hear each team pitch their ideas.
Taking up to ten young companies on for three months is no small job, but it’s generally done by a small team. As the Programme Manager in that team, there are a lot of things to get done, and one of them is organising social events.
When you’re planning something for a crowd of 25-odd entrepreneurial types, there are a few things that need to be in there. It needs to be competitive, it needs to be time boxed, and it needs to be lots of fun. The more social the event is, the better. We like to create the opportunities for our founders to interact across their companies.
We went with Social Cooking as our halfway event for the Lightning Lab XX programme. Conveniently based on the waterfront in Wellington, it was a quick walk from our space on Allen St. After we’d arrived and been set up with drinks, Chef Louisa split us into teams, making sure that the founders of the same company weren’t paired together.
We were introduced to the Masterchef Challenge – 58 minutes of frenzied cooking, culminating in a tasting session and dinner. Presented with a wide range of ingredients, we had to juggle cooking our dishes with the second part of the challenge – a love note to the head chef.
The time flew by, and a classic Masterchef finish ensued, with nearly all of the plates coming down to the last 30 seconds. After a break to eat the dishes we weren’t presenting, Chef Louisa did a live tasting and the love notes were dramatically read aloud in the pursuit of extra points.
The evening was wrapped up with prizes for the winners and an applause from the well-fed cohort. And as the person normally working during social events, it was a real pleasure to get the night off and be hosted by the Social Cooking team.
As far as fun, well-organised evenings go, I don’t think we could have done much better. Everyone left with a smile on their face, and it was all over the #social channel in Slack for the rest of the week. If you’re thinking of organising a similar event, and fancy getting some energetic collaboration across your group, I’d give Social Cooking a go!