Once upon a time…ok, it’s cliché, but that’s because telling stories works. Our constant message to the teams is to pitch as if they’re telling a story – engage their audience by drawing them into their journey.
So what’s the story of the Lightning Lab? Who are we, and how did we get here?
As I write this, I can hear ping pong balls bouncing in the background. The table stands as an open invitation to anyone whose work is getting a little bit much. Pair that with the endless supply of Red Bull we’ve managed to secure, and you get a typical startup story: within three days, over 70 cans of redbull were demolished – even the Red Bull suppliers were a little concerned…
Walk downstairs, and you’ll hear a quiet hum in a large open space. Teams face each other in groups of desks, designed for collaboration. At the front is the Lightning Lab noticeboard covered in coloured chalk, diagrams, and the schedule for the week. To the side, a quote wall marking indelibly all the hilarious things we’ve said. The best piece of advice gracing our wall? “Startups don’t compete against each other, they compete against no one giving a shit!” – Liam from Wearit.
And what’s the point behind all of this? The Lightning Lab, like any one of our startups, was formed to solve a problem. New Zealand companies weren’t gaining as much traction on an international level as they could have been, and investors were shying away from the risky business of investing in startups. CreativeHQ, based in Wellington, decided to address this: the first Lightning Lab in Wellington, NZ’s first accelerator, was directly modelled on the internationally proven business accelerators, TechStars and Y Combinator. The first few programmes in Wellington were a massive success and the next step was to take on Auckland; we’re now in the second year of the Auckland Lightning Lab Digital programme.
We’ve come a pretty long way, and have some cool stories to show for it. Lightning Lab topped the list of most active investors in tech companies in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, with data from CB insights. Many startups that have come through the programme are now doing incredibly well:
Wipster is a cloud platform that allows users to review, approve and collaborate on videos – it streamlines communication between all the stakeholders in the creation of a video. As part of the first Lightning Lab in 2013, it has been up and running for a while. Earlier this year, it had 40 000 users in 120 different countries, with Disney, Intel and Shopify among its clients. Its revenues are in the millions, and there’s still a lot of room for growth in the market.
Designer Wardrobe is 2015 alumnus which facilitates the buying, selling and renting of designer clothing. In its first seed round following Lightning Lab, it raised $700 000. The website gets more than one million hits a month and has more than 10 000 live listings. It’s still early days for this company, but it’s definitely on track for further successes.
One of the best things the Lightning Lab has managed to create is an incredible community. We have fantastic networks of alumni, mentors, investors, lab techs and current teams – it’s really a goldmine of experience! We’re constantly amazed by how many high profile people give up their time to help out by being mentors or giving presentations, and we appreciate it immensely.
This is by no means the end of the Lightning Lab story – we have this year’s Demo Day to look forward to, and hopefully many more Demo Days in the future. Thank you for following our story so far, and keep up to date through our:
Twitter: @Lightninglab #LLAKL
or Facebook page.