Women are the future of business. Studies show that women led startups on average out perform male-founded startups by 63%. Wellington is the Startup capital of New Zealand. Hence, Lightning Lab XX.
This year has been a great year for women led startups, thanks in part to a great New Zealand initiative, startup accelerator programme 'Lightning Lab XX'.
This accelerator programme provided all the space, time (well, three months) mentorship, resources and funding that nine companies with huge potential needed to get their businesses off the ground. The aim of the programme is get said businesses to a stage where are polished enough to pitch to investors, asking as much as half a million dollars to help them grow when they finally pitch. It's like 'Dragon's Den' but if Charlie's Angels were pitching.
"It's like 'Dragon's Den' but if Charlie's Angels were pitching"
Last year I interviewed my pal Finn Lawrence about his new job as programme manager for LLXX (as it is colloquially known on Twitter). Finn was thrilled to be part of such an amazing programme and gladly shared his story with The Residents. How time has flown!
Following on this, Finn was kind enough to invite me two weeks ago to see the final pitches. So 'The Residents' (a.k.a me) went along to the final 'Demo Day' - or pitch day - where women led startup's pitched to top-notch business investors at no-less than the Embassy Theatre in Wellington.
As we settled in we were treated to an afternoon of world class business ideas, inspiring introductions by ambassadors of business from New Zealand (including the excellent Dave Moscovitz, author of Startup of the Week and former Residents interviewee).
While recently I wrote about going to se the pitches at Startup Weekend (and was very much impressed!) I cannot explain how much I was wow-ed by these amazing presentations from nine groundbreaking companies who all were led by bad-ass women. These presentations were polished and ready for market in a way that I could have never imagined.
The companies were:
1. NoticeMATCH - CEO Sue Skeet and CTO Jon Hall
NoticeMatch helps any business ensure their customer’s final experience is achieved a timely and empathetic manner. They identify deceased customers quickly, giving them the tool to undertake their legal, moral or ethical obligations and build great relationships with surviving families.
2. Geo AR Games - CEO Mel Langlotz and CTO Amy Wolken
Geo AR Games get kids off the couch and active outside using Outdoor Mixed Reality technology. Mixed Reality combines digital content with a real-time video feed to create immersive experiences. By pairing this with Motion Gaming, kids explore digital content by walking and running. This solution encourages healthy relationships with technology by creating games that get kids moving.
3. Liangma - CEO Denny Zou and CSO Steve Chin
Liangma allows quality-sensitive buyers to order fresh, free-range chicken for home delivery. The company connects free-range farms with inner-city buyers through a digital platform and logistics network. This creates an easy and reliable way for their Chengdu (a Chinese city) based customers to buy the best poultry products. Liangma’s promise of 24h delivery fits perfectly with the Chinese culture of eating the freshest, highest quality produce.
4. Hive - CEO Vanessa Wilson and CDO Charlie Coppinger
Hive brings communities together by connecting people who need a hand with those who have the time and skills to help. At the heart of Hive is the idea that trust is valuable, and that communities can build trust. Using a mobile app, Hive facilitates finding and matching jobs, and processing payments. The app helps to build a trusted community by connecting locals to get work done.
5. Little Yellow Bird - CEO Samantha Jones and CSO Hannah Duder
Little Yellow Bird is a company that supplies businesses with more than just a uniform. LYB produces high quality workwear, through a completely transparent and ethical supply chain. They have a wide range of workwear such as custom business shirts to t-shirts, hoodies to aprons. This provides companies with an opportunity to turn their uniforms into marketing.
6. Sipreme - VP Product Bri Jense van Rensburg and CEO Dené Steyn
Sipreme is a future food – healthy, nutritionally complete, and super convenient. For busy people with cooler stuff to do than burn toast in the morning, this is it. It’s a fast, liquid meal that gives the adult body every nutrient it needs!
7. Ama Balm - VP Sales Lucy Reutter and CEO Jo Higgins
Ama Balm is a natural balm used by adventurers to hydrate their weathered skin after being exposed to the elements. Launching only 8 months ago, Ama Balm is already featured in major surf, ski and adventure towns in NZ. The company aims to build a natural skin care range that serves the needs of adventurers across the globe.
8. Music Ecademy - CEO Jaroslav Novak and Head of Product Helen Jones
Music Ecademy is a web application that teaches music theory and aural skills in a fun and engaging way through interactive lessons, quizzes, and games. The application helps to engage students while also saving teachers valuable time and resources. The curriculum is relevant for music schools and teachers in Australia, NZ and the UK.
9. PatternSnap - CEO Virginia Fay and CTO Steven Dodd
Patternsnap is a digital library of Interior Design samples for Designers and Showrooms. It provides a beautiful, simple tool to search for products and create schemes. Patternsnap saves designers precious time, enabling access to a comprehensive database of unique samples. Currently available as an iOS app, Patternsnap is a virtual showroom in your pocket.
What did I think?
It was really cool to go along as a spectator to something you would normally only see on TV (i.e. Dragons Den) or in a board room. It made me realise what creative and clever women we have in Wellington and what incredible teams can create when they world together! I was impressed by all the businesses but maybe my favourite was Pattern Snap and Notice Match. If only I had money to invest!
Overall, I highly recommend heading along to any Demo Day. It was a very inspiring experience. No matter whether you are involved in the startup scene or not, you will leave feeling like people and ideas can conquer the world.
Massive thanks to Finn Lawrence for letting me peak in on the Lightning Lab XX journey. If you are thinking about starting a business, I could think of no other better way to do it than through the Lightning Lab programme system. There are more exciting programmes coming up soon so subscribe to their newsletter to stay on the pulse.
As for now, this Wellingtonian isn't starting a business just yet but will keep on blogging about the startup scene in Wellington. Well done to all the amazing people, both in Lightning Lab XX and beyond, who put themselves out there everyday to turn a dream into reality. That's something XXCiting indeed. To steal the words of Theodore Roosevelt, recently popularised by TED Talk speaker Brene Brown: