Help for Digital Start-ups

6 November 2012

New Zealand's first digital business accelerator, Lightning Lab, is looking for people who are thinking about or already developing a digital product.

Steve O'Connor, CEO of Creative HQ and Rachel Meikle, Marketing Coordinator

Steve O'Connor, CEO of Creative HQ and Rachel Meikle, Marketing Coordinator

They're offering $18,000, office space, mentors and the time (three months) to develop, build and launch a product. Up to 10 teams will get this chance.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown encourages groups to apply for this "opportunity of a lifetime".

"Digital start-ups are the growing face of our economy and the Lightning Lab is a great concept."

Lightning Lab has sprung from Creative HQ, the Manners Street-based business incubator.

The Council's Economic Portfolio Leader, Councillor Jo Coughlan, says initiatives like these will be a great boost to the Capital's economic and digital future.

"Investors have committed finance to the initiative without even knowing what the prospective products are. That alone speaks volumes about the talent and smarts that we have here in Wellington."

Lightning Lab is a member of the Global Accelerator Network, which includes 50 of the world's top business accelerators.

Creative HQ CEO Steve O'Connor says the reach of the Global Accelerator Network, and the Kiwi mentors and investors backing Lightning Lab, means the 10 start-ups selected will be connected to people who have done it before, are doing it now and can help them take their idea to fruition.

"With seed investment from a founding group of New Zealand's top angel investors, the Lightning Lab's Demo Day in May 2013 will be the largest gathering of the start-up community in New Zealand. Demo Day is when hopefuls get to pitch their ideas to a room of investors," says Steve.

"It is the most vital start-up platform a young digital company could hope for in New Zealand."

Cr Coughlan says Lightning Lab is exactly the sort of thing that the Council envisages when talking about the 2040 vision or the economic and digital strategies.

"Obviously our vision for Wellington can't be done by strategy alone - we need buy-in from Wellingtonians and the willingness to carry out the work. Lightning Lab and Creative HQ are making it happen.

"Hopefully the results of this will be mean more jobs for Wellingtonians and a boost to our economy overall. I can't wait to see what the winners come up with."

Applicants should be a team of a least three people rather than an individual, and will be expected to work full-time on their product - this is to make sure that the start-ups get all the work done in the three months allocated.

While Lightning Lab is based in Wellington, anyone in New Zealand can apply. If you're interested, visit:

Lightning Lab website

Creative HQ is a business incubator funded by Grow Wellington (Wellington's economic development agency) which is in turn supported by Wellington regional ratepayers.

Want to be involved?

Don't have a great business idea at the moment but want to be involved?

The Lightning Lab has room for a number of helpers! Technical techs (developers), who help build cool stuff; business techs, who help build cool businesses; and lab assistants, who help run an awesome programme.

They're keen to hear from anyone (students, professionals and others) who would like to be involved. Some of the positions are paid. Check out the Lightning Lab website.