The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Event Review: Lightning Lab’s DEMO Day — May 19, 2013

Event Review: Lightning Lab’s DEMO Day

On Wednesday the 15 of May Katherine Field from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Wellington went along to the first Lightning Lab DEMO day event. 

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Photo Credit: @wedophotography

Last Wednesday I was lucky enough to squeeze into the much-anticipated Lightning Lab Demo Day at Te Papa in Wellington. The hype surrounding the finale of the country’s first digital accelerator programme had made tickets hard to come by, as organisers tried to make sure the most important guests – the angel investors – got in the door.

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After weeding through 80 applications earlier this year, nine teams were selected for the Lab and were propelled through a 90-day boot camp of intensive validation and mentoring, before being thrust in front of New Zealand’s investor community.

Here’s a 30 second breakdown of the startups:

LearnKo – a platform for native English speakers to interact with and teach Asian English language students.

Adeez – Targeted lead-generation platform for mobile advertising.

Teamisto – Making sports-club sponsorship spend worthwhile.

Publons – A public peer-review platform that enables academics to gain reputation for their reviews.

WIP – A new way to share and review work-in-progress videos.

Questo – Applications that allow museums, zoos and other attractions to engage with their visitors.

Expander – Utilising QR codes to track products in order to combat counterfeiting.

KidsGoMobile – Online platform that gives parents greater visibility over their children’s smartphone use.

Promoki – Social media advertising that doesn’t look or feel like advertising

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The event was entertaining and fast-paced, and the presentations were impressive. Weeks of having their pitches re-worked and re-hashed over and over again did wonders for these teams. With a head-mentor providing an insightful and heart-felt introduction, each team’s representative emerged (complete with annoying corporate title) to strut their stuff and make their case for investment.

Two keynote speakers, oddly both from the online social gaming scene, provided a break from the onslaught of pitches.  Mitch Olson from SmallWorlds was engaging as he spoke about collaboration and the ecosystem of innovative business in New Zealand. Fresh from the announcement of the closure of MiniMonos virtual world, Melissa Clark-Reynolds talked about the recent event and shared her experiences from her participation in Springboard, the UK accelerator programme.

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At the end of the day, media and general riff-raff were kicked out politely as the investors were ushered into a room for some wheeling and dealing with the teams.  Although not everybody was signing on the dotted line, it was an opportunity to have serious conversations – sans tyre-kickers.

The after-party kicked off at Mac’s Brewery once the important discussions were complete. The teams, investors and supporters, some who were happily stranded in Wellington by some serious fog, celebrated the culmination of months of hard work and Lightning Lab’s successful maiden voyage.

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Behind the hype, this was a serious investment round. There was no winner, no grand prize, no trips to Silicon Valley or celebrity judging panel. The teams I spoke to were counting their success in number of business cards. However, they all acknowledged the real winners would be decided over the weeks to come, when hangovers fade and pen is put to paper.

About our Ambassador // Katherine Field is one helluva busy lady. In between holding down the fort as the Community Manager at the BizDojo, she is also back at university and helping to coordinate Startup Weekend Wellington. Find her on twitter as @kathfromwelly

Interview: Wellington Local, Anna Guenther — May 3, 2013

Interview: Wellington Local, Anna Guenther

This week our community ambassador Katherine Field interviews Anna Guenther, the founder New Zealand’s crowdfunding startup, PledgeMeFollow Anna and the PledgeMe team on Twitter via @pledgeme.

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Photo credit: Guy Ryan

As the driving force behind PledgeMe, New Zealand’s crowdfunding platform for creative projects, Anna Guenther is one of Wellington’s golden girls. Passionate about building resilient creative communities – online and offline – she’s found herself as somewhat of a beacon of hope for creatives at that awkward junction where art meets financial reality.

Since their inception in 2011, PledgeMe has helped to raise over one million dollars in pledges – recently celebrating this success with three consecutive parties on one street in Wellington, complete with puppets re-enacting Pulp Fiction, fairy bread and a complimentary walking-bus to ferry guests.

Anna joined me to chat about all things crowdfunding, the end of bootstrapping and her potential career as a rock-star.

Congratulations on reaching a major milestone of raising $1,000,000 in pledges. What is the next big goal on the horizon? 

One billion dollars? But, no, honestly – we’re aiming for one hundred million in the first five years. So, one million is great – but now we need to multiply that by a hundred!

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Photo credit: Tess Brosnan

You’ve recently jumped ship to work on PledgeMe full-time.  How big a decision was this and what were the major considerations for you and the business before taking this step?

It was a massive decision, but one a long time coming. I’ve had some really smart people telling me that you can’t be half committed…. and, that’s right.

If you’re in start up world there really comes a time when you just have to jump.

For us, it was realising that there really was a huge market in New Zealand – hitting the one-million-dollar mark proved this to us – and that it was time to focus.

How does PledgeMe set itself apart from similar models such as Kickstarter and the new local addition to the scene, Boosted?

We see ourselves as a local version of the mighty Kickstarter. Having a New Zealand focus means that we’re not just an online platform, but also an offline community. People see that what they’re giving is making a difference locally -and that’s important.

We also see the rewards side of what we do as enabling creatives to be entrepreneurial. It’s a new model, not reinventing the patron model of old, and we think that’s pretty powerful.

It’s insider tips time! What are your top three nuggets of advice for prospective crowdfunding campaigns?

I think the three golden nuggets would be:

– Pitch your project (and you) well. People need to see you in it, and understand why the funds are going to help make it happen.

– Have a video. Really. Videos make you at least 117% more likely to get funded.

– Rewards are rewarding. People don’t want begging, they want value. So show them what you’ll give in return – and make it a mix of physical and experiential.

What does the future of crowdfunding look like in New Zealand?

I think crowdfunding is the next BIG thing. It’s a tool to give the crowd the power to decide what’s cool and what isn’t, what deserves to be funded to happen (and what doesn’t). The power of distributed decision-making is so 2013.

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Photo credit: Kane Feaver & Bek Coogan

At PledgeMe’s ‘Thanks-a-Million’ celebration, you partook in some impressive crowd surfing! Are you a closet rock-star? Or is there another creative outlet up your sleeve?

More like a reluctant rock-star! I thought I was a bit of a fashionista back in the day, but now I’m just a massive supporter of the creative critters out there trying to do their thing. I’m really just a geeky fan of everyone!

About our Ambassador // Katherine Field is one helluva busy lady. In between holding down the fort as the Community Manager at the BizDojo, she is also back at university and helping to coordinate Startup Weekend Wellington. Find her on twitter as @kathfromwelly

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