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Lightning Labs, a lean startup hub of selected neophyte companies located for three months on Wellington’s The Terrace, gave a ‘where we’re at, what we’ve learned’ quickfire talks recently.

The fullhouse (dozens on the waiting list), heard how the nine IT-oriented businesses are going, how they’ve changed and pivoted (or spivoted as Questo described their 360° return to where they began) and how they’re achieving product-market fit.

All are using the lean startup methodology and being heavily mentored in the expectation that many will attract new and additional investment at a formal pitch session Demo Day at Te Papa on May 15.

The nine startups, whittled down from an original 87 applications, have received up to $18,000 for the three month internship cum building platform. LL’s organisers, Dave Moskovitz, Creative HQ and many others describe it as being a means to build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem across New Zealand, and have modified America’s TechStars model for Kiwi sensibilities.

Lighntning Lab is sponsored by CreativeHQ, MBIE, ninetwenty recruitment, The Wellington Company, Weta Digital, FX Netowrks, TradeMe and CityLink.

It is all part of, in sticK’s opinion, a maturing and reality check on the difficult feat of turning an idea into a product or service that someone will buy. That, or creating a fast-failure so an entrepreneur can get on with another project that does have market potential.

The three month intensive is divided into thirds (with participants currently halfway through):

· First month –validation & mentor bombardment (asking questions, testing hypotheses)
· Second month – build a structure
· Third month – prepare for investment….and beyond

One interesting feature, is a weekly group evaluation of everyone’s progress and ranking (which varies). This ever-changing ranking graphically shows how well teams are considered to be going.

For the record, the presentations and brief explanation of the startups are: (The companies and original market intent can be found here.

A point to note is the change in description of what the startups consider to be their market, and/or problem they’re solving).

Questo! – platform to connect parents and their children and share photos (in particular)

KidsGoMobile – a means to make children’s smartphone use safer by enabling parents to have an overview of who they’re connecting

withPromoki – a collaborative media project to use crowdsourcing to make and tell stories (particularly around brands)

Teamisto – social media platform for grass root sports teams, allowing them to interact with and provide value to local businesses that may wish to be sponsors

Expander – tracking and analytics platform to protect brands, first aimed at NZ food and beverage productsMyBuy – mobile marketing platform particularly aimed at SME’s

Publons – building a way for academics to publish articles without having to use a journal (publication)

WIP – cloud-based collaboration tool for film-making and editing

LearnCOACH – platform to allow one-on-one, conversational english tuition to non-english students

As programme director Dan Khan says, “the lean startup methodology is a set of very commonsense techniques.”

“What is also really important is the importance of a vision – defined in a way that allows a company, when pivoting, to remain within that vision,” he says.

To have such a vision, a company needs a good idea of what problem it is trying to solve, and that there’s a big enough pain point to provide a product that customers will love.

Roll on (and even role on) May 15 – the proof of the (investment) pudding for Lightning Labs first cohort of graduates!

Lightning Labs shows off its first flowers of startup blooming

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