Right, something you can get your teeth into...literally – Lightning Lab Manufacturing.
So, instead of a 12 week accelerator to figure out how to take a digital idea out to the world, the same sort of programme but aimed at a physical product.
As I've commented before, we risk missing out on, and leveraging off the biological resource and manufacturing ideas that we (well hopefully) have abounding in our country. Heck, it could even be making and doing something better with the proverbial Number 8 wire! Obviously we need to move beyond commodities (as Fonterra's milk powder based payout implodes), and these sort of events will encourage just that.
LL/M is now calling for applications from people who have prototypes, or even just an idea for a physical product, and who are prepared to spend three months validating and building their business model before pitching it to investors at a special Demo Day in November.
Like the digitally-oriented LLs, there will be intensive mentoring, networking and business upskilling – but this time for hardware rather than software.
Applications are due on June 26, though as an introductory evening at Wellington's Creative HQ indicated on Tuesday 9 June, there could be a wee bit of flexibility around that deadline. This is especially so given that another non-digital initiative, Startup Weekend Science and Research is taking place in the capital beginning on July 3 (more on that in another blog).
Of interesting note for LL/M is the move to Wellington by Austin, Texas-based Shawn O'Keefe. He's been the producer of SXSW Interactive for 14 years, and takes on the Programme Director role. O'Keefe's bringing his young family over as well – which is obviously not something you do on a whim.
And, as O'Keefe said in introducing himself to us on Tuesday, “let's make – we have no excuses anymore.” He's particularly referring to 3D printing, hardware hacking, biometric sensors and the internet of things – among many things.
One point he made is that applicants don't necessarily have to have a team around them (yet), nor a prototype.
An idea from a individual can then have those elements built around them.
There's only going to be eight startups selected, from anywhere around the country.
If you get in, in return for 6% equity, teams receive $15,000 in startup financing, and $5,000 research funding from Callaghan Innovation...plus the pitch to investors in November.
Hopefully LL/M is swamped with applications. The organisers are agnostic about where in New Zealand these are from – the only priviso being that teams are prepared to work out of a (probably High Street) lab in Lower Hutt.
I'll be interested to see how it pans out from a who can actually afford to be there point of view. The digital LL is mostly made up of young, single people – who have much more ability to live off the smell of an oily rag.
I'm guessing here, but suspect that physical product ideas are more likely to be from more mature people, often with families. Taking 12 weeks out of your life on minimal pay may simply be beyond do-able for many of these potential applicants.
Let's hope I'm wrong on that.
Application forms, which can be filled out in draft form, then returned to for updating and submitting, are at: lightninglab.co.nz/manufacturing
Go on, take a bite out of it.