Lightning Lab XX, New Zealand’s first ever female-focused accelerator program, has announced the seven teams who will be participating in its three month mentorship-driven program. The purpose of the program is to discover, accelerate and invest in women-led companies with a strong team, market, and product.
Over 110 applicants were shortlisted to 16 before pitching to a panel of founding investors, senior stakeholders, and the Lightning Lab team. Executive Director of the Angel Association and panel member Suse Reynolds was impressed with the diverse opportunities offered by applicants.
“It’s great to see the first female founder accelerator program. There is a dichotomy between the research that clearly shows the financial benefits of diversity, and the lack of women in startups and more widely in business. The program will not only give the participating female-led enterprises a kick start, but they in turn will provide inspiration to other women with innovative ideas. It’s a practical and exciting step towards improved entrepreneurial diversity within New Zealand,” she said.
Participants will receive support from mentors including Natalia Albert, COO for Inspiring Stories Trust, Kirsten Lunman, COO of Wipster, and Anna Guenther, cofounder of Bubble Blower and PledgeMe.
Lightning Labs have invested NZ$20,000 into each company within the program in return for an equity stake. Each team will receive perks and services valued at over NZ$800,000.
Programme Director Laura Reitel said the program will harness Lightning Lab’s tried and tested model of mentor intensive acceleration to combat the unique needs and barriers that female founders face.
“The program is ultimately an experiment in how we can make a solid step towards boosting the ratio of female founded ventures in NZ and further enriching the startup ecosystem,” she said.
“The response we have received nationwide for the XX program has been overwhelming. Our teams are coming from across New Zealand to be part of the program, and in many ways are more established than the candidates that have entered into Lightning Lab program in past years.”
The teams accepted into the program include:
An ecommerce platform selling skincare products for adventurers across New Zealand and Australia.
A geospatial augmented reality gaming company that creates motion games that kids can play outside.
An ethically manufactured customisable corporate uniform company. Clothing is sourced and manufactured in India, with the factories providing equal employment opportunities for disadvantaged women and reinvesting profits into community development projects.
An online music school that teaches music theory and aural skills through a variety of interactive lessons, quizzes, and games. The curriculum is relevant for music schools and teachers in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
A platform recording over 98 percent of all deaths in New Zealand daily. It holds the largest record of published death notices in Australasia, and provides death data matching software and identification services for any business type or size, including those in the legal, insurance, and banking industries.
A digital library of products for interior designers, providing tools for searching samples and creating schemes.
Creating science-based powdered food. The startup is looking to expand outside of the convenience food product to other segments including disaster relief, refugee crisis, and the elderly.
The program starts on March 8, which will lead up to demo day in June and a final four weeks of focus on raising investment.
Image: Lightning Lab XX. Source: Lightning Lab Website