The Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco is sweetening the pot for startups looking to springboard into the States.
Under its Catapult programme it is providing a month’s placement in San Fran’s South of Market district, along with the current 12 New Zealand companies attempting to bulk up and move on from the coworking space – of which Xero’s probably the best known of the bunch.
Catapult project lead Reuben Metcalfe says it’s an opportunity for startups, particularly in the internet/tech space, to get in front of (potential) customers and investors, to test and sell.
All applicants have to do is fill in a 10-page (remarkably short considering how these things often work) Powerpoint template that basically explains what the startup is trying to do, and how it might use its time in Silicon Valley. This goes past two panels, the first of which includes ex-Sonar6 boss John Holt (Sonar6 was recently sold to a US buyer for US$14m).
“If all the boxes are ticked and the panels think they can deliver, flights, accommodation and the desk space is paid for by the Ministry of Science and Innovation,” Metcalfe says. With a two-month lead time, Kiwi Landing Pad will help the individual companies plan for their trip, introducing them to people on the ground, according to what stage of the business they’re in.
The Kiwi Landing Pad itself is now part of what is believed to be the world’s largest co-working space, a 190 seat open space in the heart of San Francisco, called Startup HQ.
“Startup people can’t avoid each other in this environment. There’s a lot of cross-pollination,” says Metcalfe.
The other advantage from everyone’s point of view is that if the startup is selected to be brought across “they’ll find whether they sink or swim much faster than if they stayed at home".
“Some incubation periods for startups in New Zealand get up to 36 months,” Metcalfe says. “That’s not incubation, that’s life support. In a lot of cases, there’s more merit in killing something quickly if it’s not moving, and starting on the next venture/project.
The first cab off the rank is bimstop.com from Scott Barrington. BIM is the acronym for building information modelling, and the web application puts specific manufacturers products (and more importantly specifications) into the 3D models that architects increasingly use in their designs.
Metcalfe says the Kiwi Landing Pad Catapult initiative is beyond a pure market validation play (hopefully the startup has already carried out this phase), and a chance for direct customer acquisition.
“It’s an opportunity to secure customers and deals,” he says.
One advantage of being in a city such as San Francisco is that the startup culture “cycles faster, and company valuations are a completely different ball game".
Go here for the KLP Catapult application.
In a further development, the Startup Weekend organisers in New Zealand have added the sweetener that the most promising idea will also be part of the KLP Catapult. Naturally people will have to go to the Auckland Startup Weekend event this week. Wellington Startup Weekend is on July 27 –29.