'Mini Lightning Lab' to nurture the next generation

'Mini Lightning Lab' to nurture the next generation

Young Enterprise Trust and Creative HQ are creating a micro version of the Lightning Lab accelerator, Venture Up, to bridge the gap between entrepreneurship in schools and creating more mature businesses.

The programme isn't just about carrying on existing young enterprise ventures, but also catering to new opportunities, says YE Trust CEO Terry Shubkin.

"We hear stories of recent alumni who want to carry on their YES business or who finish and want to pivot or do something else.

"That's why we've extended the age group to 25. We hear from alumni that they go on to tertiary study then they have these ideas and say, 'what do I do now?'"

The programme will run for six weeks from next January and will be held in Wellington. Its mission is to better connect people at different stages of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, says Shubkin.

"We've always said it's not necessarily carrying on their existing [Young Enterprise] business - many will set up two or three or four ventures before they find 'the one'. The idea is to better connect connect the points of the ecosystem. We're generating interest at primary and secondary level but there's a gap between that and tertiary."

Creative HQ will project manage Venture Up, with Young Enterprise handling promotion. Ten teams will be chosen from among the applications, with a showcase at the end of the programme providing the equivalent of the Lightning Lab's Demo Day, a pitch for investment.

Young Enterprise launched its alumni programme a couple of years ago and found many members wanted to stay in touch after finishing secondary school, Shubkin says.

“We have more than 2500 students taking part in The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme each year. They create approximately 600 new products and services each year."

Successful alumni include Xero boss Rod Drury, fellow IT entrepreneur Seeby Woodhouse and Charlie's co-founder and now Better Drinks Company director Stefan Lepionka. YES ventures that have continued include Manurewa High School's Caring and Co, which launched with olive oil products and has diversified into honey, says Shubkin.

Applications open in September.