Of startups’ mentor whiplash pain

The stakes are high, the pressure intense, and the spots limited as only 10 best teams will get to pitch ideas to potential investors in Lightning Lab’s 2015 accelerator programme.

Lightning Lab, is however, looking for more complete teams with high quality leadership and expertise from startup companies, says Mark MacLeod-Smith, Lightning Lab’s Auckland Programme Lead.

The accelerator has launched the programme in Auckland to capture a wider pool of startups.

But the mentor-start up relationship can be daunting and the information overload, overbearing.

MacLeod-Smith says: “A challenge we’ve seen in recent programmes is something we call mentor whiplash.”
 
Particularly tough is the first month where the teams meet with a large number of mentors and receive a large amount of feedback on their opportunity to sharpen their ideas. This can often be “overwhelming”, MacLeod-Smith says.
 
This is where the accelerator team can step in and help the teams make sense of all the feedback, he adds.

“After that, the startups, while still engaging with mentors, will continue to build their businesses, pivoting and validating their way to an investible opportunity,” he says.

Mark MacLeod-Smith: "A challenge we've seen in recent programmes is something we call mentor whiplash."

Founder series 
One way Lightning Lab is addressing the mentor whiplash issue is to introduce the Founder Series where events are organised around the country to educate the community about startup topics.
 
“By doing so we hope to grow the capability and provide networking opportunities to help facilitate interactions between potential co-founders,” MacLeod-Smith says.
 

The programme’s last month is focused on putting startups through the drill of making a successful pitch to investors.

“The companies will pitch a minimum of 50 times ensuring they can clearly articulate their opportunity to the investors on Demo Day,” MacLeod-Smith says.

The Lightning Lab programme is designed to deliver New Zealand’s 10 best digital startups to an eager pool of investors.

Mentors

Mentors who have been roped in to help educate startups are:

  • Greg Cross, CEO and co-founder of PowerbyProxi
  • Vaughan Rowsell, CEO and co-founder of Vend
  • Ben Young, co-founder of digital agency Young & Shand, NZ’s 8th fastest growing business
  • Claudia Batten, US-based serial entrepreneur and youngest ever World Class NZ Supreme Award winner
  • Tim Williams, the first foreigner to list a company on the Japanese stock exchange.

[Check out Richard Branson’s guide on how to find the right “mentor”]

Lightning Lab comes to the big city

Lightning Lab’s Auckland programme will be delivered by ICEHOUSE with the support of CreativeHQ. During the three-month long programme, the selected startups and the Lightning Lab team will be based at the GridAKL.

The 10 startups will be selected early 2015 for the programme which runs from March to June. Applications for the programme will open October 22, and close Dec 17, 2014.

(The picture above belongs to GridAKL)

Among Lightning Lab’s national sponsors are Spark and Microsoft. Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) is a foundation partner for the Auckland programme while the Bank of New Zealand is an Auckland region sponsor.

The Lightning Lab team will also be touring the nation with a roadshow – Starting Up Lean event series in Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin and Hamilton.

This event is a chance for digital startup entrepreneurs around the country to learn about the fundamentals of the lean startup methodology as well as learn more about the Lightning Lab programme, meet the Lightning Lab team and get a head start on their application.