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Lightning Lab teams set to court investors

The Lightning Lab’s class of 2014 will pitch to angel investors on its Demo Day next Wednesday.

Last year’s Lightning Lab Demo Day was the largest gathering of angel investors at a pitch event in New Zealand and the organisers say with more than 100 registered for the event next week, the second Demo Day may be larger.

Lightning Lab programme director Dan Khan says several of this year’s teams have already had conversations about funding.

“It’s the second year for Lightning Lab, so we don’t have the curiosity factor in play. What we do have is a stronger programme, a set of founding investors confident enough of the Lightning Lab process to back ten more startups with seed money this year, and we know that the individuals in the room on Demo Day will be there because they are looking to invest in a team.”

Among those pitching will be University of Canterbury graduates Duncan Keall and George Smith, whose venture Glassjar offers a web-based system and smartphone app for managing expenses among flatmates.

“Years ago most flats would have a bench top glass jar that everyone put money into and that all of the expenses were paid from. Nowadays, student flats are far savvier and have replaced the bench-top glass jar with internet banking and automatic payments,’’ Smith says. “So we decided to bring back the glass jar and build a simple software programme called Glassjar.”

Last year the idea won Most Market Ready Venture and Best Pitch at the university’s Entre student entrepreneurship competition and the pair brought on fellow student Matthew Galloway as a developer.

The 2013 Lightning Lab Demo Day secured $2.1 million for four of the nine companies who pitched, and Khan says he would like to see at least as many get investment this year.

“By the time they stand up on the stage at Te Papa, I expect them to have practised it 300 times,” Khan says. “But it’s up to the room to pick it on the day.”

The audience at Demo Day is comprised of mainly the investment community, as well as Lightning Lab mentors and invited guests from the startup community and family and friends of the teams pitching.

The seven minute presentations often spark further discussion at the closed investor-only session following the pitch event, the organisers say.

Incubator Creative HQ launched Lightning Lab last year as the country’s first digital accelerator. 

This year’s teams are:

Cavaltech  – tools and analytics for the horse shoeing industry  

Glass Jar  – automated management for shared bank accounts 

Common Ledger   – unifying accounting data standards 

Twingl  – online note-taking and semantic linking tool for researchers (Read more: Twingl pitches for its life)

Cogo  – inspiring people to achieve goals through donations 

TradeIntel – pricing and recommendations tools for online auctions 

Cloud Cannon –  website content management for graphic designers 

Keen – spontaneous matching people to shared activities 

CoachSeek –  marketplace for professional sports coaches 

WaterGenie –  smart water monitoring meters in the cloud (Read more: Water Genie bottles a formula to fight scarcity)

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