*Guest post by Elyse Wyatt - Velox Innovation*
The accelerator may be over, but for the seven ventures of Lightning Lab Manufacturing their journey's are just getting started. Incase you've been living under a rock, Lightning Lab Manufacturing was New Zealand's first hardware accelerator programme, and concluded in Lower Hutt at the end of 2015.
Many moons ago now, the Velox Innovation team made a last minute decision to check out the information event for this accelerator, planned for Wellington. Fast forward a couple of months and I'm in Lower Hutt, working right inside it as the Marketing/Digital Coordinator, as part of a sponsorship arrangement between Velox Innovation and LLMFG.
I wanted to touch base with the teams post accelerator and find out exactly where they are headed in 2016.
This venture is developing beehive frames from a wood fibre composite material, which will act as a far better alternative to current wooden or plastic frames. Benefits include faster bee acceptance (therefore faster honey production), better thermal properties (for better bee health), and more robust frames for the Manuka extraction process. And, because there is such a huge rise in disease, a lot of hives are disposed of by burning, which releases a range of horrible things into the atmosphere. That won't happen with these frames.
The honey industry is currently booming, which is great news for this venture. Jess, as well as being a beekeeper herself (and a TV star), is a very talented industrial designer and won a bronze award at the recent Best Design Awards for another one of her AgTech-themed creations. Rob and Olly are also extremely talented; they've been involved in so many interesting professions I wouldn't have room to list them all.
LLMFG trivia: when Jess originally applied for the accelerator, she couldn't find a co-founder to join her full time. Legend has it that Programme Manager Tom met Rob in the post office (true story), and they formed the team from there. I love this startup because it's super cool - they are developing some pretty incredible materials from natural substances. This is the future for so many products currently made from non-planet-friendly things.
Ebee's Top Objectives For 2016
This year the startup's top priority is manufacturing their first batch of frames. The pilot roll-out to beekeeping companies across the country will then go down, with findings to be collated after that and the product refined for mass manufacturing. Securing seed funding is high on the list too - they need this to be able to reach their targets. Interested in learning more? Can you help Ebee in some way? Check out their website.
Kine6 have taken motion capture technology developed for the giants of film (Weta Digital) and are adapting it to solve the auto-focusing problems of independent filmmakers and cinematographers. At the moment, holding focus through complex shots is technically challenging for filmmakers, but Kine6's product can automatically focus camera lenses. Increased speed and reduced number of takes are but a few of the many benefits.
CEO Sean is probably one of the smartest people I've ever met. He has vast experience in things like machine learning, neural networks and motion capture. This guy has startup ideas up to his eyeballs, most of which he already has initial hardware/software for. He's always searching for a better way to do things, and this extremely talented man has a very bright future ahead.
Kine6's Top Objectives For 2016
Top priorities include fund-raising, building the product and solidifying Kine6's IP position. They also will be establishing partners for marketing and product manufacturing, and then shooting a bunch of collaborative film/video content with media partners.
As one of New Zealand's rising stars in building cool things, Sean has also just arrived back from the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, where he travelled to with the Callaghan Innovation delegation. Want to learn more about where Kine6 are headed? Check out www.kine6.co.nz.
CEO Jack is a successful industrial designer with a passion for surfing. He has created environmentally friendly wooden surfboards, which are stronger than traditional foam boards (giving them a longer life expectancy), and are much kinder on the earth to produce. Surfboards are actually a larger market than most people would think, because a lot of foam boards need replacing each season.
Jack has many awesome traits - he has great attention to detail, and is a super nice guy. He's also really hard working, and regardless of whether he had joined Lightning Lab Manufacturing or not he would still be producing these boards.
Organic Dynamic's Top Objectives For 2016
This startups top objectives are to supply early adopters with boards, and continue to build and strengthen relationships with retailers who have come onboard to sell the product. Initial fundraising, followed by the development of specialist manufacturing software and a New Zealand based crowdfunding campaign is also planned. You can check out the website for more info.
Bpod is a smart baby bottle which uses proprietary algorithms to adapt to a baby's needs. It makes feeding time easier and safer, and gives parents more freedom over when and where their baby feeds.
CEO Lawrence has a strong background in film and camera operating, and worked for the BBC before starting a successful IT company. He wrangled a team of people to work behind the scenes for him while in the accelerator, and despite being the only one in the office, he made some very exciting headway with Bpod in a short matter of time. He's an undercover machine, working away quietly to develop this kick-ass product and get the attention of some pretty high profile potential stakeholders. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with Bpod very much.
Bpod's Top Objectives For 2016
The top objectives for Bpod include continuing to build relationships with potential stakeholders, raising funds, and getting this incredibly exciting product to market. If you want to know more, or think you can help out, contact Lawrence directly.
Precision Platforms are building composite rifle stocks, designed to adapt to the needs of the user while not breaking the bank. Olympic level precision will no longer be out of reach for the world's gigantic target shooting market.
Chris, Rocky and Clive are all ex army and keen hunters, and have the best work ethic of any startup I've ever seen. They got to the lab early, and finished late, pretty much every day of the programme. And come Demo Day they had all memorised the pitch. It was such a pleasure to see how fast these guys learnt new skills - they're in this for the long haul.
Precision Platform's Top Objectives For 2016
Precision Platforms have a busy year ahead indeed. They are currently well into product testing, refinement, validation and sales. Building partnerships and relationships with all sorts of entities is also in full swing and they will have some exciting developments to share regarding this in the coming months.
A manufacturing plant is planned for this year, along with development of their next product - a bipod. And in between this all, one of the team will be entering shooting competitions with their product. Want to know more, or where to go to grab a Precision Platforms product? Check out their website.
THE MISPRINT CO.
Priscilla, Jenny and Kareena are all designers, and started The Misprint Co. while they were still studying. They take waste paper from universities and businesses, which would otherwise go in the recycling or rubbish bin, and repurpose it into notebooks. They can either sell these books to the general public, or provide as a service to universities and businesses so they can give the notebooks as gifts, use in-house or sell themselves.
These girls are so easily coachable and willing to try new things. They also go out of their way to help others, and are always very friendly and welcoming. I think almost everyone in the lab had a Misprint Co. notebook, and visitors eagerly snapped up the awesome books.
The Misprint Co.'s Top 2016 Objectives
As well as sending their notebooks wholesale into Wellington boutique stores, the team are focusing strongly on pushing their eco-loop service in the region, before rolling it out to other major cities. They built a fantastic new website which contains lots of notebooks and lots of information - check it out.
Tim and Matt make up Dogmatek, creating 'hybrid' effects pedals for guitarists which combine the smooth tones of analogue with the great functionality of digital. Tim is a talented electronic engineer, and Matt is the manager of such influential kiwi bands as The Black Seeds & The Phoenix Foundation.
These guys have this great product which could absolutely go off around the world, and it has been really exciting watching how they progressed through the accelerator. Matts potential access to some big-name band members mean they worked at getting their product validated by the best in the business.
Dogmatek's Top 2016 Objectives
This venture are targeting a market obsessed with effects pedals, and have had some fantastic feedback on their prototype from both professional musicians and hobbyists. Their top objective is getting larger quantities of the product built as quickly as possible, and then getting these pedals into the hands of more obsessed musicians.
Their next phase will see Dogmatek's second design finalised and released. Check out their website for more info.
THE GUYS BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Shawn O'Keefe and Thomas Rabone.
The team running the accelerator were instrumental in the success of the seven ventures. Shawn O'Keefe was Programme Director, with NZ having attracted the talented Texan with our green hills and awesome lifestyle (and a little bit of help from the guys at Creative HQ). For 14 years Shawn produced the interactive (emerging technologies) component of the massive American SXSW festival, now the most popular part of the whole thing. He enjoys fonts, bikes, music, chocolate and something called Battle Decks.
Post accelerator, Shawn has now headed into organisation mode for the next R9 accelerator, which he will be Programme Director for. We are luckily keeping this talented guy in NZ for a little while longer!
Thomas Rabone was Programme Manager, and outside of the accelerator is a CEO and former lawyer. Because he worked very closely with the ventures we had the pleasure of each week partaking in "Toms Rant." This is where challenges, frustrations and the wins too are debated with the group. It was very entertaining, informative and helpful. Tom is full of surprises, including the fact he has a vast background in gold mining operations, and lives in a pink house.
Post accelerator, Tom is leading the development of a new Lower Hutt co-working space positioned around hardware and manufacturing.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
Most of these ventures have active social media accounts, where you can follow their progress, contact them, and even buy their products. Give them a follow and show your support.
I'll be documenting the journeys of the seven startups over the next year, so stay tuned for updates!