Lightning Lab

  • Location: Asia-Pacific, New Zealand, Wellington
  • Timing of Applications: Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter
  • Focus: Digital/Media, Mobile, SaaS, Technology, Web-Based

Lightning Lab is a four-month, mentor-intensive, business acceleration programme based on the best of breed accelerator model developed by TechStars in the US.

Lightning Lab is the only New Zealand member of the Global Accelerator Network (GAN), an invite-only community of the world’s most respected organizations that provide startups with the best resources to create and grow their businesses, wherever they are. Startups accepted into a GAN accelerator have access to a variety of exclusive perks including over $1M worth of free services, introductions to a network of investors and access to soft landing spaces worldwide.

As such, Lightning Lab maintains the highest standards for its programme and continually improves its content based on the best practices from across the globe.

The Structure

Lightning Lab is a four-month, full-time, in-residence business accelerator. Each programme takes in up to 10 companies and provides each with structure, startup methodologies, business skills and focused support so they can successfully find the market fit for their products and rapidly grow their user base. Lightning Lab is an investment pathway that has proven to be successful in building strong companies and significantly increasing their value to investors.

During the programme, teams are given access to a network of more than 250 mentors, interns and advisors from across New Zealand and around the globe. They’ll impart wisdom, confront assumptions and test teams’ fortitude while sharing a powerful network of expertise, experience and connections. Teams are also given an investment amount that allows them to focus their time on their business and over $800,000NZ each in perksto use as the tools for their experiments.

At the end of third month, teams pitch to leading investors at a high-profile event known as Demo Day.

First Month: Mentors, business model validation and customer development

In the first month of the programme, teams learn how to work in the Lightning Lab environment and are immersed in mentorship. Through extensive mentor sessions, teams validate their business model and pivot if need be. Teams also identify their customer and create a minimum viable product (MVP).

Speaker and workshop topics in the first month include:

  • networking
  • team building/working protocols
  • lean start-up
  • customer engagement
  • product strategy, design and development

Second Month: Product build, traction, and revenue

In the second month of the programme, teams spend most of their time validating MVP prototypes in the market. Teams also begin to build their story and proof points for the investor presentation at Demo Day.

Speaker and workshop topics in the second month include:

  • pricing
  • competition
  • product development
  • IP protection
  • revenue/financial modeling

Third Month: Pitch, investment readiness, Demo Day

In month three, teams prepare for Demo Day while squeezing out as much traction/revenue in the market as possible. Teams will structure and practice their pitch daily while receiving feedback from mentors, alumni and specialists.

Speaker and workshop topics in the third month include:

  • growth hacking
  • pitching/communications techniques
  • investor relations
  • valuations

Demo Day

Demo Day is the culmination of the most active phase of the programme and the showcase for the teams to the stakeholders, investors, sponsors and community at large. Each team gets 5 minutes to pitch their company in front of an auditorium of key people. The pitches are followed by a social gathering with investors in which teams get to provide more detail to the investors who are interested.

Fourth Month: Close investment, prepare for growth

In month four, teams work on closing their investments, preparing for growth and transitioning to life outside the accelerator. This period is good for making sure teams establish good company systems, structures and governance.

Speaker and workshop topics in the fourth month include:

  • public relations
  • investment legal
  • company structure/governance
  • hiring for growth
  • funding and grants for start-ups
  • post-acceleration support