Through our affiliation with the ICE Angels, First Cut Ventures were invited to attend the 2015 Lightning Lab Demo Day, a showcase event featuring 9 digital start-ups pitching to over 300 investors at Spark’s HQ.
Lightning Lab is a national accelerator programme that runs in cities across New Zealand. Lightning Lab Auckland is run by The Icehouse as a delivery partner. During the three-month programme, the selected start-ups are given intensive mentorship and coaching to validate their market, iterate their product and ultimately take their team from a concept to a business. The programme culminates in the Demo Day event where each start-up pitches to the 300-strong audience of investors to attract capital and expertise.
The 9 start-ups that presented were:
- Broker Better: Lead & referral generation for mortgage and insurance advisers
- Designer Wardrobe: A platform to buy, sell and swap high-end second-hand designer clothes
- Tomato: An app that lets you know how far away your friends are when meeting up
- Future Insight: An online tool for business analysts to find what they don’t know about their data in seconds
- Logicore: Value chain management software for businesses to control their non-core business area expenses
- Justly: Xero-style creation and management of testamentary docs: wills, power of attorney, advance medical directives
- Preno: Property management application for smaller accommodation providers
- Roll: Super simple business intelligence and management software for SMEs
- Wear it Her Way: Web app crowdsourcing clothing recommendations from girls for guys
Lightning Lab Demo Day was a great event for the team at First Cut Ventures to meet up-and-coming entrepreneurs and build relationships with seasoned angel investors. After the pitches wrapped up we, alongside leading angel investors, discussed deals and concerns with entrepreneurs. It was particularly insightful observing the qualities assessed and questions raised by the angels.
Specific qualities that angels valued were:
- Product stickiness; For digital companies, it is crucial to build a product that creates a high level of stickiness and network effect.
- Track record; An entrepreneur with a series of successful exits would be a plus. Awards, competitions and educational & career backgrounds were key points to evaluate.
- Business Scope. Having a scalable business model and offering that could expand offshore.
Takeaways for coaching start-ups:
- Practice makes perfect. Start-ups have to practice pitching hundreds of times, if not thousands, to make the first impression perfect to investors.
- Well prepared for questions. Knowing the business well is one thing, what is more important is to pre-empt and prepare for the questions that may follow the pitch.
- Nailing the detail on slides. Too much info in the slides will distract investors’ attention, whereas too little info can’t explain the business well.