Every month at the Kiwi Landing Pad, we do a monthly update that covers who is in, what’s going on, and companies we have meet, come across or talked with lately, they are in varying industries and stages and in no particular order, sometimes old, sometimes new.
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NZ Companies you should know – check them out:
SteadyPay – Steadypay provides an alternative credit service for the gig economy that enables people to earn a consistent income, even when they work inconsistent hours.
Modlar- Modlar helps bring great design to life by connecting architects from the world’s top firms with building products from the world’s best brands.
Thankyou Payroll - Thankyou Payroll is a social enterprise that offers a cloud-based payroll software system to manage all the complexities of payroll, leave entitlements and taxes.
The Babysitters Club – The Babysitters Club is a premium babysitting service, which makes it easy for busy parents to do the things they love or need to do, without the worrying about the safety and well-being of their children.
Flossie – Flossie is the smarter way to book beauty services in seconds. Curating only premium, tried and tested salons and spas across Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Melbourne.
Melon Health – Behaviour change platform for chronic disease management and prevention. Helping people help themselves. Patient empowering digital health programs for physical and mental health.
Montoux- Montoux is the global leader in pricing transformation for the life insurance industry. Our application’s integrated modules allow life insurers to combine pricing, competitive analysis, elasticity analysis and price optimization in one reliable, easy to use application.
KuraCloud- kuraCloud is a cloud based learning and authoring platform that allows educators to easily create, publish, and manage active learning content on any device.
TownSquare- Find shows, markets, live music, activities, exhibitions, events to learn something new, family-friendly events and more using our hashtag-powered search engine. Town Square provides a one-stop solution with features to bookmark events, share them with friends, add them to your online calendar, navigate to the venues and get tickets for events.
EROAD- EROAD’s user-friendly solution sets the standard for accurate data collection, fleet performance management, electronic compliance and tax reporting.
iMoved- iMoved is an easy way to update your contact details in NZ with businesses, family and friends, quickly, securely and completely free!
Guest Post by Ryan Johnson.
Just last week I went to the SoMa district of San Francisco to check out Kiwi Landing Pad (KLP), which is situated between startup giants Twitter and Square. As I was talking with Catherine Robinson, director of KLP, I reflected on how much my wife Vicki and I have accomplished in our first month in San Francisco. We moved to San Francisco from Wellington in November to advance our startup, ProFellow.com. It’s incredible how far we’ve come – figuratively and literally!
ProFellow is dedicated to helping people find and win professional and academic fellowships. Since stepping off the plane, we’ve had a stacked calendar of meetings, events and conversations with new and established industry partners as well as advisors with expertise in our industry. For example, we’ve met with 10 fellowship organizations and held a networking dinner in SoMa for alumni of prestigious fellowships. We’ve also participated in several startup events, such as the SFBay Startup Weekend, and even met the founder of the international Hackers and Founders Meetup, who was thrilled to learn more about the Wellington chapter that I help co-manage. Vicki even spoke to a large captive audience about fellowships at the American Geophysical Union conference that just took place at the Moscone Center downtown. We can see the direct impact to our new sign-ups, which have nearly doubled since moving to the U.S.
For an entrepreneur living and working in San Francisco is extraordinary because the city is teeming with founders. You meet new people every day who will both celebrate and commiserate with you on the ups and down of startup life. It’s something every entrepreneur should experience. For early stage startups, I recommend checking out KLP’s program, which helps get you to San Francisco and arms you with a plan so you can make the most out of your time here.
Also, through Geekplane, an early stage startup focused on travel exchanges for technical help, Vicki and I are offering a free two-week stay at a private room in our flat in central San Francisco in exchange for some added features to our website. Email me (ryan[at]profellow.com) to learn more!
Ryan Johnson, Cofounder of ProFellow.com
Go Vocab founders Michael Dowse and Jeremy Geros headed back to Wellington a couple of weeks ago, but before they left, I sat down with them to get a feeling for what they had learnt during their time here at KLP.
Michael and Jeremy won the BNZ Start-Up Alley prize at Webstock which gave them a month at KLP plus money for most of their expenses. They were impressed at just how focussed San Francisco is on technology – and it really is a wholly immersive experience. Standing on Harrison St, tech billboards are visible in every direction. Main stream network channels like NBC Bay Area cover all the latest technology news, there is an app for almost anything you can think of. You don’t order a taxi – you Uberit. Feel like some truffle fries – then Get it Now. Need that “thing” done now – Task Rabbit.
Coffee at The Creamery or SightGlass Coffee is an immediate introduction to how entrepreneurs venture capitalists, consumers and job seekers keep this community an active and exciting environment. Both Michael and Jeremy commented that they have very general skill sets, primarily web design. They were blown away at how specialised people’s skill sets are here. Most nights Michael and Jeremy headed out to events like Airbnb Meetups where they meet with other entrepreneurs and listened to inspiring stories at Airbnb Fireside Chats.
Read more about their experience at KLP and how winning the BNZ Start-Up Alley prize at Webstock will accelerate Go Vocab here.
Guest Post written by Christian Hirsch founder of Mohio.
Since I started a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Auckland in 2007, I always took an applied approach to my research. Being able to address real-world problems with new software tools has guided much of my work. Now seeing the results of this research form a startup is extremely exciting! Recently I had the opportunity to be based at Kiwi Landing Pad for a few weeks and explore opportunities in the US market for our early-stage startup Mohio.
My research at the University of Auckland was focused on the intersection of Software Engineering, Knowledge Management, and Visualization Tools – and we could see commercial applications from early on. Since completing my PhD last year, I have been working on bringing the technology to the market with the help of UniServices. Mohio, still in its pre-launch stage, will be positioned in the “Social Business Intelligence” domain.
During my time at the University, I was also involved with the Spark entrepreneurship challenge – a great platform for students to turn ideas into startups. Prior to my stay at Kiwi Landing Pad I had also spent some time at Stanford University, attending the Stanford Ignite programme, where I gained insights into the entrepreneurial environment of Silicon Valley.
The Kiwi Landing Pad was the ideal next step to learn more about opportunities in the US market and refine our business model and product. It was a great base to connect with people, conduct market validation for our technology, and attend industry conferences in the area. Catherine at Kiwi Landing Pad has been very helpful for getting us in touch with the right people and for further developing our strategy. My visit to San Francisco was a great opportunity to evaluate the market and establish important contacts. It has added invaluable input to our startup from a global perspective.
Once ready for launch, more information about Mohio will be available at: www.moh.io
David White has spent the last four weeks with us at the Kiwi Landing Pad and his final words of advice – “Get over here and make it happen”. Before he jumped on Air New Zealand Flight 07 back to Auckland, I sat down with him and asked what he learned about being here in San Francisco and what advice he has for fellow Kiwi tech startup companies launching in the USA.
David is the Founder and CEO of IndieReign and came here as part of the Catapult program. Catapult is aimed at early stage entrepreneurs with viable business ideas in an “early startup” phase. The primary objective is to accelerate the design and development of their product or service business model by exploring in-market business development, investment, mentorship and strategic partnership opportunities. Read IndieReign’s Catapult case study here.
The Catapult program is run by Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco with full support from its private sponsors and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.
Guest Post written by Michael Dowse founder of Go Vocab.
Earlier this year our start up, Go Vocab won the BNZ Startup Alley Competition. Our prize consisted of flights to San Francisco, some spending money and time in the Kiwi Landing Pad. 2 weeks ago Jeremy and I left behind the wind and rain of a Wellington winter for the eternal sunshine and fog of San Francisco. We’ll be here in the SoMa district of San Francisco, in the thick of it all, for 2 months.
Go Vocab launched 18 months ago as an e-learning site for high school students learning languages. Students use Go Vocab to learn and revise Vocabulary, Pronunciation and Verb Conjugations. Teachers use Go Vocab to set homework and track students progress. We first launched 18 months ago and thousands of students in hundreds of schools across Australia and New Zealand are now using Go Vocab.
This trip is an amazing opportunity to scope out the US and Canadian markets for Go Vocab. As well as immersing ourselves in the San Francisco Bay Area tech community we want to show Go Vocab to some teachers! Next week we’re taking Go Vocab on the road to attend Language Teacher Conferences in Portland and Vancouver.
As the name promises, the Kiwi Landing Pad has allowed us to land on our feet with desks, internet, even accommodation at Startup House right next door. Catherine and Reuben have also been helping us with everything from introductions to other e-learning startups to finding decent coffee.
It’s only been 2 and a half weeks so far and already I can see that this trip will change how we run our startup. When we leave we’ll be taking with us a more global perspective on building a startup that can compete with the best in the world.
You can check out Go Vocab here: www.govocab.com
Great night last night here in San Francisco celebrating the launch of Project Catapult. An initiative to help Kiwi entrepreneurs open doors into the San Francisco market.
Launch attendees, many of whom are accomplished Kiwi and US entrepreneurs were given details of the Project and heard from the latest participant, David White from Hamilton who pitched his startup IndieReign.
Kiwi Landing Pad Managing Director John Holt also formally welcomed Catherine Robinson to her new role as the San Francisco Director. Robinson has extensive startup experience and co founded Wellington based startup Aptimize which was acquired by San Francisco based Riverbed Technologies in 2012.
“We are very excited to have Catherine on the team and to have new Landing Pad residents and visitors welcomed by someone who understands the journey of building a global business from New Zealand successfully.”
“Project Catapult is just another example of how we can maximize the benefits of Kiwi Landing Pad and help established companies grow faster in market while also exposing earlier stage entrepreneurs to the realities and requirements of going global through Project Catapult says Holt.”
Full press release about Project Catapult here
Check out our new video profiling Kiwi Landing Pad. Our friends at Kordia came to visit us at the Kiwi Landing Pad. Together we created a video highlighting some of our achievements in our first year here in San Francisco. James talks about his role in creating soft landings for Kiwi companies breaking into the US. James has been at the Kiwi Landing Pad since day one and has provided a lot of advice and support to companies wanting to grow their business in the US. The video also features Reuben Metcalfe. Reuben is the founder of Idreamofspace.com and he is the first participant of our newly launched program Catapult.
Kordia are a New Zealand based telecommunications provider that actively supports the New Zealand technology sector. Thanks to Luke and the team for putting this video together.
Second week in, I’ve been trying to get a sense for the SF start up community at large.
Here are some links to some of the more interesting spaces I visited this week;
A) If I wrote about all of these places, this would be a very LONG post – check out the websites if you’re interested in visiting SF, they’re worth your time.
B) This is by no means an exhaustive list, far more to come.
C) ALL of them are within walking distance.
Co working space on 11th st (We’re on 5th) – Spent a day here on the ground floor, nice crowd.
2- Rocket Space
A “Tech + New-Media Only” shared space, a lot of activity going on here.
3 – NextSpace
These guys are popping up all over the country, looking forward to finding out more when I visit next week.
4 – The Hattery
These guys are a little bit different, in that they’re more product-focused. Check the (very pretty) site.
5 – The Hub
Another co-working space that seems to be sprouting up across the country, these guys tend to have a more ‘social entrepreneurship’ angle in terms of what kind of startups they house.
One thing that becomes quickly apparent is people’s general open-ness to sharing, so remember to bring your own ideas if you’re going to be attending meetings at different places, and be willing to share your thoughts and opinions on others as well.
Next week: An information diet for the busy entrepreneur.
So I hit the streets of San Francisco on the morning of Thursday the 5th of July.
It’s been a week since then, but it feels like so much has happened… rather than give you a saga, I figured I’d stick to the bullet-points of what I learned in the first week, with the hope it might be helpful to fellow startuppers on their way over here.
1: LOOK BOTH WAYS.
It sounds trivial, but it took at least a few days to turn off the “NZ-road rules” part of my brain… It’s one thing to know that cars drive on the other side of the road here, it’s another to instinctively look the right way when you’re rushing between meetings whilst talking on the phone and checking your email…so be careful! You’re going to be significantly less productive if you’re run over by a truck – or most vehicles, for that matter.
2: Get social.
Meetup.com is an AMAZING resource for getting a jump-start on your network, with over 6000 meetup groups in SF alone, you’re looking at minimum 2-5 events a day around tech and startups, not to mention groups with very specific interests, such as a particular development language, a certain kind of marketing, or a group focused exclusively on what would usually be a niche topic.
3: Traction trumps talk.
In a place where universities and existing tech companies are pumping a lot of clever, experienced people back into the local eco-system, ideas are a dime-a-dozen… this doesn’t mean your idea isn’t great – what it does mean is that people are going to value your ability to execute over how clever you might be… a thousand customers (or promises from future customers) is going to get you a lot further than a 50 page business plan… traction tells people you can DO things, not just talk about them.
4: Follow up.
With all these meetings/new faces- it’s easy to lose track of names, contact details, and things-you-were-supposed-to-follow-up-on. Make sure you have a device (Even a notepad) to record who you meet where, what the outcomes were, and then dedicate a time in the day to follow up on the connections you make – you never know when you’ll meet someone you’ll end up working with.
5: Life happens.
After all is said and done, San Francisco is a beautiful city with a very open culture, and most of the good outcomes are going to come from things you didn’t plan for – a surprise referral, an unplanned event where you meet a key customer, or the intern who loves your idea and will work for love and maybe a little equity if things go well. By all means do prepare as time flies VERY quickly – but don’t forget to take the opportunities as they come, and they’ll come quite often if you’re getting out in the community.
Next week I’ll be writing about some specific places and groups I’ve come across thus far – feel free to ask questions and I’ll reply to them on this page.
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