Postr

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Earn rewards for adverts on your lockscreen.

postr-logoWould you like to earn free minutes and/or megabytes on your mobile data plan? Postr powers telco-branded white-label Android apps that show you tailored adverts on your mobile phone’s lockscreen, and reward you with free megabytes and minutes.

It’s a simple concept that’s had great uptake with Skinny in New Zealand – after less than a year out of the blocks with Skinny, they already have over 40,000 users across Skinny and their original B2C app Postr. They’re planning on launching with another major telco in NZ this year.

But the exciting action is overseas, and they’ve launched with “a telco” in Australia earlier this year (five seconds of Internet search revealed that the telco is Optus), and are preparing to launch in the Philippines and Indonesia in the next few months.

Milan Reinartz

27 year old CEO Milan Reinartz arrived in New Zealand from Munich on a high school student exchange programme, and never left. While he was at design school, he started making money buying and selling cars, and generally trading. When he got his first job as a designer at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellington at age 20, he found he was making less money than he had the previous year as a trader. He decided it was more rewarding – mentally as well as financially – to work for himself as an entrepreneur.

He got involved in the startup scene through Alan Hucks at CreativeHQ, and did some design work for Yonix, Dash Tickets, and went through Lightning Lab 2013 with the Promoki team. Dash Tickets was acquired, and Promoki failed. You could say that Milan did his startup apprenticeship in this way.

One day in 2014 Milan got a txt from a friend in Germany who pointed him to Locket.com, a company doing opt-in adverts on lockscreens (since acquired by wish.com) and said, hey this is a great idea, and you could do a much better job with it. Whereas Locket had been focused on gaming and retail, Milan thought that this would be much more valuable to Top 200 brand companies and more suitable to personalisation. So he launched Postr, their initial B2C platform in early 2014. There was a problem though – customer acquisition cost was just too high compared to the value that the end user was receiving. So they pivoted Postr into a B2E2C model, partnering with mobile networks to help them differentiate and white labelled the app.

Roger Shakes
Roger Shakes
Mark Penman
Mark Penman

Given their traction in NZ, Australia, and Southeast Asia, they’re currently on a steep growth curve. Southeast Asia is particularly attractive due to the high Android market penetration there, and vibrant and growing mobile advertising market. Nowadays, Milan spends two weeks on the road in Asia with COO Roger Shakes, alternating with two weeks in NZ working in deals here and minding the shop with CTO and co-founder Mark Penman.

This isn’t only a speed-to-market play, it’s a be-the-f@#%!ing-best-out-there play

“This isn’t only a speed-to-market play, it’s a be-the-f@#%!ng-best-out-there play because it’s such a new space” says Milan. And the stats back up that they’re well on the way. They’re getting average revenue per user (ARPU) of over $2/month/user which is much less than their acquisition cost through the telco channel. Now it’s mainly a question of scaling.

And to that end, they’re raising a $2-3m series A, which has been mostly filled by existing investors plus new investors from Southeast Asia. Milan touts, “there’s still room in the round for additional investors, but you’d better get in quick!” Love it.

Their challenges going forward? “Setting up a truly international operation, within the ‘wild west’ environment of mobile advertising, the slow sales cycles, working with big organisations like telcos and the lack of talent and expertise in NZ around mobile ad-tech.”

The important thing is not to let your mind get bogged down, to keep going, be persistent, keep learning, and not give up for the wrong reasons.

I asked Milan what was the most important thing he’s learned in the last couple of years, and he said, “I think it’s a bit like walking a tightrope in the early stages and you often don’t know what’s going to work before you try. The important thing is not to let your mind get bogged down, to keep going, be persistent, keep learning, and not give up for the wrong reasons.”

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Heyrex

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Remote health monitoring for animals.

It’s a tough job being a veterinarian. You can’t really communicate directly with your patients, and their owners are notoriously unreliable in the way they report their pet’s behaviour. Wouldn’t it be great if you could remotely collect data on your patients which showed how much time they spent running around, where they’ve been, when they’ve been resting, scratching, whether they’re eating too much or to little?

Well now you can, with Heyrex, the Wellington developed “Fitbit for pets” that’s exploding onto the world stage.

The Heyrex story begins with big-hearted scientist David Gibson who loved animals, and saw huge inefficiencies with the way animal health treatments were delivered. He believed that using technology it should be possible to detect changes in behaviour which were indicative of health problems a long time before symptoms appeared. With early behavioural detection, animals could avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort, and owners could avoid expensive remedial treatments after the problems had become acute.

By 2011 Gibson had developed a working prototype of Heyrex, based on dongle technology with a monitor station that looked like it came straight out of a 1950’s sci-fi film. But later that year, Gibson passed away from a heart attack.

Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence

Current CEO Nathan Lawrence was an early investor at that time, and was helping Gibson out with commercialisation strategy. The Board asked Lawrence to become CEO, and take the company forward. The new team took the concept, stripped it right back, rebuilt it based on 2.4Gb wireless technology with the back-end in the cloud, and started shopping the solution in the US and UK. The Company also did a customer segment pivot – aiming the new HeyrexVet monitoring service at vets rather than pet owners, as vets have existing relationships with pet owners, and the data and analytics are much more valuable to them.

Vets prescribe HeyrexVet monitoring as part of their treatment programmes, as it saves time and enables measuring effectiveness and adjusting treatments. There are several treatment programme modules which can be switched on in the cloud for specific treatment of animals. One such module is cage rest, which is critical to monitor for postoperative recovery. The vet places the wearable on the animal, and data starts flowing in showing how much time the animal is spending in the cage, in easy exercise, or running around. The vet gets an alert if the animal exceeds activity parameters.

Another module is weight management – a surprising 52% of dogs in the US are obese. When a vet puts an animal on a weight management program, the vet uses HeyrexVet to set a diet and exercise regime, using its database of over 4,000 pet foods and its ability to measure the amount of energy the animal is expending. HeyrexVet forecasts the rate at which the animal will gain or lose weight and measures against actual weigh-in data. If the animal isn’t getting enough exercise, Heyrex sends a message to the owner telling them it’s time to go out and exercise.

There are also modules to measure sleep disturbance, scratching relating to allergic reactions or dermatitis. A new heartworm recovery module will save lots of lives – if the nine month heartworm recovery programme is not strictly adhered to, the animal can die.

Research universities love this product – Heyrex currently supports projects in several US states, as well as Massey University closer to home. Most of these universities are using Heyrex to measure the efficacy of new treatment programmes. The University of New South Wales has used Heyrex to monitor tigers in zoos.

Heyrex currently have thousands of units out in the field, mainly in the US. For research clients, they charge $149.95 for the hardware, plus a monthly monitoring fee. For vets, they’re moving to a fixed monthly price based on a set number of units and services, which the vets can on-charge as they like. That’s Fitbit-for-pets-as-a-service. Over the last 12 months, their revenue growth has averaged 50% month-on-month.

The system is designed to provide a healthy return on investment for vets, with additional revenue streams available through product ordering. This helps vets defend their more traditional revenue sources that have been eroded by online pharmacies and bulk stores.

The Veterinary Services industry is significant. In the US alone, there are roughly 75m dogs and a similar number of cats, resulting in annual industry revenues of over USD 58B and growth at 6% per annum.

Mark Solly
Mark Solly
Kim Goldsworthy
Kim Goldsworthy

Currently, the team is small and tight. Along with Nathan, CTO Mark Solly manages the technology side of things while Sales Manager Kim Goldsworthy is leading the charge into North America. They also have four devs, a CFO and an accounts and admin person based in Kārori, but they’re looking to go hard on the USA this year.

They’ve just completed a raise of NZD 816K on Snowball Effect a few months ago, but they’re looking to score another 3m or so with significant input from strategics to fuel international expansion. It’s a hot industry – another player in the animal wearables space with revenues of less than 5m was recently acquired for 117m. The acquirer saw strategic value in the data.

Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt is famous for saying “We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.” There’s a large untapped market of pets out there who can’t type search queries or use phones. But the pets themselves represent a significant revenue opportunity, and can reveal quite a lot about their owners as well. I imagine when Heyrex gets acquired, it will be all about the data.

Heyrex are looking for additional investment as well as sales staff and developers who are passionate about this industry. Do make contact with them if you’re interested, and help another great New Zealand startup to totally own its category.

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Mibiz

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Giving every small business an expert network.

MibizR9Logo

New Zealand is leading the world in entrepreneurship in government, and Wellington is poised to become a world leader in govtech. This is evidenced by the recent R9 Accelerator programme, in which government posed problems for combined public-private sector teams to solve in a 12-week accelerator programme. Demo Day was held last week at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, and the results were impressive.

One of the teams to come through the programme was Mibiz, sponsored by Inland Revenue to reduce the problem of high failure rates of new businesses, particularly among those formed by recent migrants. The team that rose to the challenge quickly reframed the problem into an opportunity: give every new business an expert network, with an initial focus on migrants.

Why the focus on migrants? They represent a huge missed opportunity for the New Zealand economy. Many highly qualified migrants arrive on our shores and are unable to find traditional employment for a variety of reasons – different qualifications from the NZ standard, lack of networks, and sadly, everyday racism. You’ve probably ridden in a taxi or Uber recently with someone who held a PhD or managerial position in the old country but couldn’t find a job in their industry here. Many of these arrivals have an entrepreneurial bent, international connections, huge resilience, and a drive to succeed, which makes them ideal candidates to start businesses. But they lack the networks and local context to help them succeed.

Mibiz is essentially a curated directory service for organisations providing services to new businesses, including accounting, HR, tax advice, marketing, and the like, some of them free, some of them paid. Mibiz facilitates connections between these entrepreneurs and service providers, and clips the ticket for 5% of the service fee. Everyone wins.

Amy Cotton, Andrew Bailey, and Jonnie Haddon
Amy Cotton, Andrew Bailey, and Jonnie Haddon

The Mibiz team is made up of Andrew Bailey, Amy Cotton, both from Inland Revenue, and Jonnie Haddon who used to run Rutherford and Bond Toyota’s online sales. And yes, Jonnie was a used car salesman (of sorts, even if not on the showroom floor) at one time and I can tell you that it is fantastic preparation for work in startups where the founders’ lack of ability to sell stuff is usually the number one obstacle to success.

During the programme, Mibiz held a number of meetups with migrant business owners to validate the problem and solution. Through those events and conducted interviews, 40 business owners have signed up for the service as early adopters. The were also able to attract 18 service providers, and have already facilitated seven connections between migrants and service providers in the few weeks since they launched their concierge service.

Mibiz are seeking $220K of seed funding from the government to further develop the service and launch a beta product, and then attract a critical mass of service providers onto the platform, which should take them into 2017. At that time, they’ll be looking for a combination of public and private investment to scale the service within New Zealand and potentially push it out internationally.

Will Mibiz take off? It’s very early days, but I’m super excited by government taking a punt on this team and the other R9 teams. I’ve never seen government employees move so fast, adapt so quickly, engage so fully, break down so many barriers, work so hard, and just get as much sh!t done as I have in the R9 Accelerator. I’m also heartened that New Zealanders, and the New Zealand government, care so much about new migrants that we want to ensure that we can fully utilise their talents and natural entrepreneurship, for the benefit of the whole country.

The bigger question is whether New Zealand Government agencies can walk the innovation talk by backing promising public-private partnership teams with the resources they need to succeed – otherwise, they’re just accelerating people into a brick wall.

If you’re a migrant, a refugee, an NGO or government agency providing services to migrant business owners, Mibiz would love to talk to you – just drop them a line.

The R9 Accelerator programme was run by CreativeHQ.

Here’s their pitch deck from Demo Day:

Disclosure: I mentored Mibiz and several of the other R9 teams during the programme.

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EditMate

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Crowdsourced professional post-production for user generated video.

EditMate_300pxThese days, everyone is a videographer. We all have handheld video cameras in our pockets – they’re called smartphones. And while anyone can shoot footage of reasonable quality, turning it into a compelling clip is a specialist skill.

EditMate provides professional video post-production in the cloud, with high quality at a low cost. Why would you stuff about trying to teach yourself to be a video editor to produce a barely passable product, when for a few hundred dollars you could get a professionally produced product? Think of it as UberBLACK for video editing – they have experienced video editors scattered all over the world, just waiting to turn your pile of mpeg into a beautifully crafted clip.

Scott-Rachel_300px
Rachel King and Scott Stratford

EditMate was born when Scott Stratford was working in Sales at a full service video production company. He was regularly approached by potential clients who had their own self-shot footage they wanted turned into beautiful videos at a lower price point than his company could offer. Boston-based cofounder Rachel King was working as a producer and doing small editing jobs on the side, for friends with young startups that were shooting their own content since they couldn’t afford a traditional production company. One day it clicked – there was a significant unmet market need, and an opportunity for a scalable business.

So the two did the only sensible thing in the circumstances. They booked a trip to Bali, and spent the next three months living on the cheap, surfing, scheming, and setting up what was to become EditMate using contract software developers. They launched in January of this year, and have tripled their throughput in five months. Much of the growth comes from repeat business from happy customers.

That might sound a bit glib, but these guys are both lean and smart. The first version of their system is built on WordPress (just like the blog you’re currently reading) – there’s no point in prematurely optimising your infrastructure before your business model is settled. And although the company is registered in New Zealand and was gestated in Bali, the centre of gravity is now firmly in the US. Scott moved to Boston, and is learning as much as he can as quickly as he can about the US market. He’s avoiding the mistake that many Kiwi startups make wasting time in New Zealand learning how to distribute to a market of 4m people, when you could be out in the wide wide world learning how to distribute in markets that are orders of magnitude larger. They’re making sure they have their business model right in the US before expanding to the rest of the world. Big tick.

New Zealand and Australia are still very important to the team though. “Australia is a great market for us – they seem to just ‘get’ the importance of curated user generated content,” says Scott. And a significant chunk of their sales still comes out of Aotearoa.

They haven’t needed to take on any investment – they’re successfully bootstrapping, and if they can keep on tripling every five months, they’ll be delighted with organic growth.

EditMate are focusing on the B2B market. Business models in video production haven’t kept pace with technological progress. For businesses, there’s no real need in many cases to have a professional camera crew come in, and charge an arm and a leg for end-to-end theatre-quality video when you just want an explainer clip to whack onto your home page. While there is some competition in the crowdsourced video market, nearly all of it is aimed at consumers.

Their latest feature is a mobile app which lets you crowdsource the camera work. As an example, if you’re running an event, you can get your participants to install the app, shoot their own video, and it automatically gets uploaded into the cloud where it’s ready for processing by the EditMate crew. Nek minnit, voila, you have a professionally edited record of the event which can be used as a teaser, a promo clip, blog post, and many other uses.

EditMate is a great example of a business that takes away the pain of doing small, infrequent specialist jobs, instantaneously, using the cloud. They’re also a great example of a Kiwi business going global from day one, optimising the right things at the right times.

Here are a couple of samples of their work:

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OI – The Organic Initiative

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The feminine hygiene revolution in a box – better for your health, and better for your world.

Oi-logo

Most feminine hygiene products have environmental issues. They account for 0.5% of personal landfill usage, and contain plastics, chemicals and lots of artificial stuff. I’d like to think that the things we put in intimate places in our bodies are pure and natural, but that’s not the case for most tampons.

The Organic Initiative (OI) is changing that. They’ve come out with a line of Fair Trade, Organic, GMO-free, hypoallergenic tampons, pads, and panty liners. No chemicals, toxins, plastics, perfumes, dyes or synthetics, just pure organic biodegradable cotton.

Helen Robinson
Helen Robinson
Bridget Healy
Bridget Healy

Cofounder Bridget Healy is a health expert, herbalist and nutritionist, passionate about bringing healthy, sustainable products to the world. Alongside Bridget, Helen Robinson is a business powerhouse – she’s been the VP Australasia of Pivotal, the Managing Director of Microsoft NZ, started up, ran, and exited a carbon credit registry, and a director of NIWA. Currently, Helen is chair of Network for Learning, and on the boards of ATEED and a number of other companies. Helen describes her first meeting with Bridget in 2014 as “yin meeting yang”, the ideal union of complementary attributes, and in early 2015 The Organic Initiative was born. They had no trouble raising a small amount of friends and family investment, organised contract manufacturing in Europe, and they were away.

OI is essentially a brand play, and speed is critical. They’ve wasted no time at all and have executed with laser focus. Early 2015 was about securing distribution agreements, and in October they began their roll-out to every Pak ‘n’ Save and 4Square in the country with a finely branded product at a similar price to the old-school competition. Eight months later, from a standing start with no brand presence, they own 2% of the tampon and pad market in New Zealand, and are growing 30% month on month.

Helen says, “I’m excited, pumped, humbled, and scared stiff by the fantastic market reaction we’ve received. We’re on a roll, and speed is of the essence – you have a limited window of opportunity to create a brand, drive market, build scale and market share. You don’t want to be the person who says, ‘hey I thought of that, but didn’t act’.”

A key part of their success story is a great board. In addition to the two cofounders, the board comprises Dr Emma Parry (Next Magazine Woman of the Year in 2010, Gynecologist, now Chief Medical Officer of OI), Susan Peterson (ex General Counsel for ANZ bank, now on Wynyard, Trustpower, Vista Group boards), Tracey Grant (head of Risk for PWC NZ) and Sussan Turner (ex CEO of Mediaworks, pro-Chancellor of AUT, deep experience in tertiary education). How many startups do you know that have a six person, all-women all-star board? It goes further than that though – the 40-strong staff are all women too.

This team is running fast, and New Zealand is only the first stop. Although the bulk of their sales are through retail distribution, they’re selling a significant amount of their product through online direct sales in New Zealand and overseas. They’ve just organised their first distribution arrangements in China, and started shipping last month.

“Why on earth would you enter the Australian market, when for the same price, you can go anywhere in the world?”

When I asked Helen when they were going to launch in Australia, her answer was music to my ears, and reflected the advice I give many startups. She said, “Why on earth would you enter the Australian market, when for the same price, you can go anywhere in the world?” NZTE have been very helpful in getting OI into China, and the brand values are well aligned with New Zealand’s 100% Pure brand.

They’re also running lean. “Our biggest challenge is predicting and enabling growth, but not investing too much too quickly. We’re learning as much as we can as fast as we can, and trying to make our mistakes on a small scale so that we can enjoy success on a large scale. It’s a hard balance to strike but we’re achieving great results.”

Being a guy, I’m obviously not in OI’s direct target market. But the women in my life are keen on products that are ethically produced, healthy, and damage the environment less than the alternatives. Me too!

And being a guy won’t stop me from celebrating this great team’s success in taking a simple idea to the world with strong, quick, and purposeful execution. These gals are doing something difficult, and they’re doing it well.

You can buy the product online at www.oi4me.com – there’s even a subscription service, à la Dollar Shave Club – never get caught short again.

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Nine companies founded by women at Lightning Lab XX

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You’re invited to Demo Day for nine female-led startups

This week we’re featuring not one startup, but nine!

There’s no question that women are underrepresented in startups, and in the tech scene in general. This is despite the fact that in a recent study, First Round Capital found that companies with a female founder outperformed all-male founding teams by 63%.

New Zealand’s own Lightning Lab accelerator is doing their bit to support women entrepreneurs, and launched Lightning Lab XX earlier this year. On Demo Day, the teams will pitch to investors and you’re invited to come along and enjoy the presentations.

When: Thursday 16 June, 4pm
Where: Embassy Theatre, Kent Terrace, Wellington
Entry: Free, but RSVP is mandatory

Don’t miss out, RSVP now.
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Here are the teams, described in their own words:

NoticeMATCH

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Jon Hall and Sue Skeet
Jon Hall and Sue Skeet

NoticeMatch helps any business ensure their customer’s final experience is achieved a timely and empathetic manner. We empower them by identifying deceased customers quickly, thus giving them the tool to undertake their legal, moral or ethical obligations and build great relationships with the surviving families.

CEO: Sue Skeet
CTO: Jon Hall

Geo AR Games

Geo AR Games

Mel Langlotz and Amy Wolken
Mel Langlotz and Amy Wolken

Geo AR Games get kids off the couch and active outside using Outdoor Mixed Reality technology. Mixed Reality combines digital content with a real-time video feed to create immersive experiences. By pairing this with Motion Gaming, kids explore digital content by walking and running. This solution encourages healthy relationships with technology by creating games that kids love.

CEO: Mel Langlotz
CTO: Amy Wolken

Liangma

liangma

Denny Zou and Steve Chin
Denny Zou and Steve Chin

Liangma allows quality-sensitive buyers to order fresh, free-range chicken for home delivery. The company connects free-range farms with inner-city buyers through a digital platform and logistics network. This creates an easy and reliable way for their Chengdu-based customers to buy the best poultry products. Liangma’s promise of 24h delivery fits perfectly with the Chinese culture of eating the freshest, highest quality produce.

CEO: Denny Zou
CSO: Steve Xin

Hive

hive

hive-team
John Huang, Jess Knipping, Steve Jasionowicz, Vanessa Wilson, Charlie Coppinger

Hive brings communities together by connecting people who need a hand with those who have the time and skills to help. At the heart of Hive is the idea that trust is valuable, and that communities can build trust. Using a mobile app, Hive facilitates finding and matching jobs, and processing payments. The app helps to build a trusted community by connecting locals to get work done.

CEO: Vanessa Wilson
CDO: Charlie Coppinger

Little Yellow Bird

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Samantha Jones and Hannah Duder

Little Yellow Bird is a company that supplies businesses with more than just a uniform. LYB produces high quality workwear, through a completely transparent and ethical supply chain. They have a wide range of workwear such as custom business shirts to t-shirts, hoodies to aprons. This provides companies with an opportunity to turn their uniforms into marketing.

CEO: Samantha Jones
CSO: Hannah Duder

Sipreme

sipreme

Bri Jense van Rensburg and Dené Steyn

Sipreme is joyful future food – healthy, nutritionally complete, and super convenient. For busy people with cooler stuff to do than burn toast in the morning, this is it. It’s a fast, liquid meal that gives the adult body every nutrient it needs! The product iterates for each new batch, following their feedback. It’s the perfect, healthy solution for unromantic, functional meals.

CEO: Dené Steyn
VP Product: Bri Janse van Rensburg

 

Ama Balm

ama

Lucy Reutter and Jo Higgins
Lucy Reutter and Jo Higgins

Ama Balm is a natural balm used by adventurers to hydrate their weathered skin after being exposed to the elements. Launching only 8 months ago, Ama Balm is already featured in major surf, ski and adventure towns in NZ. The company aims to build a natural skin care range that serves the needs of adventurers across the globe.

CEO: Jo Higgins
VP Sales: Lucy Reutter

Music Ecademy

musicecademy

Jaroslav Novak and Helen Jones

Music Ecademy is a web application that teaches music theory and aural skills in a fun and engaging way through interactive lessons, quizzes, and games. The application helps to engage students while also saving teachers valuable time and resources. The curriculum is relevant for music schools and teachers in Australia, NZ and the UK.

CEO: Jaroslav Novak
Head of Product: Helen Jones

PatternSnap

patternsnap

Virginia Fay and Steven Dodd

Patternsnap is a digital library of Interior Design samples for Designers and Showrooms. It provides a beautiful, simple tool to search for products and create schemes. Patternsnap saves designers precious time, enabling access to a comprehensive database of unique samples. Currently available as an iOS app, Patternsnap is a virtual showroom in your pocket.

CEO: Virginia Fay
CTO: Steven Dodd

 

I’ll be there with bells on, and I hope you’ll come and join me too!

But don’t forget to RSVP.
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Disclosure: I’m a trustee of a trust that invested a small amount in the Lightning Lab XX Limited Partnership, which in turn invested in each of these startups at the beginning of the programme providing them with “ramen funding” for the duration of the programme. I have also provided weekly mentoring to NoticeMatch during the programme. And I’m on the Lightning Lab Advisory Board.

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