Kitset.io

Build cross platform apps without coding.

Kitset.io allows anyone to build cross platform apps without the need to code. They use some pretty cool AI techniques to fill in the gaps between people and machines.

Graduates of the recent Lightning Lab Auckland programme, they’ve built kitsets for the hospitality vertical (restaurants and cafes) as well as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG – retail consumer products like groceries), and are in the process of expanding out into a wide variety of classes of apps.

Building your app is super easy, and if you get stuck, there’s always an AI chatbot to help you out. Deploying the app is even easier – one click, and you get an Android app, an iOS app, a mobile web site, a landing page, and a dashboard. If you’ve ever commissioned mobile app development, you’ll know that it usually takes months to complete if you can find a dev that’s willing to take you on, and it’s rare to walk away with change from $10K. Kitset lets you design your own app and deploy it in hours, and it costs only $69/month – that’s disruptive.

NIck Mitchell
NIck Mitchell

The idea for Kitset was born when CEO and founder Nick Mitchell was working at Accenture in London as a senior IT architect in the telecommunications industry. He would regularly tell his customers about the power of analytics, the future of social, and how machine learning and AI would change the way people do business – AI would be as revolutionary as the Internet itself.

At the same time, Nick was irritated by how long it took and how expensive it was to build apps – he felt that a lot of innovation was being curbed by unnecessary complexity and skills requirements. So he left Accenture and started creating a platform that would let anyone build an app. He spent the next 18 months proving out the technology he wanted to unleash on this task.

Nick’s general concept for bootstrapping this idea involved three steps:

  1. Build a tool to build apps that’s so easy to use that anyone could do it.
  2. Teach a machine to use the tool.
  3. Teach the machine to understand natural language (English) instructions from a human, so that the machine acts like a software developer.

The system can now do simple tasks like “please change that to a blue background” or “send a txt message when this button is pressed”. The next phase of AI implementation will be to ask questions like “are there any apps or sites that you like the look of”, and then provide a template that draws from the design of the specified apps or sites.

Dominic Trang

Lead Developer Dominic Trang has a background in Android game development. His previous gig was with pharma company Sagitto where he worked on image processing software to detect counterfeit pills. They’ve spent two years together now building the tool, which is learning from the real world 24 hours a day.

Kitset’s market entry plan has four pillars. The most important one which they’re working on right now is strategic partnerships. They’ve recently closed a deal with ASB Bank focusing on restaurants and cafes as a beta test. Why? ASB knows that apps are a big pain point for their customers, and see Kitset as a massive value add at a low cost.

The second pillar of market entry is channel partnerships. They’re working with well known and some not so well known digital agencies to reduce their cost of providing great apps and web sites to their customers. Using Kitset, agencies can do a lot of heavy lifting quickly. There are a huge number of APIs you can clip together in an app, but it’s a right pain in the proverbial to wrap a sexy UI around them. Kitset makes this easy.

The third pillar is direct sales. These are high touch at the moment, but the platform is nearly ready for use by the general business public.

And the fourth pillar is bigger ecosystem players, especially large hosting and service providers, like Microsoft Azure, AWS, or Digital Ocean. One could imagine the likes of Dropbox, 99 Designs, or Basecamp being interested in a product like this as well. Kitset drives traffic, usage, and brand leverage through these partners, who could also become potential acquirers.

In the short term however, they’re looking for additional strategic partnerships with banks and telcos, especially outside of New Zealand. All the while, they’re building up their secret-sauce protectable IP, their AI stack.

Post Lightning Lab, Kitset are putting together a small bridging round with people close to the company to last them through the rest of 2016. Early next year, once they’ve proven their technology and start getting some real traction, they’ll be doing a seed round with typical NZ seed round parameters to start scaling overseas. Keep an eye out at your local angel network for these guys.

Meantime, they’re looking for another developer who wants to get in on the ground floor building up this really interesting technology. If Javascript is your thing and you’re a MEAN (Mongo, Express, Angular, Node) developer, do get in touch with them.

Here’s their pitch from Lightning Lab Auckland Demo Day:

ThisData

Harden your security with two lines of code.

thisdata-logoThat’s right, add two lines of JavaScript onto your login form and you’ll be making your web site, and the world, a much safer place.

paypal-phish
It’s convincing, until you look at the From address, view headers, and mouseover the button to discover a bit.ly link

An astonishing proportion of the web server traffic from which you’ve just fetched the page you’re reading now is script kiddies attempting to break in through brute-force password attacks. An even bigger problem for high-volume transactional sites like Paypal and Kiwibank is phishing, where attackers email you and lure you into entering your login credentials into a bogus site. The obvious and common solution to this problem is mandatory two-factor authentication (2FA), but it makes for a clunky user experience and is laborious to implement.

Auckland-based ThisData lets site owners take a different approach: continuous authentication. Only ask people to validate their identity if and when there’s a reason to doubt they’re really who they say they are. So for example if I have a usage pattern of logging in from the same city, with the same IP address, on the same browser, using the same cookie set, and do the same again, there’s an extremely good chance I am who I claim to be. On the other hand, if I suddenly log in from a different continent using a different operating system, or through TOR, you might want to double or triple check my credentials.

All of this is done with the addition of two lines of JavaScript on your login form, which hides a sophisticated back-end analysing geolocation, behavioral analytics, and secret sauce IP. For app and site owners, implementation effort is trivial with enormous and immediate payback.

Pricing starts at $99/month for 500 users, and goes up in usage tiers. They’re considering introducing a free usage tier to get people going. But it’s early days, and they’re still refining the pricing model.

Rich Chetwynd

Founder Rich Chetwynd has run the full startup cycle before. After founding educational software company Litmos in his bedroom, building it into an international concern, and selling it to US-based Callidus Software four years later, he decided it was time for a well-deserved break.

“I got bored though,” he says, “I wanted to ride the rocket again”.

So Chetwynd started Revert.io, a cloud backup solution. But very quickly he recognised that backups are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, and the much bigger and less well served opportunity was to prevent break-in and data loss in the first place.

Nick Malcolm
Nick Malcolm

He pulled in CTO Nick Malcolm, one of NZ’s top Rails devs (and erstwhile cofounder of 2011 Startup Weekend Wellington legend usnap.us), and the dream team was born. You’d have to call the change from Revert.io to ThisData more of a reboot than a pivot, but it was a definitely the right move.

Chetwynd’s rocket is about to reach orbit. After the reboot in February 2015, they went on to raise $1.2m from a number of local and offshore angels alongside the Punakaiki fund, did a zoom-out pivot from working specifically with Google apps and Salesforce in February of 2016 to bringing this intelligence to any app. They’re now monitoring over 10,000 end users for a variety of customer types, and are about to onboard another 50,000 for their first big enterprise. They’re architected for scale on AWS, and ready to go much, much bigger.

As great as it sounds, they’re not at the stage yet where the solution sells itself. Building your customer base and distribution is always hard work, especially from New Zealand. Chetwynd spends roughly half his time in the US, and the rest of the time running the team from GridAKL.

Their overarching mission is to make the Internet a safer place for everyone. There are hundreds of thousands of insecure apps and sites in the wild. Chetwynd’s asks app and site owners to ask yourselves, how valuable is the data is your app or site protecting, and how adequately are your users protected?

Ask yourselves: how valuable is the data your app or site is protecting, and how adequately are your users protected?

If you’re a dev and want to give ThisData a spin, check out their easy-to-follow documentation, and then give it a go. You won’t regret the hour or so it will take you to implement.

If you’re the owner or investor in a transactional app or web site and your team is not protecting your company against attacks using a solution like ThisData, I’d want to know why.

The bottom line is that you can put on a sad face if you’re a script kiddie or spear phisher, but the rest of us will sleep easier at night.

Legendary seed investor and SoftechVC founder Jeff Clavier looks for companies to invest in that have “three asses”: A smart-ass team with a kick-ass solution in a big-ass market. ThisData are on a steep trajectory, with an all-star team with a simple-to-implement but difficult-to-replicate solution to a highly painful problem in a massive market.

Watch out universe, here comes Rich Chetwynd riding the ThisData rocket.

Eight Wire

Migrate your data, from anything to anywhere.

eightwireBusinesses of any size have mission critical data sets that reside in a variety of systems on different platforms. If you want these systems to use each other’s data, or when you want to migrate data from one platform to another, you have a headache proportional to the size of the data set times the number of formats involved. How do you get from Excel on Windows to Postgres on Linux? Or from DB2 on your old mainframe to SQL Server running in the Azure cloud? Will the date formats translate correctly? Eight Wire‘s Conductor product makes this easy and reliable.

Jason Gleason
Jason Gleason
Nigel Thomas
Nigel Thomas

Founders Jason Gleason and Nigel Thomas are solving a problem that’s been driving them nuts for over a decade – transporting data from one system to another is a lot harder than it should be. Eight Wire makes it easy, and supports most industry-standard SQL databases including Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MySQL, as well as AWS, Azure, Salesforce, MongoDB, CouchDB and others, and anything that can be accessed via an ODBC driver. Oh, and that persistent and omnipresent Excel – believe me, you don’t want to know how much mission critical data is stored in Excel and even worse, CSV files.

Migrating data sounds like it should be simple. But the devil is in the detail, particularly in dealing with each system’s nuances around how data is formatted. I know this because I have suffered a world of pain myself when trying to implement my own point solutions – looking back, I wish I had Eight Wire around many times during those moments (which often turned into days or weeks) when I had to wrangle data between systems during my career as a dev.

Jason claims that for one implementation, they were able to do a data migration in four hours for which another supplier had quoted four to six weeks. He also says that their data feeds are “self healing” – most format and translation errors are fixed in flight.

Eight Wire’s revenue model is simple – it’s based on the number of rows of data moved through their system. The price per row drops with volume.

Eight Wire have an impressive client list in New Zealand including Resene Paints and Tuatara Brewery, and are making inroads overseas. The have established distribution relationships with five New Zealand service partners, and have partners in Australia, the UK, and the US. They also run a direct channel using content marketing and SEO which is working well and provides good returns for effort and cost expended. But they see the biggest potential rewards from expanding their existing technology partnerships with IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon. This is really impressive for a two-year old company with seven employees.

They have a strong board, led by the unstoppable Serge van Dam along with Green Button alumni Darryl Lundy and Mark Canepa. These guys between them know marketing, data, finance, infrastructure, the US market, and capital raising inside out. And most importantly for investors, how to build strategic value and exit.

Eight Wire are just completing a capital raise through AngelHQ, and are also looking for a technical pre-sales and support person.