Fitbit for your luggage.
I travel internationally by air a fair bit, but always worry about my checked luggage. Has it been “inspected” by security agencies? Have baggage handlers roughhoused my precious belongings?
Intrude A Lock is a simple but ingenious device which you can put into your suitcase before you go, and then query using your smartphone after arrival to answer these questions. It collects the required data (light and intense movement), and then reports this data back to your phone along with the time and date of the actions. The proposed RRP is NZD 70.
Elisha Fleming is the 18 year old entrepreneur who came up with this idea a couple of years ago as a result of his own travel experiences, and talking to people who worried if their own bags had been tampered with. This year in January, he entered CreativeHQ’s Venture UP programme which, in partnership with the Young Enterprise Scheme, provides a six week accelerator to help entrepreneurial students commercialise their ideas between their final year of high school and their first year of university.
Elisha has just finished up at Garin College in Nelson with Merit in NCEA Level 3, and is on his way to doing a double-major in Finance and Entrepreneurship at Waikato University. His future didn’t always look so bright, however, as his family was told at an early age that due to medical issues, he’d never be able to succeed academically. Not willing to be held back, he carried on in school, but also started his own business trading goods on TradeMe, and managing his family’s property investment portfolio. Today, Elisha has a minor speech impediment, but he’s sharper and more savvy than many you’ll meet in business. “I’m always searching for a ‘yes’ rather than a ‘no’,” says Elisha, which has helped him learn incredible resilience.
At Venture UP, Elisha was joined by Hayden Washington Smith and Keith Toma, who were inspired by the product and mission. Hayden will continue on in the team as Director of Finance and Marketing, while he embarks on a law degree at Victoria University this year. Advisors include Glenn Andert and Matthias Andermatt.
The team completed the prototype during the programme, and are currently manufacturing a small pre-production run. They have managed to secure a trial with an overseas global brand in the transport industry who are interested in selling Intrude A Lock to their customers through their retail channel. They’ve also had significant interest from baggage manufacturers who want to incorporate the device into their products. Their main sales strategy focuses on channel development, using airlines, logistics companies, and manufacturers – they feel this is higher value and lower hassle than selling directly to consumers.
The trial should complete before the end March 2016, and Elisha is confident of success. If he pulls it off, that would mean he would be running an international manufacturing business from New Zealand at age 18. Longer term, they want to specialise to be the experts in protecting high value goods such as human tissue during transport.
Venture UP’s Programme Director Nick Churchouse had this to say about the team:
Elisha, Keith and Hayden were a stand out team at Venture UP – they boxed through more challenges than most. There are natural hurdles facing any hardware business, let alone a tech-connected product tussling with airline security, personal liability and ornery issues like damage and loss liability. Despite this the Intrude A Lock team built a strong proposition, got out of the room, engaged with aviation industry leaders and got a deal on the table in less than six weeks. If that’s not Venturing Up I don’t know what is.
Young Enterprise CEO Terry Shubkin adds,
Intrude A Lock is a great example of what can happen when you take the un-inhibited innovation that comes with youth, and couple that with a programme that provides structure, support and networks. It’s a great product which has been well-validated, and I can’t wait to see where the company goes next.
The Venture UP programme finished last week, but Intrude A Lock are going strong, and ramping up. They’re looking for a hardware developer and some seed capital, but most importantly, they’re looking for preorders and connections to potential channel partners. If you’re interested or can help out, contact the team.
2015 has been a watershed year for the startup scene in New Zealand. When I started this Startup of the Week blog in September, a number of people asked me, “are there really enough great startups in New Zealand to feature one every week?” The answer is a resounding yes!
Had you asked me about New Zealand startups in 2010, I would have told you that there were patches of awesome, and things looked like they were just starting to come together. Five years on, things are really pumping, as evidenced by:
- Thriving startup hubs in the main centres: Visit GridAKL, BizDojo, CreativeHQ, or The Greenhouse and you’ll be under no illusion that healthy and diverse startup activity abounds.
- Entrepreneurial buzz in the regions: The BCC (Palmerston North), and Bridge Street Collective (Nelson) have been going from strength to strength for several years, and we’re seeing new players emerge in Whangarei, Tauranga, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay, and Dunedin.
- Finally, the rise of Ag Tech startups: In prior years, there was a paucity of agricultural startups coming out of New Zealand. Now, with companies like Engender, CropX, BioLumic, eBee, and others, this sector which builds on NZ’s natural strengths looks like it’s getting to critical mass.
- Meetups are mushrooming: I seem to be getting a couple of announcements for new startup-related meetups every month in Wellington. Startup Garage and Lean Startup Wellington how have over 1,000 members each. People are getting together, which is great.
- Startup Weekends continue to thrive: There’s no shortage of newbie entrepreneurs starting their entrepreneurial journey through Startup Weekends. We ran 11 events up and down the country this year, with 736 participants – both records. Many of these participants are now fully plugged into the scene, some running their own startups, some working for others, and some busily hatching plans. And some qualifying themselves out, having decided they’re happier in their day jobs. Win.
- Accelerator ramp-up: Lightning Lab ran three programmes this year – Auckland, Christchurch, and Manufacturing (Wellington). The dust hasn’t settled yet, but this is likely to have resulted in 10+ new startups achieving funding, networks, and a path to global success. Oh, and another 10+ startups being qualified out after a short sharp experiment – to me that’s also an important success statistic. The Government R9 Accelerator broke new ground, and will be doing round two this year. Vodafone’s Xone will be opening in 2016. And there are others.
- An explosion in angel investment activity: AngelHQ‘s Dave Allison told me that as at the beginning of December, not including any of the Lightning Lab companies, the club had 12 open investment deals. I can’t remember a time where there were more than 3 or 4 deals open at any given point in time. Given that nearly all angel club deals in NZ are now syndicated between clubs, I’m sure that the menu at ICE Angels, Enterprise Angels, Manawatu Investment Group, Venture Accelerator Nelson, and Otago Angels are growing in a similar fashion. Post-earthquakes, Canterbury Angels is also off to a great start. And there are a host of unofficial syndicates forming around the country too. There’s never been a better time to be an angel investor.
ICE Angels summarised the year’s angel activity with this nice Prezi – thanks guys!
Finally, I’d like to leave you with a quote from Victor W Hwang, author of “The Rainforest“, and cofounder of Global Innovation Week (HT: Andreas Stefanidis)
“Despite outward appearances, the Startup Movement is not just about startups. It is actually a deeper cultural shift that cuts to the heart of the human condition. It reflects a dissatisfaction with the way much of the world has gone for the last several decades. It marks a transformation in how we view our societies, how we convene our communities, how we create value together as human beings. It’s a counterpoint to the governing economic paradigm – what economists call neoliberalism – which has prized efficiency and productivity above everything else, even when it has corroded relationships that bond us together in our communities and social networks…
“Innovation is not a solo sport. It thrives in supportive, diverse, connected, payitforward ecosystems. It dies in selfish ones. Building a startup – indeed, bringing any innovation to life – is hard enough already. The last thing you need is distrust, high social barriers, and cynicism from those around you. You need people who are willing to believe in you. Because human beings innovate together in teams.”
Thanks for your support this year, reading and spreading the stories of NZ startups going global.
If you’re involved in the startup scene, good on you for taking risks, sharing your energy, and pursuing your passion – you’re making the world, and New Zealand, a better place for everyone.
If you’re a bystander, a dreamer, or an armchair startup enthusiast, there are plenty of ways for you to get involved in 2016. Just contact any of the organisations mentioned above, and start forming the connections that will enable you to become part of the success story we’re all creating together of New Zealand as a global entrepreneurial powerhouse.
That’s it from me for 2015. Have a great break, and we’ll see you in February.