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Kiwi Landing Pad sweetens deal for startups Peter Kerr Jun 12

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There’s nothing quite like being in the market…….so

The Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco’s sweetening the pot for startups looking to springboard into the States.

Under its ‘Catapult’ programme it is providing a month’s placement in San Fran’s South of Market district, along with the current 12 NZ companies attempting to bulk up and move on from the co-working space. Xero’s probably the best known of this bunch so far.

Catapult project lead Reuben Metcalfe says it’s an opportunity for startups, particularly in the internet/tech space, to get in front of (potential) customers and investors, to test and sell.

All applicants have to do is fill in a 10 page (remarkably little in how these things often work) power point template that basically explains what the startup is trying to do, and how they might use their time in Silicon Valley

This goes past two panels, the first of which includes ex Sonar 6 boss John Holt.

“If all the boxes are ticked and the panels think they can deliver, flights, accommodation and the desk space is paid for,” Metcalfe says. With a two month lead time, KLP will help the individual companies plan for their trip, introducing them to people on the ground, according as to what stage of the business they’re in.

KLP itself is now part of what is believed to be the world’s largest co-working space, a 190 seat open space in the heart of San Francisco, called ‘Startup HQ.’

“Startup people can’t avoid each other in this environment, there’s a lot of cross-pollination.” says Metcalfe.

The other advantage from everyone’s point of view if the startup is selected to be brought across is that “they’ll find whether they sink or swim much faster than if they stayed at home.”

“Some incubation periods for startups in New Zealand get up to 36 months,” Metcalfe says. “That’s not incubation, that’s life support. In a lot of cases, there’s more merit in killing something quickly if it’s not moving, and starting on the next venture/project.

The first cab off the rank is bimstop.com from Scott Barrington. BIM is the acronym for building information modelling, and the web application puts specific manufacturers products (and more importantly specifications) into the 3D models that architects increasingly use in their designs.

Metcalfe says the KLP Catapult initiative is beyond a pure market validation play (hopefully the startup has already carried out this phase), and a chance for direct customer acquisition.

“It’s an opportunity to secure customers and deals,” he says.

One advantage of being in a city such as San Francisco is that the startup culture “cycles faster, and company valuations are a completely different ball game.”

Go here for the KLP Catapult application folks

In a further development, the Startup Weekend organisers in New Zealand have added the sweetener that the most promising idea will also be part of the KLP Catapult. Naturally people will have to go to the Wellington event (July 27 – 29). Auckland Startups getthe same opportunity on June 15-17


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