First female entrepreneur from Whangarei accepted into Lightning Lab XX programme

Posted on March 10, 2016

Entrepreneur Vanessa Wilson will head one of eight women-led teams at the 2016 Lightning Lab XX programme, which is New Zealand’s first ever female-founder focused business accelerator.

“Totally surreal” is how Vanessa explains the feeling of being invited to the intensive programme. “The selection process is really competitive, you have to be very focussed and driven to get recognised”. Vanessa’s start-up company, ‘Nearby’ is about connecting everyday people by listing and fulfilling local jobs instantly. “It delivers a new way to obtain financial independence through community engagement.”

Vanessa knows however, that the hard work really starts now. The three-month long Lightning Lab XX programme started in Wellington this week. As part of the programme each team receives $20,000 of seed funding while in the programme, as well as over NZ$800,000 worth of benefits from partners and sponsors. It provides the opportunity to work full time to accelerate the start-up, gain access to a pool of world-class mentors and ultimately pitch to a packed room of investors at the final ‘Demo Day’ event.

Vanessa was assisted in becoming business ready through the Regional Business Partnership (RBP) programme, jointly run by the Northland Chamber of Commerce and Northland Inc.

Northland Inc General Manager Business Innovation and Growth, Joseph Stuart says Vanessa has plenty to feel proud of. She leads the first Whangarei-based start-up to be accepted to the national programme and he’s positive her success will inspire other female entrepreneurs.

The RBP programme provided her with the tools to get her across the starting line. “The mentoring and advice offered was all about preparing for Lightning Lab XX and how it will help in the next stage of her business growth” Joseph explains. “From market validation and business planning, through to preparing for shareholders and managing human resourcing.”

Vanessa’s journey is an excellent example of how Northland Inc can support growing companies with information and advice to grow. As an RBP we have specialist business advisors available to help business owners and key managers grow their business. The RBP provides advice, information, referrals and connections to businesses seeking support to strengthen their growth journey.