BNZ gives $50,000 direct support to Kiwi startups targeting US customers, investment

Four Kiwi startups are in Silicon Valley for a month in a new initiative with Kiwi Landing Pad in the US.

Auckland-based technology companies Pageproof, Weirdly, and Populate, along with Dunedin's Cloud Cannon, are the first cohort of businesses chosen to receive direct support from Bank of New Zealand in a scheme that includes $50,000 cash, business advisory support and free office space at Kiwi Landing Pad (KLP) in San Francisco.

The non-profit KLP's chairman, John Holt, said it wanted to take that further and directly help a group of its small business customers looking to expand offshore and for investment.

The risk of supporting entrepreneurs indirectly is that value can be diluted if recipients are not completely ready to take advantage of that support, Mr Holt said. "By proactively scanning the ecosystem and doing some pre-work, you can be a lot more targeted and valuable to the participants."

The initiative has been timed to coincide with major networking events in the US, with the four companies attending the annual SaaStr conference, the world's largest Software as a Service event, over the weekend. They'll also attend a Kiwi-only event with several senior Silicon Valley startup executives, SaaS founders, and vice-presidents of sales and marketing during the month along with a Startup Grind event on February 22 where they'll demonstrate their products on the exhibition floor.

Mr Holt said the bank has provided funding for a second cohort of four companies, to be chosen in September.

KLP was co-founded by Trade Me founder Sam Morgan and Mr Holt in 2011 and partners with the government to "soften the landing" of aspiring Kiwi tech startups into San Francisco. Mr Holt said to date it had directly helped around 80 companies and double that number of entrepreneurs, including those who learned quickly their business idea wasn't going to fly.

He said the KLP had also worked with a number of Kiwi companies in the past year, including banks, insurance companies and Trade Me, who came to Silicon Valley to glean ideas on introducing innovation within their organisations.

BNZ has been a sponsor of KLP for the past two years.


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