Geeks on a Plane: Investment with a Twist


Dave McClure exports the experts.

His brainchild, Geeks On A Plane arranges to ship VCs and experienced entrepreneurs and journalists to far flung places in order to research and invest in foreign startups. 

This month, they came south to New Zealand and I met the team at a speed pitching competition hosted by the Icehouse Incubator.

The event kicked off with legendary entrepreneur and investor, Sir Stephen Tindall, predicting that in 15 years, NZ will be an economy based on knowledge.

The Rocket Pitch contest was a 2 minute platform slot for startups - each one chasing a prize of a month in the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco.

I’m going to list all the companies who pitched alongside a summary of their pitch message - check out their URLs if you would like to collaborate, they’d all welcome a discussion Chinwag's community of British entrepreneurs.

Category 1: No.8 Wire

...product & service innovations that will compete globally

  • 1Above: addresses the issues of flying dehydrated.  A drink inspired to help you fly well and includes an active ingredient to counter jet lag. Includes a 100ml concentrate that can be taken through security.
  • OutpostCentral: the world is running out of water - we help you use existing water supplies more efficiently. Connecting water meters to the cloud using mobile phone networks - automatically detects leaks, make money on selling devices and monthly fees. 
  • BigLittleBang: Music is better when you can take part - a game that enables social participation. Kids online gaming. 
  • TranscribeMe!: convert voice to text in a hybrid automation plus human labour model. They dominate in speed, accuracy and cost. Crowdsourced team giving near real-time turn round. Sell to conference organisers and market research firms.

The winner OutpostCentral  

Category 2: 100% Pure NZ

...start-ups taking on the world with Kiwi-centric advantages

  • Kahne: livestock producers can't manage what's going on inside a cow - this device allows monitoring the physiology in real time so farmers can become more efficient in animal health.
  • EcoFiber: a low cost fiber that is a composite of flax designed to address rising recycling costs for environmental waste. It matches fibreglass for physical properties but it's recyclable. 
  • Manuka Health: a natural products company now turning over $20m pa with 20% ebit (Earnings Before Interest & Tax) and 80% exports using a third party distribution model. Manuka honey has strong stable antibacterial properties - it’s now licensed and medically certified. 
  • LanzaTech: an industrial gas fermentation process that turns waste into fuel. It can be used to reduce dependency on petrochemicals. Producing in Shanghai around 100k gallons of ethanol per annum. Investigating making other chemical products. Can use CO2 to convert to acetate - trying to scale this process next year. 

The winner EcoFiber

Breaking the Rules

...start-ups that demonstrate that New Zealand can do it better

  • Indie Reign: reinventing the way independent films are made and marketed.  The festival circuit is a broken model because distribution doesn't happen.  Wherever a film is shared it can be viewed in pictures - giving multiple shop fronts across the web. Proven we can monetise short films by clipping the ticket on each transaction. Movie makers are rarely marketers - we want to create a sustainable marketplace.
  • Drikolor: an innovative paint concentrate colour in a dry ready to use form that can be stirred directly into water, glass or concrete. The paint market has paint colour variability issues. Buy colour separately from the paint. Partnered with designers.
  • KlickEx: Dramatically lower the cost of sending international money remittances for migrant workers - lower poverty and improve socioeconomic outcomes for developing nations. We offer a private market for FX and payment services - target distribution via mobile telcos. They clear and settle every 5 minutes.
  • Booktrack: In film the music and sound brings the emotion to the film experience. We synch soundtracks to books - by learning your reading speed and delivering a matching soundtrack including music and ambient noises. Anyone can create a booktrack and share with their friends - create a market for reading and make it cool again. Disrupt the publishing industry. 

The winner KlickEx 

Guestblog by Rebecca Caroe, a new business development specialist at Creative Agency Secrets.