Eight burgeoning tourism startups have been selected to tackle the industry’s productivity, cultural, environmental and social challenges in the first ever Lightning Lab business accelerator for tourism.
The successful companies, whittled down from more than 70 applications, include Stay Native which specialises in authentic indigenous experiences; Road Guru, which connects local drivers and guides with visitors; and, PowerTrip which integrates electric vehicles into the tourism industry.
Tourism media, data and analysis service, Tourism Ticker, will also be on the programme alongside CHU NZ which is exploring the use of sustainable facilities for road trippers; Breadcrumbs, the company behind an app that helps visitors and locals share and discover unique experiences; AirGuides, a marketplace where travellers can book trips, curated by vetted writers, bloggers and local experts; and, Hidden Gems – an A to Z catalogue of all the special spots that make Christchurch unique.
These startup teams will be joined by two industry project teams.
Firstly, the Christchurch International Airport, Air New Zealand and the Department of Conservation-supported SOUTH Project which will focus on bringing better visitor flow insights to regional tourism offices and operators.
The second project team is a voluntourism project, supported by the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation, that will develop volunteer-oriented tourism opportunities “that could change the face of tourism in New Zealand”.
The cohort will take part in the three-month programme delivered by Wellington’s Regional Economic Development Agency-subsidiary Creative HQ at Christchurch International Airport from May to August this year.
Teams will work directly with tourism industry partners and practice market validation and product development methods used by companies like Google, IDEO, and Tesla.
They’ll be provided with full wrap-around support from startup coaches, business leaders, advisors and mentors to help validate and grow their businesses.
At the end of the three months, each venture will have the opportunity to pitch to their supporters and the broader tourism sector in a large Demo Day event, to be held at the new Christchurch Town Hall.
Teams seeking investment will also get to present to some of the top angel investors and early-stage venture funds in the country in a separate investor-only event.
Jeffrey Ling, Lightning Lab Tourism’s programme director said: “Tourism is one of NZ’s biggest industries and tourism operators are some of the most innovative, adventurous people in NZ.
“I’m excited to come back to Christchurch — my former home of ten years — to help this very capable cohort test, validate, and ultimately grow their businesses.”
Lightning Lab Tourism is supported by Callaghan Innovation, Christchurch International Airport, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Air New Zealand, Centrality, ChristchurchNZ, Department of Conservation, Data Ventures, MYOB, Qrious, Amadeus, AWS, Deloitte and Simmonds Stewart.
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