Vodafone has launched the third round of its annual startup accelerator program, Vodafone xone, saying that, this year, it is looking for early and late stage Kiwi start-ups with clever ideas in the AI, IoT and data analytics sectors.
Vodafone says the eight successful applicants will each receive a package valued at more than $150,000 that includes seed funding, and access to technology and mentoring over a six-month period.
Vodafone’s innovation manager and head of xone, Lauren Merritt, said the company was looking for ideas that would make a massive impact on New Zealand, and it would help those start-ups go global, by leveraging Vodafone’s international networks.
Vodafone Consumer director Matt Williams said that, since xone’s inception in 2016, participating start-ups had generated more than $11.5 million in new revenue, attracted more than $9.6 million in capital funding, created 46 new jobs, and started operations in countries around the world. “Individually they’ve created some amazing new technologies,” Williams said.
Competition for the eight spots will be tough. In 2017 there were more than 150 contenders for the 10 spots. The winners were: 1Centre; Emblim; EVNEX; Hectre; Parkable; Sonnar; Tectonus; Thematic; Vensa; Wine Grenade.
Toby Littin, CEO Parkable — an app that enables unused private parking spaces to be share — said his company’s participation in xone had been invaluable.
“Even the application process helped us get our pitch right, and then once we were in the programme it was absolute gold. We learnt new skills, got new contacts, development partnerships from an R&D perspective. It was all incredible in enabling a huge amount of commercial opportunity to develop.”
He added: “One of the more intangible things is the peer to peer counselling sessions, being able to rub shoulders with other great businesses sharing the same pains and opportunities that we do.”
Applications for xone close 15 April 2018. Details at https://vodafonexone.nz