Articled reproduced with permission by Wanaka App
By Diana Cocks
The photo sharing and ecommerce app for families, Kin2kin, has just been awarded a place in Vodafone’s start-up accelerator and innovation lab which will take the Wanaka-founded app global. Vodafone awarded nine top Kiwi entrepreneurs entry to the Vodafone xone programme out of an estimated 180 applicants.
Head of xone and innovation, Lauren Merritt, said the winning entries are working “in a diverse range of industries with products spanning wearable health tech and AI-powered chatbots to beer and music”.
“We are excited to help these companies get their products to market through funding, hands-on expert support and technology development through our labs and networks,” she said.
Kin2kin founder and CEO Hamish McGregor said being selected for one of the most successful start-up accelerator programmes in New Zealand was going to be a “gamechanger” for the app. He believes Kin2kin was selected because its values and purpose dovetailed with Vodafone’s values. “There was a real strong brand connection. We believe in the same things; we talk the same language,” he said.
Kin2kin uses smartphones to enable families to share in a safe and controlled environment to strengthen family relationships, and that’s Vodafone’s business too, he said. “We are a private app built specifically to connect families; we attract parents, grandkids and other close family members as active users.”
Companies who win a place in xone, which runs from Vodafone xone’s Christchurch innovation lab, receive a total package valued at more than $150,000, including seed-funding, and access to world class technology and mentoring as part of a six-month programme.
Hamish said the access to xone was highly valued for the support it will provide with mentors, advertising and networking. Currently Kin2kin enjoys a loyal and active membership of around 3,000 users, he said. Vodafone has two million customers in New Zealand; seven million in Australia; 17 million in the UK.
“When you’re a start-up you’ve only got so much capital and you want to pour most of it into making your product better rather than having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising.”
“Vodafone will help us grow, providing support for Kin2kin to extend into other family-focused products, such as purchasing gifts and photo printing.” Other options being developed include partnering with a global provider of flowers, subscriptions to print photo books, and access to a premium data service.
Hamish said the Vodafone xone selection process was daunting. “We were the only small town start-up selected – not bad for a small alpine town,” he said.
He said even though the app was “a totally global project”, basing it in Wanaka actually had advantages. “Wanaka itself is an amazing melting pot of people with huge experiences both in terms of finding talent to join the team but also talking to people with entrepreneurial wisdom. Technology means the ability to work remotely is amazing and Wanaka is just as connected as anywhere else.”
Hamish said he anticipated he might have to expand the Kin2kin team with his sales/marketing staff, but the core team will still be Wanaka based. “Not getting caught in a two hour commute each day means we actually get more work time and more family quality time, which is fantastic,” he said.
See a Video of the Vodafone Xone and kin2kin
See a Video of Hamish of the AM show
The Kin2kin team (from left): Prue Kane, Kristi James, Lloyd Weehuizen, Carrie Wallis, Hamish McGregor, Gwilym Griffith-Jones and Nic Robertson.
This article was originally published by The CUBE and has been republished by Startup Queenstown Lakes to complete our archives.