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Startups From New Zealand Accelerator Lightning Lab’s First Intake Close $2M Total In Angel Funding

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Wellington-based accelerator program Lightning Lab, which launched in February, announced today that four of the nine startups in its inaugural class have raised a total of $2 million in angel funding. The startup teams from New Zealand and Australia pitched 150 investors during Lightning Lab’s first Demo Day on May 15. The four companies that have closed investment since then are:

LearnKo, an on-demand language tutoring platform that matches students with native English speakers. Co-founder David Cameron is currently focused on developing the startup’s sales pipe and finding opportunities in China, where LearnKo has a full-time staff.

Wipster, a Wellington-based video-sharing platform that allows filmmakers to collaborate and solicit feedback on works-in-progress. The startup is currently adding features that allow users to upload reference images, videos and sound bites, further simplifying the editing process.

Expander, which helps ensure product authenticity with verification technology that protects against counterfeiting. The startup’s tech also allows consumers to track items to their source, an especially valuable tool for food companies that want to reassure buyers in export markets of their products’ safety.

Publons, a platform for open-access, crowdsourced peer reviews of academic papers. Co-founder Andrew Preston says the startup’s current goal is to build its platform so it can continue to assist peer reviewers, with a focus on helping editors at traditional academic journals.

“Traditionally many people keep hands off this early stage due to too much risk. Lightning Lab has really pulled together investors, mentors, and entrepreneurs to get involved up front,” said program director Dan Khan. “We have had over 1000 mentor sessions from over 100 local, national, and international mentors this program, and the interest for 2014 is already strong.”

Lightning Lab launched earlier this year with the goal of supporting entrepreneurs within New Zealand’s startup ecosystem. The program, which funds about 10 companies each year, is a member of the Global Accelerator Network, which was founded by TechStars.