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Glassjar proposal in line for Lightning Lab investment

Glassjar proposal in line for follow-on Lightning Lab investment funding

May 21, 2014

Two University of Canterbury graduates are pitching for significant follow-on funding in the national Lightning Lab Dragon’s Den-style competition in Wellington next week to help release their products into global markets and ramp up their growth momentum.

Lightning Lab has a growing set of New Zealand business investors to help start-up entrepreneurs and 10 teams will be vying for investor funding next Wednesday (May 28). The competition provides a combination of seed investment funding and an intensive business start-up accelerator programme.

Canterbury graduates Duncan Keall and George Smith will pitch their Glassjar proposal that allows people living together to create a web-based profile of their flat that can be accessed through a cellphone app.

"Years ago most flats would have a bench top glass jar that everyone put money into and that all of the expenses were paid from. Nowadays, student flats are far savvier and have replaced the bench-top glass jar with internet banking and automatic payments," Smith says.

"So we decided to bring back the glass jar and build a simple software programme called Glassjar.

The software took control of our flat account, interpreted the transactions and showed a ledger of exactly which flatmates owed or was owed what from their central flat account.

"It allowed us to confirm everyone's contributions, to start noticing when people didn't pay rent or used the flat card for their own purchases. All the flatmates could log on and see the state of the accounts, which gave great transparency.

"Last year, we commercialised the concept and won the University of Canterbury student-run entré competition’s Most Market Ready Venture and Best Pitch awards. We invested the prize money in further software development.

"The combination of the entré competition and the UC Innovators programme run by Dr Rachel Wright sets the University of Canterbury apart as the most supportive environment for student start-ups. It’s exceptionally good," Smith says.

"We brought in another Canterbury student, Matthew Galloway, as a developer and then committed to working on the venture full time last summer and got accepted into the Lightning Lab. Glassjar is now used by hundreds of student flats throughout New Zealand and around the world.

"We did all this as I completed my masters degree in engineering management, a postgraduate course that focuses on commercialising technology," Smith says.

The trio are preparing for next week’s angel investment round where all the teams pitch for funding.

Dr Wright says the Glassjar team had always been motivated and commercially clever in their approach to becoming successful in business.

"It’s great to see our graduates take exciting strides in the commercial world after leaving the University of Canterbury with a distinctive graduate profile."

Two other University of Canterbury graduate teams among the last 10 to be considered for funding include concepts for foot traffic forecasting and a snapchat advertising platform.


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