Startup Scene in Wellington is Growing – Here is a City Guide

Startuptravels City Guide Wellington

Startuptravels City Guide Wellington

Recognised by Vogue and Lonely Planet as the “coolest little capital in the world”, Wellington blows away its locals and visitors with a vibrant community and robust wind. For the fleeting tourist, the city is all about its excellent coffee, craft beer, art/film/music/fashion, beards, hipsters, and an abundance of outdoor trails. Delve a little deeper, and you will see a bubbling cauldron of tech and creative activity, set amongst a stunning harbour.

Someone once said to me that Wellington didn’t need organized tech Meetups, because the whole inner city felt like serendipitous Meetups. In its compact central area, the population size of 200,000 means that everyone is approximately 1.2 degree of separation from each other, and if you’re not working for the government – it’s likely you’re in tech or digital. Local success stories include Weta Digital (Lord of the Rings anyone?), beautiful accounting software Xero, the world’s first creator of Iphone apps Carnival Mobile, the e-commerce platform TradeMe (who locally fended off the global giant EBay), Pik Pok games, and many more! Come for a visit to check it out yourself. Here is our city guide Wellington.

A helpful cosmic map of New Zealand’s tech startup ecosystem can be found by exploring thisGet the full overview of Startuptravels City Guides!

Check out the City Guides for  San Francisco, Copenhagen and Boston as well.


Accelerators/ Incubators

The government has just increased its funding for accelerators and incubators, so expect a lot more coming out this year!

Creative HQ: Creative HQ is the main start-up incubator for the Wellington region, and has been running for over 10 years. They introduce start-up teams into the entrepreneur community, and equip them with the help and support required to turn a great start-up idea into a high-growth, global business. Creative HQ helps teams to set objectives and goals, then reviews progress and leverages their resources and networks to ensure milestones are reached.

More about CreativeHQ

Lightning Lab: Lightning Lab started in 2013, and is New Zealand’s first technology accelerator. It is aimed at early stage digital businesses and first-time entrepreneurs. 10 teams are selected to take part in a 3 month intensive programme, to prove, build and launch. Lightning Lab looks for teams working on web/enterprise 2.0, BI/data/analytics, gaming/simulation, web, SaaS, mobile, open source, and data integration. The programme puts $18,000 of seed investment into teams in return for a stake of equity. It offers teams a network of over 100 leading New Zealand and global entrepreneur and business leader mentors, and finishes with a Demo Day, where teams pitch to a room full of investors for investment.

More about Lightning Lab

Live the Dream: An accelerator programme specifically designed to grow New Zealand’s next generation of social entrepreneurs and enterprises. The intensive 10-week summer programme supports a diverse range of early-stage youth-led ventures that have potential to make a big difference – socially, environmentally, or economically.

More about Live the Dream

Akina Foundation’s Launchpad: A 6 month part-time incubation for teams with big ideas, who will benefit from support, coaching and training from professionals and social enterprise experts from across New Zealand. The programme is designed to take inspired business ideas and turn them into tested, investment-ready social enterprises that will have a big impact on a social or environmental problem.

Co-working spaces

BizDojo: The main co-working space in Wellington. BizDojo also operates in Auckland and is expanding internationally. The funky space is home to many creatives, techies, and startups.

More about BizDojo

Enspiral: Enspiral is for those who would like to work amongst other social entrepreneurs. It is a network and space of companies and professionals who are working on ventures which contribute to society.

More about Enspiral

Entrepreneurs and startups to look up

Laura Reitel: Laura previously ran TechStars Boulder and the local accelerator Lightning Lab. Laura is originally from Estonia, and now works at Creative HQ. She knows her stuff, and is also the person behind the ‘Built in Wellington’ Twitter account @builtinwgtn, which updates the tech community on events and opportunities.

More information: Twitter

Chalkle: The founders of Chalke (Ants and Silvia) have built a platform which connects people who want to teach, with people who want to learn. They are passionate about social entrepreneurship.

More information: Twitter

Dan Khan: Lean Startup Entrepreneur, Angel Investor and Startup Accelerator Director.

More information: Twitter

Upcoming Startups

Social Code is a patient engagement and behaviour change platform on mobile, for the prevention and management of chronic disease

More about Social Code

Hoist Apps provides hosting and APIs to help developers create great apps.

More about Hoist Apps

STQRY is a mobile story-telling platform that helps visitors of museums, galleries and zoos explore further by engaging visitors through stories

More about STQRY

8i uses Oculus Rift virtual headset technology to revolutionize movie-making and media-watching experiences.

More about 8i

Publons is a crowd-sourced open access platform for peer reviewing research publications, allowing you to record, showcase and verify peer review activity.

More about Publons

Loomio is a free and open-source software for anyone in the world to participate in decisions that affect them

More about Loomio

Places to meet, hashtags and events

Aside from the serendipitous meet-ups bumping into people around town, some good groups to join are: the Startup Garage, Lean Startup Meetup, Female Founders’ Exchange, the Entrepreneurs’ Club, and of course taking part in Wellington startup weekend (occurs twice a year).

There are also numerous dev-related meet-up groups for the different languages and creatives out there. The local coding bootcamp, Dev Academy, also hosts weekly presentations.

Most importantly, make sure to check the calendar of events going on in Wellington here.


Anything else we should add? Let us know in the comments.


Written by Lucy Luo (Twitter) and uploaded by Rasmus Frandsen


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