A group of ACG Yoobee graduates have been getting a taste of the cut-throat world of business start-ups, after being snapped up by Lightning Lab for work experience and internships.

Lightning Lab – a four-month, mentor-intensive, business acceleration programme – has been working with nine digital start-up companies, all founded by females. ACG Yoobee graduates have been brought onboard as Lab Techs to help the nine teams throughout the programme. It has given them the chance to hone their skills as web developers/designers and graphic designers, and although the majority of roles have been unpaid, those participating say the experience has been invaluable.

“It was absolutely amazing to get involved in the Lightning Lab programme and work alongside such talented people,” says ACG Yoobee graduate Alice Wu, who interned as a front-end developer for start-up team Liangma.

“I got to work with a talented designer, help redesign the current website and improve user experience.  I also got to create more work for my portfolio and meet potential employers!”

Last week, three months of hard work culminated in the much-anticipated Demo Day, a Dragons’ Den-style event in which each of the teams were given five minutes to pitch their company to an auditorium packed with 800 stakeholders, investors and sponsors. The aim? To secure investment in order to launch their business.

ACG Yoobee is one of the key sponsors of Lightning Lab, and its graduates and students have been participating for the past four seasons. This season, Demo Day was held at Wellington’s Embassy Theatre, and featured several high-profile guest speakers including the Rt Hon Steven Joyce and Telecommunications entrepreneur and Slingshot co-founder Annette Presley.

Demo Day, and the entire Lightning Lab programme, turned out to be a unique and unbeatable experience for ACG Yoobee graduate Bernadette Hosie, who interned as a graphic designer for start-up team Music Ecademy.

“Interning with Music Ecademy allowed me to keep my creative juices flowing – it was a nice way to dip my toes into what it could be like working as a graphic designer within a company that isn’t design orientated,” she says.

“Working with a supportive community over the months helped me grow, learn and vibe with like-minded people. It’s so amazing to see more start-ups doing their thing in our creative capital. Truly a very rewarding experience as a graduate fresh out of design school!”