To build a technology company, you need capital, often from outside investors. And to land investment, you need to show them your product. To build that product, you have to write code, right?
Well, not necessarily. Many would-be tech entrepreneurs get stuck at this critical junction — how to turn a great idea on a napkin into a viable beta product. KiwiTech steps in to bring founders’ ideas to life.
Founded in 2009, KiwiTech began as a mobile and web development firm. A few years later, they launched a program to help very early-stage startups develop their technology products in exchange for equity.
Startups who partner with KiwiTech get access to all of their technology resources, with 450 employees across three offices in the U.S. and India. They also gain exposure, as KiwiTech holds several Demo Days for investors in cities around the country.
Over 200 startups have taken advantage of the program, according to Chandler Malone. The founder and investor sold his first company before graduating college, and then jumped into the venture capital space.
Malone recently relocated to Atlanta to serve as the first Manager of KiwiTech’s operations in the Southeast. His territory encompasses seven states: Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Kentucky.
“We like to say we look at the jockey, not the horse,” says Malone about what he’s looking for in founders. Since joining KiwiTech in summer 2018, Malone has brought in four startups, two from Georgia, one from Missouri and one from Louisiana. They span the industry gamut, from tools addressing physical therapy and on-demand photography to e-commerce and blockchain.
Beyond technical chops, KiwiTech’s other strength that attracted Malone to the company was its focus on underrepresented founders. About one-fifth of their portfolio are companies led by female founders, and double that are led by minority founders.
“That’s definitely a niche where I feel I can help, through networking, through connections, and even my lens in this space,” says Malone, who also curates a monthly investor newsletter that highlights his picks of the top minority-founded tech startups.
Given that focus, Malone says he has been working for months to plan a KiwiTech Demo Day in Atlanta specifically for minority founders. Taking place this Thursday, the event will feature pitches from 10 companies from the KiwiTech network, as well as a panel discussion with local investors.
“Though we do have those slightly proportionally higher amount of minority founders… we still have this difficulty with minority founders raising capital,” Malone tells Hypepotamus.
Malone is actively looking at startups across the South for the KiwiTech program.