Soda LIFT & BOOST FAQs
What is the process?
Fill out an application form. If you want to discuss your application first call 07 974 9111 or email to book in an appointment. We will assess your submission against our selection criteria.
Meet with the team to discuss you and your business (in-person or online). We'll help you unpack your idea and run through some initial business validation so that you can understand your next steps. You can ask questions about the programmes and discuss how your business might fit with this programme.
Based on this meeting you will either be offered to pitch at the next available investment committee meeting or we will recommend alternative options that may be more suitable for you or relevant connections.
To present your pitch you will be asked to complete an executive summary, financials and a pitch deck about you and your business. We'll give you the templates, guides and support you in this process.
Present your admission pitch to the investment team at this meeting. You will either be accepted or we will make suggestions as to what you could do to make a stronger case and pitch in another round, or let you know if we think you are not the right fit for our programmes.
If your pitch is successful, you will then be invited to join the Soda LIFT programme.
Once accepted, we work with you to customise your programme and find the perfect Business Growth Mentor and required experts for you and your business.
Who Should Apply?
Wondering if you’re eligible to apply? We love to work with curious, creative and courageous people.
Entrepreneurs looking for mentorship and a uniquely curated network
People living anywhere in NZ from Cape Reinga to the Bluff
People with just a business idea or a fully formed business idea and a prototype
People with a company that is in the early stages of selling their product or service
People with a business that has potential for scale, unique IP or an interesting business model
Solo founders or a teams of founders
Young and old founders – all experience levels welcome
People with an entrepreneurial itch from all walks of life
We embrace the inexperienced with a big dream
We love people, who aren’t afraid to ask questions, wonder and be puzzled
It doesn’t matter if you’re building a chimney, flying car, app or coffin - as long as you’re ambitious and want to learn we will help you take it to the world.
SODA got us there quicker in a more structured way.
- Wendy McGregor co-founder of PlateMe
When should I apply?
We have a rolling admission process and assess applications for our programme in our monthly committee meetings. We accept applications any time throughout the year, so you can apply when you’re ready.
How long is the Soda LIFT programme?
A typical Soda LIFT programme lasts for three months with Soda BOOST available upon completion of the initial programme.
How long is the Soda BOOST programme?
A typical Soda BOOST programme lasts for six to nine months and there is often time between when you finish LIFT and pitch to enter BOOST.
Soda recycles expertise and experience back into our community.
- Jo Allum, Soda Regional Partner at Venture Centre
Is the Soda BOOST programme more suited to where I am now?
One of the conditions of entering a Soda BOOST programme, you have had to successfully completed the agreed milestones in the Soda LIFT programme. The Soda LIFT programme is a tailored programmed, where the current needs of your company are identified and milestones are set around those needs. Therefore by doing LIFT and then BOOST you have access to two budgets.
Do I have to pitch to get into the programme?
Yes. If there's a fit, we'll invite you to present your opportunity to a friendly dragons' den, and if successful we'll work with you to craft a customised programme and mentoring match.
The investment committee looks at you and your business opportunity 50:50 and puts different lenses on when reviewing an application.
As a founder focused programme, the primary goal of Soda Inc. is the education and growth of founders. Therefore, we are looking for people who are coachable, ambitious and have entrepreneurial traits just as much as we are looking for good business opportunities.
Where you are live will determine which panel you pitch to.
Soda were the first people that wanted to help without taking the shirt off my back.
- Michele Connell founder of Off the Beaten Track
What happens if I'm offered a place on a programme?
If a verbal offer is made on the day of your pitch, we’ll follow up with a contract and meeting to build the ideal mentor profile. Once we’ve built the perfect mentor profile we’ll get searching and see if they’ll put their name in the hat to work with you.
What will it cost me?
The weekly payment of $150+GST is invoiced monthly and is only for 12 weeks (total $1,800 + GST for the programme). This does not start until we have found the matched mentor and the first session has happened. This exploration phase is not charged and does not cost you anything. Once the contract is signed and the mentor has been found, you are required to transfer 5% shares to Soda Inc. Limited.
Again, you’re not charged until we match you with the perfect mentor and set a start date. BOOST is longer so you are charged $150+GST p/week (invoiced monthly) for the duration of the programme. No further equity is taken if accepted into BOOST.
What if I choose the equity stake vs pay fixed fee?
Soda Inc. is a not-for profit organisation. The idea behind the equity is that one day your company will be successful and these shares could pay for future entrepreneurs to come through a programme for help just like you did - a 'pay it forward approach'. Founders who have received invaluable support on their journey through a Soda programme love knowing that their success will one day be able to pay for another entrepreneur needing support.
What are the programmes valued at?
It’s hard to put a price on the quality and experience level of the matched mentors, not to mention access to the combined networks. If we’re valuing people’s time it’s in the vicinity of $75,000. On top of having the time with your mentor paid for, you can access $3,000 for projects, experts or travel.
Again it’s hard to measure exact value but it’s in the vicinity of $100,000. On top of having the time with your mentor paid for, you can access $10,000 for projects, experts or travel.
Whats in the contract and a common clause that founders ask about?
Clause 5.2: Following issue of Soda Shares, the Client shall not issue any further shares of any description, to any parties, without the prior written consent of Soda.
This is a common clause in most shareholding agreements. Soda is 100% on the side of the founder so would never restrict growth of the company and the clause exists in this contract as more of a safety net to ensure you as the founder are being looked out for when bringing in new shareholders. We have the founders best interests at heart so can leverage our experience in reviewing shareholder agreements to ensure you are aware of the deal and any potential implications that deal may have on you and your company. The clause also exists to ensure Soda knows who else is/will be a shareholder in your business and if we are happy to remain a shareholder with the introduction of new shareholders (reputation protection etc.).
If we cannot find and match you with the right mentor that would then lead to the outcomes you desire, the programme would not begin and therefore the contract would become void.
What happens if circumstances change and I need to take a break during the programme?
Our programmes are totally flexible and are created by you to work around both yours and the mentor's schedule. If you need to take a break, we can officially pause the programme and re-start when suitable.
What happens if I start a programme and decide its not working?
This can happen and we allow for this by having a review after 4-6 weeks of working with your mentor to make sure the mentor match is right. If it’s not, we can pause and start the search again or stop the programme altogether and end the engagement.