Local start-ups will get the opportunity to pitch their business plans to 15 high-profile Silicon Valley investors, entrepreneurs and executives when they arrive in New Zealand next month as part of the "Geeks on a Plane" tour.

Organised by US investor and business accelerator 500 Startups, Geeks on a Plane is an invitation-only tour that travels to the world's up-and-coming innovation destinations.

It is currently travelling through the Middle East, visiting Turkey, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

In association with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise the tour will visit this country from December 10 to 14.


The 15 geeks will include Dave McClure, a founding partner of 500 Startups, as well as representatives of Google Ventures - the venture capital investment arm of the search engine operator, Khosla Ventures, GE, TechCrunch and LivingSocial.

Andy Hamilton, chief executive of Parnell-based business growth centre The Icehouse, which is hosting a barbecue and pitch competition with the geeks on December 11, said the tour was a big opportunity to promote New Zealand's innovation "eco-system".

"If the companies are good enough they may get some interest [at the pitch]," Hamilton said. "But first and foremost the opportunity is around the promotion of New Zealand."

He said the tour would visit Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

"There's a combination of seeing companies and doing some tourist stuff as well," Hamilton said.

"Their desire is to share the Silicon Valley story and ultimately spend time with start-ups."

He said there was still time for Kiwi start-ups to put themselves forward and have the chance to pitch to the visiting geeks.

"What they have to do is give us a 60-second YouTube pitch and then we will select the top 30 ... then there will be ten 60-second rocket pitches [at the event]."

Details of how to apply can be found on The Icehouse's website: www.theicehouse.co.nz.