Accelerator program connects startups with funding and guidance

Posted by Jeremy Elwood on Aug 29, 2016

The Chamber and Missouri State University have both worked hard to identify gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Chamber—along with its development arm, the Springfield Business Development Corporation—have worked tirelessly with community and business leaders, offering their expertise to help create and fund several programs aimed at addressing those gaps.

One such program was started earlier this year. The eFactory Accelerator is a 12-week intensive program to help startup companies by offering investment capital, business space and additional assistance.

The first four companies chosen for the Accelerator program were introduced during an August 10 open house event: The Daily Scholar, which develops cloud-based education and business software; Eagle Speak, a business communication platform; MOFIN Labs, which develops business solutions for financial institutions; and ShopZeely, an interactive video-based shopping platform.

“We’re incredibly honored to be chosen,” said Eagle Speak CEO Jason Arend. “We’re deeply passionate about growing the high-tech and entrepreneurship communities in an effort to create more jobs in technology, foster talent and attract more investors to fund local startups.”

For Eric Ham, CEO of MOFIN Labs, the Accelerator program marked a great opportunity to bring a strong idea to fruition. “We had a collaboration concept that we felt was needed in the community banking and credit union industry,” Ham said. “We knew if we could pitch the concept to the accelerator group and have them see what we saw in it, we would have a chance to turn our idea into a tangible solution.”

Each of the four will receive significant assistance to get their business off the ground, including:

  • A $30,000 investment, in exchange for 8% equity, from The eFactory’s Seed Capital Fund (supported by the SBDC, MSU Foundation, Missouri Technology Corporation and RMI)
  • Use of office space and technology
  • Business consulting services
  • Access to a network of mentors and presentations from industry professionals

“We’ve had exposure to marketing, ‘growth hacking,’ financial planning and many more experts,” said Bernitha Medford of Shopzeely, who relocated from the Dallas area to take advantage of this program. “The benefit of solid expert advice, counseling and mentorship has taken us from seasoned product developers to legitimate business owners in a matter of weeks.”

Andrew Goodall, CEO of The Daily Scholar, says his company plans to use the program’s assistance to develop a go-to-market strategy and connect with local schools to test the software and grow the company.

“We applied because we wanted to participate in a program that would help us successfully transition from a company with a product to a full-fledged business with a product to market and sell,” he said.

This group’s participation will conclude October 24 with a demo day for their products, which the business community is encouraged to attend. Meanwhile, applications for a second group of four companies will open October 1; those companies will participate in a second session before year-end.

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