A Founder’s Accelerator Tale: Surviving the Trough of Sorrow



Editor’s Note: With accelerator application season upon us, we know it can be hard to decide if accelerators are right for your company. With that in mind, we decided to give you an inside look at the workings of one of the top accelerators in the country.

If you’re just now finding your way into the startup accelerator series, check out the first part  to catch up. Otherwise, if you’re already current, you know that our company  was not in the best of shape after month one at the Brandery.

The beauty of accelerators is the community.

rsz_incontentad2By the second month in the Brandery, most teams are settled in and trying to nail down their value propositions. For some this meant more product building, while for others it meant more conversations. Everyone was trying to take advantage of the classes and mentors, while still focusing on building their businesses late into the night.

It was during these long days and nights you realize the true advantage of being in an accelerator –  sharing a room for 18 hours a day with some of the most diverse and intelligent people on the planet. Whether you had a question about javascript or financial models, someone could answer it. We traded advice like it was currency and pushed each other every day. It’s that type of environment that truly sets an accelerator apart from other conditions.

Month 2 is for getting organized & making hard choices…

For our team, the second month in the Brandery was going to require a major shift in thought and execution. We had to do a better job of facilitating responsibilities to one another. In order to do that, we had to decide who would work in what sections of the business. The harsh reality of “you’re bad at this, I’m good at that” and vice versa can be difficult, but ultimately necessary for any startup to get off the ground.

My co-founder Ryan is a task manager and great at making decisions with a set of given information, in other words, he’s incredibly objective. The result? We decided it was best for him to play product manager and manage customer interviews so we could quickly iterate.

My skills have always been dealing with people, situations, and relationships. My decision making is a bit more emotionally-based than Ryan’s. We both decided it made sense for me to take charge of the marketing and business development.

From there it was time to figure out how we’d move forward with our CTO. While Ryan was trying to get on the same page, there was an obvious communication gap that was making it difficult to progress. We spent a week soul searching and asking trusted friends for advice, but ultimately we knew we had to hit the restart button and made the tough choice to let go of our CTO.


…and finding our brand

The next step for Sqrl was to find an identity with the product itself. Thankfully, this is where the “Brand” in the Brandery came to the rescue. It was during a follow up meeting with our branding agency (provided as a part of the Brandery) that we found our niche.

Sqrl’s product vision to-date had admittedly been ambitious. We told others we wanted to be “mint.com meets base camp” for accountants to interface with their clients. If that sounds ridiculous it’s because it is. Every time we said it, we knew it wasn’t right. We were making the mistake of building for perceived benefits, without actually focusing on a clear and defined problem that needed to be solved.

In our second session with Gyro, they presented us with four new brand identities. One of which was a squirrel, provoking a “wtf?” moment from each of us. Yet when the Gyro team told us we sounded like a “digital hunter-gatherer” and asked, “Are you an application to facilitate conversation, or does your application allow for more meaningful conversation?” we knew we found what we were looking for.

The one constant with every customer interview we conducted was that accountants were losing huge amounts (20-25%) of their day to just tracking down information from their clients. The real problem had been right in front of us the entire time.

We all left that meeting with the same epiphany – not only did our singular focus become solving the “I need something but no one is giving it to me” problem, but the mood of our team changed (for the better) with it. We dropped our old name (Accrew) and picked up the Sqrl, an identity we could get behind.

Sqrl “the digital hunter and gatherer” built with “go getter technology.” It was genius. Now all we had to do was double-back on customer interviews and validate our new assumptions. Ryan immediately started building new mockups in Keynote, and I began trying to fulfill the new narrative with our current signups and potential customers.

Over the remaining weeks of month 2, Ryan and I did everything in our power to get the new hypothesis in front of every accountant possible. We tried to validate every piece of Ryan’s mockups until it was right to move on to the next steps of building again. The new CTO interviews may have been on hold, but our identity was in full swing.

Getting through the trough

Month 2 at the Brandery was a huge gutcheck for our team, but it proved every accelerator stereotype right. In the first month we tried to move too fast, and it almost proved fatal. We listened to more advice than we should have and couldn’t find an identity on our own terms. And last but not least, we focused far too much on building a product before validating A) the problem and B) the narrative of the proposed solution.

If you asked other teams I’m sure they’d tell you they experienced similar peaks and valleys. In the accelerator world, the “trough of sorrow” probably hits around the later stages of month 2. The question each founder had to asked ourselves? “What are you going to do about it?”

 Craig Baldwin is a former accountant turned startup founder. He’s currently the CMO of Cincinnati-based startup Sqrl. Craig’s also a BBQ enthusiast, writer, and purveyor of delicious vintage cocktails. Follow him on Twitter @craignbaldwin

Cariloop: The Expedia For Senior Care

Expedia for senior care

It’s going to happen to all of us.

There will come a day when our parents become dependents, and it becomes our job to care for them. Sometimes that means they will live with us, but it’s more than likely that we will need to find some kind of assisted living or retirement community. And, it’s possible those care options could be hundreds of miles from where we live.

Steve Theesfeld spent several years working for Sunrise Senior Living, and in that time he realized that it’s impossible for patients and family to get good, quality information about geriatric healthcare options. It wasn’t the organizations’ fault, necessarily. They often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing and branding, but they do it in outdated ways that end up being inaccessible.

With this understanding, Theesfeld founded Cariloop, described to me by CEO Michael Walsh as an “Expedia for senior care.”

Cariloop’s platform enables family members to get all the information they need about local options, pricing, and availability. They also provide direct access to the providers to facilitate easier admission.

Today the Cariloop team will pitch at the Health Wildcatters’ Demo Day. They’ve spent the last 3 months going through the accelerator, learning how hard it can be to build a business while essentially going back to school.

In true Texas form, Health Wildcatters takes its name from risk-taking oil entrepreneurs who take big chances in where they drill. This kind of mentality rubbed off on the Cariloop team.

“There is a good way to do things and a disruptive way to do things,” Walsh told us when we asked about the one thing he learned during the accelerator. “Entrepreneurs need to put everything they have into differentiating themselves, building something’s that better than everyone else’s, and sharing their passion with the world.”

After Demo Day, the team hopes to get some sleep. But, after THAT, they are already hard at work on some new features they will release in January. They’ve also signed a partnership with the Texas Organization of Residential Care Homes, which represents some 250-300 homes in the state.

For about Cariloop, check out the website and follow them on Twitter.

Brandery Draws 425 Investors In The Middle Of Cincy Startup Week

Brandery, Demo Day, Accelerator, Cincinnati, Startup Week

Ok it’s not officially Cincy startup week yet, but we’re looking to change that for next year. Our own Everywhere Else Cincinnati conference kicked off the week with two and a half days of 20 minute power talks, keynotes, and panels teaching young entrepreneurs and early stage companies anything and everything from branding to talking to investors.

The Brandery’s annual demo day, an opening of the new Cintrifuse, TED Cincinnati, and #Hack4Good rounded out more events and entrepreneurial experiences than some cities have for their actual startup week.

In planning our conference, we worked closely with The Brandery who actually housed our Cincinnati office as we geared up for the main event. Brandery co-founder Dave Knox kicked off the Everywhere Else conference. Brandery General Manager Mike Bott appeared on a panel about what accelerators are looking for.

Now in it’s fourth year, the Brandery, which some locals believed would never work, continues to improve upon the growing Cincinnati startup ecosystem. Year after year it seems the startups improve and the crowds get even bigger.

The main event for the Brandery startups kicked off Wednesday morning at 8am. Even Proctor & Gamble former CEO Bob McDonald was in attendance alongside some of the biggest investment firms in the country. Folks like Mercury Fund’s Blair Garrou, SoftBank Capital’s Joe Medved, Dundee Venture Capital’s Mark Hasebroock and others made a point to head into town a few days early to also speak to the crowd of hundreds at Everywhere Else.

Bott told cincinnati.com that eight of the ten companies had already lined up follow on funding for after the completion of The Brandery program. Those startups were: Tapfit ($750,000), Chalky ($750,000), and Sqrl ($500,000). Co-Ed Supply has already done $25,000 in sales and raised $150,000 while Frameri, a new way to buy glasses, surpassed their $30,000 Indiegogo goal and raised $43,000.

The stand out from last year’s Brandery class, Flight Car, has already raised over $5 million dollars, graduated from the Y-Combinator program and expanded their peer-to-peer airport car rental services to multiple airports. They are preparing for a launch at LAX later this month.

Nibletz is working with The Brandery, CincyTech, the Cincinnati Regional Chamber, Cintrifuse and other organizations to make the first week of October officially “Cincy Startup Week.”

As a testament to the success of The Brandery, Modulus, a 2012 graduate of The Brandery won the Startup Champion honors at Everywhere Else Cincinnati.

Here are all of the Brandery 2013 companies:

Awesomatic: Tool allows a business’ customers to support each other.

Chalky: Connects advice-seekers with mentors who’ve been in their shoes.

Co-Ed Supply: Delivers box of college essentials on a monthly subscription, connecting brands with the college market.

Donde: Mobile locator platform helps marketers drive retail sales.

Dwllr: Allows buyers, sellers and real estate professionals to share information throughout the home-buying process.

Frameri: Provides interchangeable eyeglass frames with one pair of prescription lenses.

ShopStoree: Visual commerce platform allows retailers to create interactive online storefronts.

Sqrl: Tool makes gathering information from clients and groups of people painless. Current focus is on accounting software market.

Tapfit: Allows users to find, purchase a pass and exercise at studios, gyms and group fitness options that best fit their needs.

The Brandery’s next class will open registration in February. You can find out more about The Brandery here.

Check out our Brandery Coverage at nibletz.com 



St. Louis’ Six Thirty Accelerator Announces Inaugural Class

Six Thirty, Accelerator, FinTech, Jim McKelvey, St. Louis startup, Accelerator

The new fintech startup accelerator in St. Louis, backed by Cultivation Capital and Square’s Jim McKelvey, held an event on Wednesday evening to announce their first startup cohort. McKelvey is joined by Hal Gentry, serial entrepreneur and general partner at Capital Innovators, and Joe Reagan CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, as co-founders for the accelerator called Six Thirty which takes its name from the height and width of the St. Louis Arch.

They received over 100+ applications from all over the world from startups with a financial element. They successfully weeded out the group to just four. Here are the companies in the first session, which officially starts Monday.

Hedgeable, Matthew Kane and Michael Kane
Hedgeable is a next generation Vanguard, providing low cost, risk managed investment products in response to the Financial Crisis.

MiiCard, James Varga
Through a patented process, miiCard leverages access to online financial accounts to verify an individual’s identity beyond a photo ID through a simple process that occurs completely online in five to ten minutes.

Upside, Tom Kimberly
Upside uses innovative financial science and beautiful user interface to provide goal-based investment management to mass affluent young professionals.

XYverify, Elliot Klein
XYverify enables consumers, merchants and financial institutions to reduce costs and prevent fraud via a mobile authentication platform.

McKelvey is also spearheading another new startup related effort in St. Louis called Launch Code.


ThinkBig Accelerator Partners With Microsoft Ventures

KC, Thinkbig, Microsof, startups, acceleratorKansas City’s ThinkBig accelerator announced this morning a brand new partnership with Microsoft Ventures. This new Microsoft partnership compliments the Microsoft BizSpark program to the select few accelerators that have been chosen.

Microsoft Ventures currently has accelerator locations in Tel Aviv, Bangalore and Beijing and will open or partner with several more soon, including ThinkBig.

This announcement comes ahead of Blake Miller’s presentation at the national Everywhere Else Cincinnati conference that kicks off Sunday evening. Miller was going to save the news for the upcoming iKC conference in Kansas but chose to reveal the news now so that he is available to speak with other accelerator heads and startups at next week’s Everywhere Else conference, about the new partnership.

Think Big Accelerator in partnership with Microsoft Ventures will be one of only a few partnerships of its kind in the United States. Microsoft Ventures will act as a strategic partner for promising startups in the Think Big Accelerator program focused on business growth, customer development, industrial strength technology and beautiful usable products.

According to Cliff Reeves, who leads the Microsoft Ventures Community team, “Entrepreneurism is a local phenomenon everywhere, and Think Big Partners represents the best of KC as well as startup reach nationally and globally. We’re very pleased to be working with them to find and support great startups.”

The partnership between Think Big Accelerator and Microsoft Ventures will provide accelerator companies access to even more mentors, resources and connections. As Microsoft Ventures is a corporate run partnership with the intent to engage and support a select few independent accelerators per geo, the local Microsoft field office will play an active role in day-to-day support and mentorship of Think Big Partners’ startups as part of this partnership. While the Microsoft BizSpark program will be providing software, support and visibility to the startups, Microsoft Ventures will be providing additional resources through this limited partnership to better enable the startups success on the Microsoft platform while they develop their business as a whole. Along with providing consistent access to Microsoft technical resources and devices, startups engaged in the Think Big Accelerator will have the opportunity to qualify for additional benefits via the BizSpark Plus program where startups qualify for a rich set of offers including Office 365 and Azure.

“We at Think Big Partners are very excited to grow what has already been a great learning relationship with Microsoft,” says Miller, Director of Think Big Accelerator.  “The resources that Microsoft adds to our checklist-oriented process will help us get entrepreneurs from idea to first customer faster and even more efficiently.”

While many accelerators do offer the BizSpark program, the Microsoft Ventures sponsored accelerators have even more amazing benefits.

You can find out more about Think Big KC here.


Tennessee’s Master Accelerator, The TENN Wraps Up Statewide Demo Day Roadshow

Accelerator, Launch Tennessee, The Tenn, Startups

(photo: Brandon Dill/ commercialappeal.com)

Every startup accelerator everywhere else wishes they could have participation at demo day from their top industry leaders. While some of their leading companies may have a presence at demo day, the real influencers are often too busy to attend a four hour demo day. With this problem in mind, Tennessee had a great idea for their startups: bring them to those companies.

Ten accelerator graduates from across the state of Tennessee just completed a weeklong statewide roadshow. Each of the ten startups chosen to participate in the statewide master accelerator program were all graduates of one of Tennessee’s nine accelerator programs.

The master accelerator program, called The TENN, was put on by Launch Tennessee, the public/private partnership spearheading the accelerator efforts across Tennessee. Launch Tennessee partnered with the Blackstone Foundation to put the program on, as well as other key state sponsors.

Twenty accelerator graduates that wrapped up their programs by August of this year competed in a final pitch off in Nashville on August 27th. At that event a group of judges from outside of Tennessee had the daunting task of narrowing down those 20 to just 10 for the road show.

In addition to going on the road in a wrapped tour bus, each of the companies received $10,000 for their business and will have access to office space at their accelerator’s office space, or they will receive a subsidy for space they may already occupy.

The ten companies chosen were:

eClinic (Nashville)
Got You In (Nashville)
Gun.io (Nashville)
Hatponics (Knoxville)
Health & Bliss (Memphis)
Mobilizer (Memphis)
Screwpulp (Memphis)
Survature (Knoxville)
Vendor Registry (East Tennessee)
View Medical (Memphis)

Health & Bliss had to drop out of the roadshow due to a scheduling conflict. They were replaced by Chattanooga startup HutGrip.

The roadshow kicked off in the Tri-Cities area with stops at Eastman Chemical and AccelNow. On Tuesday the bus made its way to Knoxville, where they stopped at Scripps Networks and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. Wednesday the bus stopped in Chattanooga at Society of Work. Thursday the group traveled to Nashville and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. The trip wrapped up in Memphis on Friday with stops at First Tennessee Bank and FedEx.

The ten companies will continue working on their businesses and with mentors and corporate leaders across the state.

You can find out more about The TENN at TheTENN.org









Image: CommercialAppeal

3 Three Things I Learned From An Accelerator

Accelerator, Startup, Kairos, Miami Startup, NewMeRunning a startup can seem like a constant reminder of how far I have to go for success. Yet when I come across young startups or new entrepreneurs, I sometimes marvel at some of the mistakes that are made early. Mistakes that I would surely have made if I had not gone through an accelerator.

At Kairos, we were blessed to have gotten into the NewMe Accelerator in San Francisco. It was 12 weeks that changed my life. I often tell people, we went into NewMe going 40 mph, and left NewMe going 400 mph. It was that impactful. From what I learned there, I was able to parlay into a termsheet for 1.2 million dollars just last week. That termsheet represents months of learning, pitching, praying, and most importantly, building the company. NewMe is taking it’s act on the road, and I will be mentoring alongside some other great folks in Miami September 27th -29th. Google has sponsored them so that they can offer content across the country.

What are you going to hear, a LOT, and it will be tailored to your specific startup. Real 1-1 time. To give a taste, I thought I would offer my top 3 things I learned from NewMe.

1. NDA’s & Secrets

Don’t ask anyone to sign a NDA. VC’s will never do it, and it shows your immaturity in the process. No one wants to steal your idea, nor would they have as much passion for your ideas as you.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

Learn how to tell your story, in a clear, succinct, and empathetic way. Then tell it over, and over, and over, and over again. Tell it so many times that the members of your team can tell it, tell it until your kids are repeating it at school. Tell it until your girlfriend or boyfriend leaves you because they can’t stand to hear it again.

3. Learn the lingo

Cap Table, Delaware C-Corp, traction, disruption, lean, patents, H1-B… These and a TON of other words need to be in your lexicon as a startup founder. VC’s and other startups will rate your maturity on the lingo you use and the answers to some standard questions. Accelerators and Incubators can help founders to learn these terms, and use them to qualify you as opposed to disqualify you in the eyes of your peers, funders, and media.

Startup is a wild and crazy world, but these three items can lay the foundation to a very successful enterprise.

Ad Astra!

Brian Brackeen is the CEO of Kairos, a enterprise facial recognition company recently selected as one of the Wall Street Journal’s top 20 startups. He lives in Miami and is a rabid Miami Heat and Philadelphia Eagles fan. 

Startups In The Fastlane: Velocity Startup Pass It

Velocity Indiana, a startup accelerator just outside of Louisville, Kentucky, just graduated their first class last week. They brought startups from across the country to learn, grow, and accelerate in a beautiful area in the middle of the country. Velocity is the epitome of “everywhere else”.

Pass It, came from Seattle, Washington to work on a next generation photo sharing app. Nowadays, regular photo sharing apps are getting boring and there’s a filter for everything. Startups are looking to find ways to make photo sharing apps more engaging.

Pass It wants users to send their photos “around the world”. They’ve also added an element of competition to the mix.

Pass It is in our Fastlane, our interview feature that profile’s startups that are going through, or just completed an accelerator program.


What is the name of your startup?

Pass it

What accelerator are you in?

Velocity Accelerator. http://velocityindiana.org

Where is your startup originally from?


Tell us about your current team?

Bryce Anderson – Moving the business forward.

Robert Eickmann – Mobile developer with superpowers.

Cameron Chinn – Marketing and user acquisition specialist.

Jon Matar – Primary Advisor

What does your startup do?

Pass it is a photo sharing app that allows users to connect, compete, and send their photos around the world.

What are your goals for the accelerator program?

To substantially improve our business model and create as many new relationships as possible.

What’s one thing you’ve learned in the accelerator?

Failure is a part of the process. Every week we tested several hypotheses and we had to constantly adapt our thinking based on our customer feedback.

What’s the hardest piece of advice you’ve had to stomach so far?

To pivot. We came in to Velocity with an EdTech company and we completely changed our business due to the Lean Startup methodology.

What is your goal for the day after demo day?

To create meetings with potential investors and business leaders in the Indiana and Kentucky entrepreneurial community.

Why did you choose this accelerator?

We chose Velocity because of its central location and outstanding business mentors. I would like to give a shout out to Tony Schy, Dave Durand, Terry Goertz, Michael Browning and Greg Langdon.

What’s one thing you learned about an accelerator that you didn’t know when you applied?

How much I would learn from the other startups participating in the program. Even though we all had substantially different businesses, we all faced the same day-to-day startup challenges and I learned valuable information from their experiences with the lean startup program.

Where can people find out more?


What’s your twitter handle?



Dave Knox And Blair Garrou Jumping In The Shark Tank At Straight Shot Demo Day

Dave Knox, Blair Garrou, Straight Shot demo day, accelerator

The first week of October is going to be huge. Of course that’s when Everywhere Else Cincinnati is happening. It will be an even bigger week for some of our speakers: Brandery co-founder Dave Knox, Dundee Venture Capital Co-Founder Mark Hasebroock, and Mercury Fund’s Blair Garrou.

In addition to speaking at Everywhere Else Cincinnati, The Brandery is graduating its summer class the following day, October 2, making it a big enough week already for Dave Knox. But in the words of Billy Mays, “But wait there’s more”.

Dundee backed accelerator, Straight Shot, is graduating its summer class on October 3rd, making it a huge week for Hasebroock as well.  All three Everywhere Else speakers are attending the Brandery demo day on October 2nd and then Straight Shot’s demo day.

Straight Shot announced on Tuesday that Garrou and Knox have both agreed to be “sharks’ in their Shark Tank style demo day.  Rather than just a straight pitch event to a room full of 400 investors, and startup supporters, the Straight Shot inaugural class will also receive feedback from Garrou and Knox. While we consider both to be very nice guys, they are straight shooters when it comes to startups and their viability.

The seven startups graduating from Straight Shot are:

BusinessExchange – a referral SaaS model that allows small businesses to make evaluations of, connections with, and recommendations for other small businesses as vendors and/or suppliers. BusinessExchange recently launched a pilot program with the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce that aims to spur economic growth and increased collaboration among Chamber member companies.

BuyNow – an e-commerce application that allows customers to instantly purchase advertised goods and services from any TV, print, online and/or out-of-home ad by simply sending an SMS text message. BuyNow has a patent pending for their ad-tech application. The founders are on the cusp of pivotal partnerships with one Fortune 500 media company and a handful of major retailers.

CardioSys – a software currently under development that uses fluid algorithms that will help health insurers, third-party administrators, and brokers to forecast preventable life events and mitigate risk among their client/customer population. CardioSys partnered with UNeMed, the technology transfer branch of the University of Nebraska Medical Center responsible for bringing intellectual property from the laboratory to the marketplace.

Cosmic Cart – an e-commerce platform that consolidates fragmented shopping carts across the web while enhancing the shopping experience for customers. Cosmic Cart allows publishers to monetize their media and retailers to sell their products across the web. Currently, more than 85 brands, six fashion bloggers and five major retailers have signed on with Cosmic Cart.

Crateful – a software that leverages advanced audio and data analytics to help music enthusiasts find the best music for their mood or the moment. Crateful’s technology analyzes each song in a customer’s database by tempo, key and rhythm structure and then allows the user to sort based on their needs. Currently, more than 60 well-known electronic music deejays are piloting Crateful.

Cympel – an e-commerce and ad-tech platform that streamlines online shopping for consumers and expedites the transaction process for brands. An attractive platform for advertisers, publishers, and customers alike, Cympel eliminates the multiple redirecting windows currently involved in the online advertising and shopping process. Cympel’s team has two campaigns underway currently and is showing a positive return-on-investment for each.

HuntForce – a software that enables hunters to become more strategic and successful in their sport by reducing the hours they currently spend sifting through and organizing the thousands of photos taken by their trail cameras. The father-son founding team has established relationships with more than a dozen professional hunters interested in using the HuntForce technology to improve their upcoming season.

For more information on Straight Shot and their demo day visit straightshot.co

See all three speakers and 27 more national startup speakers at Everywhere Else Cincinnati.


STACHE Investments Exceeds $1 Million Dollar Commitment To 2013 OneSpark Companies

Shahid Khan, STACHE Investments, Florida startups, OneSpark, accelerator

Last Spring we  were one of the national media partners for one of the most incredible startup related events we’ve ever seen. That event, the OneSpark crowdfunding festival in North Florida, saw over 130,000 attendees throughout the course of the week. The event was like taking Kickstarter or Indiegogo, pulling them offline, and putting the creators into a five day festival.

We saw startups, art projects, art installations, music projects, visual arts, and a variety of amazing, but unclassifiable ideas. All of the participants were looking for crowdfunding in person at the event and to earn the OneSpark prize money or get an investment from Jacksonville based STACHE investments.  STACHE investments is the investment arm of Shahid Kahn’s company. Kahn is the automotive entrepreneur who purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars in November of 2011 and took up residency in Jacksonville.

Since that time he has been very active behind the scenes in Jacksonville’s startup and entrepreneurial community. Khan quickly got involved with the OneSpark festival, committing $1,000,000 in follow on funding for the most promising ideas during the festival.

Late last month it was announced that not only had STACHE Investments (named after Khan’s legendary mustache) reached and exceeded their $1,000,000 commitment, but they committed to 2014 and also helped back a new accelerator in Jacksonville called KYN.

KYN will launch with four companies in its inaugural class and will leverage its resources to support numerous One Spark creators that have been in talks with the STACHE Investments Corporation. KYN has also partnered with the University of North Florida to help train students in design and development. The accelerator’s inaugural class are all businesses who participated in the wildly successful One Spark festival.

“We are impressed by the outpouring of talent we witnessed at One Spark earlier this year,” Jim Zsebok, Chief Investments Officer at the STACHE Investments Corporation said in a statement. “STACHE has provided the seed capital for KYN because we view it as an essential component of the entrepreneurial ecosystem that Elton and his team is creating in Jacksonville which began with CoWork Jax, then One Spark and now KYN. So today, via KYN we announce the 4 companies who will participate in the inaugural class at KYN and we will continue to work with several other Creators we met at One Spark who require different resources, including Heritage Farms, Workout Navigator and Chair to Share.”

The companies who participated in One Spark and are receiving funding at this time are:

  • Heritage Farms

  • Pure Treats

  • Floppy Entertainment

  • Original Fuzz

  • Hatchware

Pure Treats, Floppy Entertainment, Original Fuzz, and Hatchware are the four companies who will be in the inaugural class and receive funding directly from KYN.

Nearing the completion of the 16-week program at KYN, the companies will have an opportunity to participate in a demo day where other venture capitalists and angel investors interested in their companies will review opportunities to invest in the companies.

“This is a natural outgrowth of what we hoped to achieve with the inaugural One Spark festival, and the next step in supporting great startups in Jacksonville,” said KYN Co-Founder, Elton Rivas. “Our selection of downtown to house this accelerator is further commitment to the continued support and growth of Jacksonville’s thriving startup community in the heart of our city. We couldn’t be happier to be working with the STACHE Investments Corporation in support of the growth of this ecosystem for Jacksonville.”

In addition to the accelerator program, KYN has also announced their partnership with the University of North Florida. KYN will hire select students to participate in a semester long apprenticeship program where they will earn course credit, learn web development, and user interface and design, all while working directly with KYN startup companies.

The accelerator will soon begin selecting applications for its second 16-week class, slated to begin January 2014. All information for the application timing and process can be found on the KYN website at www.kyn.is.

“We’re focused on linking early stage companies in technology, health and fitness and hard goods with seed money, tools and great mentors to support the rapid growth of their business,” co-founder, Rivas said. “This intensive 16-week program provides access to mentors, developers and designers, workshops, work space and a collaborative community while also training nearly a dozen UNF students that could be potential future hires for these companies. It’s a great model.”

Find out more about KYN here and check out our 2013 OneSpark coverage here.

Check out this enormous conference 100% devoted to startups “everywhere else”

image: Shahid Khan

JuiceTank — Innovation Lab, Accelerator and Coworking Space — Takes Shape in Somerset


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It’s Day One For These 5 Startups From Gener8tor’s Summer Session

Gener8tor, accelerator, startup accelerator, Wisconsin startupsWisconsin’s dual city accelerator, Gener8tor, is one of the most successful startup accelerators in the midwest. Just last week we reported that two graduates from the Winter 2013 session held in Madison Wisconsin raised $610,000 in seed rounds.

WeMontage, a company that has new ways for users to have their mobile phone pics printed as wallpaper, and Quietyme, a company that monitors the environmental conditions in normally quiet places like hospitals, hotels and nursing homes, raised $310,000 and $300,000 respectively.

A third startup, Abodo, also raised $325,000, they too were a member of that winter class at Gener8tor. Not bad for a general tech accelerator that typically runs cohorts of 5.

Today is Launch Day for the summer cohort at Gener8tor. The Gener8tor founders alternate between Madison and Milwaukee. The summer 2013 cohort was based in Milwaukee.

While many accelerators call the day at the end of the session demo day, or investor day, and we call it graduation, Troy Vosseller, one of the Gener8tor cofounders tells us that they call it launch day. With the teams working all session long and building their companies, demo day doesn’t signify an ending but more importantly a beginning.

Gener8tor’s summer session yielded five great startups:


Take your marketing efforts to a whole new level with hand written letters.

MailLift integrates with your Customer Relationship Management, helpdesk and other tools allowing handwritten letters to be automated. MailLift sends handwritten letters to old-school mailboxes on your behalf, freeing you and your staff’s time. With MailLift you have the ability to send thousands of personalized handwritten letters with just a few mouse clicks. Improve your customer acquisition and retention by sending these letters from your browser, email client, mobile device or CRM.

In this world of electronic everything, a hand written letter helps you reach your prospects in a whole new, old fashioned way.


Optyn makes marketing simple for small businesses by providing easy, automated tools to acquire and engage their customers. Optyn’s marketing platform helps business owners decide what message to communicate and then enables them to create, schedule and send an email campaign in less than 2 minutes. Optyn also ensures consumers only get emails from merchants they have chosen.


catalyze.io provides health cloud solutions for application developers, enabling rapid application development, enhanced data integration and industry-standard security. Our vision is to offer the hosted core infrastructure required to build modern apps for health and wellness. catalyze.io takes care of the plumbing for app owners and empowers developers inside and outside of enterprises to quickly build, test and deploy health and wellness applications−all without worrying about data sources and models, interoperability or HIPAA technology security.


OpenHomes provides modern, professional tools for the “for sale by owner” market. With OpenHomes, it is easy, affordable, and secure for people to buy or sell their homes themselves. Openhomes’ simple, elegant technology connects buyers and sellers directly online, enabling everything from scheduling a showing, giving feedback, or asking questions, to making an offer from your tablet or smartphone. OpenHomes’ services enable home owners to sell their homes themselves with confidence – for only 1% commission.


Docalytics is an easy to implement, cross-platform technology that enhances how businesses use their marketing and sales documents to interact with and capture actionable data from their prospective customers. Docalytics enables users to efficiently:

– CAPTURE more leads from their content.
– CONVERT more sales from these leads.
– CREATE better, more engaging content.

You can find out more about Gener8tor here at gener8tor.com


2 Gener8tor Startups Raise Over $600,000 In Seed Funding

WeMontage, Quietyme, Gener8tor, Wisconsin, Startup Accelerator, Accelerator, FundingWisconsin’s duel city accelerator, Gener8tor, is producing startups in both Madison and Milwaukee Wisconsin. Two of their Winter 2013 graduates (Madison program), WeMontage has just closed out a $310,000 seed round. Quietyme has raised a $300,000 seed round.

The Greater Milwaukee Business Journal reports that the startup that allows users to turn their mobile pics into actual wallpaper, received their funding from Angels On The Water LLC, Gener8tor and an “undisclosed”  Wisconsin based angel investment fund as well as several private investors.

While turning your mobile pics into decals, stickers, wallpaper and other forms of art is nothing new, WeMontage has found a way to does it in a way that’s better for the wall and looks better overall. Unlike their competition, WeMontage uses  “premium high-tac adhesive, fabric-based wall covering, which adheres to textured walls, while not damaging the wall or paint,” the company told the Business Journal.

We are excited to have closed our seed capital round and are working hard to build a premium brand for WeMontage and acquire new customers,” said James Oliver, Jr., founder and CEO. “Since closing the seed round, we’ve been able to hire an outstanding software developer, Chris Schmitz, from Green Bay, as technical co-founder.”

Quietyme has developed a technology that allows hospitals, hotels, nursing homes and property owners to monitor the quality of indoor environments like noise, temperature, humidity and water leaks, the Business Journal reported on Wednesday.

In addition to Gener*tor and Angels On The Water LLC, American Family Insurance, KSFI Partners LLC and a private investor participated in this round. The startup previously received $20,000 in seed capital from Gener8tor at the on-set of the program.

“Hospitals and hotels now have an unprecedented tool that can put a spotlight on when and where customer sleep experiences are in jeopardy,” said CEO John Bialk in a press release. “Just imagine how special you feel when a front desk manager or nurse recognizes that your sleep may have been disrupted. By being proactive about disruptions, businesses can demonstrate their sincere commitment to a high-quality customer experience.”

Find out more about Gener8tor here.



Startup Factory Drops “Triangle”, Announces Fall 2013 Cohort

Startup Factory, North Carolina startups, startup news, acceleratorThe Triangle Startup Factory, the premiere acceleration program in North Carolina has made a slight change in their name and announced their fall class. The accelerator program will now be know as just “The Startup Factory” dropping the word “triangle” from it’s name.

The news about the name is no surprise. Earlier this month we reported that MapQuest co-founder and Startup Factory co-founder, Chris Heivly was speaking at an event in St. Louis, which reportedly could be paving the way for a new Startup Factory branch there. Heivly was very impressed with all of the efforts the St. Louis community has already focused on startups.

In addition to possibly expanding out west to St. Louis, the Triangle Business Journal reports that Heivly is excited about the announced expansion of the American Underground, HQ and the new ThinkHouse project.

Here are the five startups selected for the fall cohort at the Startup Factory.

+ Szl: A technology company that aims to help people get news from the internet. “Only a small percentage of people who get their news from the internet spend the time to set up RSS feeds and filters,” TSF says of Szl via release. “Szl addresses these problems directly and solves them.”

  • HomeWellness: A technology company creating “building science-based software,” programs that help employees improve the comfort, energy efficiency and air quality of their homes.
  • Coursefork: A technology company creating a platform for educators to share and collaborate on course materials. “In essence, Coursefork seeks to ignite viral teaching.”
  •  Brevado: A technology company hoping to create interactive timelines for project-based businesses. “Clients stay in the loop with automatic progress notifications as items are completed.”
  • Flagtap: A technology company trying to solve marketing engagement issues “by bridging the gap between getting traffic and getting traffic to engage in revenue-generating ways.”
  • 4Soils: A technology company trying to engage children with their faith in a new way. The mission? “To bring the Bible to life for kids.”