6 Reasons to Keep Accelerators Everywhere Else


There’s an accelerator bubble.

Accelerators, except for Ycombinator/TechStars, are irrelevant.

We should get rid of the Demo Day.

If you’ve been in the startup space for more than a minute, you’ve probably heard someone say something like this. Founders and startup advocates have naturally critical minds; it’s why we can solve complex problems in innovative ways. But, that also means we spend a lot of time second guessing and rethinking every single thing we do.

I’ve had my own doubts about the accelerator model, and they mimic most of the concerns people bring up. There are so many (2000 around the world). What company can really be built in 3 months? It seems that the only real success comes from the big names, so why bother with smaller, local accelerators?

But, this week I was convinced that accelerators everywhere else can be just as beneficial to companies as the more publicized YCombinator and TechStars. Yesterday I attended the Investor Day for Jumpstart Foundry, in Nashville, TN and was duly impressed with what I saw. Of course, they had the bells and whistles–cool venue, great food, open bar. But more impressive were the companies that presented.

Every company had made significant strides in the 3 month program. Most could give detailed explanations of revenue. Quite a few already had traction and are well on the way to making real money already.

Vic Gatto, founder of Jumpstart Foundry and partner at Solidus Company, is well aware of the negative perception accelerators carry.

“We’re definitely a young industry going through definitional challenges,” he told me. He talked about meetings with other accelerators around the world. The leaders of these accelerators are talking about what defines success. Is it funding? Exits? Revenue? Level of mentor networks?

By most metrics, Jumpstart Foundry is finding success. 65% of its graduates are still in business, either bootstrapping or with funding. They have over 100 mentors, and that network grows each year. Gatto insists, though, that another real metric of success will be future exits, and most of the industry is still too young to really see that achieved yet.

One mentor told me that this year’s cohort may be the best she’s seen. “And they didn’t start off particularly special,” she said. “I think that really speaks to how the program itself is growing.”

And, as far as getting rid of Investor Day, Gatto won’t be doing that any time soon.

“That pressure is important,” he said. It’s the deciding factor sometimes when a new founder is tired and wants to call it a night. With Investor Day looming, it’s easier to focus and do the hard work of a young company.

Make sure to check out Jumpstart Foundry’s latest cohort because there are definitely some companies to watch. We’ll cover some of them here on Nibletz in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, here are a few reasons we shouldn’t give up on the accelerators everywhere else just yet:

  1. In the life of a young company, it can be easy to let an idea go when it gets hard. Surrounding yourself with mentors and good advice in an accelerator can help you push through those first stage challenges.
  2. The pressure of Investor Day can give you more traction than you thought possible in 3 months.
  3. Accelerators everywhere else understand companies everywhere else. We’ve talked before about how companies outside of Silicon Valley are innovating in industries besides the Internet and apps. Local accelerators inherently “get” that more easily than accelerators that are used to churning out consumer-facing apps.
  4. A good accelerator can be a rallying point for a whole ecosystem. Yesterday in Nashville, it was a packed house. Not just investors, but anyone interested in the startup scene showed up to support the cohort.
  5. Even if your first company doesn’t succeed, the 3 month MBA you get by doing the hands on work of an accelerator will be invaluable to the next companies you build.
  6. Accelerators may not be perfect, but what is?Anything that spurs innovation is good for the local community as well as for global issues that need creative problem solvers.

TechStars Austin Unveils First Class

Techstars, Techstars Austin, Capital Factory, Startups, Accelerator Back in May Techstars, announced the formation of their Austin Techstars program. The accelerator is being housed at the Capital Factory in downtown Austin. Jason Seats, who was the director of the Techstars Cloud program in Houston moved over to Austin to head up the program.

Techstars reported receiving 850 applications for this first cohort in Austin. The team at Techstars was tasked with cutting those applications down to ten.

Here are the ten startups announced last night at an event at the Capital Factory.

  • Filament Labs build patient tracking and compliance software around mobile health, behavior tracking, and behavior change. One of its consumer products, HealthSpark, was 1 of 30 hand-selected apps within Aetna’s CarePass initiative.
  • MarketVibe (founded by the Whoosh Traffic team at Capital Factory) uses customers web analytics and shopping cart data to teach companies how to get more traffic, leads and sales.
  • Fosbury is a cross-platform digital wallet solution for designing, managing and analyzing campaigns on Apple Passbook and Samsung Wallet. Fosbury ensures retailers and other that their customers always have loyalty cards and coupons with them and provides a new way to interact with customers.
  • Atlas Wristband takes a new approach to wearable technology in the fitness industry. Atlas combines top talent from Johns Hopkins University, Phillips Healthcare and Maxim Integrated Products.
  • AuManil helps Online Retailers identify, manage and grow their most valuable customers – and create more of them. It enables shopper-facing agents to engage high value customers based on behavioral profiles and predictive insights. These targeted, personalized engagements lead to increased revenues, high retention rates, and better customer satisfaction.
  • Ube: controls lights and appliances from a smart phone, inexpensively. The company’s Wi-Fi enabled Smart Dimmers, Smart Plugs and Smart Outlets are competitively priced, easy to install, and provide the convenience of controlling your lights from your smartphone from anywhere in the world.
  • ProductGram: allows online sellers to extend their store from one outlet to many. Currently in development for Etsy sellers, the mobile app will push an attractive listing, not just a third party link to drive more product views to increase sales via other channels, with checkouts happening wherever engagement happens.
  • Testlio: opens a network of mobile testers to developers needing every last bug uncovered. The company has created tools for software testing that use real time chat, integrate issue reports into their existing systems, and do daily/weekly testing based on the customers own release schedule.
  • Accountable: streamlines and simplifies HIPAA compliance by providing a suite of tools and resources for firms, from necessary agreements and policies to risk assessments and employee training. All required pieces are tracked for completeness and time-sensitive expiration, with monitoring and alerts maintaining compliance. Audits are as simple as printing out a report and all requested information.
  • ProtoExchange: is a cloud-based network of professional 3D printing services that allow businesses to source the production and material capabilities of the network in a scalable, cost-effective, and time-efficient manner.


Startups In The Fastlane: Velocity Startup GreekPull

FastlaneVelocityCrowdfunding is everywhere, there’s crowdfunding for your startup, crowdfunding for your movie, crowdfunding for the things you want and even crowdfunding for college money. Now, thanks to a San Diego startup that’s accelerating at Velocity in Indiana, there is crowdfunding for your fraternity or sorority.

Back in the olden days, before computers, internet, and crowdfunding, fraternities and sororities that were working on a project would have fundraisers, cash boxes, collection jars, and a treasurer to collect all the money. Then you had to trust that the treasurer didn’t spend the fraternity’s money on his own stash of brew and other college accoutrements.

Greekpull, San Diego startup, Indiana startup, Velocity Indiana, AcceleratorGreekPull is working on a crowdfunding platform for fraternities and sororities that eliminates all these problems, makes it super easy for members to raise money for projects, and then securely collects the money so it can’t be squandered on the frivolous. Now when a sorority or a fraternity wants to hold a big clean-up project, restore a building, or buy toys for local needy kids the money is there. They can even use the funds for special events like spring formals and dances.

We got a chance to talk with AJ Agrawal about GreekPull and their team’s experience at Velocity. They’ll be graduating at the end of the month and think making the move from San Diego to Jeffersonville, Indiana was one of the best choices they’ve ever made. Check out the interview below.

What is the name of your startup?


What accelerator are you in?

Velocity Accelerator

When is demo day/investor day/graduation?

August 29th, 2013

Where is your startup originally from?

San Diego, CA

Tell us about your current team?

Eghosa Aihie- The Hustler: In charge of sales and marketing

AJ Agrawal- The Visionary: In charge of product development and investor relations

What does your startup do?

We’re a crowdfunding platform for Fraternities and Sororities

What are your goals for the accelerator program?

To complete our next seed round of $350,000

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

Never edit your product without talking to customers first, you’ll save a lot of time and money.

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

Always being ready to pivot. It feels like your starting completely over when you pivot and sometimes it’s hard to stomach that it’s all part of the learning process.

What is your goal for the day after demo day?

To further conversation with potential investors and customers.

Why did you choose this accelerator?

Over half the National Fraternities and Sororities are located in Indianapolis, so we are in an ideal location to get customer feedback.

If you relocated for the accelerator are you staying in your new city?

Yes, however, we will most likely move a little closer to Indianapolis.

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

We’ve been amazed how nice the people in Jeffersonville have been to us. Coming from San Diego, we were unsure what to expect heading into Southern Indiana. Overall, the connections we have made has been priceless, and we look forward to staying in touch with all the people we have met.

Where can people find out more?




Raleigh To Get New Living/Learning Accelerator, ThinkHouse

ThinkHouse, Raleigh startups, accelerator, live learnThe Research Triangle Park (RTP) area of North Carolina is known for its, well, research, and lately, for its startup efforts. There are so many entrepreneurial things going on in Raleigh, listing them all could make your head spin. Obviously, this is a good thing. It’s good for the Raleigh Durham, area and it’s good for the economy.

Things like the American Underground, HQ, Triangle Startup Factory, and many more entrepreneurial efforts are making sure that entrepreneurs exiting out of some of the finest institutions in the south east (Duke, UNC, NC State) have access to continued resources and support.

Well now, HQ Raleigh co-founder Jason Widen and Chris Gergen, and entrepreneurial veteran in Durham, have teamed up for a natural next step, a living and learning accelerator.

In what is being dubbed the “ThinkHouse,” entrepreneurs are going to live and develop their ideas in one place. Many studies have shown that when you work and live in the same place, it can be a lot more productive. 4am brainstorming sessions don’t involve waiting for someone to come to the office, and at the same token, a 9am rock climbing, clear-your-head expedition can be easily arranged. While living and working in the same place may seem harmful and means more work focus, it’s actually the opposite.

With all that in mind the Triangle Business Journal reports that ThinkHouse will house a group of “entrepreneurs in residence” who will take a 9 month residency in the house. The entrepreneurs will be selected by a panel, like any other accelerator, and then they’ll be able to collaborate with each other, mentors, and a peer advisory board.

The group plans to open up 50 think houses in 50 cities within 5 years. You can find out more here.


After Building Up The Neighborhood MassChallenge Priced Out Of Boston’s Innovation District

MassChallenge, Boston startups, Innovation District, Accelerator
Although the news may not be good for MassChallenge, the fact that they have been priced out of their own neighborhood is actually a testament to the success the accelerator/incubator program has brought to Boston. Many in Boston’s Innovation District believe without MassChallenge there would be no district.

According to Boston.com, one of the country’s biggest and most successful accelerators needs to be out of their 14th floor space at One Marina Park Drive on Fan Pier by next July.

masschallengelogoMassChallenge is currently housed in prime real estate in the heart of what’s now known as the Innovation District. The area got its name from the startups and young entrepreneurs it attracted to the area, many of which were part of the MassChallenge program. Since 2010 MassChallenge has consistently helped over 100 startups a year through their program. Many of them choosing to stay in the Innovation District to grow their companies

MassChallenge has about 25,000 square feet at their current location, which they were able to stay in rent free.

“We’re basically like a marketing amenity for the building,” MassChallenge founder John Harthorne told Boston.com.

Since they moved in three years ago Enernoc, Goodwin Proctor, and Battery Ventures have signed leases in the same flagship building. Countless smaller startups have taken up space in the surrounding neighborhood.

Now, with all of these startups and companies moving into the area because of the groundwork that MassChallenge has laid, the owner and developer feels like he can attract a paying tenant to the same space.

While Harthorne wants to remain in the Innovation District, he’s not worrying about the accelerator having a roof over its head. They are currently in negotiations for a possible spot at Landmark Center near Fenway Park and the Bronstein Center, also in Innovation District. Both landlords see the value in having MassChallenge as a tenant, so they are also offering free rent.

“We’re kind of torn,” Harthorne says. “We love the Innovation District, but Landmark is close to the medical center, which is a thriving area of the city. Our current lease is up in July of next year, and so we do need to do something ahead of next year’s program. We’re eager to make a decision really soon,” he says.

They expect to announce their decision at the October 30th awards ceremony for this year’s class.

Find out more about MassChallenge here.



The 20 Best Accelerated Startups In Tennessee Make The TENN Finals

TENN, Launch Tennessee, Startup, AcceleratorLaunch Tennessee, the private/public partnership that oversees 9 accelerators across the state, is running a “super accelerator” of sorts, appropriately called the TENN. The TENN starts off with a statewide demo day on August 27th in Nashville. At that event, 20 startups, announced on Thursday, will pitch their business.

A group of  national investors and entrepreneurs will narrow that field from 20 to 10 at the statewide event.  The demo day investor panel includes Sabeer Bhatia, chairman and CEO of Sabse/Jaxtr and founder and former CEO of Hotmail; John McIlwraith, managing partner at Cincinnati, Ohio-based Allos Ventures; John Greathouse, general partner at Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Rincon Venture Partners; Sig Mosley, managing partner at Atlanta, Ga.-based Mosley Ventures; Bob Crutchfield, partner at Birmingham, Ala.-based Harbert Ventures; and Mike Tatum, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Workbus. Governor Bill Haslam will announce the 10 companies that will comprise The TENN.

After the TENN is announced they will embark on a statewide bus tour, parading the startups in front of the state’s biggest companies and innovators. The TENN group will also have access to a master mentor network pulling from all nine accelerators. The TENN startups will also receive free office space, either at one of the regional accelerator headquarters or receive a subsidy for office space.

Launch Tennessee partnered with the Blackstone Foundation to hold the TENN program.

Here are the 20 finalists for the TENN program:

East Tennessee (6):

Vendor Registry
Renewable Algal Energy

Middle Tennessee (9) :

InCrowd Capital
Got You In
Green Dot Charging
March Fuels

West Tennessee (5):

ADVANCE Inventions
Health & Bliss
View Medical

“These 20 startups are an exceptional representation of the innovative and promising ideas emerging from Tennessee’s accelerator programs,” said Launch Tennessee CEO Charlie Brock. “From the quality and diversity of applications submitted across the state, it is apparent that Tennessee’s network of accelerators, which is unique in the nation and Launch Tennessee helps fund, is working well.”

You can find out more about Launch Tennessee at LaunchTn.org



Meet The Five Startups In Indiana’s Velocity Accelerator

Velocity Indiana, Velocity accelerator, Jeffersonville Indiana, Kentucky startups, acceleratorWe already know that Indianapolis has a strong startup scene. Fort Wayne and Valparaiso are also bursting at the seams with new entrepreneurial activity. But, right across the river from Louisville, in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Velocity is about to graduate their first class of startups.

Each of the five teams in the Velocity accelerator received $20,000 in seed money in exchange for a small amount of equity. They also received free workspace and access to mentors from across Kentucky and Indiana.

We’ll be on hand to see these startups graduate from the program in front of a room full of investors later this summer. In the meantime here are the five teams that are accelerating at Velocity.

collabra-300x120Collabra- Collabra allows musicians and fans to create, collaborate, and share music in a new and innovative way. Combining a novel song arrangement platform with an easy-to-use recording suite, Collabra enables musicians around the world to connect and create music while engaging fans in the creative process for the first time ever. Due to its low-barrier-to-entry approach, for musicians and fans, as well as a robust feature set, Collabra has the potential to change the music creation process forever.



large-insights-300x120Large Insights- Large is laser-focused on generating insights from data to increase client revenues, and we do that by establishing digital and social business goals, tracking activity and measuring success.



change-my-school-300x120Change My School- Change My School is a platform for students, teachers and parents to upload and watch videos. It is available to users of all ages and provides a video contest platform. The winning videos each month receive $1,000 for items such as supplies, projects, or technology. It also provides students and teachers opportunities to incorporate creativity, video technology and project based learning into their classrooms.


steel-fashion-300x120Steel Fashion- Steel Fashion provides a free styling software service that allows men to style clothes they have, want, or are looking to purchase. They can discover and purchase new brands easily by identifying brands they already like. Confidence and creativity are easily harnessed when visiting Steel Fashion.



greek-pull-300x120Greek Pull- Greek Pull enables a Fraternity or Sorority chapter to reach their target markets in an efficient way. Those target markets are potential new members, their alumni and the Greek Community. Because of this, GreekPull differs from other social media solutions because GreekPull is focused on bringing those target markets to chapter houses. The network is exclusive to Greek Life and helps chapters with efficient marketing. We bring Fraternity and Sorority target markets to Greek Chapters so they can be easily contacted, creating an efficient communication tool.



Startups In The Fastlane: Jumpstart Foundry Startup Gun.io

gun.io, Fastlane startup, startup interview, accelerator, Jumpstart Foundry

Gun.io, like “gun yo, think hired guns,” Teja Yenamandra told us about the name of his startup. Gun.io is currently going through the Jumpstart Foundry accelerator in Nashville’s brand spankin new Entrepreneur Center.  They’re the latest startup we’re featuring in our new Startups In The Fastlane series.

Jumpstart Foundry is in the midst of its fourth class, which will graduate on August 22nd.

Gun.io is connecting clients with hackers. If a company is looking for a rockstar ninja developer, they will find him or her on gun.io. The team at gun.io realizes there are plenty of startups already in the space. Even venture backed startups that have expanded nationally have succumbed to failure, like the popular path.t0.

That doesn’t have the gun.io team worried one bit. In our interview below Yenamandra tells us “Other sites let you hire adequate software developers; we try to cater to the best. Software development is a subtle art, and the difference between a shitty developer and a great one is pretty significant. There are a few sites that are working on the same problem, and many of them are quite good. Others are not. It would be rude to mention any by name, but we think we’ve got the problem identified better than they do, and we think we’re able to keep building a solution both sides (hirers, hackers) want more.”

Check out the rest of our interview with Yenamandra below:

What is the name of your startup?

Gun.io (gun-yo). Think hired guns.

What accelerator are you in?

We’re a part of Jumpstart Foundry in Nashville, TN, one of the oldest accelerators in the country. It’s backed by Solidus Company, one of the best, most progressive VCs in the game right now. And we say that as entrepreneurs. In fact, we were pretty reluctant to accept money, even a nominal amount, since we were already making it. But Solidus is awesome. They get it. The South’s technology ecosystem owes them a tremendous amount. Shout out to Vic Gatto, Townes Duncan, and all of the LPs who made it possible.

Where is your startup originally from?

We’re a distributed team out of CA, TN, and PA. It’s cheap, there’s less distractions with management process, and much more freedom to produce. Plus, our community of made up of freelancers and clients who work often in a remote fashion, so it’s fitting that it’s exactly how we built our own company.We get it how we live. And we encourage others to do so as well. That said, it’s nice to mostly be in the same place for now. We’re not entirely what the future holds for us, however. You can build a massive technology company anywhere these days — and that’s the exciting part.

Tell us about your current team?

Hackers and hustlers, baby. Rich Jones is a technology beast, and was named by Intel as one of the “30 under 30 to watch.” JohnPaul’s worked in business development for an Asian master franchising firm and as a portfolio analyst for Merrill Lynch. Teja Yenamandra’s worked for a consulting firm as well as an early employee for a startup in Shanghai that sold for $65M in under two years. They all know each other from university, and from working together in Shanghai, China.

What does your startup do?

Gun.io helps clients hire hackers. Other sites let you hire adequate software developers, we try to cater to the best. Software development is a subtle art, and the difference between a shitty developer and a great one can produce is pretty significant. There are a few sites that are working on the same problem, and many of them are quite good. Others are not. It would be rude to mention any by name, but we think we’ve got the problem identified better than they do, and we think we’re able to keep building a solution both sides (hirers, hackers) want more.

What are your goals for the accelerator program?

Build more awesome stuff, sell said awesome stuff. The only two goals any startup should have.

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

We knew agile software development. We now practice agile business development.

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


What is your goal for the day after demo day?

Build more awesome stuff, sell said awesome stuff.

Why did you choose this accelerator?

Vic Gatto, David Ledgerwood, Julia Polk and Shawn Glinter. They’re awesome, all are major players within the startup ecosystem here in Nashville, and were the four people who convinced us us to join Jumpstart Foundry.

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

Speed is the only advantage a startup has.

Where can people find out more?



Tables Turn As Accelerators Pitch At National Accelerator Demo Day

Accelerator, Global Accelerator Network, 1776, National Accelerator Demo Day

Donna Harris, co-founder of 1776dc chatting with an entrepreneur (photo: NMI 2013)


Last week 16 startup accelerators from across the country took the stage at Washington DC’s 1776 coworking space, incubator and home to the Fort Accelerator.

Ark Challenge (AR), Socratic Labs (NY), BetaSpring (RI), The Idea Village (Louisiana), Village Capital (GA), Points of Light Civic Accelerator (GA), Venture Hive (FL), Capital Factory (TX), Alpha Lab (PA), MassChallenge (MA), VentureSpur (OK), Brandery (OH), New York Digital Health Accelerator (NY), Springboard Entreprises (DC) and TechWildcatters (TX) all got a chance to pitch the ins and outs of their individual programs on stage in front of over 100 other accelerator heads and staff members from across the country.

“Of course it was great being on stage with the other 15 accelerators, but after the pitches we got to mingle and network with even more accelerators and exchange best practices,” Brandery’s GM Mike Bott told us by phone. “There’s such a wide variety of accelerator programs out there today and we got to see a sampling of each one.” The Brandery is often ranked in the top 20 when it comes to accelerators. Their branding-focused program happens in the epicenter of consumer packaged goods and branding.

Jeannette Balleza, the director at Ark Challenge told Nibletz:

JIAC (Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge project) and Global Accelerator Network member, The ARK Challenge would not be in existence without public funding from the Economic Development Administration and Small Business Administration, so it was an honor to pitch to potential funders during the first-ever National Accelerator Demo Day alongside 15 others.


Not only were we able to shake the hands of our SBA partners, but we also connected in person with leadership at programs off the beaten path like the Points of Light Civic Accelerator of Georgia, IdeaVillage of Louisiana and NW Social Venture Fund of Oregon. Leaving the day, it was evident that innovation is geography-agnostic, and accelerator models, by necessity, look quite different from one region to the next, depending on ecosystem maturity. There was much more diversity, a big driver of innovation, than one might encounter at a typical tech conference, which was heartening.


With SBA and GAN at the helm, the tone was very welcoming (facilitator Patrick Riley kicked off the day asking the attendees to give two hugs each). Doug Rand of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy discussed pathways to make immigration more entrepreneur-friendly, shared a visa guide at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/eir and quotes President Obama on the importance of exercising out voices regarding immigration reform. The SBA held a panel on its “CCCI” programs: Capital access, Contracting, Counseling and Investment/innovation.


While short in length, the event proved to be fertile grounds for showcasing and learning from each program’s differentiators, making direct asks of foundations and public servants in attendance, as well as strengthening relationships offline at D.C.’s beautiful 1776.

Acceleration is a very important tool for startups, especially “everywhere else.” The National Accelerator Demo Day was the first of it’s kind, but there are plans for more events like this in the future. It parallels the kind of collaborative learning and exchange of information events that Startup America (now UpGlobal) puts on with their Regional Champions Summits, where people freely exchange best practices to help build better startups.

Are you part of a startup in an accelerator, tell your story, click here.


Startups In The Fastlane: NMotion Startup FiscalCircles

Accelerator, NMotion, Nebraska startup, startup, HipPocket

Whether you have an MBA or a GED, startup accelerators are often the biggest push that startups need to go from idea, or earliest MVP, to actual startup and company. Startup accelerators come in all sizes and shapes from YCombinator, 500 Startups, and Techstars to The Fort, The Brandery, and Seed Hatchery. In our Accelerating in the Fast Lane stories we’ll feature an interview with a startup currently going through an accelerator.

Nebraska is filled with startups and entrepreneurs. Warren Buffet hails from Nebraska, as does the Silicon Prairie News and their Big Series of award-winning conferences. On a recent trip to Nebraska, we got to hang out with Eric Moyer the co-founder and CMO of a startup that went into Lincoln, Nebraksa’s NMotion accelerator as Fiscal Circles and has since taken on the name, HipPocket.

HipPocket helps connect consumers to loan products in a more efficient and transparent way. Find out how in our interview with Moyer below.

What is the name of your start-up?

The name of our start-up has long been a loaded question. I am however happy to report, Fiscal Circles, Inc. is now doing business as HipPocket.

What problem are you solving?

We provide insight into consumer finance which until now has lacked any form of transparency. Consumers hoping to improve their financial situation have been forced to call around or ‘take a chance’ on a loan offer that may not be in their best interest through websites like lowermybills.com, quickenloans, etc.

Why now?

Consumer adoption of online banking and more specifically, personal financial management (PFM) sites like Mint.com is trending up. Further, interest rates are poised to increase markedly in the near term. We predict that timing is right for a vast number of consumers who have been on the fence about optimizing their finances will be motivated by a changing rate environment.

Who are your competitors?

The biggest competitor in the PFM space is mint.com, but we’ve also been diligently researching other providers in the space. We’ve seen some companies doing limited comparisons of budget or FICO score but none appear to be leveraging market and peer comparison data in a significant manner. We also have a secret sauce that we’re hoping you ask us about…

What’s your secret sauce?

Our proprietary process for taking users through the comparison process is our secret sauce. We help them build a complete financial picture and provide the clearest possible explanation of where they stand now and an easy-to-understand path to a better future. This process emphasizes simplicity and fairness. Instead of utilizing persistent reminders, info-graphics and a myriad of other tactics to change consumer behavior, we’ve chosen to concentrate on saving people money on the things they already buy.

By concentrating on making refinancing or finding a new mortgage easy and providing unbiased loan recommendations, we give the consumer a fair shot at getting the best deal.

Where are you/were you based before NMotion?

Prior to NMotion, our team split time among coffee shops, Turbine Flats (a co-working space) and of course, the founder’s homes.

Why NMotion?

We applied to NMotion to gain access to resources and best practices in an effort to improve our chances for success. Plus, NMotion is dedicated to developing the start-up community of Lincoln, Nebraska. We recognize that for our venture to succeed, the area needs to be seen as a viable place for new companies to gain a foothold. Brian Ardinger and his staff at NMotion have given participating teams every opportunity to develop and successfully launch compelling products and services.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned since the NMotion session has started.

One lesson we’ve learned is that the time spent validating assumptions might be worth more than what you’re building.

Where can people find out more?

You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and now, YourHipPocket.com.

Stay tuned for more stories from accelerators everywhere else.

Startups from everywhere else attend the huge everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference.


These 6 Companies Are In The South Dakota Technology Business Center Accelerator

SDTBC, Accelerator, South Dakota accelerator, South Dakota startup

Earlier today we talked about the incubators and accelerators in Tennessee and Ohio. As we often say, there are accelerator programs and startup initiatives everywhere (or everywhere else), even Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Sioux Falls startup incubator, the South Dakota Technology Business Center, started their 2013 accelerator program with six entrepreneurial teams that were competitively selected to participate.

The SDTBC’s accelerator program is a break from the traditional model. Rather than having teams quit their jobs, move to Sioux Falls, and participate in a 90 day or 120 day program, their program is a series of monthly workshop days focusing on business concepts and model, sales growth, and scaling their business.

The companies selected to participate in this year’s program are:

Braced With Style
Farmcast Group
Sidewalk Technologies
Nanofiber Separations LLC
Prom-Tect SD

These companies are learning how to be successful from some of the region’s top experts in entrepreneurship, sales, finance, intellectual property, business law and more,” Pam Boehm, the center’s client services manager said in a statement.  “We are excited to be working with these entrepreneurs and the more than 20 subject matter experts sharing their time and talents to further entrepreneurship in South Dakota.”

The companies are also competing throughout the program for portions of a $20,000 pool of funds and in-kind business services designed to take their startups to the next level.  The $20,000 prize fund and services will be distributed throughout the course of the program.

The 2013 Accelerator is sponsored by Forward Sioux Falls and South Dakota EPSCoR. EPSCoR is the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research that is funded by the National Science Foundation.

You can find out more here.

Do you want to build a startup or a small business? Read this post.


Google for Entrepreneurs Backs Manos Accelerator For Latino Founders


It’s no secret that Silicon Valley is full of preppy, white guys. Organizations across the country are trying to improve the startup odds for women, blacks, and–now–Latinos.

On July 1, Manos Accelerator and Google for Entrepreneurs announced a partnership to increase the number of Latinos in the startup ecosystem.

The first program will start in August and run for three months. After the application phase, which ends in July, the accelerator will invite 6-8 teams to join them in San Jose for intensive mentoring and co-working. They are looking for high-tech companies with at least 1 Latino founder.

“For decades, Silicon Valley has been known as the model for entrepreneurship. But there has been an ongoing gap for Latinos to be active participants of this startup ecosystem,” said Dr. Jerry Porras, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, in a press release. “Manos Accelerator has designed a robust program where they identify and mentor aspiring Latino entrepreneurs who are creating innovative solutions to real-world problems.”

Manos, which gets its name from the Spanish word for “hands,” is interested in not only finding the next great tech company, but also in increasing Latino entrepreneurship in the Valley and everywhere else. The slogan is “Dream Big, Believe More, Act Now.” That’s something ever entrepreneur can get behind.

They are accepting applications from across the country, but of course selected teams have to move to San Jose for the duration of the program.

“It made perfect sense to establish Manos Accelerator in the Capital of Silicon Valley. We want to create a vibrant community of Latino entrepreneurs that attracts the brightest and most talented. We want all aspiring Latino entrepreneurs in the US and Latin American countries to know that they now have a place to go for turning their innovative ideas into reality.” said Edward Avila, Co-founder and CEO of Manos Accelerator, in the same press release.

Google for Entrepreneurs, which is also sponsoring the NewMe PopUp Accelerator, is growing a name for itself in the under-represented parts of the tech community. Mary Grove, Director of Global Entrepreneurship Outreach at Google said: “We are excited to be partnering with such a great organization to provide resources to increase the number of Latino entrepreneurs in the global tech community. Our mission with Google for Entrepreneurs is to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship around the world and we believe in supporting the current and future entrepreneurial leaders in our communities.”

Are you a Latino founder with a great idea? You can apply to Manos Accelerator by July 31.

NewME PopUp Finds Some Great Entrepreneurs In Memphis

NewMe Accelerator, Accelerator, Startups, Memphis

In February the NewME Accelerator announced a nationwide tour, a series of PopUp Accelerators. The program–which will visit 13 cities by the end of 2013–is sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs.

Last weekend the PopUp Accelerator camped out in Memphis, TN. They ate a little BBQ, saw a little Beale Street, and met a lot of entrepreneurs.

And Memphis showed its best at the Sunday Demo Day. Whether they are testing for bacterial infections or selling wedding supplies, the founders were passionate and excited. Many of them already had traction and customers.

“There were so many great founders in Memphis that is was such a hard decision picking the winner . . . Additionally, the amount of talented entrepreneurs was exciting to witness, from non-profits to social enterprises to for-profit ventures we were impressed with the talent there and are looking forward to staying in close contact with them,” Angela Benton, CEO of NewME, said in an email.

So, who were those winners, and what did they win?

3rd place, with $22,000 in products and services, went to Brit Fitzpatrick of MentorMe.

2nd place, and $36,000 in products and services, went to Richard Billings of Screwpulp.

And 1st place went to Charleson S. Bell of BioNanovations. 1st prize was $46,000 in products and services and a spot in the August cohort of the full NewME Accelerator in California.

Marston-1NewME focuses on accelerating businesses founded by minorities and women. Acceptance to the program doesn’t include seed funding, but participants have access to the vast network Benton and her team have cultivated. Besides Google, that network includes Ben Horowitz and several top-ranking Twitter employees. Utilizing this network, almost all of the companies in the last 4 cohorts have raised significant funding.

The PopUp Accelerator in Memphis was sponsored by Start Co and the FedEx Institute of Technology. Start Co also runs the local accelerator the Seed Hatchery, which most recently accelerated both MentorMe and Screwpulp.

“We were happy to partner with NewMe to bring their POPUP Accelerator in Memphis, TN. I was really impressed with all the entrepreneurs that pitched and we hope to work with them going forward at Start Co,” said Eric Mathews, founder and co-president of Start Co.

There’s always something unique about hosting people from out of town. When we look at our world through the eyes of a visitor, we begin to see things differently.

That’s exactly what happened with NewME in Memphis. Seeing the excitement of the NewME team re-energized Memphis founders and pulled the ecosystem a little closer together. New founders mingled with veterans, and everyone walked away with new ideas and new energy.

I also discovered some awesome startups. Look for coverage of those exciting companies in the coming weeks.

 This huge conference for startups “everywhere else” is also in Memphis.


Arkansas Catches Teenpreneur Bug With Sparkible Startup Summer Camps

Arkansas,Startup,Accelerator, Sparkible, Teen entrepreneurs, teen startups

Last week we sat in on a pretty intense startup community meeting in Tennessee. During the meeting some of the community stakeholders reminded us that successful startup communities are drilling down even further with education.

Entrepreneurs are getting younger and younger. Stories about 22 year old entrepreneurs are regular occurrences. The new wave of entrepreneurs are teenagers, and we’re not talking the 18-19 year old variety. Earlier this month we reported that a team led by a 14-year-old won Tampa Bay’s most recent Startup Weekend.

Startup communities across the country are starting to recognize this trend of innovation and entrepreneurism hitting a younger demographic. Also in the beginning of the month, the Kauffman Foundation and Kansas City entrepreneur William Robinson announced Teen Idea Labs, a conference style event for teenagers.

Now Arkansas has announced an initiative aimed at teenagers and innovation. Sparkible is a 4 day mini-accelerator summer camp for teenagers, complete with a demo day for potential investors, educators, stakeholders, and of course parents.

Sparkible is the brain child of Arkansas serial entrepreneur Mike Steely with help from Northwest Arkansas serial entrepreneur and Ark Challenge mentor David Moody, Innovate Arkansas reports.

Steely posted on his LinkedIn:

I am pleased to announce the creation of Sparkible, a non-profit education company focused on sparking innovation and startup learning. Sparkible is kicking off a series of summer camps in Arkansas structured to immerse teenagers in idea creation, innovation and building a business. This series is also our initial fundraising effort, proceeds from the camps will be used to build out our technologies and curriculum for this fall.
If you would like to learn more, know of a potential camper who would be interested in attending, would be interested in sponsoring a camp or camp participant, please contact me and also go check out our startup website at www.sparkible.org.
– See more at: http://innovation.arkansasbusiness.com/blog/2013/06/18/sparkible-launches-offers-startup-education-for-teenagers/#sthash.IO8Sxbmp.dpuf

Sparkible will allow participants between the ages of 14-18 to:

  • Learn ways to spot innovative ideas
  • Experience the lean startup process for turning an idea to a plan in less than a day
  • Understand what it takes to build a startup company and define your role.
  • Learn how to build a team, plan, and develop your idea.
  • Understand how Social Media interacts with your company.
  • Understand how mobile technologies, including Apps, will impact businesses of the future.
  • How to craft your message via an elevator pitch for funding and growth.
  • Where to find startup capital to grow your idea into a business.

Find out more here at Innovate Arkansas.

Check out with these two kidpreneurs did with cardboard.






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