January 11, 2012
The second “voyage” of the 1492 Business Accelerator will be exhibiting their startups on Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio. The 5 startups completed an 11-week accelerator program, including mentoring and business plan crafting.
Their products are:
- Azoti: A marketplace where local food producers can get more exposure, manage their wares, and forecast demand. They aim to encourage local and sustainable agriculture.
- Capstone Innovations’ Fast Lock Pallet: An interlocking pallet system that lets shippers fit pallets exactly to the size of their cargo, rather than paying extra or struggling to fit on standard pallets.
- Churchsys: Software that helps churches manage their day-to-day operations. (They could not be reached for comment.)
- Hungerly: An iPhone and Android app for finding food trucks and street food nearby. Currently focused on the Columbus market.
- Infinum Education’s Aviso: An app that lets students and their academic advisers collaborate to develop goals, choose courses, and track progress – and notifies advisers when students get off track. Founder Alexander A. Leader has a background in consulting for universities.
According to Hungerly cofounder Derek Edwards, the most valuable part of the program was the coaching. Mentors convinced them to arrange focus groups with vendors, and they ended up building a simpler platform.
“Had we gone down the path we originally laid out, we would have wasted a lot of time building something that vendors didn't want,” says Edwards.
Also with the help of mentors, Azoti was able to translate the complexities of agriculture into a pitch that should appeal to all investors.
Says founder David Ranallo, “Candid feedback or brutal honesty is hard to come by, as potential investors don't want to insult you in case they want to invest later, and Columbus people overall tend to be a bit too nice avoiding any slightly uncomfortable situation. This is NOT the case at the 1492 Accelerator.” Ranallo helped implement Ford’s first consumer-facing website in 1998.
Meanwhile, Capstone Innovations benefited most from the aspects of 1492 that extend beyond the program itself: lessons for continuing to grow and “accelerate” on their own. They plan to keep inventing new products beyond Fast Lock Pallet.
The accelerator program is designed for businesses that intend to remain in Columbus. According to CEO Daniel Wilson, Capstone Innovations is striving to be fully Ohio-based to help local businesses, as both cofounders are from Ohio. This is also true of Infinum Education’s core team, who enjoyed connecting with the Columbus and Ohio entrepreneurial communities during 1492 and feel they have a “personal duty” to contribute to innovation there.
The 1492 Business Accelerator is a collaboration with TechColumbus, Columbus State Community College, and the Columbus College of Art & Design. Demo day will begin at 2:30 at the Canzani Center on the Columbus College of Art & Design campus, at 60 Cleveland Avenue.
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