Working with startups is unlike anything else. The passion and drive of entrepreneurs is contagious.
Name of Accelerator: UpTech, Inc.
Location: Covington, KY
Managing Director: JB Woodruff
This article is part of our Startup Accelerator Spotlight Series featuring accelerators from around the world. We hope these spotlights will assist the entrepreneur should they consider attending an accelerator program.
In two sentences or less, tell us about your accelerator and its objectives.
UpTech is Greater Cincinnati’s informatics accelerator for data-driven startups. Our objective is to enable strong entrepreneurs to build high-growth, sustainable companies that are attractive to venture capital investment.
Why is your accelerator program unique? Please describe the benefits of participation in your program.
UpTech is an informatics accelerator specializing in data-driven businesses. We work with companies that strive to capture and transform data, making it both useful and available to those who need it most, when they need it.
- $50,000 Investment
Funding from the UpTech Fund is $50K per company in the form of a convertible note. An initial $20K is given at the beginning of the program with three milestones that must be met to receive the additional $10K per milestone. Our Program Director and Fund Manager work with each company to set their milestones and focus on the work necessary to achieve them.
- 5 +1 Month Program
The program runs a total of 6 months to provide ample time for education, customer discovery, product development, beta testing and pitch development. The 5 +1 method was instituted to allow our Demo Day to take place after 5 months, thereby giving the companies an additional month to focus on gaining traction and seeking follow-on funding.
- Informatics and Business Mentorship
Quality mentorship is a high priority in our program. We connect our founders with entrepreneurs, industry experts (verticals) and subjective matter experts (horizontals) who work with our founders to guide them as needed. We hold multiple events during the program to continue to provide access to new and varied opinions and perspectives. The benefit doesn’t end after 6 months; we continue to make connections as needed for our alumni as well.
- 100 Hours of Legal and Accounting Support
We partner with regional legal and accounting partners that provide dedicated counsel to the startups for a total of 100 hours of pro-bono work. This translates into 50 hours of legal and 50 hours of accounting. The variable nature of the progress/state of the companies that come into our program means that the work to be completed is agreed upon between the company and the service provider; it’s not limited.
- Direct Angel Interaction
Follow-on funding is desired, if not required, by all our cohort companies. We partner with regional angel groups to provide dedicated investor perspectives throughout the entirety of the program. These interactions build our founder’s network while understanding what investors are looking for as they look to raise funds.
Education and Speaker Series
We believe that education is necessary to build strong entrepreneurs. We hold a startup “bootcamp” for the first 8 weeks of the program to cover topics including Business Model Canvas, Principles of Lean Startup, Problem Validation, Customer Discovery, MVP Development, Financial Modeling, Pitch Development and Investment. We couple the boot camp with an external speaker series for the duration of the whole 6 months that brings experts in from the corporate and higher-ed communities.
- Vibrant and Modern Work Environment
UpTech is located in the heart of Covington’s innovation district. Our neighbors are entrepreneurs and the culture is collaborative. We offer dedicated co-working year round in an industrial, modern space with gigabit internet, dedicated meeting rooms and our very own garage all in Covington’s historical district. Finally, we host regular community social events to enhance the entrepreneurial community.
We value team over everything else when choosing our cohorts. That said, we know that even the most skilled founders have one big restriction and that is time. Because we can’t create more time, we solve this problem by providing more people. We partner with local universities to provide top-notch young talent as interns. The teams benefit by having a free resource and the students get amazing experience working with startups.
What is the most difficult part of working with startups?
The most difficult part of working with startups is wanting to get more involved when you know you shouldn’t. The problems that are being solved, the innovative ideas and the people you work with are all amazingly energizing and exciting. It’s the kind of environment where you want to dive in, get your hands dirty and be a part of creating something amazing. The reality is that it’s not your job and you would actually be hurting the companies in the long run if you did. Our job is to enable success through education, advising and making connections. It’s the “teach a man how to fish” challenge.
What do you enjoy the most; what do you find most appealing about working with entrepreneurial startups?
Working with startups is unlike anything else. The passion and drive of entrepreneurs is contagious. We see them take an idea and make it a living, breathing company and join them on their rollercoaster of highs and lows. You see them persevere and come out bigger and better on the other side. We help them make their dream a reality and we get to live it with them.
Tell us about your success stories. Which are the most interesting companies to have participated in your program?
I always point to the story of one of our founders from our second year, Alex Burkhart. Alex started his career in a corporate job. After a couple of years, he decided to participate in a Startup Weekend. At that event, he started a business in the ticketing industry. He applied to UpTech and was selected as one of seven companies in our 2nd cohort. He quit his corporate job and worked tirelessly for 18 months. His business was acquired by a Florida-based sports company and he works at UpTech today as our Entrepreneur-in-Residence. He’s an example of what’s possible.
What are the most important factors startup entrepreneurs should consider when contemplating attending an accelerator?
Are you prepared for/aware of what lies ahead in your life as an entrepreneur? Do you want this business to be your everything for the foreseeable future?
In search of an accelerator that aligns with your startup’s needs? Try TurboFunder’s Find My Accelerator search tool!
What else would you like to share?
We are finishing up our 4th cohort the first week of March and will begin accepting applications for our 5th cohort in mid-late April.
Are you familiar with other accelerators you believe should be highlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them in the comments below!