EAST LANSING – Five startup teams from Michigan State University have been selected to participate in the Conquer Accelerator, a 10-week program that pays each team $20,000 in seed funding.
Each startup gets tailored mentorship from leaders within their respective industries, a creative co-working space at the MSU Hatch, as well as access to a network of angel and venture investors. Once companies graduate from the accelerator they become seamlessly part of Red Cedar Ventures’s investment portfolio.
“Startup accelerators are marathons for entrepreneurs,” said Tom Stewart, Conquer Accelerator’s program manager. “Teams devote ten solid weeks to their companies, often working until three in the morning to think through challenges.” Stewart has been with the program since its 2016 inception and designs the accelerator’s tailored curriculum. “Our team is here to provide guidance, encouragement, and insights.”
Designed to help both newer and established companies overcome business hurdles, the Conquer Accelerator emphasizes smart planning and growth, extensive mentorship from an experienced bench of professionals, and structured educational components tailored to each startup team. The accelerator program is hosted and managed by Spartan Innovations, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Michigan State University Foundation.
“Nearly ninety-percent of startups fail,” said Paul Jaques, Conquer Accelerator’s program director. “Our program strives to limit the pitfalls associated with startup failure. We provide a launching ground for emerging companies, both from within Michigan State University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and across the state. We want to prepare these teams to hit the ground running.”
Jaques, who serves Spartan Innovations as the director of student and community engagement, has been working with Michigan State student entrepreneurs for nearly a decade.
“Conquer Accelerator is an integral part of our startup ecosystem,” said Jeff Wesley, Red Cedar Ventures’s executive director. Red Cedar Ventures is the venture investment arm of the Michigan State University Foundation. “The accelerator is already seeing its companies succeed.”
Conquer alumni, like Avidhrt (Cohort 2), Golfler (Cohort 1—acquired by Supreme Golf), Uru Sports (Cohort 2), and York Project (Cohort 1), have all leveraged their Conquer experiences and connections. “Ultimately,” says Wesley, “when Conquer teams graduate, they’re part of the Spartan community. We’re committed to their ongoing success.”
2019’S CONQUER ACCELERATOR TEAMS
- Ayuda’s cost-effective software powers personal robots, helping museums develop more immersive, inclusive experiences. With Ayuda, museums can now give multi-lingual tours for a fraction of the cost.
- GridPane is the world’s first hosting control panel built exclusively for serious WordPress professionals. With a fully automated dashboard and server stack, GridPane delivers all the bells and whistles of managed WordPress hosting at a fraction of the cost. Build servers in minutes and sites in seconds, all of them fast, secure and ruthlessly efficient.
- HealthOpX is the kayak of international medical travel. The company provides access to a variety of medical treatment options around the world at low cost and great quality.
- Pairaphrase is a centralized, all-access web-based language translation management system simplifying how organizations produce translated documents. The platform also provides an interactive translation editing interface for team members and translation professionals to produce and complete translations.
- SKOOP specializes in mobility advertising. SKOOP’s electric bike taxi fleets move passengers from point A to B. Each vehicle has digital advertising displays attached to the exterior and interior. SKOOP’s screens are always on the move, displaying advertising content around town and subsidizing the cost of the ride for the passenger.
Conquer Accelerator’s fourth season runs through August 9. For more information about the teams, visit www.conqueraccelerator.com.