Eight Northern Kentucky startups were unveiled to a roomful of educators, aspiring entrepreneurs and potential investors at a Demo Day event at Northern Kentucky University
Following drinks, bites and conversation, each company's founder pitched their vetted and nurtured informatics-based idea. The companies came from a variety of places; some are still in the beta stage, while others are on the market with paying customers.
All grew dramatically in six months as the first class of Northern Kentucky's UpTech
UpTech is a new business informatics incubator launched by several Northern Kentucky institutions, including Northern Kentucky University, Tri-ED
and Vision 2015
. The intense, six-month accelerator program started in June and included $100,000 in funding. Companies selected to participate will also be working with students and faculty at NKU's College of Informatics.
The organization plans to invest in 50 companies over the next five years. It’s funded mostly by private investors and some state funding. Many of UpTech’s mentors and support service providers are students and volunteers.
Through a series of programs, Up-Tech guides participant startups through areas of business development that range from marketing and fundraising to market research and pitching the company to both investors and clients. Each company must stay in the Northern Kentucky region for two years after completing the program.
During Demo Day, companies outlined their business ideas, their stages of business development and ended by asking for investment for continued growth.
Each company had one-on-one coaching with mentors, in addition to the volunteer business team they were assigned.
You can read about the UpTech companies here
Some companies made big changes in their business focus, names or even their business idea through the process.
For example, Adam Treister came out of UpTech with a new company name, logo and revised direction. Student Source
, formerly Student Designed, is an online student freelance work site. The company, which is working with local and other universities, matches students with businesses seeking contact work. Projects range from $50 to $5,000.
Student Source has three partners and has raised $145,000 to date.
Treister found the UpTech experience invaluable.
"Working closely with NKU gave us an inside view of what universities are looking for, and how to better meet the challenges of partnering with a university," he says.
While in UpTech, Triester also made a change in how businesses connect with students. Initially, company projects had to go through a professor who could use the idea as a class project. Now, companies can work directly with a student, speeding up the process.
"We launched this version a week ago, and we're really excited," Treister says.
By Feoshia H. Davis
This story originally appeared in Soapbox on Dec. 11, 2012.