The 12-week 2022 CoBuilders Mississippi accelerator, powered by Microsoft, kicked off this past week with an in-person event at CoalesceJxn in downtown Jackson.
Twenty-one teams made the cut, selected by partner organizations across the state via local pitch competition and competitive submissions. The companies represent a diverse set of founders with ideas for new businesses ranging from tracking dirt (at construction sites) to tracking medications taken by sight-impaired seniors.
The event started with a meet-and-greet and ended with a photoshoot of each team separately and then the teams from each region. In the middle, the startup hopefuls were “launched” into the accelerator that they’ll take part in over the next 12 weeks, with a deep dive by Innovate Mississippi CEO Tony Jeff into the ins and outs of assessing and accelerating your startup’s chances of success.
“We had a great turnout in Jackson, in person, which made the energy from everyone just add to the experience,” Jeff said. “Now, these companies will have to work hard over the next three months to get back to Jackson for the final pitch competition.”
The startups will move through topics such as “market need assessment,” “venture assessment,” “technical feasibility,” and other steps toward a mid-session meetup to practice their pitch and improve for the initial six weeks. In the second phase, they’ll create their “minimum viable product,” a strategic marketing plan, a pitch deck, and return to Jackson on July 28 for “Pitch Day,” targeting investors and open to the public.
The goal is to build a company that (a.) can raise investment dollars and (b.) will generate a return on that investment. Each of these startups can already make at least a small claim in that regard, as they received checks—slightly over $2,500 each—for making it this far. Thanks to Microsoft, the Mississippi Development Authority, Innovate Mississippi, and other sponsors, each company will receive at least $8,000 in non-dilutive grant funding for completing the program.
Of course, they’re hoping for much more from Mississippi investors, the Mississippi Seed Fund or one of the growing number of regional angel investor funds around the state.
“We [need] to support startups in this state to foster and grow,” said Sajani Barot, CEO of the Skin Consult, a SAAS platform to help dermatologists and medical spas reach more potential clients for online consultations and product sales. “Because if we don’t do that, they will move. And the last thing we want is to have all this money, all this talent, all this growth opportunity go outside of the state.”