After picking up speed over the last month, Minnesota's first tech
accelerator is set to cruise with its first class of companies.
Following a weekend-long "bootcamp" June 10–12, Project Skyway
chose eight "Skywalkers" from the field of 25 semi-finalist companies.
Over the course of the weekend, the companies pitched their own and each
other's ideas to fellow entrepreneurs, Project Skyway organizers, and
the public. They attended roundtables with lawyers, investors,
accomplished tech and software entrepreneurs, and others, and they met
potential investors and customers.
"They certainly got a lot out
of it," whether they moved on or not, said Project Skyway founder Cem
Erdem of the 25 bootcampers. Project Skyway asked many of those not
selected to apply for the next round after fine-tuning their ideas,
adding a business partner, raising capital, or otherwise advancing their
After the bootcamp, the companies were rated by all
involved, including each other and members of the public. In the end,
eight were chosen:COR² Technology
--The company offers a cloud-based business-process and work-flow automation
service to help organizations with 5 to 500 co-workers eliminate piles
of paper by integrating simple applications with unlimited
user licenses that power the whole organization.Naiku
--Naiku creates an affordable Software-as-a-Service that K-12 teachers
use to easily individualize learning with a dashboard created by its
proprietary analytics model.Nitch
--Nitch is an online platform for B2B collaboration and commerce.Paypongo
--Paypongo's service is a secure mobile payment solution that allows
consumer-to-merchant transactions; consumer-to-consumer transactions;
and merchant-to-merchant transactions, all through mobile devices.
Transactions can originate from banking accounts or credit cards.Qualtrx
is a new healthcare sales channel--an online solutions
marketplace where healthcare providers publish patient-care needs,
goals, and priorities, and where pharma and device vendors purchase
needs as "keywords" to make targeted needs-based proposals via the
Qualtrx platform.Telementry Web
--TelemetryWeb helps makers of Internet-connected sensors and
industrial devices build a new class of innovative, data-centric
solutions by leveraging a ready-to-use, scalable Software-as-a-Service
platform to secure, store, process, and integrate sensor data in novel
--VanquishAP is developing a real estate management platform that
connects property managers, building owners, and tenants by creating
local social communities while automating redundant tasks and
--UHungry is developing a social networking site to help college
students save money and time by making it easy for them to place orders
online at quick-serve restaurants with a group of friends while earning
points to spend on future orders by completing tasks. This company,
hailing from Long Island, was the only one not from Minnesota.
Erdem notes that the Skywalker companies are all early-stage companies, beyond the more basic start-up level.
and Casey Allen's video run-down of the eight Skywalkers gives an
inside look not only at each of the companies, but at the Project Skyway
decision process and model.
Cem and Casey Play-by-Play Skywalker Commentary from Casey Allen on Vimeo.
Although the accelerator class was intended to begin Aug. 1, Erdem
sent an email this week informing the finalists that they would move forward now with the momentum of the bootcamp.
The class, and Project Skyway
in general, will be based out of the tech accelerator's new shared space
(with the co-working organization CoCo) in the Grain Exchange building
in Downtown Minneapolis. Project Skyway plans a 'big party' at the end of
July after the move in mid-July.
Erdem's personal email to each of
the eight finalists reflects the tenor of his passion, and it sets the
bar high for the participants:
"I bought into your vision," he
writes, "but more importantly I bought into your purpose, your
character, who you are. Our entire community will be watching you every
step of the way. They are thirsty to see you succeed and bring the long
lost entrepreneurial fame back to our region."
Source: Cem Erdem
Writer: Jeremy Stratton