For the startups participating in this year’s pre-accelerator program, Geekdom did what practically everyone has done since the COVID-19 pandemic closed down public gatherings starting in March. The downtown San Antonio co-working community improvised.
That means that the 2020 Geekdom Pre-Accelerator Demo Day will be viewed online Sept. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. Register to view the pitches from the seven startups here.
For the third year of the startup program, Geekdom delayed its typical spring start until July 23 and ran the program until Aug. 27. Adapting the pre-accelerator program into a virtual mentoring curriculum helped broaden Geekdom’s local mentoring network, said program manager Joyce Deuley.
Investors from Active Capital, RealCo Longterm Accelerator, Dura Software, and Live Oak Venture Partners, along with experienced advisers from outside San Antonio, mentored the founders throughout the program, Deuley said.
“The Zoom experiences allowed for mentors outside of our local ecosystem to participate virtually,” Deuley said. “We managed to cultivate a collaborative environment despite the online experience.”
No Demo Day funding will be awarded for this year’s cohort. Instead, the virtual pitches are designed to help founders connect with investors.
“This [Demo Day] gives the founders a unique platform to reach communities of investors, as many of this year’s startups are raising funds,” Deuley said.
The six-week pre-accelerator program helps prepare startups for early-stage investment or participation in accelerator programs. There are seven startups featured in the 2020 Geekdom Pre-Accelerator Demo Day.
To qualify for the pre-accelerator, each of the seven teams must have a working proof-of-concept or minimally viable product. They must have raised less than $50,000 from angel investors, employ at least one full-time team member, have a legally formed business, be based locally, and be a current Geekdom member.
Roman Sandoval is the founder of Allosense, which won an Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award for $50,000 in December 2019. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Allosense has been accepted to multiple startup accelerator programs—Capital Factory, Capital Innovators, NewChip Seed, EPIcenter Incubator, and the SBIR TAP, which is sponsored by the Air Force Research Lab.
“The Geekdom PreAccelerator provided an exciting platform for us to work with local experts and advisors,” Sandoval said. “Success is about relationships, and I’m glad we were able to make lasting relationships throughout the program along with incrementally improving the company’s pitch.”
Joel Guerra launched Buzu Cards before the pandemic and is looking to “begin assembling a dedicated group of key team members to help me build my business,” he said.
Cyber Warrior Network founder Nigel LeBlanc will use his immersive video game called CyberWraith to address the cyber workforce gap. The startup is coordinating with Port San Antonio and its planned e-arena to host the competitive e-gaming cyber league in the new Port innovation hub space.
“If we want to be recognized by the cyber community, we need to strengthen our connections to mentors, resources, and the Geekdom community,” LeBlanc said. “We’re looking to lock in strategic partnerships to help build stronger cyber talent pipelines using cyber esports gaming at the Port’s planned e arena.”
Many of the founders agreed the pre-accelerator helped them grow the number of business connections, refine business concepts and approaches, and continue building their company.
“We intend to raise $2 million to commercialize our technology further—This raise will involve local investors, and we have some commitments already,” Sandoval said. “The aim is to go through a series of fundraising platforms and accelerators to build our business networks, to be accepted to Y Combinator in the near future.
“For us, this is just the beginning.”
The featured image is of Daisy Egeolu, founder of ClosetMelody. She participated in the Geekdom 2020 Pre-Accelerator. Image courtesy Geekdom.
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