FAQs

Overview

Why should I enter the 1ST50K Startup Competition?

1ST50K is a unique competition that provides participants feedback through fast learning loops to put them on a path to Pitch Day. Most competitions simply judge your concept and preparedness without helping you learn from the experience. The feedback 1ST50K participants receive directs them and their business plans to one of two places: through multiple iterations or pivots to validated business models and a successful Pitch Day or termination, just like the real world!

1ST50K is not only a source for funding, but an opportunity to get formally introduced and access to a broad network of successful entrepreneurs, to receive a variety of pro-bono business development services, and to establish yourself in an emerging community with other creative and innovative entrepreneurs.

Does 1ST50K take equity in the Recipients?

No equity stake is taken in the companies receiving our grants. Recipients may have the opportunity for additional or follow-on investments through one of our partners, Traverse Ventures, or other strategic investors that provide debt and equity funding options.

If I am selected to be a 1ST50K Recipient, what will I need to agree to?

1ST50K Recipients have four primary obligations to which they must agree in order to receive the business development services and grant:
• Locate or relocate the business, with significant operations or headquarters, to Cape Girardeau, for at least one year, beginning at date expressed in the program agreement.
• Commit at least one full-time founder to Cape Girardeau for the year-long incubation.
• Dedicate one day (approximately 10 hours) of service to 1ST50K per quarter, during the year-long incubation, in advancement of the 1ST50K mission.
• Provide 1ST50K with data regarding jobs created, revenue generated, and follow-on capital attracted. We collect this information quarterly as long as the business is in operation, regardless if it remains in Cape Girardeau.

What is the track record of 1ST50K Recipients?

1ST50K is a new competition, but it is endorsed and modeled after Arch Grants in St. Louis, Missouri. Arch Grants has received national awards for its innovative competition which has funded 96 companies at the very earliest stages of development over the last five years. Collectively, Arch Grants recipients have created over 370 jobs, generated over $48 million in revenue, and attracted over $100 million in follow-on capital.

Why does 1ST50K exist?

1ST50K was developed and is directed by a group of local entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders that have a connection to or currently live in Cape Girardeau. Some of us have lived our entire lives in southeast Missouri and want to see it thrive, as well as others that have come to fall in love with the region and its offerings.

Our mission is to develop and support skilled entrepreneurs that turn ideas into scalable commercial ventures that are catalysts for continued economic and social growth in southeast Missouri.

How is 1ST50K funded?

1ST50K is made possible by the collaboration of three local private organizations: Traverse Ventures, LLC, a privately managed formative stage venture fund; Codefi, LLC, a coworking space and technology incubator, and; Cape Area Business Development Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation organized by the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce. As of 2015, 1ST50K is supported by a grant from the Missouri Technology Corporation to continue supporting startups.

Where is the 1ST50K office?

1ST50K is located inside Codefi, residing in the historic federal building at 338 Broadway in downtown Cape Girardeau. Codefi is a coworking space and technology incubator that is home to over 160 members, representing over 70 companies and 23 startups.

Competition and Format

When does the competition take place?

Applications are accepted in the spring with Pitch Day culminating in July at the end of Marquette TechWeek.

What is the selection and competition process for 1ST50K Startup Competition?

Teams submit their applications to the f6s 1ST50K page. Applications must be completed fully, and teams must agree to locate to Cape Girardeau for at least one year, if selected as a grant recipient, to be eligible.

Eligible applications are entered into a round where the initial reviewing is completed by three to five of our judges. The pool is narrowed for Skype/phone interviews, and from there, down to a group that is selected by our competition committee to be invited to Pitch Day.

The Committee bases their decisions on the innovation of the product, technology, or service; product-market fit; the scalability of the business model; the total impact; qualities and coach ability of the team; well-understood and defined problem; and 1ST50K impact.

Finalists are invited to personally pitch their startups to the Competition Committee. Teams are asked to attend Marquette TechFest to showcase their startups and then Pitch Day is the next day at the end of Marquette TechWeek.

The pitches are slide deck presentations to a group of 10-15 individuals, closed to the public. Each applicant will have 30 minutes in total – 10 minute pitch and 20 minutes of Q&A.

The committee deliberates, completes their due diligence, and award winners are typically announced within two weeks. Applicants not selected as awardees from one round may use the feedback they have received to reapply for the next.

How Many Rounds of Competition Are There?

Each competition of 1ST50K includes four rounds over the span of two months. The first round requires an online application, management team biographies, and an executive summary of the business model. The second round is a phone interview. The third round includes additional judges where we use both qualitative and quantitive analysis. The final round requires a slide deck of the business model, in addition to pitching live in Cape Girardeau, Missouri at a finalist pitch day.

Applicants not selected as finalists also receive feedback and are eligible to submit a revised application for the next round.

Who are the judges?

The identity of judges is not released to maintain the integrity of the process. The competition committee can be found http://www.1st50k.org/competition-committee/

How many finalists are there? How many awards will be granted?

The number of finalists in the past have been from 5-12 depending on the quality of the pool. The number of awards granted is completely up to the recommendation of the competition committee to the most deserving teams.

How will I know if I made it to the next step? Will I be notified if I do not advance?

All submissions receive notification of their outcome and feedback. Those chosen to proceed to the next step receive specific instructions for that next step.

What is Pitch Day?

A Pitch Day is when finalists in the 1ST50K Startup Competition are invited to Cape Girardeau to pitch their business for final consideration for business development services, connection to advisors, and a grant. During these days, finalists have the opportunity to meet with our esteemed group of venture capital and angel investment professionals on the Competition Committee, and network with previous 1ST50K winners.

Is the Pitch Day presentation required to be in person?

Yes, in-person representation by at least one member of the founding team is required in order to be considered for a grant. 1ST50K requires applicants to visit Cape Girardeau for a Pitch Day to meet our Competition Committee, other candidates, and get to know the area.

Are the Finalist Pitches open to the public?

No, this component is not open to the public. Your audience may be comprised of judges, 1ST50K Competition Committee, and limited individuals present at the request of 1ST50K. You may invite additional team members to your specific session but you are not allowed to observe other startups’ sessions.

How are the live pitches structured during the Finalist Pitch Days?

These pitches are slide deck presentations to a group of 10-15 individuals. Each applicant will have 30 minutes in total: no more than a 10 minute pitch with 20 minutes of Q & A.

How will 1ST50K protect the materials submitted in the competition?

1ST50K limits access to applicants’ submitted information to its staff, due diligence team, judges, and competition committee. In addition, reasonable steps are taken to limit access to these documents. The judges and competition of 1ST50K Startup Competition are seasoned professionals accustomed to dealing with confidential materials on a regular basis.

However, there is no confidentiality obligation by any recipient of the documents submitted for the competition for information contained therein. We ask that you not share in your application any information you feel to be highly confidential in nature.

Competition Eligibility

What kind of startups may apply?

For-profit startups from every industry are invited to apply. Particular attention is given to the scalability (growth) of the ventures. Startups should demonstrate a plan to reach regional, national or international impact. Additionally, we like to see some progress against the concept (e.g.; a prototype, minimum viable product, customer discovery, etc.). Startups planning to scale and remain in the Cape Girardeau region are encouraged to apply.

How do you define startup?

We do not place a limit on the length of time your startup has operated or how much outside funding you have received prior to applying. We award non-equity startup grants to businesses still in their early stages where the business development and support services, and grants up to $50,000 make a significant impact.

What industries or markets does 1ST50K focus on?

1ST50K does not have specific tracks, markets, or industries we focus on. We anticipate supporting companies represented in Information Technology, Hardware Technology, Consumer Products, Manufacturing, Fashion, Retail Innovations, Medical Devices, Bio-Technology, Ag-Tech, Clean-Tech, and Social Ventures.

What criteria will you use to decide which companies will receive the grants?

The Committee bases their decisions on the innovation of the product, technology, or service; product-market fit; the scalability of the business model; the total impact; qualities and coach ability of the team; well-understood and defined problem; and 1ST50K impact.

Is there a minimum or maximum allowable team size?

There needs to be at least one founder able and willing to work full-time on the startup in Cape Girardeau for one year. There is no limit on team size, though winning teams of any size will receive up to $50,000.

May nonprofits apply?

No, 1ST50K will not consider applications submitted by nonprofits, although social ventures with double bottom lines are encouraged to apply.

Does my age matter?

No, but if you are under 18, you will need parental permission to participate. In addition, 1ST50K recipients are required to have at least one full-time founder working in Cape Girardeau during the year-long incubation period.

Does is matter where I am from?

Nope! Whether you are from Missouri, another state in the U.S. or anywhere in the world, you are eligible to apply to the 1ST50K Startup Competition. All recipients must locate their business in Cape Girardeau for a period of at least one year, however.

I am not a U.S. Citizen? May I still apply?

Yes, this is a global startup competition and with the assistance of our friends at Arch Grants, we will facilitate the visa application process for you, if you are eligible. They successfully relocated simMachines from Costa Rica; Wondermento and Tallyfy from London; and Lifepack from Colombia. They have immigration attorneys willing and able to donate time and service to get you to our region!

My business is not located in Cape Girardeau. May I still enter the competition?

If you are selected as a 1ST50K Recipient, you are provided a reasonable amount of time to relocate to Cape Girardeau.

Will you fund competitive companies?

Although we would like to avoid this, we may fund companies that compete in some capacity. In this inevitability, we support each company equally.

Are multiple applications allowed per person?

1ST50K encourages you to apply and focus on developing your most compelling business idea. However, you are eligible to be on the founding team of more than one applicant.

May I submit someone else’s business idea?

Submissions must be your original idea or you must have written consent to submit an idea originally generated by another person. This must be disclosed in the application.

Must entrants disclose any funding already received?

Yes, applicants are required to disclose all sources of funding already received and/or committed, when asked.

Is anyone ineligible?

Only immediate family members (spouse, child, parent, sibling) of the competition committee and organizers are ineligible to apply for to the 1ST50K Startup Competition.

Program / Incubation

How is the grant award money distributed?

The $50,000 grant is distributed throughout a year-long program as follows: $20,000 of the startup capital is distributed at the beginning of the program, $10,000 is distributed at the end of each of the first two quarters, and $5,000 is distributed at the end of the program.

Winners are required to provide basic reporting information to 1ST50K on an ongoing basis, so long as the business is in operation. This information helps us track how our businesses do in the long run. We do not ask for proprietary information or trade secrets.

How do you measure a startup’s progress?

Each startup reports data via quarterly reports submitted to1ST50K before additional disbursements are made.

For startups working on business model validation, we track such things as number of customer discovery interviews, progress on development of minimum viable product, business model iterations, development of key partnerships, customer creation activities, and revenue generation.
For startups being accelerated, we track such things as jobs created, revenue generated, contracts closed, patents applied for/accepted, and capital attracted.

Will 1ST50K provide guidance to recipients that relocate to Cape Girardeau?

Yes. 1ST50K will provide support with finding housing, social-networks and activities, cultural connections, and a sounding board for other questions or requests. Note that 1ST50K does not provide housing, but can help connect you to companies, services, and venues by which to find the right place for you and your team.

How can we get funding during and after our year with 1ST50K?

1ST50K does not want to be the sole source of funding and works hard to connect entrepreneurs with a strong network of investors, venture capital firms, private investors, and lenders in our region. $50,000 can only go so far. If you are at a fundraising stage, we will connect you through personal introductions, networking events, and programs.

Aside from money, are there additional benefits of being a 1ST50K Recipient?

Yes! In addition to monetary awards, 1ST50K Recipients receive:

      • Membership to Codefi, Cape’s coworking space and technology incubator. This will be considered for your office space/location in Cape Girardeau. Codefi also offers private office space at discounted costs to 1ST50K awardees.
      • Access to venture capital and angel investment networks.
      • Professional and high level business coaching and mentorship.
      • Personal introductions to strategic business leaders.
      • Social support and community integration services.
      • Inclusion as part of a community of innovative entrepreneurs.

Do I receive space in an incubator?

Yes. 1ST50K Recipients receive incubator space at Codefi, a coworking space and technology incubator in downtown Cape Girardeau. Codefi was founded by Dr. James Stapleton and a team of experienced entrepreneurs and technology developers. Dr. Stapleton is a certified lean startup coach and nationally recognized entrepreneurship educator. The Codefi team provides a variety of services to support 1ST50K Recipients and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the 1ST50K Startup Competition.

How do you ensure that a recipient does not skip town with the cash?

To ensure the funds are used for their intended purpose, we require you to sign a Program Agreement before formally becoming a 1ST50K Recipient.

What happens if our company fails?

Not all startup companies succeed; we understand that. If your company fails during the year-long incubation period, you will forfeit any additional funds, but will not be required to “pay back” previously disbursed funds unless the Program Agreement has been breached. Simply failing does not constitute a breach of the Program Agreement

If your business does fail, you, as an entrepreneur, will be encouraged and supported to remain in Cape Girardeau to start a new venture, or to join an existing startup. Failure happens, and we believe that it is not something to turn away from.

What Do You Get?

The Competition Committee makes yearly investment recommendations to Traverse Ventures, a local venture capital fund focused on formative stage ventures. With the support of the Missouri Technology Corporation, 1ST50K makes $50,000 cash grants available to the most promising applicants in the competition.

Recipients receive award packages including a variety of business development support services, membership at Codefi, formal introductions and access to a broad network of successful entrepreneurs along with the $50,000 grant.

Recipients are also provided access to venture capital and angel investment networks, professional and high level business mentorship, personal introductions to strategic business leaders, social support and community integration services, and inclusion as part of a community of innovative entrepreneurs.

Well-positioned participants in the competition may also be eligible for immediate or follow-on equity or debt investments from Traverse Ventures and other strategic private investors.

×
Who Should Apply?

1ST50K is looking for innovative technologies, products, or services, driven by scalable business models with regional, national or international impact. We seek to attract entrepreneurs who are already located in Cape Girardeau OR are willing to relocate here.

Basing your business in Cape Girardeau is a prerequisite for receiving a grant. Our network of entrepreneurs, partners and business leaders are investing their time and resources in making the Cape Girardeau startup scene even stronger.

1ST50K Startup Competition is an industry-agnostic competition. Our focus is on supporting businesses that are innovative and scalable, regardless of the industry.

×
How Does it Work?

Teams submit their applications to the f6s 1ST50K page. Applications must be completed fully and teams must agree to locate to Cape Girardeau for at least one year if selected as a grant recipient to be eligible.

Eligible applications are entered into a round where the initial reviewing is completed by three to five of our judges. The pool is narrowed for Skype/phone interviews and from there down to a group that is selected by our competition committee to be invited to Pitch Day.

The Committee bases their decisions on the innovation of the product, technology, or service; product-market fit; the scalability of the business model; the total impact; qualities and coach ability of the team; well-understood and defined problem; and 1ST50K impact.

Finalists are invited to personally pitch their startups to the Competition Committee. Teams are asked to attend Marquette TechFest to showcase their startups and then Pitch Day is the next day at the end of Marquette TechWeek.

The pitches are slide deck presentations to a group of 10-15 individuals, closed to the public. Each applicant will have 30 minutes in total – 10 minute pitch and 20 minutes of Q&A.

The committee deliberates, completes their due diligence, and award winners are typically announced within two weeks. Applicants not selected as awardees from one round may use the feedback they have received to reapply for the next.

×
Submit Your Application

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Business Name

Short Description

Business Model

×