Codefi is a coworking space and technology incubator for creative, innovative professionals and entrepreneurs. Codefi initiated the development of 1ST50K and is the managing partner of the startup competition.

Codefi co-entrepreneurs have over 40 years of entrepreneurship and technology development experience. It was co-founded by Dr. James Stapleton, a nationally recognized entrepreneurship educator and developer, and certified Lean Startup coach.

1ST50K winners become Codefi members and complete its Lean Launchpad program; an evidence-based program encompassing customer development, lean startup and agile strategies.


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