Straight Shot accelerator brings in seven e-commerce, SaaS startups

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Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014 12:00 am

Nine people from startups hailing from Chicago, Portland, Omaha and Lincoln will begin the Straight Shot accelerator June 9 at Scott Technology Center in Omaha.

The e-commerce and Software as a Service accelerator—in its second year—brought in companies ranging from “back-of-the-napkin” ideas all the way to established e-commerce brands looking to reinvent their business models.

Straight Shot Managing Director David Arnold said they learned a lot from the first class and made a lot of refinements including tweaks to curriculum and stronger emphasis on mentorship.

Arnold reviewed hundreds of applications from across the country and ultimately landed on the seven strongest companies they could meaningfully accelerate in 90 days, he said.

"We've got a diverse mix. Local talent, bringing in some risk takers from out of town, some that have been in the corporate world and want to put their idea blueprint into action," Arnold said. "We've got five entrepreneurs that this isn't their first time starting a company, so it will be good to have that presence when you can talk to someone who has that experience."

     

Borrow For Your Bump (Omaha) – A maternity fashion rental and retail e-commerce startup founded by Krystal Stubbendeck. Stubbendeck, formerly a ConAgra financial analyst, recently decided to put her full efforts toward Borrow For Your Bump. Since, she’s grown her business by adding new product extensions. 

Arnold said she has great knowledge, background and confidence in the product and is exploring new options for the business, maybe a subscription box model. Stubbendeck also happens to be pregnant, making her startup even more personally relevant.

CallOnTheGo (Chicago) – A predictive call analysis and forecasting platform that helps determine the best time to make phone calls and what past communication has happened with each contact. Mark Michuda, a second-time founder and Stanford graduate, is solving a problem he has personally experienced: time wasted managing call logs and lost time making sales. 

Arnold said Michuda is focused and already know what he wants to accomplish in the 90 day accelerator. He wants to figure out which verticals—politics, fundraising, sales—work and which don't.

Kitchin (Chicago) – The digital kitchen that helps consumers inventory food from photos of grocery receipts and then creates recipes based on the food already in their homes. Founder Corey Anand got the idea for Kitchin working alongside a busy executive mother who talked about the regular struggle with what meals to prepare for the family given her hectic schedule. 

Arnold said the app could help reduce food waste, too, by helping to alert people when milk is expiring or using that fresh produce that's been sitting in the fridge for a week.

LocalLux (Chicago) – An ultralocal online marketplace for shoppers to discover close-to-home goods from artisans, boutiques and vendors. For business owners, LocalLux offers additional marketing consultation and on-demand deliveries. Co-founder/CEO Randy Ellis is a veteran technologist and co-founder/COO Karleton Thomas is a past owner of a retail company. 

Arnold said Straight Shot will help hone the business model and expand the local products available to larger markets by finding the best model for partnerships.

Quest (Omaha) – Founded by sports conditioning and therapy veterans David Potach and Roger Earle, Quest aims to connect people with personal training and coaching services. Services include improving strength, preparing for a road race and losing fat via online video conferencing. As Potach and Earle more aggressively enter the SaaS market, they want to put operational and organizational systems in place for fast growth. 

Arnold said the mentorship network is perfectly setup to help with the health/sports-based software. Arnold said they are the earliest stage company in Straight Shot, but already have an established network of physical therapists to make it work well.

SitStay (Lincoln) – Established in 1996, SitStay is not the typical accelerator startup, but new CEO Jill Liliedahl was hired as the change agent tasked with reinventing SitStay’s e-commerce model. SitStay was made for dog parents who want a better life for their pets and want to share their experiences with others. 

Arnold said SitStay was an early ecommerce company that wants to change with the times. "They want to refresh, refocus and expand," he said. "There's just things you couldn't do in 1996 that you can do now, stuff like predictive buying habits and connecting with customers. They will be an interesting case study for us."

Viirt (Portland) – Founded by Josh Davis, owner of a Kansas City-based roofing company, recognized the inefficiencies between consumers, general contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers. He created Viirt to eliminate those inefficiencies and become a stronger partner to the consumer by offering competitive pricing coupled with the industry’s most dependable service.

The startup uses satelite imagery to help estimate cost for roofing. Arnold said he was honored that Viirt chose an Omaha startup since their are plenty of West Coast accelerators out there that Davis could've chosen instead.

Each company is matched with the Straight Shot mentors who will provide ongoing counsel, advice and support during and after the program, Arnold said. 

“Being in Omaha, we don’t have to try hard to find the highest-caliber mentors willing to help these companies scale,” Arnold said. “We are intentionally matching each mentor, supporter and investor with companies they can impact.”

The mentor-driven program includes weekly discussions and curriculum that help each company navigate fundraising, market analysis, customer acquisition, business management, product development and overall customer experience.

Arnold said he is especially excited to have three companies from Chicago, which has a more established startup scene. 

"It'll be great to get some of that thinking in Omaha," Arnold said. "We need a little bit of help to learn and grow our community, so their experiences aren't something we're going to ignore."

Straight Shot’s presenting sponsors, McCarthy Capital and the Greater Omaha Chamber, are donating financial support as well as serving as mentors. Additional sponsors include Fraser Stryker, University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business, Aviture, First National Bank and others. 

Upcoming events

June 11, 4 p.m. – Straight Shot Social, welcoming the community and new companies

July 16, 5 p.m. – Accelerate Nebraska Meetup, a networking event hosted by Straight Shot and NMotion featuring Nebraska’s new accelerator companies and the general public

Sept. 10, 5 p.m. – Demo Day

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