Written by The Business Journal Staff
Founded earlier this year, the program will formally kick off during a special ceremony tonight at Bitwise South Stadium. The event will include a talk by Mayor Ashley Swearengin and reveal the group’s plans to help boost the local technology industry.
“Launch559 is a company set up to offer entrepreneurs guidance and capital to start their company,” said Jamin Brazil, one of five founders of the group and CEO of market research technology firm FocusVision. “We will focus initially on technology companies but will expand our portfolio later on.”
The other founders include former Wells Fargo regional head Scott Rhodes, JP Marketing’s Jane Olvera Quebe and local tech entrepreneurs Matt Tymn and Felice Diaz. Each brings a unique perspective to the group, which will help Launch559 address all aspects of their member businesses, Brazil said.
The accelerator plans to support an initial cohort of three startups, each of which will receive professional guidance and $5,000-25,000 in seed capital as they attempt to refine their product. By the end of the three-month program, each startup will have a chance to meet with investors and show off their idea at a special demo day.
Brazil said this exposure will address a key challenge for local startups, since until now there hasn’t been a real way for them to connect with investors.
“Other markets have education and capital resources and business accelerators. They take people with talent and they facilitate that connection with the investors,” he said.
While Launch559 has kept fairly quiet, Brazil said the group has already received several submissions from local entrepreneurs. The application period will close in May, with the first accelerator class debuting in June.
Already, Launch559 has secured $1.5 million in funding from three local investors and Brazil said the money is expected to help support several rounds of the program.