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Why should startups apply to accelerator programs? Access to funding is an easy answer, but it’s not always the most important reason.
SixThirty is a venture capital fund and a business development accelerator program that focuses on financial-based technology; its cohort members participate in a 12-week program based in St. Louis, with each company selected receiving an investment of up to $100,000 as well as hands-on training, mentoring and networking opportunities with some of the top financial services. Its sister accelerator, SixThirty CYBER, launched this year, narrows in on cyber security companies specifically.
For Australia-based PromisePay, a 2014 cohort company, applying to SixThirty was more of a strategic move.
“It was really driven by our need to understand the payments landscape in the US, a critical market for our growth,” says Doug Wilber, President North America. “The mentorship team had a keen understanding of our industry, which we knew would be really valuable as we established our business outside of Australia.”
PromisePay is an electronic payments solutions firm based in Melbourne, with offices now in San Francisco and St. Louis. Its technology focuses on marketplaces so companies can generate revenue and eclipse growth targets. Wilber, who went from serving as a SixThirty mentor for PromisePay to a member of the company’s team, says the experience for the FinTech startup was invaluable.
“[PromisePay] came out of the program prepared to take on the US market,” he says. “It certainly accelerated our opportunities for growth and continues to pay dividends today.”
PromisePay isn’t alone in utilizing SixThirty as a way to take that first step into US markets. The accelerator’s Spring 2016 program alone drew applications from 83 cities in 30 different countries. Currently one quarter of SixThirty’s current portfolio is based outside of the US, including BondIT from Israel, Ensygnia out of England and Argentina’s S4, an AgTech company that decided to move executive members to St. Louis permanently after going through the SixThirty and Yield Lab accelerators here.
For companies already in St. Louis or the US, applying to the SixThirty program is a way to get in front of target customers.
David Trainer is CEO of New Constructs, a firm that offers the detailed research to average investors that is normally reserved for hedge fund managers. The startup also offers investment advice and information via blogs, podcasts and instructional videos. He saw SixThirty as a way to bolster revenue through networking.
“I applied to SixThirty because of the deep relationships and connections they have with major financial and wealth management firms,” he says. “They helped me double my revenue by connecting me with major St. Louis financial firms who then became some of my biggest customers.”
SixThirty’s location in St. Louis allows the accelerator to harness the city’s strong history in financial services and the FinTech startup space as more and more emerging companies and talent choose the Gateway City as a launch pad. These financial connections enable growth for SixThirty’s portfolio companies, which, at the end of the day, is always the main goal.
“As Atul [Kamra, Managing Partner of SixThirty] says, the best form of capital is customer revenue,” says Trainer. “And they made it happen for me.”
Interested in applying to SixThirty’s Spring 2017 cohort? Applications will open here in late 2016.