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CoBuilders.ms Accelerator Launches with 20-Company Cohort in Mississippi

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Startup companies from around the state will convene in Jackson this Tuesday, March 3, as the inaugural cohort of CoBuilders, powered by Microsoft, gets underway. Companies offering products ranging from medical devices, food, and even technology to track dirt, were selected from regional pitch events that took place all across the state. The companies will now take part in a 12-week startup accelerator program, with a special statewide pitch showcase to investors at the end of the program.

All CoBuilders cohort companies are eligible for a minimum of $7,650 in non-dilutive grant funding provided throughout the program, and eligible companies can apply to the Mississippi Seed Fund for an initial proof-of-concept award. The ultimate prize, of course, would be seed or angel funding from investors that they’re able to wow with the pitch that they give to prospective investors—and the general public—at the end of the 12-week accelerator.

“This is the first accelerator program that covers the entire state – and working with regional partners provides us the bandwidth to make that possible,” said Innovate Mississippi CEO Tony Jeff. “Not only does it benefit the individual founders and their companies, but it shines a spotlight on how much potential there is for entrepreneurial growth in Mississippi.”

“Inclusive economic growth can only happen when we work together with business, nonprofit, entrepreneurial, and community groups,” said Microsoft TechSpark Manager J.J. Townsend. “By collaborating with Innovate Mississippi, we can create an environment where more people and businesses have a chance to thrive. We see this as just the start of a broader commitment to bridge technology gaps and foster lasting regional innovation.”

Twenty founders and members of their startup teams will tackle topics designed to help them prove the commercial viability of their product and the effectiveness of the marketing and financial plans. Innovate Mississippi will walk the CoBuilders companies through a curriculum including tasks such as market-fit analysis, customer interviews and pricing. Along the way, mentors and guest speakers will offer advice on avoiding pitfalls, honing the solution they’re offering and making sales.

“Entrepreneurs will walk through a development model that addresses technology, market, and financial risk in each stage of development,” said Tasha Bibb, director of entrepreneurial development at Innovate Mississippi. “This process will help them understand how to mitigate risk in those areas to become an investor-ready deal.”

CoBuilders is a regional partnership convened by Innovate Mississippi working together with Mississippi State University, Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation/The University of Mississippi, Higher Purpose Co, Jackson State University/The Beanpath, The Mississippi Polymer Institute at the University of Southern Mississippi, The Small Business Development Center at Hinds Community College (Vicksburg) and The Meeting Place (MS Gulf Coast). The partners hope that bringing all of these stakeholders together on the state level will “raise all boats” in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“Having a statewide business accelerator is something desperately needed – CoBuilders will not only benefit the companies going through the program significantly but also communities as we strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem to encourage companies to stay and grow in Mississippi,” said Jon Maynard, president and CEO of Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation. “We had a strong pool of applicants and while it was difficult to narrow it down, we are proud of the cohort we selected and their opportunity to develop and flourish in Oxford, which has become a hotbed of entrepreneurial energy.”

CoBuilders will launch with an in-person meeting on May 3, which is open to the media. Subsequent training sessions will be held virtually, with the final cohort-wide “Pitch Day” taking place on July 28, 2022. Investors, stakeholders and the general public will be invited to see each company’s “shark tank”-style pitch and presentation.

CoBuilders partner logos

CoBuilders is Mississippi’s first statewide startup accelerator with seven regional partners working together to identify new startup companies and ideas around the state and accelerate their success. Visit www.cobuilders.ms for more details.

Innovate Mississippi is a nonprofit organization with the mission to drive innovation and technology-based economic development for the State of Mississippi. Visit www.innovate.ms to learn more.

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