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STARTUP AID: The Efactory’s Paige Oxendine, left, and Rachel Anderson describe the business incubator’s 12-week program.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
STARTUP AID: The Efactory’s Paige Oxendine, left, and Rachel Anderson describe the business incubator’s 12-week program.

Startup announces $1.25M in investments at Efactory’s Demo Day

Annual event includes pitches from five young companies

Posted online

Compat.io, one of five startups participating in the Aug. 12 Demo Day event at the Efactory, announced it has raised around $1.25 million in nonfounder investments over the past several months for its cloud-based software.

Tim Baynes, founder and CEO, said nearly $900,000 of the total was raised during a three-month business accelerator program at the Efactory, Missouri State University’s business incubator. Baynes said after the Demo Day event that SRC Holdings Corp. is one of the investors, along with private individuals.

He said his company over the past 14 months has been building its software platform, which enables dealers and merchants to sell customized products and services. It will initially focus on e-commerce in the bicycle industry, with plans to expand to retail point of sale. The software is now available as a plug-in on e-commerce platform Magento, he said.

“The world is changing and it’s changing fast,” Baynes said. “E-commerce is now taking up over 10% of the market share for products sold every year, and it’s growing at over 1% per year.”

In addition to Compat.io, the four other startups in the accelerator program gave updates during the event. Other participants in the program’s fourth cohort were Collaboarator LLC, Fletch, ModBox LLC and Optikal Care Inc. At Demo Day, the program’s culminating event, representatives gave 10-minute presentations to introduce their companies to the public and also pitch to potential investors. The event was held at the Efactory for the second straight year.

For Fletch founder and CEO Marquett Burton, the big news was Missouri State University signing on to use his student attendance system. It tracks classroom attendance via Bluetooth technology and already is established at several universities, such as University of Akron and University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Burton said the company has earned around $100,000 in revenue to date.

“Our core business is empowering universities to say to their students, ‘We care about you and your education to actually make sure that you’re here,” he said.

Noting the device is installed on a wall in a classroom or lecture hall, he said it takes attendance for up to 400 students detected through their mobile phones.

The device, which sells for $40, lasts three years with no maintenance, Burton said, adding it also has applications beyond the educational field, such as for asset tracking.

“I could see us actually using that,” said Brian Hauff, director of facilities at Evangel University and a first-time Demo Day attendee.

Hauff plans to visit with university officials about the attendance system, as well as Optikal Care, which he said has practical appeal on campus as well.

“I could easily see that one being used by faculty, staff and students,” he said of the subscription box.

Optikal Care co-founder and CEO SueAnn Hollowell said the subscription service for glasses and contacts seeks to tap into the $2.7 billion contact lens industry.

“This is made up of 45 million contact wearers in the U.S.,” she said. “So we’re focused on the 18 million millennial contact wearers out there.”

During the event, she announced a corporate partnership with OnSight Vision Inc., a mobile eye care clinic for workplaces. The company is also in talks with Ollis/Akers/Arney for the business consulting and insurance advisory firm to serve as an independent broker for employee vision benefits in Missouri.

Collaboarator founder Seth Kitchen said his company’s social media platform aims for musicians to write music-embedded posts for others to see, collaborate with or buy within a certain GPS distance. As of mid-July, the app was released on iOS, Android and Windows.

Kitchen said its target market is consumers of SoundCloud, a music and podcast streaming platform, which has more than 175 million users.

Justin Cardoza, founder and CEO of ModBox, said the company he owns with wife Chelsea was formed just before the accelerator started. Since then, the company’s smart case for drone accessories has generated $30,000 in presales. It’s scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter.

“I created this out of selfishness,” admitted Cardoza, who expects the product to change the way pilots use drones by making operations easier, more reliable and faster.

The drone case features internal charging and backup power for batteries, SD card readers, built-in monitor mounts and GPS tracking. According to ModBox’s Facebook page, the product has been tested recently on television shows, such as NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.”

Cardoza said his initial target market is 850,000 customers, representing roughly $510 million. The company filed its first patent earlier this month to protect the case’s modular design, and he said it could be applied to other products, such as power tools.

Efactory Director Rachel Anderson said ModBox, along with Compat.io, are locally based. The other three chose to relocate to Springfield to be part of the accelerator program. According to program rules, companies must maintain a presence in Missouri for one year upon the start date of the program.

Companies that participate in the Efactory accelerator program receive $30,000 in startup capital in exchange for 8% equity held by a subsidiary of Springfield Innovation Inc., an MSU-affiliated program.

Applications for the fifth cohort of the Efactory program open Dec. 1 and close Feb. 29, 2020, Anderson said. It’s scheduled to run May 11-Aug. 10, 2020.

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