Ask the Expert: Get ready for startup excitement in 2017
The startup energy in New Hampshire this early into 2017 may not be easily measured, but it is certainly noticeable. Founders of startups take note: Not only do we have strong consistent programs in New Hampshire, but many new events, programs and resources have been introduced.
Accelerate NH, Alpha Loft’s startup accelerator program, has started with its third cohort. This year Alpha Loft accepted nine startups, up from the six accepted into the last two years of the program. The startups range geographically from Hanover to Portsmouth; from organic cosmetics to live streaming technology. The program runs through the end of May when a large Demo Day event will showcase each startup, followed by a Startup Shindig party. (alphaloft.org)
The Manchester Young Professionals Network recently kicked off its annual New Hampshire Startup Challenge. Startups may apply through March 13. Each year startups compete for free cash funding and in-kind services. Though not all will win a monetary award, many get worthy exposure to the ecosystem, partners, customers and press. Past winners of the challenge as well as people’s choice award include Valchoice, Vidfall, Hidden Collective and BevNow. (manchesteryoungprofessionalsnetwork.org)
The Annual Flatley Challenge just wrapped up its fifth competition. This Nashua-focused contest for startups provides free rent and a $10,000 prize. This year’s winners are XenoTherapeutics Inc., a nonprofit, which is focused on the science of transplanting tissues and organs of dissimilar species, and Datanomix, a startup solving major cloud infrastructure challenges for the enterprise. Past winners include Plexxi, AlignRevenue, SMTP and more. (gateway-hills.com/flatley-challenge/)
A new accelerator has been recently announced from the Enterprise Center in Plymouth. The Apex Accelerator (apexaxlr8.com) will begin soon and run from March through early May culminating in a Demo Day event.
The University of New Hampshire has been busy on many fronts. UNHInnovation received an I-Corps Site Grant from the National Science Foundation in 2016 to foster entrepreneurship on campus. It begins its second cohort of the I-Corps program in March, educating faculty with several innovative ideas and technologies on campus while pairing each with mentors to provide training and validate business propositions. (innovation.unh.edu)
Also at UNH, the Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center has started a new program called i2 Passport to encourage undergraduate students to engage in various activities surrounding ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship on campus. Participating students from across the Durham campus earn credits for attending pre-determined activities.
Those who earn the most credits will receive cash prizes to help pay off student loans. Students earn credits from attending events, participating in competitions, participating in relevant clubs and making use of the coworking and maker spaces on campus. (www.unh.edu/ecenter)
The Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN) is hosting a workshop for students called 3 Day Startup. The 72-hour “learn by doing” workshop is intended to be an extreme hands-on environment which, while focused on students, is open to registration by the public as well. Applications are accepted through March 20. (dartmouth.3daystartup.org)
In addition to the many big programs and contests already run or under way, many organizations provide regular event programming focused on startups. Alpha Loft has its Startup Tuesdays series, which occurs on a rotating basis in Manchester, Durham and Portsmouth, and ranges from panel discussions to expert interviews; from lectures to pure networking events.
Alpha Loft isn’t the only organization regularly running events of interest to startup founders. The New Hampshire High Tech Council has many events with not only a tech focus, but also for founders. (nhhtc.org)
Multiple self-organized meetup groups exist throughout our state that meet regularly and are easily found by searching meetup.com. Many of these events and more are tracked on the Live Free and Start website (livefreeandstart.com.)
With so much happening throughout the state, it can be difficult to keep track. Perhaps the easiest way to follow all of the activities is to subscribe to each organization’s newsletter and follow their Twitter and Facebook feeds.
Joshua Cyr is the director of Education and Acceleration at Alpha Loft. Cyr has previously worked in marketing agencies and co-founded a commercial CMS startup, Savvy Software, serving as its CTO. Joshua also serves as city councilor for the City of Portsmouth. He can be found on twitter @jcyr or email email@example.com.