Sprint Accelerator Broadens Appeal, Lands First Local Startups

By Mark Davis The Kansas City Star

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Kansas City Star points out that many  local Kansas City companies were blocked in the previous two years from participating in Sprint's Accelerator run by techstars because the accelerator's original focus was on mobile technology and health. However, this year's program was open to any mobile business model, something to keep in mind for women in business with a focus on mobile. While the 2016 class has already been chosen, here is a link to the accelerator for future applications. http://sprintaccel.com/

Kansas City

Bek Abdullayev played a long shot, and it hit.

The bet wasn't on Super Dispatch. The Kansas City business he started in 2013 is growing rapidly, thanks to its mobile app that helps companies that transport cars to shed paperwork, stop false damage claims and get paid quicker for their hauls.

Abdullayev's hit came when Super Dispatch landed a spot in the Sprint Accelerator run by Techstars. The local startup is among 10 young businesses moving to the accelerator Monday. They are in for 90 intense days aimed at accelerating their progress.

Super Dispatch also is the first locally based company chosen in the program's three years.

"I've always been surprised they haven't had a company from Kansas City," Abdullayev said.

It hasn't been for lack of trying.

The Sprint Accelerator attracts applicants to Kansas City's Crossroads Arts District from across the country and abroad.

"This year our program received applications from companies in 56 different countries," said John Fein, managing director of Techstars at the Sprint Accelerator. "We evaluated all of them using the same criteria. We're geography-agnostic."

This year's group includes companies from Paris and India.

Many local companies were blocked in the previous two years by the Sprint Accelerator's original focus on mobile technology and health. This year's program was open to any mobile business model, which is more in keeping with its sponsor, Sprint.

Also, Techstars now has a health-related accelerator in Los Angeles.

Abdullayev said Super Dispatch's chances of making the Sprint Accelerator also grew thanks to an increasingly mature entrepreneurial environment in Kansas City. A few years ago, the startup ecosystem here was largely celebrating entrepreneurship, startups and technology. Not so much "just doing," as Abdullayev put it.

"Now, you're starting to see more companies with traction, interesting products and some funding rounds," Abdullayev said. And Super Dispatch is an example of that advanced environment.

The idea for Super Dispatch emerged from a weekend competition at the Kauffman Foundation. It won that Lean Startup Machine workshop, and Abdullayev said the team generated $3,000 in orders from a startup page for an as yet nonexistent product.

The company gained proof-of-concept funding early last year from Digital Sandbox KC and is now serving customers with a total of 600 trucks on the road.

Abdullayev also talked about "coffees with high-level people" who would talk through issues or just help him "mentally and spiritually" during tough moments.

More to the point, all of that help was without charge and without handing over any ownership of Super Dispatch.

Sprint Corp., the Overland Park-based wireless carrier, will get a small piece of each of the 10 companies accepted for the accelerator program. The companies get some funding, access to mentors from all sorts of fields, contact with other potential funders and technical assistance on the mobile side.

The three-month program culminates with a demo day at which each company pitches an audience of investors and others interested in startups.

 

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