By David Wichner
The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson.
Startup Tucson is offering $300,000 in free training in the second year of a federally-funded program to help “second-stage” startup companies grow rapidly.
The Thryve ScaleUp program is funded through a five-year, $1.44 million contract with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s ScaleUp America program, awarded to Startup Tucson in late 2014.
The intensive, nine-week program serves companies that have been in business for at least two years and have revenues of at least $150,000 per year. About 70 companies have gone through the Thryve ScaleUp program since January 2015.
Applications are due Jan. 17 for the spring program, which is expected to include 10 to 15 companies in each of two, back-to-back cohorts starting Feb. 1.
Startup Tucson says it generally receives 50 to 75 applicants for each cohort of students.
Thryve ScaleUp teaches business owners “the growth-focused methods of Silicon Valley startups,” lean business practices, experimentation, validation and covers legal, accounting, marketing and hiring practices, said Tony Ford, director of Thryve ScaleUp.
The non-profit Startup Tucson offers a variety of programs that support local entrepreneurs, including other Thryve business incubator programs, Startup Weekend, the CoLab Workspace and IdeaFunding, a conference that helps entrepreneurs find funding.
Thryve ScaleUp, formerly known as Thryve Next, is aimed at taking established businesses with high-growth, national scale potential to the next level, Ford said.
“Our goal is to build $20 million to $25 million companies, or to get them on that track,” he said.
Though the program is relatively new, it’s already had some success in its goal of helping companies achieve rapid growth or find new funding within two or three years.
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Ford cited Thryve ScaleUp graduate RBar Energy, a local energy-bar company that last year was awarded a $250,000 Innovation Challenge Grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority. RBar, headed by retired competitive cyclist Brian Cornelius, has shown rapid growth, doubling revenues last year and inking deals to put the Tucson-made energy bar in stores and airports across the nation.
Thryve Scaleup participants in the fall group were 2Shoes Inc., The Perfect Box/ABC Containers LLC, AquaPure Hydration Companies, CPR2U LLC, Darling Geomatics, Fed By Threads LLC, BD Matboard, iCropTrak, The Arizona Bilingual Magazine LLC, The Underestimated City/Reptuc LLC and Yellow Brick Coffee.
Ford said though interest in Thryve Scaleup is keen, he wants to see more veteran-owned and women- and minority-owned businesses apply.
“We’re trying to represent those kinds of businesses that can become national-scale companies, and there are lots of them in Tucson,” he said.