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Straight Shot’s inaugural class uses demo day to launch forward

Straight Shot startup CosmicCart pitches Thursday evening during the accelerator’s inaugural Demo Day.

Thursday night more than 425 entrepreneurs, investors and members of the Omaha community gathered at the Aksarben Cinema for Straight Shot‘s inaugural Demo Day

“All of the companies did such a nice job tonight,” said Dundee Venture Captial founder Mark Hasebroock. “I felt like a parent sending kids off to college. I was just so, so proud of each of them. Compared to how they came in, the pitches tonight just showed how much work they’ve all put in over the past three months.”

In early July the seven companies entered the accelerator with funding from Dundee and a number of other sponsors, and throughout the following three months, received guidance from more than 110 mentors—from the Silicon Prairie and beyond. 

A number of guests from outside the region gathered for the event, including this year’s Silicon Prairie Awards keynote speaker and co-founder of The Brandery, Dave Knox

“The Straight Shot Demo Day was truly a celebration of Omaha,” Knox said. “That type of community involvement will help all of these companies realize success.”

Luis and Danny López’s startup CardioSys was named the winner of the Community Choice Award. In order to determine a winner, Demo Day attendees were encouraged to text or tweet the company they would be most likely invest in. 

“It was cool that this was held in the heartland,” Luis said. “It was as if someone took Silicon Valley and dropped it right here in the middle of America.”

Even though its inaugural Demo Day is out of the way, Straight Shot’s organizers aren’t slowing down—plans for the accelerator’s second class are already in the works. 

“It really all starts again tomorrow, but we’ll start accepting applications for the next round in January,” said Faith Larson, the accelerator’s managing director. “This first group of seven companies was the perfect group to launch the program with.” 

Moving on from Demo Day 

Straight Shot mentor Erica Wassinger took some time to give Silicon Prairie News an update on each of the seven companies part of the accelerator’s first class and share what we can expect from them moving forward.  


Business Exchange (San Francisco)

“Business Exchange recently launched a pilot program with the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce to spur economic growth and increased collaboration among Chamber member companies. For the time being, the startup will remain in Omaha to launch the program. Omaha’s Chamber is the first of several across the country that will pilot Business Exchange.”

Business Exchange is an online networking site that allows small businesses to evaluate, connect with and refer other small businesses.

BuyNow  (Omaha)

“BuyNow recently announced a partnership with an Omaha publisher and has a partnership for holiday campaigns for metroMAGAZINE. The team plans on building the business from Omaha and potentially adding staff in the near future, including other executives.”

BuyNow is an e-commerce application that allows customers to instantly purchase goods advertised in any form of multimedia via SMS text message.

CardioSys (Omaha)

“CardioSys has partnered with UNeMed, the technology transfer branch of the University of Nebraska Medical Center responsible for bringing intellectual property from the laboratory to the marketplace.”

CardioSys helps health insurers, third-party administrators and brokers forecast preventable life events and mitigate risk among their client population.

Cosmic Cart (Durham, N.C.)

“Currently more than 85 brands, six fashion bloggers and five major retailers have signed on with Cosmic Cart.”

Cosmic Cart adds convenience and security to online shopping by allowing users to add products into one shopping cart from a number of places online.

Crateful (Omaha)

“More than 60 well-known electronic music DJs are now piloting Crateful.”

Crateful uses advanced audio and data analytics techniques to make tools that help music enthusiasts with their No. 1 problem: finding the best music for the moment.

Cympel (Minneapolis)

“On Demo Day, Cympel began a promotion that offers new customers nearly free ad campaigns without any publishing costs. The startup also will be doing all ad creation, media placements and monitoring for free.”

Cympel delivers interactive advertisements and the ability for a customer to immediately purchase the product without redirection.

Huntforce (Louisville, Ken.)

“This father-son founding team just announced $400,000 in funding from three Omaha investors. This funding and the strong support from the Omaha community prompted the team to permanently relocate to Nebraska.”

With HuntForce, hunters can view, organize, manage and share photos of their property and game from their mobile devices.


Credits: Event photo courtesy of Erica Wassinger. 

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