LaunchLNK is a local program in Lincoln, Nebraska that helps startups find early stage, non-dilutive capital. LaunchLNK, and their partners provide $25,000 as a grant to early stage companies that agree to live and work in Lincoln for a year. This grant was modeled on programs in Buffalo, NY and St. Louis. In some instances, this early capital can be matched by the Nebraska state prototyping funds, meaning that a startup in Lincoln could be able to take the grant and receive up to $75,000 of startup dollars without having to sell early equity.
Christina Oldfather, the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneur for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, described the program to SPN by saying, “there are a lot of things that go into making a startup successful. What can we add to help them take off?”
In addition to the grant money, the LaunchLNK program identified the need for startups to receive certain types of services. So, Oldfather designed the program to provide: connections to mentors, new relationships with first customers, and services from service professionals – such as Suiter Swantz (IP legal), Cline Williams (legal), Firespring (marketing), and HBE (accounting). These services provide a mechanism for the startups to get key, discounted services as they are preparing to grow.
The program has helped a number of companies get early funding and customer traction, including:
• Basicblock is a tool for trucking companies and truck drivers to receive invoices and payments more efficiently using cellular services and other unique mobile based software tools.
• Canary Sound Design provides smart intelligence to surgical suites ensuring that key sounds are able to be heard through any music that may be playing during the surgery.
• Sapahn is a Lincoln based company that sells a variety of purses and accessories from rural Thailand.
• Canduit is a platform for providing services to companies and experience to inexperienced providers through a structured learning and doing environment.
This year, the program is working with the IO Summit and the program’s finalists to pitch at the IO Summit competition on the last day of the Summit. One winner will be selected.
The applications are due by September 30, 2019. For more information, check out the program’s website: www.launchlnk.com.
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