Eight early-stage startups — seven of which are based in Wisconsin — were selected for the July cohort of the Milky Way Tech Hub Accelerator, according to a Thursday announcement.
The startups will participate in a two-week intensive virtual accelerator program focused on business development, marketing, intellectual property and more. The companies will have access to investors and other industry experts and will be eligible to receive up to $25,000, according to the announcement.
A total of $55,000 in non-dilutive funding is available to dole out to the participating companies, Milky Way Tech Hub founder Nadiyah Johnson said. This money came from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Consumer Merchant Awareness Foundation and the Milky Way Tech Hub. Funding will be awarded based on the startups' performance in the program and a pitch event at the end, Johnson said.
This is the first time the Milky Way Tech Hub has run an accelerator in this format, Johnson told the Milwaukee Business Journal last month. It has previously run a concierge-style accelerator program, which provided more one-on-one mentorship instead of the classroom-like experience that the intensive accelerator offers, Johnson said.
The accelerator may serve as a pipeline for the Milky Way Tech Hub's $50 million investment fund that it's raising to support Black and brown founders, Johnson said, adding that she's hoping to close the fund by the end of the year.
The startups selected for the two-week intensive accelerator program are:
CrossKudi: Founded by Bobola Odebiyi in Milwaukee, CrossKudi is a blockchain-enabled global money transfer platform.
BluSkill: Founded byRomke de Haan and Jimmy Pellegrini, BluSkill aims to be a hiring management platform focused on users' skillsets and certifications.
Zoombeeto: This New York-based startup founded by Raheema Robinson and Justin Lee is a food delivery service aggregator that leverages artificial intelligence to personalize users' experiences.
LikeMinds: Founded by Monte Eady and Shantell Eady, LikeMinds is a platform that connects Black founders with technology freelancers.
PerceptForm: Founded by Christopher Perceptions in Milwaukee, PerceptForm aims to leverage blockchain technology in education, finance, art and real estate.
Otto Sciences: This Milwaukee-area company founded by Harsimran and Satvir Kalsi is a marketplace that connects scientists with equipment and other resources needed for research.
Secure Bridges: Founded in Milwaukee by Shayvon McCullum, this rewards-based platform connects under-resourced youth with local resources.
PumpFive: Founded byTalethea Thompson, PumpFive is an app-driven business that offers gas and tire delivery directly to customers' vehicles.
Some of the selected startups have participated in other local entrepreneurship programs recently. Otto Sciences and Secure Bridges each received $10,000 in FOR-M grant funding last month from the MKE Tech Hub Coalition. Secure Bridges and PumpFive previously participated in The Blueprint, an accelerator program run by Milwaukee-based Young Enterprising Society.