2018 Early Stage MT winners

2018 Early Stage MT winners

After months of refining their business plans and pitches, Sellout from Bozeman and Superior Traffic Services from Missoula tied for first and were named the 2018 Early Stage MT winners on Saturday.

“It feels pretty amazing to have won Early Stage MT,” said Joel Martin, one of the founders of Sellout. “We have been struggling to figure out how to pitch this product the best way for the last couple of months ever since the accelerator ended. For it to finally come together this week and to bring it to the stage, we were so nervous for the presentation. But it’s gratifying to have won and to have done this whole process with the amazing core we have.”

Both of the Early Stage MT winners will receive $25,000 and have the opportunity to present at the Frontier Angels meeting in October. Alosant from Bozeman finished third overall and will also present to the Frontier Angels, a Montana based angel fund group. The other businesses that participated in the Early Stage MT showcase included Elation, WebBuy, Elebase and Cardsetter.

Becoming Early Stage MT Winners

For the seven companies, the journey to Bozeman began in March.

The Early Stage MT program kicked off this spring with three regional showcases in Missoula, Bozeman and Billings. During the regional showcase, each company had 10 minutes to pitch their business. Out of these three regional showcases, the seven finalists were chosen.

This past summer, all of the companies also went through a week long HyperAccelerator program in Bozeman at Montana State University. During this intensive week of work, each company was able to connect and work with mentors from across the state on their businesses.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”Joel Martin, Co-founder of Sellout” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]But it’s gratifying to have won and to have done this whole process with the amazing core we have.[/perfectpullquote]

“It has been a real whirlwind,” said Jonathan Walther with Superior Traffic Services. “We’re a seasonal business and this is a very busy time of year for us. So we had to set aside time to put together a presentation and refine it with a number of mentors. We’ve had daily meetings the last few weeks to refine the pitch and I think we got it.”

In addition to the seven business pitches throughout the day long program, there were four panels that talked about tech transfer, trends in financing companies, growth drivers, and trends shaping the tech ecosystem. Some of the highlights from the panels included:

  • Entrepreneurs should build strong relationships with their financiers
  • Montana is a place people (investors and others) want to come to
  • Universities and higher education need to be accelerators

The Future of Early Stage MT

Now, the Early Stage MT team is looking toward the future. Pat LaPointe with Frontier Angels said they would like to do two HyperAccelerators next year, host another showcase in fall 2019, and raise money for part time staff and more educational programs.

“It was a really great first step for Early Stage MT,” said LaPointe. “Hopefully people try to sense we’re trying to accomplish something really big and that will attract folks to want to come get involved as we expand the program.”

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