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SDTBC is seeking entrepreneurs for 2015 Accelerator Challenge

A proven program for fast-tracking company start-ups and entrepreneurial launches is seeking its next group of business ideas. Through April 20, the South Dakota Technology Business Center (SDTBC) is accepting applications for the 2015 Accelerator Challenge. The program is sponsored by SDTBC with Forward Sioux Falls, the Governor's Office of Economic Development, the U.S. Small Business Administration and South Dakota EPSCoR. "The Accelerator Challenge is designed to boost emerging South Dakota entrepreneurs who are starting up, approaching launch or entering a high growth stage," said Pam Boehm, SDTBC Entrepreneurship and Incubation Manager. "The program focuses on essential business principles, and gives participants a wide range of resources, funding, networking opportunities and strategic guidance to help them get their businesses growing fast." The 2015 Challenge kicks off with a three-day Business Launch Boot Camp beginning on May 20, followed by monthly one-day sessions June-September. The program culminates with a "Pitch Day," where participants have an opportunity to present their business plans to representatives from four angel funds. Throughout the program, participants are also eligible to "pitch" their ideas for project funding from a pool of $50,000 and take advantage of no-cost or low-cost space at SDTBC. In addition, all participant businesses will be showcased during the 2015 Innovation Expo on Oct. 1. The Business Launch Boot Camp and Accelerator Challenge were initiated in 2012. Since the program was introduced, 20 participants have accepted the challenge. Of those, 15 have grown their businesses to employ a total of 60 people and have raised more than $2.5 million in investment dollars. In a few cases, participants have determined their ideas were not viable, which can also be a valuable benefit of participation. "The Accelerator Challenge is all about preparing the next generation of great business innovators and giving them the tools they need to succeed," Boehm said. "The program offers essential business training and strategic guidance related to all aspects of operations at critical business development stages — which can rapidly bring a new company into the marketplace." Entrepreneurs and individuals planning start-ups or developers of emerging businesses are encouraged to submit applications outlining their business concepts. Businesses or business ideas will be evaluated for viability and ability to fill a market need, scalability, readiness to launch and likelihood for operational success. Finalists will then be selected for personal interviews. The entrepreneur's or business team's relevant experience, skills, leadership ability, willingness to learn and overall passion, motivation and commitment to drive the business forward will also be considered. Up to ten qualified participants will be selected. Applications and guidelines are available at and will be accepted through 11:59 p.m., Monday, April 20, 2015. There are no program entry fees or expenses, however participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging if coming from outside Sioux Falls. This year's Accelerator Challenge participants will be announced on May 5. "It's an exciting program, and a very intense, concentrated program designed to make a difference in the potential for new businesses," said Dr. Mel Ustad, Director of Commercialization for the Governor's Office of Economic Development. "The Accelerator Challenge has also proven successful in preparing South Dakota entrepreneurs to help build our state's economy." For more information or a schedule of Accelerator Challenge sessions, go to or contact Pam Boehm: or 605.275.8008.
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