Yesterday, Keevin O’Rourke, Program Manager at the NMotion Startup Accelerator in Lincoln, Nebraska, spent some time in Rochester and shared lessons learned in the Lincoln startup community. NMotion is a collaboration between the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, and private investors. The accelerator invests small amounts of seed capital in portfolio companies in exchange for equity. NMotion uses a Roadmap tool to help founders determine their position on the business development pipeline and understand major issues to focus on at each stage.
Lincoln, a town of approximately 273,000 people, houses a strong and growing high tech community and over 171 active startups. The city is one of many Midwestern towns quantifying this region as more than just fly over territory. NMotion is one key piece to the entrepreneurial community in Lincoln.
NMotion developed a tool, called the Roadmap, which helps entrepreneurs identify the business development phase of their startup and determine if they have a viable concept. The Roadmap contains five stages:
- Inspire. At this stage, potential entrepreneurs should ask themselves if they want to be a founder and start to understand what running a business will entail.
- Validate. Here, entrepreneurs should ask if they should pursue this idea. This is perhaps the most vital point in the Roadmap and helps entrepreneurs determine if they are trying to solve a true problem.
- Test. Entrepreneurs should determine if customers will pay them to solve this problem.
- Accelerate. At this stage, entrepreneurs determine a repeatable business model for their solution. Now the “side hustle” becomes the “main hustle” and at least one founder is expected to leave their main job and move into the startup full time. Usually at this stage, the startup has paying customers.
- Grow. Entrepreneurs determine if they can make a product/market fit and try to raise seed funding.
NMotion specializes in the accelerate portion of the Roadmap. They run a 90-day program that “accelerates” startups through two years of progress in a short amount of time. Each year, five to eight startups from Lincoln and the surrounding area enter this program. In exchange for 6% equity in their company, accepted startups receive a $20,000 investment from NMotion, office space in FUSE Coworking in the Haymarket District of Lincoln, mentorship, support, and connections to venture capital networks both inside and outside Lincoln.
The NMotion specializes in fintech, agriculture, food tech, and sports/entertainment startups. NMotion has been in operation for five years. Eighty percent of NMotion alumni are still active. Two alumni have raised Series A funding. Forty percent have raised additional seed funding. One company has been acquired.
Applications for this year’s accelerator cohort close March 14th. The 90-day accelerator program will run from May 8th through August 10th in Lincoln.