Birmingham’s Velocity Accelerator, the only startup accelerator program in the state of Alabama, has selected its second class of companies to join the three-month program. Eight startups, including six from the southeast, will receive $50,000 and begin the program in January.
Velocity Accelerator is based at Innovation Depot, the biggest technology center in the Southeast. Innovation Depot houses over 100 companies — in 2016, those companies generated over $19 million in funding.
“As part of the Innovation Depot, the companies going through our accelerator are joining a long-standing community of entrepreneurship and innovation in Birmingham,” says Sarah McFarland, Innovation Depot’s Head of Programs and Culture. “And when the program is over, these companies have a place to land right inside our incubator. In fact, 5 of last year’s 9 teams have already grown into office space in the Depot.”
“There was a huge need for seed-stage capital in Alabama, and that was a large reason we started Velocity,” says McFarland. “We want to be able to recruit high growth-potential companies to Birmingham and give them the capital and resources they need to scale quickly, in turn creating jobs and impacting Birmingham’s economy.”
The accelerator is funded by the Velocity Fund, which is supported by a number of corporate and community sponsors. Along with the capital infusion, the companies get roughly $800,000 worth of perks, including a space to work at Innovation Depot during the program and business services.
Last year’s companies have raised $1.4 million total in follow-on funding, to-date.
“Probably one of the most under-rated factors in choosing Velocity and Birmingham was access to capital,” says Fred McGill, founder of one of the startups accepted into the program, Atlanta-based real estate platform SimpleShowing. “Birmingham is a banking/finance hub and has a very concentrated group of angel/seed investors, particularly compared to larger cities that have distributed VCs and syndicates that are often focused on specific verticals. We believe the local connections leveraged by Velocity across a concentrated group of investors could lead to a more efficient process of raising capital. ”
Over 100 companies from across the world applied for the 2018 class. The eight accepted companies include four from Birmingham, with additional Atlanta and Nashville-based companies rounding out the southern startups. Velocity Accelerator is industry-agnostic and companies range across industries from real estate tech to logistics and adtech.
“We want to recruit companies here that we know we can help succeed,” says McFarland. Ultimately we are an economic development engine, with the goal of keeping these companies in Birmingham and creating jobs. These 8 teams have a lot of potential to do just that.”
The program will conclude with a Demo Day on April 23rd where each company will pitch to potential investors, clients, investors, and supporters.
Meet Velocity Accelerator’s Class 2
Anchorspace (Birmingham, AL): A web-based platform to facilitate short term leases; landlords can list their unused or underutilized space and lease it to tenants needing it for short-term intervals.
Axle Advertisements (Birmingham, AL): Advertising platform connecting trucking companies to brands to create powerful trailer advertising.
Dirtbook (Birmingham, AL): A B2B marketplace app for the construction industry. Dirtbook will create a large, easy to use database system that helps users find anything they might need related to dirt and development.
Fletch (Chicago, IL): Fletch effortlessly generates real-time attendance records for universities and notifies them of students’ absentee patterns the moment they develop.
SimpleShowing (Atlanta, GA): An app that allows consumers to schedule home showings on-demand, on their own, without a real estate agent.
SmartAlto (San Jose, CA): Smart Alto makes a text messaging robot that helps real estate agents respond to leads,
24/7, and automatically qualifies, nurtures, and books appointments with leads.
Wyndy (Birmingham, AL): A mobile app that revolutionizes the way that parents and college babysitters connect.