Geonetric, ImOn Communications launch start-up accelerator program

Program to be housed in new building in Cedar Rapids' NewBo district

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Two Cedar Rapids companies, Geonetric and ImOn Communications, have created an accelerator program for early stage start-ups in the Corridor.

Companies will compete for up to 10 spots in the program, which will begin taking applications in early 2014. The program begins next summer.

"I think that the Corridor needs a wider variety of interesting job offerings for Generation Y and millennials, and that's going to come from a vibrant start-up community launching businesses that they can change the world with," said Eric Engelmann, Geonetric's president and CEO. "The accelerator is a way to make that happen."

Geonetric will provide mentorship, technical training and funding to participants. They also will have access to the Internet through a 10 gigabit fiber optic connection provided by ImOn, he said.

Engelmann said the plan is to give each group $20,000 in seed funding, with the potential for additional follow-up funding.

Accepted teams also will participate in entrepreneurial boot-camp training. That 90-day program will end will a "demo day" when the start-ups can show their progress to potential customers and investors.

During the program, teams will work in the 45,000-square-foot collaboration space now under construction in New Bohemia District in what will be Geonetric's new site. Vault Coworking will move next spring from its location on the fifth floor of the Guaranty Bank building, 222 Third St. SE, in downtown Cedar Rapids, to Geonetric's second floor.

Construction has begun on the former Iowa Steel plant, at 415 12th Ave. SE.

As part of the program, a temporary website, will be launched Sept. 9.

Engelmann said applicants do not have to be in the Corridor to apply for the program. His goal is to recruit companies from outside the Corridor to start in the area rather than going elsewhere.

The accelerator was based on the success of similar programs in cities such as Boulder, Colo., Nashville, Tenn., and Kansas City, Mo., Engelmann said.

"Ultimately there's a couple of main goals. One is that the Corridor has the ability to learn much more quickly with a lot more entrepreneurs than it has today," he said. "Right now, entrepreneurs are pretty fragmented, they don't congregate very well today.

"The idea is to build enough density of entrepreneurs and creative people that that learning can spill over and influence other start-ups."

Engelmann said he hopes the program will build the next generation economy in the Corridor. He hopes some of the start-ups that are participating in the program to become the next Rockwell Collins, Intermec or Aegon.

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