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ABQid, WESST announce first ActivateNM cohort

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The first five ActivateNM startups will begin intensive mentoring, coaching and customer validation efforts to build their businesses during an eight-week accelerator program starting Oct. 15.

The ABQid business accelerator and the WESST Enterprise Center, which teamed up this year to create ActivateNM, announced the first program cohort last week. All participants have new software or software-enabled products and services, reflecting ABQid’s “themed” approach to training entrepreneurs by bringing together companies with a similar focus.

The cohort includes:

— CustomCult, a snowboard and ski maker with software connected to hardware that enables a turnkey approach to rapidly customize products.

— FruitStand Technology, a subscription-based web design, hosting and marketing firm with automation that lowers costs and improves efficiency.

— Hangerang, an app to fight online isolation by connecting people with real social experiences, including places to meet and gather.

— Schedule My Rent, an app to connect landlords and tenants for better property management.

— Think Ubiquitous, a data analytics firm.

Most participants already have a head start on building their businesses, said ABQid Executive Director T.J. Cook.

“Four of the five startups have already achieved some form of revenue,” Cook said. “Some have done meaningful customer discovery, but they want to develop faster than they might on their own. ActivateNM can help them get plugged in and connected.”

The program combines ABQid’s lean startup model with WESST’s focus on building operational foundations for companies to solidify as sustainable businesses.

Through ABQid’s eight-week accelerator, participants conduct direct customer research and market validation of their products and services. That’s backed by constant networking with business consultants, entrepreneurs, professional organizations and investors, all reinforced through workshops and one-on-one mentoring.

WESST helps set up accounting systems and other structures, and assists with regulations and requirements to operate companies.

“We help the entrepreneurs understand the language of business, financing, working with numbers and building capacity,” said Julianna Silva, managing director of the WESST incubator. “The combination of ABQid’s lean startup methodology with our capacity training provides a robust wrap-around system for companies as they explore business opportunities.”

The cohort will be housed at the WESST Enterprise Center’s co-working space Downtown, equipped with computers, printers, telephones and Internet access.

The accelerator culminates with a Demo Day on Dec. 7, but the companies will continue working at WESST and meeting with mentors to keep building their businesses for three or four months after that.