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ABQid wraps its arms around Santa Fe startups

SANTA FE, N.M. — ABQid Inc. launched its first cohort of six startup companies in Santa Fe in late January at the business accelerator’s new sister operation in the City Different, dubbed SFid.

Albuquerque-based ABQid originally announced SFid’s launch last November with $45,000 in assistance from the City of Santa Fe, and $22,500 from private donors at the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

The new program is temporarily based at the Zane Bennett art gallery, where the accelerator’s inaugural cohort is now two weeks into a 12-week program. Like ABQid, the Santa Fe accelerator offers intensive training, mentoring, networking and seed investments to help participating companies find the fastest and most-efficient path to market, said ABQid managing director Lori Upham.

“The SFid startup teams are putting a lot of elbow grease toward moving their companies forward with strong support from the community,” Upham said. “We’re helping them get the initial investment money, training and mentoring they need. We’re wrapping  our arms around these people to help them succeed.”

The cohort includes: 4D LLC, a technology company marketing a holographic projection system for commercial displays; ConvoBox, a software startup with an app for two-way, anonymous text messaging; Wyrd, which developed an online platform to aggregate social videos and other media with compensation for content creators;  ZummitLabs, which is pushing a “social shopping app” for people to share product images in real time; HoneyMoon Brewery, which developed a tasty kombucha beer with health benefits; Patrick’s Fine Sodas, which is also marketing kombucha-based drinks.

Like ABQid, the Santa Fe curriculum includes group workshops and extensive individual coaching and mentoring from seasoned entrepreneurs and investors. Throughout the training, participants are encouraged to aggressively test their products and services in the market through direct interaction with potential customers. And, as in Albuquerque, the companies each receive an initial, $20,000 equity investment from the ABQid venture fund, plus a potential shot at winning follow-on investments after the training ends.

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The ABQid venture fund — a private pool of money that is separate from city-backed grants that help fund operations — has invested more than $750,000 in 18 companies since 2014. Those startups have, in turn, attracted more than $5 million from other investors.

Based on lessons learned in Albuquerque, program directors have decided to intensify mentoring and training sessions during SFid’s first weeks for startups to build a more solid foundation before stepping out on their own.

“We’re giving them like twice as much class and mentor exposure time as in the past, at least in the early weeks,” said SFid director Webb Johnson. “We want to hold their hands a little longer to get better results.”

The cohort teams are just now initiating direct contact with customers.

“We want to get them out there talking face-to-face, or by telephone,” said ABQid board member John McDermott. “That allows them to go from theory to practice, which produces all kinds of insights on what people want and what they’re willing to pay for.”

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