StitchCrew | Moon vehicles | Cybersecurity | $290M for CivicPlus
June 10, 2021
"We partner with organizations committed to building a more inclusive economy by designing programs that unlock the full potential of underserved entrepreneurs." — Erika Lucas, CEO and co-founder of StitchCrew
Accelerator gets an assist from NBA team
Podcast: the upside of telling stories
GM goes to the moon
Getting the computer to 'read' an image
Ocean bacteria and carbon dioxide
Building cybersecurity concepts
Dayton's $38M research chamber
Cold food in microgravity
Find a new innovative job
Fueling the Future
Name that Flyover City!
June 10, 2021
A CHAT WITH AN INNOVATOR
Accelerator gets an assist from NBA team
Erica Lucas, CEO and co-founder of StitchCrew
StitchCrew is an Oklahoma City-based accelerator that offers a cohort twice a year to help startups get in the best shape to launch and grow their companies. It also happens to have a local NBA team as its partner. Flyover Future spoke with Erika Lucas, co-founder and CEO about StitchCrew and its relationship with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Tell us about StitchCrew.
Lucas: We partner with organizations committed to building a more inclusive economy by designing programs that unlock the full potential of underserved entrepreneurs. Twice a year, we select up to 10 startups and help them get into the best shape possible to launch and grow their companies.
Every year, 20 startups go through an intensive 12-week program, which culminates on Demo Day, where we introduce the founders to an audience made up of investors, community stakeholders and business leaders.
We launched about three years ago in 2018, and this is the 7th cohort we’ve done. So far, we’ve helped 70 companies through those three years, and we just keep on pushing.
The Thunder provides us with a beautiful space called the Thunder Launchpad. That’s where we run the cohort. We have a vast database of mentors we call on to come speak about a certain topic or coach the entrepreneurs on certain things during office hours.
How did the partnership with the Oklahoma City Thunder come about?
Lucas: We happened to know the Thunder executive team, and I worked with them back when I was an economic developer. Honestly, the relationship happened over coffee and having conversations about what we could do to make our economy more equitable and representative of our demographic. The Thunder wanted to do a collaborative space where the community could gather, ideate, and do innovative things. Our heart obviously is with entrepreneurs, so we pitched them on the idea of hosting an accelerator program.
Ever since the Thunder established here, they’ve been more than a basketball team. They really have done a lot for the community, and they’re always trying to figure out ways they can give back.
Are these startups you work with in any particular vertical?
Lucas: No. That’s another thing our partnership has enabled us to do. We are industry agnostic, so it’s not like we just focus on sports or hospitality companies. We really open it up to any and all companies, as long as they are building something meaningful and something that can potentially scale exponentially.
“Ever since the Thunder established here, they’ve been more than a basketball team. They really have done a lot for the community, and they’re always trying to figure out ways they can give back.”
— Erika Lucas, StitchCrew
Do you work exclusively with underserved entrepreneurs?
Lucas: We’re not exclusive to women or people of color at this date. However, we’ve been very intentional from day one. From the very beginning, we wanted that to be our narrative and our message. We still have a long way to go in recruiting and helping more people. Of the 70 companies we’ve served up to now, almost 70% have either been led by people of color or by women.
Do you have a stand-out success story?
Lucas: We’ve had a Latino entrepreneur that came through in our inaugural cohort. His company, Ocupath, is doing business with the Air Force and the Navy. He’s providing employee training solutions through virtual reality. We have another founder who got a distributorship for his product through Best Buy.
We’re not just tech-based. As long as you can make the argument that you could potentially scale to be a national company, we’re willing to help. One of our Black woman founders has a company called Good Girl Chocolate. She offers a vegan, sugar-free, dairy free — just-about-everything-free — chocolate. This chocolate has now been featured at the Grammys and at the Oscars in their gift bags for celebrities. She also received a grant from Beyonce, for the BeyGOOD grant program for Black entrepreneurs.
What is the program like?
Lucas: The program itself is 12 weeks long, and then we host demo day. Then after that, we stay in touch with the alumni network so we can check on their progress, what they’re doing and how we might be able to help further.
Does the program help with their pitches and the development of their ideas?
We divide our program into three phases: Phase one is focused on startup mechanics, like how to incorporate and so on. Phase two is more focused on growth, marketing and sales. Phase three is focused on fundraising, pitch decks and all of that.
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FROM THE CAPTAIN
Podcast: the upside of telling stories in Flyover Country
Hear the trials and tribulations of a media entrepreneur. Tom Cottingham, Flyover Future's CEO, joins the Upside podcast to talk about his entrepreneurial journey, the ever-changing media industry, and the WHY behind Flyover Future.
DES MOINES, IA—On the Internet, it’s fairly straightforward to index and search text, but doing so for images isn’t. To get the most out of image data, computers need to “see” an image and understand the content. Computer Vision (CV) uses complex machine learning and artificial intelligence to build computer vision models. CV startup Roboflow simplifies the process of building those models by letting you annotate images right within your browser.
BLOOMINGTON, IN—The Indiana Innovation Institute has opened the Cyber Physical Systems lab, which will be a place for developers and researchers to create working prototypes in the national defense realm. The state-of-the-art facility should benefit engineers from smaller companies that might not otherwise have the resources to build and test their cybersecurity concepts.
There is no shortage of opportunities in Flyover Country!
Ready to bust a move? Check out these great job opportunities. Not for you? Share them with a friend! Friends find friends cool jobs.
New Indy Startup PAXAFE is hiring a Machine Learning Engineer
INDIANAPOLIS: Join an inclusive startup team and play an instrumental role in taking new product initiatives from the white board to production. PAXAFE predicts adverse events through the supply chain to de-risk B2B shipments and enable dynamic cargo insurance. If you geek out on data and have 3+ years of machine learning experience, then check out more details and apply here.
Finite State is hiring a Software Engineer
REMOTE: Be at the forefront of supply chain security. Finite State is growing their team of top engineers to help them provide comprehensive cybersecurity for modern networks. As a Software Engineer at Finite State, you'll work on building world-class information security products with one or more agile development teams. If you are an experienced self-starter who enjoys working in a fast-paced, collaborative environment, then learn more about this role at Finite State and apply.
Creative Director - Social Media Content at Pap's Beef Jerky
LOUISVILLE: This role will leverage your skill set to develop and produce on-brand, engaging video and marketing content for major social media platforms. Develop and produce content, develop calendar and implementation strategy, track and manage data. Contact Pap's Jerky for additional details.
Union Hall (a Cintrifuse space) is hiring an Operations and Events Manager
CINCINNATI: Play an essential role in the maintenance and success of Union Hall, a 38,000-square-foot coworking and event space! The building is an entrepreneurial hub for dozens of startups and hundreds of events/meetings per year. This role includes leading the sales of coworking plans and meeting rooms, managing operating systems, distributing building communications and ensuring optimal customer satisfaction. Click here for details, and email firstname.lastname@example.org to apply.
Signal Advisors is hiring a Backend Engineer
DETROIT/REMOTE: Play an essential role in building a fintech product with Signal Advisors. Based in Detroit, Signal Advisors is a venture-backed, tech-enabled insurance distributor helping independent financial advisors grow their businesses. While maintaining their Detroit HQ for anyone who wants it, Signal is a fully distributed remote team. The Backend Software Engineer will create and manage cutting edge APIs and serverless computing resources for the Signal Advisors platform. Click here for more details and to apply to Signal.
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What is fueling Flyover Country innovation? In this weekly feature, we share a variety of announcements covering funding, acquisitions, exits, grants, and everything in between. Got something to celebrate? Click here to share your story.
DEARBORN, MI—Ford Motor is increasing its investment in electric vehicles (EV) to $30 billion by 2025. The company announced the fresh cashflow into its EV and battery development strategy, dubbed Ford+. It’s worth noting that Ford isn’t the only automaker putting resources into battery development: General Motors Co. is building a second U.S. battery cell factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee.