We fund startups to help them thrive in the Rural Midwest. You want a founder-friendly startup environment? Look no further.
Final 2023 deadline is October 31!
Meet Some of Our Past 1ST50K Winners
“James, Chris, and the whole team at 1ST50K actively work with us so that we will be a successful company. It’s unlike any other grant program or accelerator. The beginning of this year, we’ve already done about twice as much revenue as we did all of last year. We absolutely would not be where we are at today without everything else that comes with the 1ST50K award.”
- Michael Seaman
“1ST50K is designed to help you really become successful because it’s not about the shares in your company—they are willing to make everything possible to make you a successful business to grow the community and give back.”
- Dmitry Norenko
“It’s so neat to be part of a program that is listening and working alongside you. There is really a wonderful community that has been cultivated over the last here at Codefi, and that’s through events…opportunities to pitch and present to potential investors and stakeholders in the community.”
- Murielle Gaither
CEO and Founder, Venku
“We submitted an application and at each stage we felt more and more welcomed and it was amazing for us. The opportunity, community, and the people involved, [1ST50K] checks all of the boxes. There is a network that actually cares about the outcomes and there is the opportunity to meet people that are important to us through the program, so it’s as legit as it gets.”
- Max Montrey
CEO and Co-Founder, SportsTrace
“It's not just the cash, it's the mentorship you get on a week to week basis...people you can ask questions. There's a community around that. 1ST50K gave us that catalyst—that spark, if you will—to really take an idea and turn it into a company.”
- Sho Rust
CEO and Co-Founder, Sho.ai
Free yourself from the distraction and chaos that big city life heaps upon you.
We’re here to prove that innovative tech startups can happen wherever the founders want to live.
Big Fish in a Small Pond
In a large city, you may be one of hundreds of startups.
Here, you’ll get the help and attention you and your company deserve and need to be successful early on.
Cost of Living
When a mortgage and office space cost a few hundred bucks, your runway gets quite a bit longer so you can have time to grow your company.
Now you can get off the just-ramen diet. Enjoy more beer and BBQ.
Startups are hard. You have to do a lot and work long hours. It just makes sense to remove the shiny objects.
Don't Just Take Our Word For It
“Codefi has been absolutely instrumental in Venku seeing a future, developing a product roadmap, and helping to prioritize us with what our tech needs are today, tomorrow, and helping us plan for the future. As non-technical founders, tech development has definitely been an uphill climb for us. Every step of the way, we’ve learned things that we need, who can fill in the gaps for us, and Codefi has been a one stop shop for us.”
- Murielle Gaither
From St. Louis to Cape Girardeau
“Bootstrapping the business like we did, where we spent two years without taking any cash at all would not have been possible in Los Angeles. So we would have been forced to fail or succeed extremely quickly. We’re really excited about immersing ourselves in the tech community further. More than that, showing the community that an innovative tech startup can happen here in Cape Girardeau. And as people see that, we’re really excited to have more and more people like us free themselves from the distractions and the chaos that a big city provides.”
- Sho Rust
From L.A. to Cape Girardeau
“It’s wonderful. I was so surprised when we came here how the community is friendly. The community is not like an accelerator program … This program is designed to help you to really become successful. Because it’s not about the shares in your company, they are willing to make everything possible to make you a successful business based here to grow the community and give back. When you come here you can get the support built by not their financial value but by great people who want to make this city great.”
- Dmitry Norenko
From Ukraine to Cape Girardeau
The 1ST50K Difference
Not all accelerators are created equal.
- Keep your equity. That’s right. This is a non-dilutive award. It’s not a loan. It’s not a SAFE. We understand your first investment as a founder is typically the hardest to find and most expensive to take. We work to be as founder-friendly as possible.
- 1ST50K, not ONLY50K. We understand you may need more than $50,000 depending on where you are in the startup lifecycle. So, we’re happy to be a part of a raise or can connect you with investors in our network.
- Work on your business, not your slide deck. While we’re all well-versed in lean and customer development methodologies, we understand every startup is at a different phase when they enter the program. Whether you are still conceptual or generating revenue, we’re not going to shove everyone down the same curriculum path. And we won’t parade you around to show you off. We’ll meet you where you are, help you set metrics that define your success, and then get our hands dirty to help you achieve them.
Join a thriving
- Talent development is hard. That’s why we’ve built a model that works on each side of the model - supply and demand. We have multiple programs that will help you continue to learn, connect you with and train the talent you need, and make sure you have support and resources at each phase of your growth.
- Not me, we. We search for startups and founders who have similar values. That means helping each other succeed. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to get and give help to those who are on similar paths.
Program Dates and Locations
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
- August 31 and September 30, 2023
- Rolling early deadlines for feedback on application
- October 31, 2023
- Final deadline to submit application
- Early November, 2023
- Internal evaluations and phone interviews
- November 30 - December 1, 2023
- Mock pitches and Pitch Day
- January 1, 2024
- Program begins
- Locate or relocate the business, with significant operations or headquarters, to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, for at least one year, beginning at date expressed in the program agreement. This is generally September 1st, but we are flexible with teams and coordinate a start date that works best.
- Commit at least one full-time founder to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, for the year-long incubation.
- Provide 1ST50K with data regarding jobs created, revenue generated, and follow-on capital attracted. We collect this information quarterly as long as the business is in operation, regardless if it remains in Southeast Missouri.
- Dedicate one day (approximately 10 hours) of service to 1ST50K per quarter, during the year-long incubation, in advancement of the 1ST50K mission.
- Free office space at Codefi.
- Significantly discounted technical services.
- Access to venture capital and angel investment networks.
- Internship programs with local university partnerships.
- Professional and high-level business coaching and mentorship.
- Personal introductions to strategic business leaders.
- Social support and community integration services.
- Inclusion as a part of a community of innovative entrepreneurs.