Codefi’s 1ST50K Startup Competition crosses $1 million in grants awarded, calls on community to embrace 2024 companies

Our region’s tech and startup community continues to grow. As we kickoff the 10th round of the 1ST50K Program1 and surpass $1 million in grants awarded to teams since inception, three new companies will be joining as they begin to grow and scale their businesses from here. They each will receive $50,000 in non-dilutive funding, free office space at Codefi (thanks to the Missouri Technology Corporation2), and mentorship. Below are briefs of the concepts, what our community can do to help them, and founder contacts.

Parent ProTech logo

Parent ProTech3

An online education platform that equips youth, families, educators, organizations, and communities with how to safely navigate the expanding digital landscape.

Founder: Brock Murphy4

Their current community needs: Share the website with people/family members who are struggling to navigate the ever-changing tech realm. If any educators are seeing the impact of tech in their classroom, founder, Brock Murphy, would love to demo the platform and their digital citizenship curriculum.

PubGen logo


An AI platform that intuitively generates hyperlocal content for any organization to share with their audience.

Founder: Sho Rust6

Their current community needs: Help raise awareness for organizations that create long-form digital content as a major part of sharing information, such as media, thought leaders, influencers, and brands.

Vendoor logo


Vendoor is an app-free platform/tool designed to monitor and manage third-party visits to retail locations, assess job quality, and extract valuable business insights from the data collected.

Founder: Adam Davis8

Their current community needs: If you have retail or retail partner clients or colleagues that could support our ongoing discovery on value proposition, pricing, and sales structures, please say hi at [email protected].

These companies join us after recent announcements of a slew of new Startup Programs9 for southern Missouri.

All three companies have recently launched products, so 2024 will be an important year for them. If you can help with any of their needs, whether personally or know of someone, feel free to reach out to them directly or contact us any time and we can make a connection. While the $50,000 non-dilutive grants going to these teams is helpful for their runway, the number-one benefit they receive is our community’s desire and willingness to wrap our arms around them to quickly make introductions—to be an injection of supporters, advocates, users, and customers for them. The better we are able to collectively do that, the more likely they are to grow and succeed here, and likewise, the more vibrant our community becomes.

Why startups?

Take a look at some of the most successful tech startups, accelerators that helped them, and communities who foster startup and entrepreneurial support. Companies such as Reddit,10 Twitch,11 and Sendgrid;12 who have graduated from Y Combinator,13 Techstars,14 and 500 Startups.15 This isn’t strictly done in Tier 1 cities any longer; communities not even in Tier 6 are competing, such as Boulder, Colorado16 and Ann Arbor, Michigan.17 Communities like ours across the country in the Rural Innovation Network18 are making progress, as well. One constant is true across the board for growth and success: the connection of people.19

Why is connecting people and supporting these startups so important? According to Kauffman,20 over the last two decades, net job creation has consistently been highest among the youngest firms—startups. The tech industry accounts for over 10% of the total U.S. GDP (number two only behind healthcare) and the average salary is nearly double that of other industries. 21

Why us?

Let’s take a look to see how the startups that we’ve supported and our community have fared.

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When you look at the ‘big three’ accelerators, their outcomes22 include: 16% as successful, 69% as ‘walking dead’, and 15% as ceased operations. We view success a little differently, but comparingly: 50% of 1ST50K companies are still here in Cape and operating, 30% relocated, and 15% have ceased operations. Healthy startup ecosystems recycle talent back in. The founders and technical talent that have ceased operations either joined other startups or went on to work for other successful tech companies here, such as NexSpring,23 which had an exit of $24 million, and Vintage Software,24 which was recently acquired for $40 million.

We got super nerdy one year and completed an economic study25 to find that for every $1 in support, there were $7 in impact (this includes things such as increase in annual wages, increase in local goods and services purchased, and increase in local and state taxes). Extrapolating that data, strictly the companies still here are on trajectory to have a total cumulative economic impact of approximately $10 million. Combined, they’ve created nearly 100 new jobs, raised nearly $40 million in follow-on capital (roughly 80% coming from outside our region), and generated over $30 million in total revenue. You could say they’ve made a significant contribution to our community.

So we’re calling on the community to help us out. Help them out. These startups—these people—live, work, and play here. If you can help them with their needs, we welcome you.

Interested in launching your own startup? Check out new programs and resources here.26

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