Historic Tech Startup Programs Launched

Codefi and Innovate SOMO partners announce the most comprehensive programs and services in state history, to advance tech-based economic development in southern Missouri.

Many of the fastest-growing careers and companies in Missouri are in tech. Throughout the state's smaller metros, cities, and more rural areas, though, the resources and technical services to equip entrepreneurs and workers for these opportunities aren't always available.

These gaps in opportunity are what motivated the creation of the Southern Missouri Innovation Network1 (Innovate SOMO) and our mission: to unlock the full potential of entrepreneurship and innovation to transform entire communities in the southernmost 47 counties in Missouri. When people have the skills and resources to enter high-quality occupations and start more of the companies that provide those jobs, the economic wellbeing of the entire region benefits.

That's the philosophy behind Innovate SOMO, co-founded in 2022 by Codefi2 of Cape Girardeau and efactory3 of Missouri State University4 in Springfield, Missouri.

We are excited today to launch a comprehensive series of programs that increase the capacity for attracting and supporting a larger number of tech-based startup concepts, founders, and companies from idea to growth. The cohesive system of programs and services has never been offered to entrepreneurs and innovators in our region.

Information about the tech startup programs can be found at the recently launched website for Innovate SOMO (https://www.innovatesomo.org).

Getting Started: 120-Day Tech Startup

Our tech startup program pipeline begins with the 120-Day Tech Startup,5 which combines three workshops into one intensive program. Led by a team of experienced tech entrepreneurs and industry experts, the program is a product launch fast track that takes on a systems-based approach to test viability and establish demand. By participating, founders will learn how to drive customer interest in their tech product or service before building it. Applications are now open for the 120-Day Tech Startup,6 and we're looking for individuals and teams with ideas for a software-based or enhanced product with high-growth potential located in southern Missouri.

The Problem

The broad problem Innovate SOMO is solving is the problem of tech economy supply and demand. Tech ecosystems outside major metro areas are often underdeveloped because communities only have the capacity, resources, or expertise to focus on one side of the model, if at all.

Strictly providing business development programs and resources for companies to launch and thrive may stunt potential growth due to a lack of access to talent. If investments are made in local companies, but they can only identify needed talent elsewhere, the region loses a significant portion of the potential economic impact.

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Likewise, strictly providing workforce development programs and resources to train new tech skills, without providing access to job opportunities, may require new talent to leave the region. U.S. labor statistics7 estimate there are currently 1.4 million unfilled computer programming jobs. Unfortunately, to meet that need, the answer isn't to just train new workers. According to CompTIA, nearly 80% of needed talent for current open positions requires 3-5 years of experience. These problems are going to compound well into the future unless a new model is implemented.

Communities with solutions focusing on one side of the model, at worst, may see a total loss of return on investment, and at best, a partial gain on economic impact. Equally solving problems of supply and demand to meet the needs of individuals, industry, and communities collectively is necessary for future prosperity.

As illustrated above, Innovate SOMO is developing and expanding access to nationally recognized programs, services, and resources that work together as direct drivers accelerating business creation, innovation, and growth. And talent development, accelerating quality employment in high-growth, high-quality occupations.

Our Solution

As illustrated below, Codefi and Innovate SOMO partners are delivering a comprehensive series of programs that increase the capacity for attracting and supporting a larger number of tech-based startup concepts, founders, and companies from idea to growth. At each critical early phase of validation and development, Codefi and Innovate SOMO partners provide an unappareled set of programs and services specifically designed for software-focused companies. The depth of support provided for product design and development, and customer acquisition and sales, is creating a decided advantage for companies in the region.

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Our new startup programs and technology services will increase the pipeline of tech startups and immediately support the creation and growth of 75 new tech companies, 150 high-wage occupations, and $20 million in follow-on capital. That's good news for our region.

Just Getting Started

These programs are made possible by the support of state and federal partners at the Missouri Technology Corporation,8 Missouri Department of Economic Development,9 and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.10 The support of our state and federal leaders is energizing and somewhat confirmatory of our collective insights – it's about regional collaboration. But we have lots of work left to do to leverage our large regional network and truly unique assets, to provide the very best opportunities for our neighbors to thrive.

Now, let's get to work!

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