ST. LOUIS — The socially integrated classified ad system, adFreeq LLC, incubated at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) at the Missouri School of Journalism, is one of six new companies selected from more than 100 applicants to participate in an accelerator program for tech startups this fall.
Capital Innovators, of St. Louis, provides companies, like adFreeq, with “the funding, resources and connections they need to reach the next level,” through a 12-week program. Participating businesses receive $50,000 in seed money for startup expenses, as well as access to legal, accounting and marketing services as they work on rolling out and developing their product or service.
Reynolds Fellow Peter Meng created adFreeq during his 2011-2012 fellowship to provide live streaming classified ads from popular social Internet sites into a new revenue opportunity for online news organizations, publishers and blogs – at no cost to them.
adFreeq will be joined by five other businesses this fall in the accelerator program – ViewPoint LLC, FoodEssentials, IDC Projects, The SeaApp and TuneSpeak. To date, Capital Innovators has made seed-stage investments in 19 tech companies. This will be the program’s third class. Capital Innovators announced the fall class tonight.
According to Capital Innovators Program Associate Matt Menietti, the seed-stage equity investments are made through a separate entity called the STL Tech Fund. The Tech Fund is composed of individual private investors. Capital Innovators is the management group for the STL Tech Fund.
In addition to the seed money, adFreeq has also raised $100,000 in angel funding from investors in St. Louis and central Missouri. The funding is used for startup costs and software development.
About Capital Innovators
Capital Innovators, launched in 2011, was created by the group’s Chief Executive Officer Judy Sindecuse as a result of observations she made while serving as a mentor in the Information Technology Entrepreneur Network (ITEN) in St. Louis, said Menietti. Hal Gentry is the managing partner of Capital Innovators.
One of the key components of the Capital Innovator program is a network of mentors who have “experience, knowledge and insight,” to help new companies.
“Part of the process of Capital Innovators is to work with successful local entrepreneurs and mentors who will assist us in bringing our product to market and finding additional capital, if required,” said Meng.
In addition to spending time with mentors, companies will spend three to four hours a day, a couple of days a week, attending classes to learn more about how to manage software development, pitch a product for funding and set up a business properly.
At the end of the program, companies have the opportunity to showcase their businesses to angel investors and venture capitalists from across the country.
Participating in Capital Innovators provides adFreeq two important things, said Meng.
“The first is a broad group of successful and talented Missouri entrepreneurs who will provide experience, and guidance in avoiding pitfalls and taking advantage of the right opportunities,” he said. “The second is access to a broad national network of contacts that can provide introductions to strategic customers and investors — helping to accelerate our charge out of the gates."
About the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute works with citizens, journalists and researchers to strengthen democracy through better journalism. RJI seeks out the most exciting new ideas, tests them with real-world experiments, uses social science research to assess their effectiveness and delivers solutions that citizens and journalists can put to use in their own communities.