2018 Accelerators Selected

Zeal announces 2018 Accelerator participants

Five Sioux Falls-area entrepreneurs will be embarking on a business growth program seeking continued rapid growth or development by completing this year’s Accelerator through the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship.

The 12-week program, which starts June 15, brings resources and the opportunity for significant investment to the participants.

They were chosen from a field of 15 applicants by a selection committee.

“We were thrilled with the number and quality of applicants for this year’s accelerator,” said Michelle Gjerde, Zeal’s executive director. “The program ahead is an intensive one, and we look forward to helping these participants ramp up growth and tackle scale-up hurdles.”

The 2018 participants are:

Conjtac – Chelsea Asmus and Vance Thompson
Conjtac is a newly formed entity but has world renowned experience and expertise in ophthalmology. Conjtac strives to apply the principles of refractive surgery, like LASIK, to other areas of vision correction, such as contact lenses, orthokeratology and myopia control, and in doing so also improve eye health and visual outcomes. Conjtac has secured patents around this ideology, and are working to bring the intellectual property into production, through regulatory approval and ultimately to the patients. The organizational goal is to provide innovative solutions that will not only provide great vision but also improve the corneal health of the eye.

Feed The Stripe — Ruth and Steve Scherschligt
Feed the Stripe LLC specializes in selling high performance racing parts to the drag racing market. Formed just month ago, it already is finding a niche as a knowledgeable and specialized dealer in its industry. The company sells online at www.feedthestripe.com and at the race track.  Owners Ruth and Steve Scherschligt have been involved in drag racing for more than 20 years and are bringing their wealth of experience to online retail to better assist their customers in obtaining the right parts to maximize performance at amateur and professional drag venues.

The company plans to continue to test the expanding market, refine its distribution process, and achieve brand presence through marketing developments.

SolarVita — Braden Bills
SolarVita is making solar power as easy to use as a standard wall outlet, developing off-grid AC solar panels that are easy-to-use, modular, and are plug-and-play capable. SolarVita’s off-grid AC solar panels provide energy independence for camping, RV’ers, power sports, outdoor enthusiasts, emergency preparation, and disaster relief, offering freedom from being tied to the grid. Its products allow users to have power anywhere and be free from the cost, noise, fumes, time, and maintenance of gas generators.

SolarVita is in design and pre-development stages seeking capital investment, adding vendor partners, and making progress toward starting production.

Up Tempo Music Lessons — Andrew Rogers
Up Tempo offers premier in-home music lessons specifically designed for children and young adults. The company uses a unique teaching style that eaves students eager to learn more and has proven retention. Its mission is to deliver academic understanding of music theory in a fun approach by learning current songs. This experience is encapsulated by an end-of-the-year group concert where the students perform in a full-production concert for their family and peers.

Up Tempo is currently ready to expand its team and the number of students allowed in the program and hopes to develop its platform beyond individual lessons and concerts.

WrapAbility — Kyle Vanderhull
WrapAbility was founded one year ago with the dream of creating the highest quality, long-term attachment wraps for personal and professional use. The business has taken off with great market capture and grown out of its first production space, performeing wrap installations on prestige sports vehicles, large commercial fleet vehicles, trailers, corporate wall displays and windows, and has plans to expand to more design and vinyl offerings.

Future plans for WrapAbility aim to control growth and begin to scale outside of the Sioux Falls region including Omaha and the Twin Cities.

Zeal Accelerator participants will receive unlimited access to Zeal, at 2329 N. Career Ave., in addition to:

  • Access to the 24/7 coworking and meeting room space.
  • Full-day working-group sessions featuring guest experts.
  • Business coaching from Zeal’s entrepreneurs-in-residence and mentors.
  • Assistance with formalizing a strategic plan, needs assessment and business plan stress test.
  • Access to potential financing partners.
  • Opportunity for cash infusion through Zeal’s accelerator capital investment fund.

The Accelerator program has three local professional partners that power the opportunity and provide the capital investment funds: Eide Bailly LLP, The First National Bank in Sioux Falls and Woods Fuller Shultz & Smith P.C.

Zeal will provide updates throughout the 12-week program, and the public is invited to hear from the companies at their graduation Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. Follow Zeal’s web and social pages for more announcements and highlights, beginning at realzeal.com.


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