TechColumbus, along with NCT Ventures and private investors, recently announced a $500,000 investment in Acceptd, which has developed a Web-based prescreening tool designed to streamline the admissions process for fine arts colleges and programs.
Currently, fine arts programs rely on in-person interviews and live auditions to gauge applicants’ potential beyond written applications. Acceptd provides a Web-enabled solution that allows faculty members to pre-screen applicants via computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Acceptd was co-founded by Don Hunter and Derek Brown, who serve as the company’s president and CEO, respectively. Hunter and Brown came up with the idea for Acceptd while both were studying entrepreneurship in the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner Honors-Plus Program.
In early 2011, they brought their idea to TechColumbus, which began working with them to refine their concept and firm up their business plan.
“There are certain things you cannot learn until you go through them,” says Brown. “In theory we knew what we were doing, but when you take this outside an academic setting and try to execute in the real world, you find there are no black and white answers.”
That is where Brown says the coaching and mentoring from TechColumbus was particularly beneficial.
“They asked us tough questions and forced us to get more tightly focused on our offering, our potential client base and investors,” he says. “It really helped refine our direction.”
In spring 2011, TechColumbus awarded Acceptd a $50,000 TechGenesis grant and encouraged the founders to apply to the 10-xcelerator program. (10x is funded through the Ohio Third Frontier Ohio’s New Entrepreneurs Fund and hosted by The Ohio State University Center for Entrepreneurship at the Fisher College of Business.) Upon acceptance into that program, Acceptd received another $20,000 from the ONE Fund.
With a $300,000 investment from its Pre-Seed Fund, TechColumbus, leads this funding round with NCT Ventures investing $125,000, and three individual investors committing the remaining $75,000.
“This represents Central Ohio’s entrepreneurial ecosystem at its best,” says Ted Ford, president and CEO of TechColumbus. “TechColumbus, the State of Ohio and 10x helped launch this company, and now the investment between TechColumbus, NCT Ventures and private investors will support the company’s critical early stage needs, while our infrastructure and coaching services, will extend the runway for this promising young venture.”
Acceptd’s software is currently used by Otterbein University’s Department of Theatre and Dance and the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. The company is actively pursuing partnerships with other fine arts programs.