Five startups selected for participation in 1492 program

Five companies were selected last week from a pool of 162 applicants to participate in the second 1492 business launch program, a collaboration between TechColumbus, Columbus State Community College, and Columbus College of Art & Design, with support from the Ohio Third Frontier.

The program is designed to accelerate the development of innovative startups in a matter of months rather than years.

“We were projecting about 100 entrants,” says Ted Ford, president and CEO of TechColumbus. “That we received 162 is testament to the strength and diversity of the region’s entrepreneurial community.”

An independent panel of judges, which included business leaders and entrepreneurs from Central Ohio, selected the five participants based on written applications and a formal business pitch presentation held Wednesday evening at the Canzani Center on CCAD’s campus.

“We saw an impressive breadth of business concepts in the 162 applications submitted,” says Greg Pugh, director of IT Commercialization for TechColumbus and 1492 program manager, adding that applicants ran the gamut− from lifestyles to life sciences and every sector in between.

“We believe partnering with CCAD and Columbus State can be credited with this diversity and the overwhelming response,” he added. “We went beyond the usual channels to proactively engage a new segment of creative entrepreneurs.”

Each of the five participants will receive a $20,000 grant and embark on an 11-week program of coaching and business mentoring; the end result is launching a viable product or service by mid-January 2012.

The participants are Azoti, Capstone Innovations,, hungerly, and Infinum Education.

Azoti is a marketing platform that provides offline support services and a suite of online tools to help the five million-plus local food producers increase their share of every food dollar spent by driving demand and increasing productivity. Azoti will serve local farmers, dairies, fisheries, distributors, co-ops, farmers markets and artisans by providing demand aggregation services, program management, and a host of customer relationship management solutions.

Capstone Innovations has designed and patented an adaptable interlocking pallet system made up of identical units that slide together and lock into place so a pallet can be built to any ten-inch increment. Capstone’s system allows the user to create a custom pallet, thus avoiding additional shipping charges for pallets that are too large, or the costs of building a pallet for items that are larger than standard size.

Churchsys is a software as a service offering developed to manage all aspects of operating a church. Currently serving six churches within Central Ohio, Churchsys provides the definitive end-to-end system for managing a church or church district, and addressing the prevailing question of how to grow and retain membership.

hungerly is a location-based mobile marketing, analytics, sales and loyalty platform built with street truck and cart vendors in mind. hungerly enables users to discover local food vendors that may be around the corner, but would normally go unnoticed. Once discovered, the vendor is empowered with tools to keep consumers engaged by providing proximity alerts or offering incentives for repeat business.

Infinum Education has developed Aviso, which allows students and advisors to collaboratively drive student and institutional success. Aviso offers three main features: academic planning to define a future curriculum path for a student that is in line with their intent; alerting, which identifies any potential challenges or trends that may compromise a student’s ability to succeed; and integrated messaging that allows students and advisors to communicate about planning, alerts or other topics of interest.

The 1492 semi-finalists included Armadillo Pocket Lock, Fulcrum Creatives, Mondokio International News, Rooftop Down, and UserTOS, a company that launched less than two weeks ago at the fifth Startup Weekend Columbus.

Startup Weekends bring together aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals with diverse skill sets to form teams and launch business plans, all within a 54-hour window that begins Friday evening. The most recent Startup Weekend Columbus was held Oct. 7-9 to coincide with the 1492 application deadline.

“We see our role at TechColumbus as facilitator of entrepreneurial activities across the region,” Ford says. “Then, through our infrastructure, services and funding resources, we extend the runway for the most promising ventures that result from the heightened entrepreneurial activity in the region. It’s happened with previous Startup Weekend companies, as well as graduates of the first 1492 and [Ohio State University] 10-Xelerator programs.”