Why Lumos is Taking a New Approach to the Startup Accelerator

The first class of startups in the Lumos accelerator is two weeks into its 10-week program.

Twenty-nine entrepreneurs representing eight business are the cream of the crop from a whopping 192 applicants vying to be a part of the inaugural class of the newly-launched accelerator that’s looking to close a gap in Columbus’ ecosystem for early-stage support.

As conversations emerge about the effectiveness of traditionally rapid accelerators, Lumos opted to make its own thing in the accelerator landscape.

Accelerator Director Alex Purtell took his experience working with 10X in Columbus, and feedback from some of the most well-known accelerator programs in the country (500 Startups, Y Combinator, The Brandery), and, “We kind of reinvented the model a little bit,” he says. 

First, Lumos addresses the issue of time. Instead of 10 weeks of curriculum then out the door, Lumos builds in time to incubate.

“We give them six months free space,” Purtell says. 

Lumos is also investing in companies to be a part of the program. What’s traditionally a flat-term deal, “We evaluate each company differently then we also deploy a different amount to each one based on that stage,” Purtell says. 

Up to $20,000 per startup was up for grabs for the first round of companies – some nabbing the full amount, others less.

We give them that money up front and for that they get access to the curriculum, the mentors, the office space, the over $220,000 in in-kind services [and] the connections to VCs,” Purtell says. 

That’s in exchange for zero up front equity as well. Instead, Lumos opts for stock warrants, or the consideration to buy part of a company at a later date.

The curriculum of the Lumos Accelerator is also more of the get stuff done approach than sit and listen to this successful entrepreneur and the lessons they learned along the way. (Not that learning from others and mentorship isn’t important. Some 80 plus mentors from startup CEOs to C-level executives are making their expertise available to accelerator companies.)

Purtell calls it a very tactical curriculum.

This is how to do x by y activity,” he says. “So, it’s how to increase your sales funnel by x percent in three weeks by influencer marketing. Every single workshop over the 10 weeks, and there’s one per week, is led by a mentor with industry expertise that is teaching a how-to workshop.” 

Workshops will tackle business building blocks like making data driven pivots, marketing hacks and fundraising. Each startup will also be organically paired with a local design firm volunteering their time. Design partners include ZoCo Designs, LaunchLabs, Fort, Sync, Choptank, RAVE, Martini Media Group and Stream.

Startups will tackle five personalized metrics during the program and Lumos will use those insights and numbers to connect its companies with VCs that will be a good fit for their investment portfolio.

Lumos went directly to the source – venture capitalists – for advice on the metrics to steer towards.The accelerator focuses on the numbers game. What metrics do VCs look for when investing?

It’s a way for us to showcase traction on a weekly basis that investors and people with money actually care about,” Purtell says. 

Week 10 will be an opportunity to showcase that traction. Paul Singh, a former partner in 500 Startups who hasn’t raised a fund smaller than $30 million is headed to Columbus to hear from Lumos’ class.

He is coming with his network of investors, which is 20-30 different investors, showcasing to himself and his network that there are great deals outside of the Bay, New York and Chicago,” Purtell says. 

The first class of startups features seven B2B companies and one B2C and all have some connection to retail. Purtell says the retail thread wasn’t necessarily intentional, but they chose the businesses with the most potential that they could help the most.

It’s a testament to Columbus finding its niche in the startup community.

Columbus cannot be the next Silicon Valley,” Purtell says. “Columbus has to be whatever we’re going to be good at.” 

What Columbus is good at is industries like insurance and retail.

While pivots and name changes are underway, the first class of the Lumos Accelerator includes:

  • F13Works – a distribution channel connecting boutique brands to over to over 17 Million e-commerce sites; Team members – Chris Sentz, Ryan Mayhan
  • Flickup – a distribution platform for photographers at stadiums and corporate events; Team members – Justin Boyd, Aziz Musa, Kelton Crenshaw
  • Rebooze – an analytics platform that allows beverage companies to measure in-store ROI during tastings; Team members – Drew Knight, Ryan Moore
  • Alcohol Deliveries – an alcohol delivery platform for grocery and liquor stores with customers placing orders to be delivered in under an hour; Team members – Joshua Walker, Anthony Reynolds, Aaron Thompkins, Lisa Witkowski, Tyler Blane
  • Logispics – uses image-based algorithms to accurately measure trailer utilization for shippers; Team members – Brian Augsburger, Derek Augsburger, Kyle Augsburger
  • Chek – a visually-innovative task management platform where users can create, join, and share public and private schedules; Team members – Alex Ogorek, Jesse Rowe, Max Dignan, Ryan Faulhaber
  • InternWire – a marketplace for current students to find and rate internships; Team Members – Michael Fearer, Joe McVeen, Alex Weiker, Bri Branco, Eric Dietrich
  • Urban Ultralight – an online marketplace for bicycle transit gear and clothing; Team members – Mark Winstein, Ray Fusco

For more information, visit lumosinnovation.com.