The Mississippi Seed Fund, managed by Innovate Mississippi, has invested in five companies in the first quarter of 2021. The companies receiving investments are StayCool Brands, Fan Space, Live Music Network, Buzzbassador (by Rocketing Systems) and CampusKnot.
“We’re delighted that these companies have come out of 2020 with promising products and business plans as we round the corner into 2021,” said Tony Jeff, president and CEO of Innovate Mississippi. “These are all companies poised to take things to the next level.”
Fan Space, the newest company among those honored, received a $10,000 Proof-of-Concept award for their social media app aimed directly at musicians, venues and fans. The app, says founder Seth Power, makes it easier to discover and follow local bands and venues that book the style of musicians the app user will enjoy.
“Not only has Innovate Mississippi provided me with funds to get my business off the ground, but their steady guidance has helped me to improve the vision and execution of my plan,” Power said. “Receiving this seed fund award is a significant milestone for my company, and I am certain that the momentum and capital it is providing us will be crucial to our success.”
Live Music Network
Serving a similar market, Live Music Network (LMN) received a $100,000 New Technology Business Level 2 award to spur their growth. The company had previously received the $10,000 Proof-of-Concept award in 2019.
LMN offers the MySet app, which aims to help fans directly fund their favorite musicians through a virtual “tip jar” concept. While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed their ability to encourage the app’s adoption, they’ve nonetheless had success with virtual, charity and socially distanced music events.
“The new funds from the MS Seed Fund will help us accelerate the adoption of our platform. MySet is bringing much-needed financial benefit and structure to the intersection of gigging musicians and people at their shows,” said LMN co-founder Logan Martin.
StayCool Brands also received the $100,000 New Technology Business Level 2 award, with the cash infusion designed to help them grow sales quickly. The company makes unique hats with a built-in cooling fan and a fan you can add to an existing cap. The StayCool products have proven popular with people working or spending leisure time outside during sunny months. Continued improvements to the product have made it more portable with longer battery life.
“I would like to thank Innovate Mississippi and the Seed Fund Board for the confidence placed in the StayCool Brands team by awarding us the funds to jumpstart inventory and marketing,” said Earl Washington, president and CEO. “Most importantly, these funds will provide jobs in our fulfillment center.”
Buzzbassador (Rocketing Systems)
Rocketing Systems is a Starkville, Miss.-based company whose product, Buzzbassador, has proven immensely popular with the Shopify-based e-commerce brands that take advantage of it. The software automates the relationship between a brand and its social media ambassadors and affiliates, making it easier to grow online sales via that brand’s “superfans.” Rocketing Systems began as a student startup and has grown into one of Mississippi’s recent startup success stories.
“2021 is going to be a pivotal year for us as we expand our team, launch exciting product features, and diversify our market segments,” said CEO Calvin Waddy. “The Rocketing Systems team is grateful for the Mississippi Seed Fund Award because it will allow us to advance the pace of that growth even further.”
In 2020, Rocketing Systems, which has serviced over 1,000 customers on the Shopify platform, raised over $435,000 in startup capital. Adding to that total is this Mississippi Seed Fund $100,000 New Technology Business Level 2 award.
CampusKnot is a Starkville, Miss.-based company that makes classroom-engagement software that helps teachers and professors get more interaction out of their students. The company grew its user base considerably in 2020 when professors turned to them to help with engagement in remote-learning situations; that experience helped them hone the product into a social-media-like tool that makes Q&A, quizzes and assignments more modern and fun.
“The amount of support and encouragement that you get from organizations and investors in the state of Mississippi is phenomenal,” said CEO Rahul Gopal.
He says the first round from the Mississippi Seed Fund in 2018 helped them multiply their revenue and cover critical development expenses. CampusKnot has grown revenues every year since. Now, with a $100,000 New Technology Business Level 2 award, they plan to execute a largescale marketing campaign with the expectation that 2021 will be a high growth year.
Innovate Mississippi is a nonprofit organization with the mission to drive innovation and technology-based economic development for the State of Mississippi. Visit http://www.innovate.ms to learn more.
The Mississippi Seed Fund is managed by Innovate Mississippi and provides innovation and tech-based startups access to capital through Proof of Concept, Research and Development, and Growth investments. Visit http://www.innovate.ms/mississippi-seed-fund/ for more information.
Buzzbassador is a CRM-like platform that automates the back-office tasks of running brand ambassador marketing campaigns. It solves a huge problem in the influencer marketing space by putting all of the tedious to-do’s on autopilot, helping businesses manage their campaigns and scale. The app’s end-to-end automated workflow technology tracks ambassador-referred sales, calculates earned commissions, generates affiliate codes, and more. The application is currently available on Shopify (one of the largest e-commerce platforms globally) and has already powered over 1,000 merchants worldwide.
Buzzbassador is the flagship product of Rocketing Systems, Inc. Rocketing Systems, a software company creating automated e-commerce and marketing solutions, was founded by Calvin Waddy (CEO), Shelby Baldwin (CMO) and Brandon Johns (COO) in 2019.