Spokane Journal of Business

Ignite Northwest gears up for fifth startup class

Local accelerator no longer focused exclusively on tech

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From a company that manufactures tidy portable toilets to one that produces high-quality microbiology media plates, Ignite Northwest, now assisting its fifth class, continues a trend of training a diverse group of companies.

“We’re very excited to welcome our newest class and look forward to helping them for the road ahead,” says Ignite Northwest CEO Bill Savitz. “Again, our first-class instructors have renewed their commitments to help these companies be the best they can be.”

Ignite Northwest is a nonprofit business accelerator that formed in 2015 to help young technology companies overcome early startup challenges. Specifically, Ignite is designed to help companies with working prototypes that already have entered the marketplace, but need a boost to become successful.

CEOs from 10 companies will complete a 13-week session. In addition to class time, they will be given personal advisers with industry-specific expertise to help guide them as they build and grow their business models.

Companies not selected for this cohort are encouraged to reapply for the spring 2018 session, says Jayson Cannon, a business consultant with Ignite. About a half-dozen companies weren’t selected for the current cohort.

Ignite Northwest was first started with a focus on helping fledgling tech companies here get off the ground. However, five classes later, Cannon says the organization has changed its outlook somewhat.

“We were originally tech focused, but over time, we’ve seen a lot of other good ideas,” Cannon says.

He points to a company called Spiceologist—a member of the incoming class—as an example of a non-tech company that has a good business plan in place but needs help getting to the next level of its operations.

Spiceologist offers innovative spice rubs and fresh spices to consumers, chefs, and brick-and-mortar stores across the country.

And there’s TidyHut Inc., which serves the outdoor sanitation needs of the military and construction industry, as well as public festivals and events, by providing “innovative and non-disgusting” portable toilets, the company says.

The other members of the current class include Acme-Endeavors, Green Eats Global, Johnston Engineering, MarketPad, S2 Media, ScreenDoor-GreenHouse, SureLock Enterprises, and Tribus Enterprises.

 Cannon says since launching the accelerator program in the summer of 2015, a total of 62 companies, including the current class, have attended Ignite Northwest’s 13-week courses.

“About 23 percent of the startups we served are underrepresented or specially recognized groups, including veteran-owned, minority-owned, and women-owned companies,” Cannon says.

Excluding the 10 current startups enrolled, the other 52 companies employed a total of 384 regional jobs at one point, and 93 percent of those companies are still in business. Together, they have raised nearly $36 million in funding toward their growth and expansion plans, Cannon says.

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