Inaugural Hyperspace Challenge Successfully Brings Defense Community and Startups Together in Albuquerque

Inaugural Hyperspace Challenge Successfully Brings Defense Community and Startups Together in Albuquerque

 

In April 2018, AFRL New Mexico and ABQid began working together on Hyperspace Challenge. This one-of-a-kind program accelerates innovation for our defense community by exposing defense users to tech startups’ cutting edge capabilities. It also provides meaningful customer discovery opportunities for participating startups that they couldn’t get anywhere else. Hyperspace Challenge also promotes Albuquerque and New Mexico as a hub of technological innovation by bringing together successful startups and defense innovators in Albuquerque. This benefits our community’s long-term economic prosperity!

The inaugural Hyperspace Challenge program culminated with Hyper Accelerator Week, November 13-16, 2018. This multi-day event, hosted in Albuquerque’s Lobo Rainforest Building, convened 10 of our country’s top geospatial data analytics startups and a group of defense innovators to explore how startups’ capabilities could address 5 carefully-defined challenges in the defense community.

The 10 startups invited to attend Hyper Accelerator Week were selected after participating in a month-long webinar series in September 2018. The series helped startups learn firsthand from defense innovators about their technological obstacles. Startups then submitted proposals describing how their capabilities could address one or more of those problems. A team of tech, business, and defense experts evaluated these proposals using a rigorous rubric and helped select the 10 finalists.

During Hyper Accelerator Week, the 10 finalist startups met face-to-face with the defense innovators from the webinar series in intensive breakout sessions designed to give startups and defense innovators the opportunity to figure out how startups’ capabilities could be used to address specific defense community needs.

On the evening of November 15, startups took their learnings from the breakout sessions and pitched their solutions in a state-of-the-art Pitch Competition. A panel of three judges, including Matt Fetrow (AFRL New Mexico), Carlos Romero (NM Tech) and Bill Hartman (Ion Linac Systems) evaluated the startups’ pitches using a comprehensive rubric. CrowdAI (1st place), Enview (2nd place), and NOVI LLC (3rd place) received high scores and were awarded $25K, $15K and $10K, respectively, to expedite follow-on activities related to establishing acquisition or contracting opportunities with the Department of Defense.

We would like to congratulate the 10 startups who joined us in Albuquerque. We’d like to thank all of the defense innovators and business and tech experts who gave their time to Hyper Accelerator Week. The success of this event would not have been possible without their support.

We look forward to the next iteration of this program and to accelerating innovation for the defense community; to offering startups incredible customer discovery opportunities; and to promoting our city and state as a hub of technological innovation! To stay up-to-date on the launch of the 2019 Hyperspace Challenge program, follow us on social media on Facebook and Twitter. If you have any questions, please contact us at contact@hyperspacechallenge.com.

Guest Column: Opportunity Knocking by Deborah Burns, CEO, investUS LLC

Opportunity Knocking in New Mexico:
A Guest Column by Deborah Burns, CEO investUS LLC

In this guest column, Deborah Burns, CEO, investUS LLC talks about the investment value to be found in locating businesses within Opportunity Zones! She explains why startup CEO’s should be thinking of locating operations in an Opportunity Zone, and using a fund to help their investors avoid capital gains taxes.


One of the best kept secrets of the December 2017 tax legislation is the “Investing for Opportunity Act”.  It’s a timely program offering capital gains tax deferment and reduction to any US taxpayer that invests their capital gain into an Qualified Opportunity Fund (“ QO Fund”) that in turn invests in Opportunity Zone investments.  New Mexico Economic Development Department did a great job nominating 63 eligible New Mexico zones that have now been approved as Opportunity Zones ( interactive map).

The US Treasury department estimates there is over $7 trillion in unrealized capital gains that could be invested into Opportunity Zones given the tax deferment and reduction incentives.    The best feature for Opportunity Zone investment recipients is that the QO Fund investment in their company is also capital gains tax free if it remains invested for at least 10 years.  QO Funds will be a new conduit of investment capital flowing into Opportunity Zone investments driven by the desire to stay invested for at least 10 years to be capital gains tax free upon the exit.

To take advantage of these tax savings, the US tax payer must invest in a QO Fund within 180 days of realizing the taxable gain. It can be a taxable capital gain of any asset by any US taxpayer.  The QO Fund can invest in any qualified business or asset in a US Opportunity Zone excluding “sin” businesses consisting of golf courses, country clubs, massage parlors, hot tub facilities, race tracks or gambling facilities, and liquor stores as defined in the tax legislation.

One would wonder why you haven’t heard of this tax incentive or any promotions for QO Funds.  The lack of press coverage for the legislation hasn’t been helpful. To be sure, putting together a Qualified Investment Fund has its challenges. First, the IRS has yet to write the tax rules for the legislation and there is no indication when it might be forthcoming. To put together a QO Fund today requires hiring a sophisticated tax advisory firm that has a dedicated team focused on the new legislation and experienced tax counsel.  Second, as with any private equity fund, the fund manager must comply with federal and state securities laws, provide fund administration and reporting, financials statements and tax filings for investors. This is harder than it seems since the IRS has not yet created the reporting requirements nor the tax forms. Then there are the various liabilities of any securities offering and investment transaction.  All in all, QO Fund management is a challenging undertaking.

Today, investUS, as fund manager, is actively reviewing investment opportunities in New Mexico Opportunity Zones that are shovel ready now or will be ready for investment in early 2019.

For more details on the tax legislation, tax savings computations and recent IRS FAQ’s, contact your tax advisor or tax attorney.  For more information on the investUS QO Fund, contact Deborah Burns at dburns@investUS-eb5.com.

 

Announcing Nine Competitors for Balloon Pitch 2018 on October 5!

We’re excited to announce the nine companies competing in the ABQid Balloon Pitch 2018, ranging from sophisticated artificial intelligence to camping without hassle, and wifi in space.

The winner of the pitch competition goes home with $10,000, but each startup will have a chance to pitch to seven investors who collectively represent portfolios worth $2 Billion. Tickets to the event on Friday, Oct. 5, at Vara Wines are $25.

In its first year and following the success of Ski Lift Pitch, Balloon Pitch will be held at Vara Wines on Oct. 5. Companies will have five minutes to pitch to the judges, and the winner will go home with $10,000 and fly with hundreds of other balloons in a special ride during an Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Mass Ascension.

The nine competitors are working in a variety of sectors:

  1. DeployHub: DeployHub gets innovation to the software end user faster, without compromising safety. It delivers critical improvements over traditional, monolithic releases by creating an iterative path to end users through its unique Deployment Version Control.
  2. Ibex Aegis: Modernizing right-of-way surveillance with artificial intelligence for the oil and gas industry.
  3. KitFox: Imagine your dream camping site, when you want it, how you want it.
  4. MagPI Innovations: MagPi Innovations researches, develops, and commercializes inventions.
  5. Minnotank: Minnotank takes startups and connects them to investors with one easy-to-use platform.
  6. OneForNeptune: OneForNeptune delivers healthy, high-protein snack foods made from premium quality sustainable seafood. Their wild-caught whitefish jerkies are ethically sourced from small-scale US West Coast fisheries.
  7. Smartloop: Smartloop is an AI company that is using new techniques to build on the chat bot experience for companies who want to connect better with their customers.
  8. Solstar Space: Solstar develops proprietary technologies and payload and space communicator products, providing commercial internet/communications services to astronauts and machines in space. Their services also enable earth-based customers 24/7 direct access to experiments, cubesats, machines, and colleagues located in space.
  9. Zhennovate: Zhennovate is a digital platform to scale personalized resilience development.

More information about investors, sponsors, and purchasing tickets can be found on our Balloon Pitch page.

We’re now accepting applications to ActivateNM: Apply by Sept. 7, 2018!

In spring 2018, we started exploring what would happen if we merged ABQid’s expertise in startup acceleration with WESST’s expertise in business incubation. The result? ActivateNM, our new hybrid accelerator-incubator model that brings together the best of both worlds!

We’re now accepting applications to ActivateNM and seeking applications from early-stage software or software-enabled companies! Companies should be based in New Mexico, be pre- or early-revenue, and have an eagerness to achieve key growth milestones with support from ABQid, WESST, a team of mentors, and fellow cohort participants.

Built on the pillars of “disrupt,” “build,” and “community,” ActivateNM promises to provide cohort companies with the wrap-around support they need to quickly achieve company milestones and become competitive pursuers of equity-based programs, angel investment, or other funding models. Our new program will provide entrepreneurs with a ton of business value and know-how and extensive operational support. Our hope is that by providing these resources through the program, participants can stay focused on the essential questions: Who is my customer? What is my product and business model? How can I get to market efficiently and sustainably?

Our new cohort-based hybrid model is unique from previous ABQid accelerator cohorts in that,

  1. This is a no-equity program. Instead, ActivateNM helps companies figure out which of several funding mechanisms makes the most sense, and then helps them prepare to engage with those sources.
  2. Companies receive a stipend to help cover expenses, but must also pay a small monthly fee to be in the program. The idea is that by paying to participate, founders will feel accountable to themselves, their team, and their fellow cohort members.
  3. Office space, amenities, and hands-on support from experts are included. Previously companies were responsible for contracting with experts such as accounting, marketing, or software consultants on their own. Now they can count on a certain amount of value being provided through the accelerator itself and the extensive resources already available through WESST and ABQid.

If you’re ready to start defining and working towards growth milestones in your software or software-enabled company–or know someone who is–apply today! ActivateNM begins October 15, 2018, and we are accepting applications now through September 7.If you have any questions, please contact us at info@abqid.com.

Meet the Grads of our Lean Startup Bootcamp!

We recently teamed up with projectY Cowork in Los Alamos to help a cohort of early-stage companies refine their customer discovery and acquisition strategies using the Lean Startup method.

Six entrepreneurs successfully completed the 8-week program, giving a 9/10 score for overall value to their business. Check them out (in alphabetical order):

  • Concert Cribs – Designing modular pop-up living spaces for festival goers
  • Montibon Provenance – Providing an art security and provenance solution for collectors
  • Mountain Storm Instruments – Simplifying the design and operation of sophisticated sensor networks
  • Muezbiz – Helping local musicians make money
  • New Travel New Mexico – Helping local tourism departments and tour operators connect to more travelers
  • Wiggats – Offering an innovative head piece that builds confidence and sense of empowerment

Graduates are now taking action on what they learned, from launching offer tests for market segments they refined, to continuing customer discovery, to building in the Lean build-measure-learn discipline into every aspect of their business.

Our thanks to these awesome entrepreneurs–we’re excited to see where you go next!

And of course our thanks to the awesome team at projectY, Los Alamos Economic Development, and LANL Major Subcontractors Consortium.

To be in-the-know about our next Lean Startup Bootcamp, join our newsletter.