Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Using accelerators as springboards to new markets

Using accelerators as springboards to new markets

 - RideScout CEO Joseph Kopser
RideScout CEO Joseph Kopser
It didn't take long for RideScout to launch in Chicago.
The Austin, Texas-based company last month hosted a lunch-and-learn and threw a happy hour at 1871, where it's part of a new incubator for startups led by military veterans called the Bunker.The accelerator begins taking applications next month.
RideScout isn't leaving Austin; it's using the co-working space at 1871 as a lower-risk way to launch service in Chicago.
“You're going to put people in a new city, it just makes sense,” says CEO Joseph Kopser, who developed RideScout for markets like Chicago, where people have multiple transportation options, from the CTA to Zipcar. The app allows you to plug in your destination and quickly see your options and their prices.
“The cool thing about having all these companies around is you know they're in your target audience: millennials,” said Mr. Kopser, who told me he also set up shop at 1776, a Washington startup incubator. “If you're going to put people in a new city, you want to be in the center of activity. That's what young companies need.”
He recalled choosing a new logo for RideScout while working in Washington, where his operations staff is based.
“I took the samples we were considering and just printed them out and walked around to 30 tables and got 90 votes on a logo, instead of arguing about it with our team,” he said. “Talk about market research.”
That's exactly the pitch Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, is making to venture funds that he'd like to attract to the facility's planned expansion in the Merchandise Mart. The idea is that other venture funds could use 1871 as a spot where their portfolio companies can see if their products have a market outside Silicon Valley or Boston or Austin.
RideScout has couple of interns in Chicago now, and plans to have a staff of three or four by the end of summer, Mr. Kopser said.

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