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MindGear’s Rocket City Launch earns SBA grant

Affiliated with MindGear Labs in Madison, the Rocket City Launch program team was among 50 winners in the Growth Accelerator Fund grant competition with the U.S. Small Business Administration. (CONTRIBUTED)
Affiliated with MindGear Labs in Madison, the Rocket City Launch program team was among 50 winners in the Growth Accelerator Fund grant competition with the U.S. Small Business Administration. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded a Growth Accelerator Fund grant for $50,000 to MindGear Labs, the only recipient in Alabama.

MindGear’s Rocket City Launch program was among 50 winners in SBA’s competition that included 800-plus applications. “This program was an effort to seed accelerators in communities (with) limited access to start-up capital,” MindGear owner Rob Adams said.

In October 2013, Adams announced MindGear’s ‘Start-Up Weekend’ at Huntsville Open Tech’s (HOT) coffee session. The start-up went well, but MindGear needed to continue its support for businesses.

“When the SBA grant competition came out, it was the perfect solution,” Adams said.

To apply for the grant, “we put together a 15-slide presentation outlining our operational plan and goals. There was a ‘down select’; those left were asked to put together a five-minute presentation (about talking) to potential investors in the accelerator,” Adams said. (rocketcitylaunch.org)

Rocket City Launch is becoming a business accelerator for advanced manufacturing, he said. Teams, primarily with prototyping and manufacturing using computer-controlled equipment, will receive funding and training “to quickly evolve into successful businesses.”

They also presented their plan to Madison City Council, which approved Mayor Troy Trulock’s contribution of $10,000 if ‘launch’ personnel succeeded with the SBA competition.

‘Launch’ associates are Adams; Dr. Caron St. John, Dean of School of Business, University of Alabama in Huntsville; Joanne Randolph, director, Women’s Business Center of North Alabama; and Larry Lewis, president, Project XYZ). Adams and eight other individuals started the original ‘launch.’

“We’ll promote an entrepreneurial community … for starting manufacturing businesses. Then, we’ll offer four start-up weekend competitions. Winners will receive funding … (and complete) a nine-week program to get their company off the ground,” Adams said.

To support Rocket City Launch, Adams has committed MindGear’s Madison facility and new lab to open at Lowe Mill. “We’ll provide equipment and location to support these start-up weekends,” he said.

MindGear’s address is 8331 Madison Blvd., Suite 200B. For more information, call 256-705-4327, email to doug@mindgearlabs.com or annie@mindgearlabs.com or visit mindgearlabs.com, Facebook/MindGearLabs or Twitter: @mindgearlabs.

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