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Unprecedented Award Announcement for 2020’s 1ST50K Startup Competition
Codefi’s 1ST50K startup competition that awards $50,000 to winning startup founders to grow their companies from Cape Girardeau has made an unprecedented decision after this year’s Pitch Day.


This month, four finalists were invited to Cape Girardeau to pitch their startups to the 1ST50K competition committee, including Venku, which is essentially Airbnb for the outdoors. SportsTrace analyzes athlete’s bodies using just a mobile phone. Swipesum helps small businesses save money by figuring out the best payment processing for them. Upswot is a white label for banks that connects to small businesses’ applications to help them both manage more effectively. 


“We typically award one or two teams,” Codefi Co-Founder Chris Carnell says. “This year is unprecedented. We’re going to award all four teams $50,000 and they’re all going to locate here in Cape Girardeau for the next year. There’s going to be millions of dollars invested in our community and high wage jobs created.”


In past 1ST50K competitions, one or two winning startups received $50,000 equity-free for their startup as well as membership to Codefi, access to venture capital and angel investment networks, professional and high-level business coaching and mentorship, personal introductions to strategic business leaders, social support and community integration services, significantly discounted technical services and inclusion as part of a community of innovative entrepreneurs. This year, all four finalists will relocate to Cape Girardeau as part of the 1ST50K program. 


“Think of technology as the new manufacturing,” Carnell added. “We started Codefi as a small co-working space, and we’ve continued to grow and make an impact not just on Cape Girardeau, but on the region. We feel like we’re just getting started. Stay tuned, there’s a lot more to come.” 


2019 winners of 1ST50K include Pumptrakr and Sho.AI. PumpTrakr spent the last year integrating hardware into their beta platform to create an IoT ag-tech system where farmers can remotely control their irrigation pumps while managing team communication. In its first irrigation season, the company has over 600 modules being used by farm operations across Southeast Missouri and Northern Arkansas. Sho.ai is a recipient of a $250,000 investment from the Center on Rural Innovation’s Opportunity Zone Seed Fund that enables the establishment of a headquarters in Cape Girardeau. 


1ST50K is made possible by a partnership with the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC). In the Spring of 2020, MTC selected 1ST50K as an award recipient for their highly competitive grant competition, Missouri Building Entrepreneurial Capacity. The award is matched dollar for dollar by local, private donations to support this project, and the award provides a regional focus to 1ST50K as well as support to launch 1ST5K in partnership with Southeast Missouri State University. 
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